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. Lorgar Aurelian's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Toppy View Post
    It was substantially more balanced prior to Mythic+. Mind you, I don't think this is the fault of mythic+, more so that the current dev team came into power around when mythic+ was made a thing. Remember, they took over in WoD. And balance has gotten notably worse with each subsequent expansion.
    The current dev team shake ups didn’t happen until bfa Chilton was a lead from TBC-legion.
  1. Toppy's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Daemos daemonium View Post
    The current dev team shake ups didn’t happen until bfa Chilton was a lead from TBC-legion.
    I'm aware but there was a big shift after MoP, there were still hangers on from before that for sure but there was a big shift once Panda was done.
  1. ElDoorO's Avatar
    "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." -- you don't need to be fresh for it to succeed. If something is competitive, sometimes the better answer is to leave it alone and -tweak- until done. The overwhelming majority of games do just fine not dramatically changing everything every few years.

    Gear, in something competitive, shouldn't have significant weight. It should make you stand out, be distinct, but it shouldn't be the "you stand absolutely no chance against that because they can kill you within one or two globals, even if you trinket" versus "sure, I'll sit out the full stun, they can barely dent my armor". That's just obscene and not very entertaining.

    You know what, I'd even be ok with the clined the game, ripped out the PvE parts, and just made PvP its own system. Think: Counter-Strike but WoW's arena/bg's.
  1. Lorgar Aurelian's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Toppy View Post
    I'm aware but there was a big shift after MoP, there were still hangers on from before that for sure but there was a big shift once Panda was done.
    I can’t say I’ve ever heard of a post panda shift other then from hiring and training new devs for most of Wod where are you getting that from?
  1. Biggles Worth's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Stardrift View Post
    How about some new BGs with new modes?
    I really wanted to know what a PvP warfront would've been like.
  1. Roanda's Avatar
    This was an amazing interview Very hard to dislike anything that was said here
  1. Clbull's Avatar
    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.
    It's also really unfair that high end PvP, Mythic+ and raiding is filled with elitist jerks who enforce this catch-22 scenario where you need to have high rating and achievements just to get into a damn group. It's this ivory tower that has created the game's toxic boost culture. It's the reason why craploads of boosting communities are literally profiteering from the game through forms of real world trading. It's the reason why Trade Chat is damn near unusable on any populated realm due to the sheer volume of boost spam present.

    My greatest pet-peeve with the game is that none of the game's progression options allow you to go beyond a certain ilvl or progression threshold without requiring you to join a premade group. For dungeons it's ilvl 171, for raids (LFR) it's 187, and for both solo quest content & PvP it's 197.

    There is nothing fun about spending 3 plus hours per play session being declined from every single group in Premade Groups finder, regardless of what content you do or what role you play. And when you join one, the players in question are either absolute dog pumping dismal levels of DPS or they're the kind who will boot you from the group the moment you don't nail a mechanic the first time.

    Solo queue needs to happen for WoW to survive as a PvP an overall game experience, because I know for damn sure that I would have unsubbed months ago if it weren't for Classic/TBC. You'd think Holinka would have learned his lesson by now...

    And before you tell me it's ironic that I play Classic/TBC when it lacks even more in solo queues, at least everything else about old-school WoW holds up. Levelling up doesn't suck as a gameplay experience, there is actual gear progression, the story isn't building you up as Azeroth's only hope with cliché plot after plot. I can't pinpoint the exact moment that content outside of raids & dungeons started to suck, but I think it was at least from Cataclysm.
  1. Clozer's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Toppy View Post
    It was substantially more balanced prior to Mythic+. Mind you, I don't think this is the fault of mythic+, more so that the current dev team came into power around when mythic+ was made a thing. Remember, they took over in WoD. And balance has gotten notably worse with each subsequent expansion.
    Quite sure for a raid environment you can actually play any spec and be more or less in a 25% range. Back in the day, certain specs performed up to 300% better than other specs. Balance is better than it has ever been. :/ This is actually very easy to check. Warcraftlogs got data from Highmaul onwards.

    I'm not a rank1 gladiator and I'm not able to rate PVP balance - but that had always been a mess.
  1. willtron's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Nerovar View Post
    What would you have WoW PvP be balanced around then? Random battlegrounds because most players engage with that content?
    If it was my game, Epic BGs. and 30vs30 would be the smallest BG.

    The larger the bg and the encounter, the less individual performance matters in PvP.

    WARcraft should be big battles, not arenas. Lets be real, MMOs are an awful format for truly competitive play.
  1. Edward Wu's Avatar
    "In order for PvP to feel fresh the Meta has to change from time to time"

    Imagine looking at naturally evergreen content and treating it like your cyclical PvE content. Fucking idiots.
  1. abcdefgeek's Avatar
    Holinka is a dumb fucking joke.
  1. Nerovar's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by willtron View Post
    If it was my game, Epic BGs. and 30vs30 would be the smallest BG.

    The larger the bg and the encounter, the less individual performance matters in PvP.

