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Ask the Devs - 5.3 PTR Edition
With the development of patch 5.3 in full swing, we’ve collected a series of PvP-focused questions from the community; the development team has the answers in this new edition of Ask the Devs.
PvP Item Level Cap
Question - How are we planning to have the ilvl cap work in patch 5.3? Rumor has it that the cap will slowly increase over the course of a season. If this is the case, where is the big enjoyment we get out of new gear, especially weapons?
Answer - For patch 5.3, PvP items will just be capped outright. The current plan for 5.4 is to have the cap gradually increase over time so that players won’t acquire new gear that doesn’t benefit them (because it would just be lowered to the cap). We’re also talking about different ways in which to calculate the cap. For example, if you had full ilevel 496 gear and acquired a new 520+ weapon, it would just get dropped to 496 as well. Maybe we can design the system so that your average overall can climb to a slightly higher number.
Overall the intent is that elite PvP gear is cosmetic. We don’t want item levels within PvP gear to have such a huge disparity that a new PvP player has a miserable experience—that’s the entire intent of this change.
Question - Currently the 5.2 ladders are being plagued with PvE trinkets that have really nice procs. Are the ilvl caps going to assist with any future cases of strong PvE items and trinket procs? If not what have you got planned to avoid PvE items being BiS for PvP?
Answer - We think “plague” is too strong a word here. Our goal is not to prohibit all PvE gear in PvP, or we would do just that. We like that either gear type can be used to get a leg up in the other format. What we don’t want is for players who are in full Conquest gear to feel like they need to go pursue a PvE item in order to be competitive. We have made some changes to trinkets already and we will modify others if we feel it’s necessary. Our tactic overall is to have PvE trinkets with the potential for PvP burst (such as those with a large primary stat proc) to proc more frequently but for smaller amounts against players.
Question - Why did you decide to remove resilience from PvP gear? Don’t you feel that there are bigger issues in the current pvp system, like too much cc or better class balance?
Answer - As it stands now, players need a certain percentage of Resilience just to have any fun in PvP. It’s a very discouraging experience to step into a random Battleground with a bare minimum of PvP gear and not be able to stay alive enough to contribute to your team at all. However, we were concerned that if we brought the minimum level of Resilience up that there wouldn’t be enough head space remaining to be able to offer it as a progressive stat on gear; starter gear would have had 65% and max gear would have something like 70%. Yet Resilience as a concept is still important—the damage that a player can do was originally and is ultimately calibrated around how long it takes to kill a quest creature in the outdoor world, but PvP battles at such a fast pace aren’t very fun. Therefore, we decided it just made more sense that players take less damage from other players.
Changing the way gearing works doesn’t preclude making other PvP changes we feel are necessary, and indeed there are several class PvP changes in patch 5.3. On the topic of crowd control specifically, overall we don’t feel like there is too much. We think crowd control is critical to PvP, because without crowd control, battles among players devolve into tunneling and burst cooldowns. Knowing when and who to control, when and who to dispel, and how the various diminishing returns work is knowledge that helps to differentiate player skill in PvP. We would like to make another pass at the amount of instant crowd control in the game, and we think the diminishing returns system could stand to be slightly streamlined overall, but I wouldn’t expect major overhauls to this design.
Question - With the changes to PvP gear and resilience in 5.3, how is it that you plan for World PvP to work so that PvE gear won’t be overly dominant?
Answer - Fully geared Conquest gear gives you about 60% PvP Power, which translates to 60% more damage. Wearing such gear, you will have a significant advantage over the LFR-geared player, have a moderate advantage over the normal-geared player, and should be pretty competitive with a Heroic raid–geared player—they may have more survivability, but you might do more damage. Statistically, Heroic-geared raiders are a very small percentage of WoW players, so you’re unlikely to even encounter them out in the world. If you do, the outcome will likely come down not to small gear disparities, but who is more skilled at PvP, who got the jump on whom, and which side outnumbers the other.
World PvP is inherently unfair, which is also part of its charm, compared to structured Arenas and Battlegrounds. (Imagine for a moment world PvP with gates that opened after a shared countdown!) Overall we think the gear changes we’re talking about will be a good improvement for organized PvP, without causing much or any harm to world PvP.
Question - In patch 5.3, all resilience is being removed from gear. Does this include the PvP heirlooms? If it does, will we be replacing the stats with something else that is useful?
Answer - We did not remove Resilience from heirlooms for patch 5.3. If we feel like the other Resilience changes in 5.3 are successful, then we might go back and look at the lower-level PvP gear, including heirlooms. One option is to replace the Resilience with PvP Power. Also keep in mind that the 65% Resilience is at level 90; it will be smaller at lower character levels, where the presence of Resilience on gear can still provide some benefits.
Question - Because of base resilience and the iLvl cap, what do you plan to do about PvE geared tanks in rated battlegrounds? They will be a clear choice over flag carriers with PvP gear.
Answer - The main role of tanks in PvP is as flag carriers. There is a debuff that applies to flag carriers that causes them to take additional damage, and we made a change to have this debuff even stronger for tanks in Rated Battlegrounds. Philosophically, we’re okay with tanks being useful in PvP, but in general, characters that are hard to kill with a reasonable amount of control aren’t fun for anyone else, so we’re definitely not trying to encourage even more tank participation in PvP. With this change, you can still use a tank as a flag carrier, but it should also feel more feasible to try having other classes and specs carry the flag as well.
Question - Why was 65% resilience the chosen number? Do you feel that this will be too much or too little damage reduction and do you plan on changing this in the future?
Answer - It’s close to what players have today in full Conquest gear, and we think survivability feels okay for those characters. We may increase it to 70% or higher depending on how things feel, especially in patch 5.4.
