Shadowlands PvP Dev Interview with Brian Holinka
Venruki sat down today with Brian Holinka to discuss all things PvP in Shadowlands. Here are the highlights, and be sure to watch the video for the full interview!


  • PvP Talents
    • In order for PvP to feel fresh, the meta has to change from time to time, and that also means classes have to change with new expansions.
    • Design and class changes are mostly done in new expansions, and it felt like a good time to address PvP talents.
    • The goal was to address talents that felt mandatory and balance issues caused by them.
  • Healing Reduction
    • Healing reduction is a way to make the game more offensive than defensive.
    • The goal was to increase the effect of sustain on targets.
    • The average time frame of 3's shoot to be 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Off-Spec Healers
    • Off-healing should feel like a cool part of your defensive toolkit, but should be balanced.
    • Off-healers should not be able to shut down a kill window while a healer is locked down. This is something that they want to address.
    • Arena should be more lethal rather than non-lethal.
    • Hybrid healing is going to have a balance pass that is PvP specific soon.
  • PvP Gear
    • The team has to design a gearing system in PvP that attracts players while also making sure it doesn't have to be the primary system.
    • Holinka is happy to be back in a place where people hang around the PvP vendors while queing for battlegrounds.
    • Gearing in PvP becomes more of an issue as a season progresses as you fall behind in conquest.
  • Earning Conquest
    • Having a way to catch up is something that should be addressed soon after 9.1
    • An amp to your conquest earn is something they have been discussing if you fall behind, mainly a small boost to get you started.
    • It is not smart to totally discredit the power progression of players, so it's a fine line.
    • Having increased conquest acquisition on weekends is a suggested addition.
  • Solo Queue
    • Arena compositions is the main issue with having solo queues. It would be really unfair for players with the same rating to queue into a good comp vs a bad one.
    • Solo queue is something that could be tried out in the brawl system first.
    • They understand that some people just want to arena and skirmishes don't do it for some people.
    • Letting players browse groups while listed is one of the solutions to find groups faster.
    • They are not dismissing that it is a problem and are genuinely looking for solutions.
  • Rating Decay
    • Holinka does not like the idea of rating decay, as people shouldn't be punished for life outside of the game keeping them from playing.
  • Burst
    • A solution to one-shots is addressing the number of cooldowns used in PvP.
    • Ultimately the game cannot be designed around these one-shot mechanics as the rest of the time you would feel like a wet noodle.
  • Mind Control Bug
    • The team is aware of it and working really hard to find a fix, but it is proving difficult to replicate and address it.
This article was originally published in forum thread: Shadowlands PvP Dev Interview with Brian Holinka started by Stoy View original post
Comments 100 Comments
  1. Nerovar's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by willtron View Post
    I played PvP, its what im interested in. Try again. And take into account just how many people play arena, and play play arena at a meaningful level.
    I don't get what you're trying to say. That because arena is a high end activity and there are overall more casuals playing random battlegrounds means we should balance around BGs and disregard the more "competetive" game modes? Do you want a Classic style system where your rewards (gear/title) come from pure mindless grind?

    If that's what you want, I'm not opposed to adding something like this as a parallel progression system that gives you access to the same PvP gear.

    But as sole progression or focus of the game this would probably kill the rest of the PvP community that remains. High end activities usually need to exist so people have some sort of goal to work towards (and as a means to measure their skill) that keeps them hooked to the game.
  1. Super Kami Dende's Avatar
    Just make healers unusable in PvP. Easy fix.
  1. TbouncerT's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Super Kami Dende View Post
    Just make healers unusable in PvP. Easy fix.
    So ban Druids, Paladins, Priests, Shamans, Monks from PvP is what you're saying? No matter the spec, they can heal in some form. If they took out healing, they would have to rework DPS.
  1. Sanguinerd's Avatar
    Or, just embrace the imbalance and stop fucking everyone around failing to balance something that isn't balanceable just for the sake of top end arena hardly anyone gives a shit about. Classes are not equal, they're not meant to be equal in the first place.

