World of Warcraft: The Death of Open World PvP… by design?

Written by Bordy. You can find him on Twitter @snuffleorc.

Who among us Vanilla Veterans does not look fondly back to the mass battles between Southshore and Tarren Mill? Cataclysm wasn’t what ended these, but it certainly prevented it ever recurring, with the loss of Southshore as an Alliance town.

Southshore and Tarren Mill were roughly equidistant from faction cities (Ironforge and Undercity respectively). The geography of the land was suitable to mass PvP too: No town walls, roughly flat (albeit with a small slope), mostly open ground with minor cover/obstacles and a small tower in the middle. Designers of battlegrounds should take note!

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Of course what actually put an end to the SS vs. TM battles was the creation of battlegrounds. These could be instanced and thus enabled Blizzard to spread the server load of all those wanting to participate. The old SS/TM battles could get very laggy, as fun as they were. Battlegrounds though do not, for the most part, offer mass PvP in open ground. Warsong Gulch is just too small (in as far as combatants go), Arathi Basin has a few more combatants and of very uneven terrain. Eye of the Storm again splits forces up. Alterac Valley comes close at times, but is spread out and more recently simply involves a chase to kill NPCs. Strand of the Ancients, Wintergrasp, and Tol Barad all involve assaulting and defending.

Blizzard do not seem to want to encourage mass open-world PvP. Cataclysm though has brought with it more outposts of both factions in lots of zones, so why hasn’t open war erupted everywhere?

Well, there are now a lot of nearby opposing settlements with flight paths, so any combat will naturally be spread out and thus involve less combatants at each. Terrain is another issue; nothing comes close to a classic battleground like the old SS/TM geography.

You can still of course use the old battlegrounds at your new level. At level 85 there are no less than 7 battlegrounds vying for your attention, all depleting the amount of PvPers actively seeking combat in the open world.

Just prior to Cataclysm there was a lot more open-world PvP. Almost everyone had finished the quest/dungeon content, leaving people to look for other fun. Two things emerged: PvP achievements (i.e. raids on enemy faction leaders) and attacking small settlements with small bands of people (usually no more than 4) in the hope to entice the enemy out for a fight. Both of these appear to have stopped almost completely.

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The former may re-surface once everyone has levelled their alts and finished quest content, although many have now of course done those achievements and they haven’t changed with Cataclysm.

The latter I expect to resurface soon enough. It takes less people to go looking for a small fight. The locations may change though due to the effect of the Cataclysm on the land. For example, no more can level 58 Death Knights get into Mulgore, as they will need to be able to fly to get past the huge gates. Camp Taurajo is no longer a target, but plenty of other settlements are within easy access of both factions now, so small fights may spring up anywhere. Crossroads has always been a favourite, though the guards have been beefed up.

So where do you expect open-world PvP to (eventually) resurface?

Can we ever hope for mass open-world PvP again?

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