    WARcraft should be big battles, not arenas. Lets be real, MMOs are an awful format for truly competitive play.
    Turns out this isn't really what PvP players are interested in.
  1. abcdefgeek's Avatar
    "The team is aware of it and working really hard to find a fix"

    lmao, working REALLLLLY hard like they're elementary school kids trying their darndest!!!
  1. Clbull's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Biggles Worth View Post
    I really wanted to know what a PvP warfront would've been like.
    Or even better: add Island Expeditions to the Rated BG queue and make them 10v10.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Wu View Post
    "In order for PvP to feel fresh the Meta has to change from time to time"

    Imagine looking at naturally evergreen content and treating it like your cyclical PvE content. Fucking idiots.
    Instanced content is the only fun part of WoW, and the moment someone competently creates a standalone game that revolves solely around that element (think the Impossible Bosses custom WC3/DOTA2 map), World of Warcraft will be dead.

    Even for the PvP enthusiasts, a standalone MOBA with action bar combat and multiple classes just like WoW would blow this game out of the water and leave Blizzard literally bankrupt.
  1. kranur's Avatar
    What a joke.

    "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."

    Maybe design the fucking arena or the matchmaking selection to not have "bad" comps?
    But then arena by definition revolves around better comp vs lesser comp unless mirror match anyway where a team starts with the upper hand solely by comp regardless of solo or pre-made. Players fault for meeting a counter team in pre-made right?

    Goes to show that the guy in charge of pvp doesn't even understand how arena works.
  1. Kalisandra's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Toppy View Post
    It was substantially more balanced prior to Mythic+. Mind you, I don't think this is the fault of mythic+, more so that the current dev team came into power around when mythic+ was made a thing. Remember, they took over in WoD. And balance has gotten notably worse with each subsequent expansion.
    Balance in raids is still often quite good. However, m+ is a different beast and balance there, at high levels, is terrible and likewise in organised PvP. Random BGs are never going to be balanced (the best that can be done there is to make sure every spec can do something fun and useful and call it a day), and so shouldn't be considered when balancing specs.

    The problem is that balance in raids has been achieved by making just about every spec have the same basic rotation - build and spend, with a burst CD every two minutes or so, and maybe some 'mini-burst' every 30-60s. Even the DoT specs work this way and the only difference is that some percentage of their damage is delayed and spread out. The result is relatively easy to balance (at least on a Patchwerk boss), but boring and bland. It also means that random BGs and other unorganised PvP loses that 'fun' aspect, because nobody has anything stand-out any more. For example, back in the day (and now in 'Classic' and 'Classic TBC') Prot and Ret Paladins generally sucked in PvP, but every so often a good 'reckbomb' would go off, or a Ret would get a really good stun+Command Crit and it would make it all seem worthwhile. We don't have that sort of thing any more.
  1. willtron's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Nerovar View Post
    Turns out this isn't really what PvP players are interested in.
    define PvP players
  1. Kalisandra's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by ElDoorO View Post
    "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." -- you don't need to be fresh for it to succeed. If something is competitive, sometimes the better answer is to leave it alone and -tweak- until done. The overwhelming majority of games do just fine not dramatically changing everything every few years.
    This also means players lose their 'connection' to classes they used to love playing, because they change and their role changes.

    For example, I really dislike Paladin healing, but (aside from the complete lack of AoE healing) I rather liked it in LK and earlier, and the only healer I really like now is the Shaman, which has arguably changed the least over the years.

    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).

    Gear, in something competitive, shouldn't have significant weight. It should make you stand out, be distinct, but it shouldn't be the "you stand absolutely no chance against that because they can kill you within one or two globals, even if you trinket" versus "sure, I'll sit out the full stun, they can barely dent my armor". That's just obscene and not very entertaining.
    It's always seemed to me that arenas, event that's in game as organised arena fights, should have specific sets and when you zone into the arena, that's what you are wearing. Higher ratings would open different appearances and you'd get to use those, and other cosmetic things you won, outside the arenas as well. The templates were a good idea, though leaving some gear scaling in was a mistake IMO (especially as at the time the best source of high ilevel gear was PvE, so PvPers had to do stuff they weren't interested in in order to stay competitive in the content they did want to play), and further exploration of that idea would be good.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Clbull View Post
    And before you tell me it's ironic that I play Classic/TBC when it lacks even more in solo queues, at least everything else about old-school WoW holds up. Levelling up doesn't suck as a gameplay experience, there is actual gear progression, the story isn't building you up as Azeroth's only hope with cliché plot after plot. I can't pinpoint the exact moment that content outside of raids & dungeons started to suck, but I think it was at least from Cataclysm.
    I thought it was still decent in MoP, aside from the endless dailies to start. However, later implementations of the elements of MoP that worked well ('common' rares, lots of hidden loot boxes, genuinely hidden treasures, etc.) have all become progressively worse (a theme with systems in WoW since about that point) with each expansion. Actually, I'll make an exception for the loot boxes in WoD - they made levelling interesting and gave a viable alternative to re-doing guests on alts that you'd already done X times before.
  1. Nerovar's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by willtron View Post
    define PvP players
    The people who play PvP in WoW.
  1. willtron's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Nerovar View Post
    The people who play PvP in WoW.
    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.

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