Question - What is the objective of allowing resilience gems and resilience enchants in a pvp set? We have experienced that right now everything that adds resilience to your gear is useless. Are you going to improve resilience gems and enchantments to make them more appealing to use or are you going to remove it over time?
Answer - As we said above in regard to heirlooms, we wanted to evaluate the Resilience changes in 5.4 before propagating them through every system in the game. It could be that we redesign Resilience gems and enchants in patch 5.4. Keep in mind that the relative survivability you get from those gems and enchants has not changed, even though the numbers are smaller. If you enjoyed 10% less damage before, you still will now.
Question - Will this resilience change have any impact on PvP Power? Can you elaborate on what you are doing to make it a more attractive stat for Flag Carriers and healers?
Answer - We increased the PvP Power benefit to healing from 50% to 100% and increased Battle Fatigue by a proportional amount. These two changes should keep healing at about the same strength as in patch 5.2, but make PvP Power as a stat more attractive to healers. We discussed flag carriers a bit in an earlier question; we’re not really worried about tanks anywhere but CTF, and we have a CTF-specific solution.
Rewards and Incentives
Question - The Elite set is becoming a vanity item again in patch 5.3, and it’s very expensive and frustrating having to gem and enchant your gear a second time. Have you considered making Elite gear function similarly to Challenge mode gear?
Answer - The current design is a remnant of our plan in patch 5.2 where the older piece is consumed in order to purchase the newer piece. We implemented the system in such a way because it allowed players to transfer the upgrades to the new piece without requiring additional Conquest points. Now that we don’t support upgrading PvP gear, we could reconsider this design for the next season and make Elite gear behave more like Challenge mode gear.
Question - In patch 5.3, the elite gear will be quite difficult to attain for casual Arena players. What kind of rewards do you have planned for casual PvP’ers to keep them interested in PvP?
Answer - Elite gear is positioned as one of the ultimate PvP rewards. Similarly, Heroic raid gear is also hard to obtain for casual players. In the meantime, more casual PvP players should see steady rewards as they earn the normal Conquest pieces. We do think that there’s room for more PvP rewards that aren’t just aimed at the very best PvP players. Next season, we’re discussing some rewards aimed at participation (e.g. win 50 Rated Battlegrounds) and not just the players with the highest win percentages.
Question - The change in patch 5.3 that makes Gateway require a four second cast time and being attackable is going to be quite damaging to warlocks when affliction is already in quite a poor state. What was the reasoning behind this change and what do you plan to do with Affliction to make it more competitive?
Answer - Our overall goal was to make Gateway less binary. As implemented on live realms right now, it feels very hard to get up, but then brutally punishing to the other team once you get it at full effectiveness. With these changes, it’s easier to get the Gateway up but less transformative when you are successful. We are still evaluating their health—we don’t want them to be trivial to destroy. One change that players may not be aware of is that in patch 5.3 the first charge happens after 5 seconds (down from 13 seconds), and each additional charge requires 10 seconds (down from 15 seconds).
We don’t feel that Gateway is the key to making Affliction more competitive. We changed Haunt to refund a Soul Shard when it is dispelled, with the intent that Shards spent on Haunt instead of Soul Swap shouldn’t feel wasted. We also redesigned the PvP set bonus to grant additional damage to DOTs. While this benefits all Warlocks, it will benefit Affliction the most, which should help make them more competitive with the other Warlock specs.
Question - What is the reasoning behind the upcoming changes to Void Shift? This spell already has a high risk to use, why target it for a nerf?
Answer - Shadow is overperforming and something needed to go. Shadow priests have high damage, strong defenses, and lots of utility. What we think was putting them over the top was being able to save their healer with things like Void Shift and Mass Dispel.
Question - Why are you buffing the way PvP power affects hybrid healing? Classes without healing abilities are also affected by PvP fatigue, such as Second Wind and recuperate. What about the survivability loss those classes get from this change?
Answer - In patch 5.3, all specs (even classes without healing specs) benefit from a PvP Power-to-healing conversion. This means that any heal should benefit from PvP Power; this includes percentage heals such as Second Wind and Recuperate. Previously things like Second Wind and Recuperate weren’t benefitting from PvP Power at all.
A Few Extras
Question - Are there any plans for patch 5.3 or beyond to allow players to be able to join multiple 3v3 teams at once, or even allowing cross-realm arena teams?
Answer - Not in patch 5.3, though we may do something like this at some point in the future. We think that such an idea is interesting and could encourage more people to participate in PvP.
Question - Casting spells is still quite a painful process, especially with skills like Mind-numbing Poison and Necrotic Strike. What have you got planned for 5.3 to start moving the game back to casted spells rather than instants like was promised some time ago?
Answer - It’s a bit of a chicken and egg issue. We’ve gone on record as saying we think PvP would be more fun with fewer instant spells, since instant spells allow players to move a lot and don’t open them up to being countered. Once we tame instants, it’s entirely possible that Mind-Numbing Poison and Necrotic Strike will be too powerful. They already slow player casts by less than what they do on creatures, and that number could be even lower (though at some point the debuff would just end up being unnoticeable).
Regardless, a change like this one is huge—it’s not just a simple data tweak, so don’t expect something for 5.3. Instants are used throughout the game and we can’t simply, for example, change the cooldown of Holy Shock.
Question - A new battleground and arena are planned for patch 5.3. This is really cool, do we have any more plans for battlegrounds and arenas and what can you share about these?
Answer - There is nothing new in the pipeline at this time. We may spend some time fixing older ones. We have a lot of data now about which Battlegrounds players are voting out of participating in, so that gives us some direction on which Battlegrounds we could potentially fix . . . or even cut.