Tuesday, May 1, 2007

"How can WoW turn pro?"

I've seen people asking this question IRC and random sites, and if they don't play WoW or haven't played a decent MMORPG, then that would be appropriate, if not, it'd be disappointing to hear. It is to a large extent true that WoW is controlled by a 1.5s global cooldown, but that's barely an argument. Whether you believe it or not, WoW's game-play mechanics happen to be suitable for competitive PvP. I hope some of the things I point out might help the average Joe understand what WoW PVP truly stands for.

The 'one and only' reason that sets apart a world-class FPS team and second-rated ones is, according to pro FPS gamers, whoever is better trained. It's not difficult to understand why. The only way you can not lose, is to win; and you need to precisely plant your tactical steps straight on to ensure that victory. Just like any FPS, strafing, jumping, rotating (in WoW you can't dodge/parry/block when attacked from behind), line-of-sight, preemption, reaction, etc, are all key aspects found in World of Warcraft PVP. Except in WoW, there are extra elements. You have to consider cooldowns, not just your cooldowns, but the cooldowns of your teammates and the enemys'.

Perhaps the essential reservoir of empowerment comes from knowledge of the game. You simply cannot get a top-rated FPS player and turn him into a WoW prodigy like Corrupt (CWOW rogue), Saerdna (Korean Fire Mage), Laintime (Korean Warrior) and so on overnight. It's not possible and not plausible. If you cannot handle the fight mechanics of 1v1, it is not possible to do 2v2, 3v3 or 5v5, because it only gets exponentially more complex and more intense. It might take weeks, months or even years to train up some-one from scratch to become a top-notch player. To have the honors of being called a world-rated WoW player will be something very extraordinary. Someone who has produced numerous PvP videos with several accolades might not even be considered one, because it really isn't possible to encapsulate the essence of those forms of PvP inter-contextually. This is probably why WoW PvPers are so faithful to the PVP system.

Unlike GuildWars, or UO, or EQ, the range of possibilities in WoW is neurotic. There are so many usable spells in PvP, up to 25 probably for the average class. It is required to understand every ability of every class, and individual assessment of each each ability is required. Some players often argue that the best way to truly understand each ability is to have played that specific character. You simply cannot say you don't agree. So the permutations of perspectives, understanding and reasoning is really beyond an FPS. This is probably the best reason why DOTA is well-received today.

In terms of leadership, you cannot simply have 1 CO (commanding officer). Every player in the team should be utilizing VOIP (I don't because of technical issues and RL issues, but I should) to their best. Calling out switches can be achieved by every person if a mistake has been spotted, or if a loophole persists, or if a separate course of action can be executed due to a change in conditions.

Positioning is extremely crucial in the arena. Some players use the term 'exploit' to express the blatant use of positioning, but this is in no way a display of unfair play. It is a telltale sign of skill - preemption and reaction. In fact, top-rated players believe that the secret to winning is in positioning.

But really, it comes down to team-work. In FPS, this goes without saying. Surgical execution has to be drilled in and out, in and out, in and out. And this execution comes with a flavor; a style that is individualistic of the team. Teamwork in WoW Arena is sometimes seen as the icing on the cake. This is evidently portrayed through the ELO point system that Blizzard has chosen for the Arena.

Of course, what downplays the Arena system are the numerous flaws; both in design and execution. I personally think these are the top 10 flaws in the 5v5 Arena system.

1. Ping
2. Racials
3. RNG - Ever been feared from the top of the bridge, via the ramp, then right under?
4. Mage water
5. Scorpid pet
6. Frost trap/Entrapment
7. Counterspell/spelllock - Getting nerfed a bit in 2.1
8. Bloodlust
9. Paladin support/survivability
10. Windfury Totem


supermagekz said...

good read, agree with everyone needing to use VOIP, so get to it.

mil said...

kz is bad imo (yes i registered to post that)

Only mage water being usable in the arena is just... nonsensical yeah.

Racials have always been imbalanced and just seem to have been ignored now - priest racials are even more pronounced. Does anyone seriously think that a night elf priest is in any way equal to a dwarf/draenei/human or even undead one?

Frost trap only really seems particularly useful vs dual melee teams.

I'd also suggest interrupts were nerfed far too hard considering the ample opportunities to break los in both arenas, unless its actually intended for it to be practically impossible to die until healers are oom.