    This doesn't just apply to PVP either tbh.
  1. Super Kami Dende's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by TbouncerT View Post
    So ban Druids, Paladins, Priests, Shamans, Monks from PvP is what you're saying? No matter the spec, they can heal in some form. If they took out healing, they would have to rework DPS.
    I didn't say remove healing, I said removed healers. The good thing about WoW is it has a very set Trinity system of Tank, Healer, DPS. so you can easily tell the difference. If you like I'll tell you how. The Healers have a Little green Symbol with a Cross in it.
  1. edlund's Avatar
    Nothing about that boosting sh*t? The one and only problem with wow pvp is "boosting" atm and it will never be fun as long as you don't solve this problem!!!
    In arena, you have a mmr system that means people will match with opponents similar to their skill and gear, hmm nice let's try to hit from 1600 to 1800 and boom what's that? Every match you see a 226 ilvl gladiator boosting someone! How the *** casual people will raise rating without getting boost?
    And some months ago i remember a decision that says "ppl who use LFG for boost advertisement will be banned" i can not find it right now but i remember it... Go check pvp lfg interface! all boost advertisers and all same ppl that means noone is getting banned! and you know waht? i tried to whisper a couple of them and all gives you a discord link then they want REAL MONEY for the boost, which is COMPLETELY A BAN REASON. If i can find out this, blizzard should do it easier.
    Wow pvp is not fun atm for casual players who do not want to give real money to gladiators!!
  1. Tyrannica's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Alayea View Post
    World of Warcraft has been a PvE game first and foremost. Battlegrounds weren't included at launch. Arena, as you stated, wasn't added until TBC (which Blizzard years later admitted had been a mistake). And what you get when trying to balance what was mainly an afterthought (PvP) with the original intent (PvE) is a Frankenstein of a game design. How many times over the years have players complained about PvE being affected by PvP balancing and vice versa, let alone gear acquisition? @willtron is correct.

    Now if PvP had been designed alongside the PvE aspect when World of Warcraft was first being worked on, maybe the outcome would be different. Or perhaps not. Guess we'll never know.
    Ok lets play a little game:

    Warcraft 3 was first and foremost a PvP game, nobody really cared about its PvE, have you seen the battle.net ladders back in the day? WoW did not even exist, but was build on WC3, you can't deny the BIG influence, until MoP happened?

    That you did not see proper PvP in Vanilla WoW, was because devs had to build the world of this mmo first, they tend to implement pvp later when all is settled down, exactly what they are going to do with SL, patch 9.1 and 9.1.5 later on have you even listened to the 1 hour Holinka interview?

    Besides, its the nature of a RPG that nothing will be balanced out equally, this counts for pvp as well as pve. Look at the dps meters for instance of raids. I wouldn't call that balanced.

    Especially not in Vanilla when warriors and mages were stacked, in this regard, yes TBC Arena was more balanced than that, more classes were viable. Look at a Tier list. Heck it seems better balanced than raid tier lists of TBC, even though, RPGs seem impossible to balance in pvp, pve is even more unbalanced, but nobody really cares as much, as its not a deathmatch that players are taking more personal than scripted code.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Wuusah View Post
    It really isn’t. That’s stupid. 1v1 wins the class with the strongest self healing. A warrior will pretty much never win 1v1 against a WW monk. If it gets desperate the monk can start kiting and heal himself back to full.
    you might wanna check out FURY warriors on the PTR then, they got tons of selfheal, mobility and even a hefty 40% MS as "Slaughterhouse" was redesigned.

    If this abomination can kill a good dueler mage like Cvark it can certainly kill an avg ww monk on the fly under arena rules.

    The reality in SL just is, warriors are the best arena dd class by a landslide and this trend will continue into 9.1. as the new meta is very wizard unfriendly on top of it, at warriors are going to be the strongest duel class they have ever been.

    I'd say only a feral and maybe (assain hemotoxin) rogue could stop this thing.

    PvP should be balanced between 1vs1 and FFA(basicly 1 vs more) its not a stupid thing, its the reality old streams of pros you only see clips like that.

    I am in no way against arenas and objective based bgs, but those are differend kinds of pvp, group pvp and faction pvp, certainly not the only way how to pvp.

    - - - Updated - - -

  1. LazuOG's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by schwarzkopf View Post
    PvP is too binary - a stealthed rogue will always kill my mage, whilst other classes have classes that they can't defend against.

