|Release: December 07, 2010|
|Screen Resolution: N/A|
This week, I gave World of Warcraft's player-vs.-player (PvP) combat a shot. I was expecting to find it fiddly, even boring. After all, there's a reason that so few RPGs include competitive multiplayer: When your character's strength is determined more by level and equipment than by your own skill, and when the combat has more to do with strategy than with action, it's not much fun to face off against friends or strangers.
Instead, I found PvP to be complex, deep, and surprisingly action-packed. It's still a little too overwhelming for me to enjoy it that much, but I understand why so many players think it's so rewarding.
Back in my original review of the game, I recommended that newcomers join a player-vs.-environment (PvE) realm instead of a PvP one. That's good advice, because in a PvP realm, another human player can kill you at any time. As a n00b, you really don't want to deal with that. You have to worry constantly about various survival tactics, such as using a "buddy system" to guard against ambushes; hiding from powerful enemies as they walk past; complaining to other players when you get "ganked" (attacked by a person or group much stronger than you), "griefed" (stalked or harassed by another player), or "corpse-camped" (killed over and over again in the same spot when you go to resurrect your corpse); etc. It's hard enough to get a feel for WoW without all this constant stress.
But sticking to a PvE realm doesn't mean you have to forgo PvP action altogether. Instead, you can simply select PvP from the menu at the bottom of your screen to join a PvP battle. The matchmaking system will queue you up for a fight. I found it much faster than the Dungeon Finder (five to ten minutes versus fifteen to twenty), and battles typically last about a half hour.
Once you've joined a PvP fight, you're thrown into a battleground with a bunch of other players. Oddly enough, the overall action reminded me a lot of team-based multiplayer in a first-person shooter: it's ridiculously chaotic, with people fighting and dying all over the place, and newbies can expect to die early and often until they learn the ropes. Even the objectives are similar. In my first battle, I played a capture-the-flag variant (the variant being that there are a bunch of flags) on the Arathi Basin map. Other maps have normal capture the flag, and still others are simple contests to kill as many opponents as possible.
I started PvP basically cold. I didn't bone up on my first-aid abilities, read about the best strategies for each map, or fine-tune my fighting tactics. This wasn't the worst mistake in the world; it's easy enough to go with the flow of combat and deal with it when you die a lot. However, things go a lot more smoothly when you figure things out first.