BlizzCon 2016 World of Warcraft: Legion Design Retrospective Panel Transcript

Legion PvP Goals

Brian: Thank you, Owen. I don’t know if there are Ret paladins here today. I am not even sure. I am not going to talk about Ret Palasins in PvP. As much as you would all love that, instead I am going to talk about the other system that we had in the Legion kind of the problems we are trying to solve when we are designing it, and some of the challenges we had.

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When we sat down to make Legion, and we said what are our goals for PVP? What are we trying to do? Well, if you are trying to make it more cute we are just going to gnome pigtails, because that’s the cutest thing ever, right?

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But really there are a lot of people who love PvP because PvP is love. There’s people who play. We just had the arena of Championships, had probably the biggest crowd we have ever had at BlizzCon for that, incredible competitions. We have people who played this game for days to beat the absolute best at their class. We have a huge community that loves them. So there’s a lot of people that love PvP, but it’s always better when you have more people to kill, or your friends want to play with you as well.

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We want to bring more people into our PvP love circle. And what we saw is there are people who have played World of Warcraft over ten years. Anybody here played World of Warcraft for over ten years here?

(crowd responds)

And they have played this thing forever, they write blogs about it, they run podcasts, these people they are super into the game, but for whatever reason they didn’t play PvP, and for us now we thought well some people just aren’t competitive gamers, some people just don’t like players vs players. And then two things happened, Heroes of the Storm came out, and Overwatch came out, and all of a sudden we saw the same people who love World of Warcraft playing in these other competitive games. So obviously, we had that one wrong and we thought about it.

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We kind of reached out to all of you and we said: “What’s the problem? What’s the thing?“… and a lot of people said: “Maybe gear is the problem, because we have always kind of done things with gear to make it feel very unique and special for PvP players.

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What that possibly did was put a wedge into the communities. It said I’m either a PvPer or PvEer because that’s the thing I’m pursuing. That’s the gear I’m pursuing, resilience will fix it; but that didn’t necessarily happen. And so, we thought: “Well, alright. If gear is the problem, maybe let’s just try removing gear.” No, I don’t mean naked PvP (as fun as that would be), I just mean that your gear doesn’t increase your power. We set your stats. We try to make things balanced from a PvP gameplay standpoint. And that works in a lot of ways, obviously. Anybody can answer PvP in this situation and feel like they are competitive, and we have a lot of balance knobs that that gives us. But at same time your gear is what defines your character. It is what you are doing in this roleplaying game. You are going out getting gear, making yourself more powerful.

So our next idea was: “Well, why don’t we try what we did for Mists of Pandaria challenge mode dungeons?” We will say everybody is the same iLevel, and that also once again kind of solves our balance problems. Everybody has the same power. Your gear has meaning and significance, but the problem here is you don’t really have any pursuit of getting better gear. You don’t care about iLevel at all.

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I mean… imagine if we lived in a world where secondary stats trumped iLevel. That would be a rough place, and so instead, we want people to want it not just get one set of gear, trinkets bonuses, and set bonuses — and set bonuses are the only thing that matter. And then they are never equipping upgrade. So that’s when we came to our hybrid approach that we have now, which is kind of a system where we set your stats, but then we also increase those stats based on your average Item level; and this is great because once again for the most part in the back of your head you know that gear matters. Like you want to go out and get better gear; but on the other hand, you don’t think it matters that much, and so this gives us the ability to tune the game in cool ways, and players still feel like getting gear; but it is always been the case of PvP that gear was your progression system.

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You would go into random battlegrounds, earn honor (about 27000 of it), and you get your full PvP honor set, then you’d go into raided arenas or raid battlegrounds to earn conquest (about 27000 of it), and then you have your full Gladiator set, and now we are kind of reducing the impact of gear so that progression didn’t feel as worthwhile.

So we thought let’s revisit what honor is, and basically arrived at Honor 3.0. Honor as a secondary leveling system in the game. So whenever somebody does a battleground or does an arena, earning honor and moving this bar from left (like who doesn’t love to move a bar in World of Warcraft, right?), and so you a re moving this bar from left-to-right, and you are upgrading, and you’re getting that DING! effect, and so that’s great; but at the same time a bar is just not enough. You need to come up with cool and compelling rewards at every level that make you excited to DING!.

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And we thought: “Well, this is a really cool opportunity for us to create all of those spells that we think make a lot of sense for PvP, but don’t make a lot of sense for the rest of the game.” And that’s where we created our honor talent system, but we had a problem with our honor talent system: “Should we unlock honor talents just like we do normal talents? You get a row, you go completely across when you hit a level from left to right?

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In that case, you would have to reach max level to have an option in every row, and that is like a problem to us, because also we were trying to solve that problem already with gear. So we said: “What if you unlock talents one at a time going down the column?,” and what this allowed to do is that by level 10 you have an option in every one of those rows. Maybe it isn’t the best option for every situation, but you are effectively at full power; and that is 20% of the way, because you honor from level 1 to level 50.

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So by level 10, you can get there pretty quick, but then as you unlock more honor talents it is about customization options. It is about: “Hey, out on a battleground this one makes sense. While I’m in an Arena, this one makes sense, or when I’m out in the world.

 

And so that’s great, we love this system I think. We have gotten great feedback that players enjoy this and they love their cool honor talents; but in the same respect, that is something maybe only a PvPer is the only one who care about. If you don’t actively go in PvP, the spell that only works in PvP is not as compelling.

So we went on to try to come up with some really cool faction-specific toys like our Honorable Pendants, so you could show off Horde or Alliance.

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Incredible mounts that our artists make that are unique to the honor system, and of course, unique artifact looks that have a very PvP vibe to them; and fortunately, as we go we can continue to create new rewards for the honor system moving into future patches.

 

Perhaps like these two little guys making a comeback.

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We didn’t really just wanted to be about going from 1 to 50, though. If you have locked all of your honor talents at 50, and you did that in the first two weeks of the expansion. How are we going to continue this progression in any meaningful way? So we took inspiration from some other games, and we thought: “Would it be cool? What if you could optionally repeat that progression for cosmetic rewards: things like the artifact look, or a badge on your unit frame?

It won’t be a thing you are required to do, but it is something we wanted to be hardcore. So we said: “Well, when you do it, you reset your level to honor level 1, and all your honor talents go away.” — and this was controversial for a number of reasons, but for us what really swung the pendulum was: we created all these cool rewards for the honor system, mounts, and artifact power, and goals, cool toys, and pets; and now most people weren’t going to do it, because this barrier was so significant.

So then at patch 7.1, we just did a 180°, said: “You still get your Honor Talents, and everyone can move through that progression, and the plan is just continued add prestige levels with every season. We won’t reset repress each level, or anything you just have more honor you can earn, and more cool rewards you can get.

So this system has been great. We have gotten great response from our teammates, from all of you, lot of people doing PvP who haven’t done it before. It has given us tremendous tuning ups, balance arenas at a high level like we wanted to, and not really damaged the PvE ecosystem too much. So thanks for your time, I’m going to hand it over to Paul Kubit, and he’s going to talk to you all about Legion Professions.

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Next: Legion Professions

BLIZZCON 2016 WORLD OF WARCRAFT: LEGION DESIGN RETROSPECTIVE PANEL TRANSCRIPT
Early DevelopmentDemon Hunter: Behind the BlindfoldArtifact WeaponsLegion PvP Goals
Legion ProfessionsWorld Quests

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Tomas Hernandez is owner of Blizzplanet.com since 2003. I post news about World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard Careers, and the Warcraft film.

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