    Right now for many classes PvP is pretty much just MTG with one card each.
    Dude, no offense, you are not someone to talk about PvP. Like, at all. You know why. Please don't make this weird.
  1. schwarzkopf's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by LazuOG View Post
    you are not someone to talk about about PvP.
    Dude, will full offence, you are not someone to talk about what I am to talk about.
  1. Flaks's Avatar
    I understand everyone and their mother on the forums hates BFA but for me it was the best expansion since WotLK for one simple reason: warmode. It breathed new life into the game for me and it's integration into early power progression with assaults and weekly quests was the absolute perfect system for me and one that had me playing more than anything else ever in the game. THAT to me is WoW pvp. It inspired me and gave me a gearing path to finally step into raiding and mythic+ and allowed me enjoy joining BGs without getting stomped over and over. I wish they'd at least incorporate all the great weekly quests they had from the system in shadowlands again. Also I would love new bgs and simplification of gearing. At least with the BfA system I could start getting heroic level gear after getting all conquest pieces so I knew I'd eventually be competitive at least gear wise out in the world and in BGs.

    Shadowlands is an ode to elitism and they keep doubling and tripling down on it. It's already going down as the worst expansion to date for me.
  1. Tyris Flare's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Kalisandra View Post
    Another example: Once upon a time Ret Pallies had one of the highest sustained movement rates whilst in combat, and were hard to root or snare (by the standards of the day), making up somewhat for their lack of a charge or stealth. They also had one of the best stuns in the game (at a time when most classes had no on-demand stun at all). These days they have a bad sprint and mediocre root/snare removal, and their stun isn't very good - it's not AoE (and thus of low value in PvE) and it's magic so all healers can dispel it (and thus of low value in PvP). This their role in PvP has changed from providing utility and off-healing with decent up-time on targets to simply providing burst damage (which due to Wings becoming stronger over the years and the provision of mini-CDs is very strong).
    HoJ being low value in PvP must be why holy paladins have completely dominated as healers in both brackets all season and why ret (and even prot) has had its best pvp season in a long time. (https://pvp.subcreation.net/)

    This is a great theory vs practice post.

    (I do agree about how changes can disconnect people from a class, though)
  1. PePeNinja's Avatar
    Holinka logic about Solo Queue:

    We don't want to add a solo queue system cos we are afraid Rogue might match up with a bad class AHAHAHAHAAHAHAHA FUCKIN SERIOUS WHAT A SHIT SHOW!!!
  1. Forgottenone's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Alayea View Post
    World of Warcraft has been a PvE game first and foremost. Battlegrounds weren't included at launch. Arena, as you stated, wasn't added until TBC (which Blizzard years later admitted had been a mistake). And what you get when trying to balance what was mainly an afterthought (PvP) with the original intent (PvE) is a Frankenstein of a game design. How many times over the years have players complained about PvE being affected by PvP balancing and vice versa, let alone gear acquisition? @willtron is correct.

    Now if PvP had been designed alongside the PvE aspect when World of Warcraft was first being worked on, maybe the outcome would be different. Or perhaps not. Guess we'll never know.
    I believe in finding sources. So first you are right the game was introduced as a PvE game and PvE has obviously been what has propelled the game forward. With that said, I see the quote you're talking about but it helps to have it in proper context.

    https://www.bluetracker.gg/wow/topic...ere-a-mistake/

    "That's a little bit about what Rob is talking about -- the difficulty we have had retrofitting WoW's PvP. I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I don't think he is saying Arenas were a mistake. It's the way we introduced Arenas that has continued to cause ourselves a lot of work and occasionally caused frustration for players. We like the Arena gameplay though or we would have cut it or overhauled it long ago. "

    "I think it is important to reiterate that we like the arenas and the arena gameplay, but that we regret the methods of how the arenas were implemented, which turned out to be a tough endeavour indeed. The arena implementation has caused quite a few headaches and frustrations for many people, but things have become better over time though. "


    Without putting words into their mouths, and taking them at their word it is clear from their mouths that the main regret is simply HOW they introduced arena.


    Honestly the game is the perfect world for PvE and PvP, they just haven't found the proper balance. They have come close before though. PvP power I think was a good step in the right direction. Gear that is inherently stronger during PvP. Honor gear should be able to compete against heroic/mythic dungeons, but should be obtained at a slower rate. While arena gear should compete with mythic+/raiding gear over the course of the season/tier. Arena gear could initially come in at a ilvl that is below normal raiding, but by halfway through a pvp season be just under mythic raiding. It would allow pvp players to do some decent pvp content over time, lets their gear scale but never be a viable option over mythic raiding. Instead we've had times where t was more logical for pve players to gear through pvp rather than doing heroic/mythic dungeons.
  1. LazuOG's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by schwarzkopf View Post
    Dude, will full offence, you are not someone to talk about what I am to talk about.
    You yourself said multiple times you can not play the game the way it's intended, because of your condition. If your opinion on PvP is based on the very limited part you can participate in, then there's no point even sharing it. You don't have to provide your take on every post in these forums.
  1. Kalisandra's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Tyris Flare View Post
    HoJ being low value in PvP must be why holy paladins have completely dominated as healers in both brackets all season and why ret (and even prot) has had its best pvp season in a long time. (https://pvp.subcreation.net/)
    My comment was respect to Ret, not Holy, which has a different range of specs to be compared against and thus has different values placed on the various abilities (hence why, after Holy got access to Repentance it got given a cast-time, which makes it crap for Ret - compare it with Paralysis, etc.). And just because HoJ no longer has the relative power it once did doesn't mean Ret is crap (and I will agree that HoJ is probably more valuable now than when Warriors had a strong phys. It means that when it's not it's because of other reasons.

    Note that I did not claim that Ret was bad or weak currently.
  1. javierdsv's Avatar
    Just add a grouping tool that looks for people but let you see the final group before joining. And if 1 person says no, then it goes back to queue, having that said failed group blacklisted so it doesn't trigger the same comp again.
    Something like: Found a group! And the window says: [name] [spec] Do you want to jump in? Yes/No.
  1. MechanoDruid's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by edlund View Post
    Nothing about that boosting sh*t? The one and only problem with wow pvp is "boosting" atm and it will never be fun as long as you don't solve this problem!!!
    In arena, you have a mmr system that means people will match with opponents similar to their skill and gear, hmm nice let's try to hit from 1600 to 1800 and boom what's that? Every match you see a 226 ilvl gladiator boosting someone! How the *** casual people will raise rating without getting boost?
    And some months ago i remember a decision that says "ppl who use LFG for boost advertisement will be banned" i can not find it right now but i remember it... Go check pvp lfg interface! all boost advertisers and all same ppl that means noone is getting banned! and you know waht? i tried to whisper a couple of them and all gives you a discord link then they want REAL MONEY for the boost, which is COMPLETELY A BAN REASON. If i can find out this, blizzard should do it easier.
    Wow pvp is not fun atm for casual players who do not want to give real money to gladiators!!
    Yep, that pretty much covers today's PvP.
  1. javierdsv's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by edlund View Post
    Nothing about that boosting sh*t? The one and only problem with wow pvp is "boosting" atm and it will never be fun as long as you don't solve this problem!!!
    In arena, you have a mmr system that means people will match with opponents similar to their skill and gear, hmm nice let's try to hit from 1600 to 1800 and boom what's that? Every match you see a 226 ilvl gladiator boosting someone! How the *** casual people will raise rating without getting boost?
    And some months ago i remember a decision that says "ppl who use LFG for boost advertisement will be banned" i can not find it right now but i remember it... Go check pvp lfg interface! all boost advertisers and all same ppl that means noone is getting banned! and you know waht? i tried to whisper a couple of them and all gives you a discord link then they want REAL MONEY for the boost, which is COMPLETELY A BAN REASON. If i can find out this, blizzard should do it easier.
    Wow pvp is not fun atm for casual players who do not want to give real money to gladiators!!
    That can't be solved tho.. Other than making high mmr lose a lot of rating when pairing with very low mmr how do you prevent people from playing together?
  1. TbouncerT's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Super Kami Dende View Post
    I didn't say remove healing, I said removed healers. The good thing about WoW is it has a very set Trinity system of Tank, Healer, DPS. so you can easily tell the difference. If you like I'll tell you how. The Healers have a Little green Symbol with a Cross in it.
    My last sentence still stands, smarty-pants. And off healing is a thing and has gotten out of hand just as bad. If they took away the off healing ability of non-healer specs, I feel like healing in pvp would feel better than now. It's ridiculous what off heals can do while the healer is cc'd.
  1. Bats's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by javierdsv View Post
    Just add a grouping tool that looks for people but let you see the final group before joining. And if 1 person says no, then it goes back to queue, having that said failed group blacklisted so it doesn't trigger the same comp again.
    Something like: Found a group! And the window says: [name] [spec] Do you want to jump in? Yes/No.
    That's a pretty neat idea actually. I've heard people come up with some really good solutions and fixes to big problems and yet Blizzard keeps thinking they always know best which is really frustrating.

    They need to try these things out and see whether or not they work for the sake of the players themselves and not for what THEY think the players should want.

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