Trion is looking to make a serious move in the realm of PvP with patch 1.7. This appears to be the centerpiece of the patch and is currently causing quite the buzz on the public test server. I’ve had a chance to spend time with it and I will say that I like where Trion’s heart is. I think a lot of these changes are great for Rift but the current implementation isn’t exactly ready for prime time. Will this get pushed to live soon? With the game’s anniversary coming up soon I am leaning towards yes. Whether these changes are coming sooner or later it is time to strap yourself in and get ready for a whole new world of PvP!
Prestige Rank Overhaul
The biggest and most appropriate change is the complete rework of the prestige system. Rift currently only offers 8 PvP ranks. Each one takes a “long time” to earn (I disagree but that is the general community sentiment) and rewards are locked by those ranks. Trion has a match system to put you in games with players “close” to your rank but a rank 8 will pretty much be at a huge advantage over a rank 5. To combat all of this Rift will go from an 8 to 40 rank system. This will address the instant gratification crowd (each level requires less time even though the overall total is the same), allow rewards to be earned at a more reasonable rate, and make matching a whole lot easier.
I’m excited about this change even though it will largely not impact me. The only outcome I see is that I’ll have fewer lower-ranked people to destroy and more one-on-one comparisons will be even. I can accept that and it might actually get some of my guild mates into the warfronts. The perception of fairness is important in PvP and this change will reorient that perception to a less negative one.
The Path of War
The Path to War is a hotly debated topic on the PTS. Trion is removing the PvP souls and replacing them with a seventh planar attunement tab. The notion behind this is that investing in a PvP soul meant losing the ability to make a more traditional build. On top of that the souls were not well balanced against each other so Trion decided it is best to just let them go. This is controversial for a few reasons. The first is that there is no apples to apples change. Some PvP soul abilities that are deemed a necessity didn’t make the cut (De-Taunt, as an example, disappears). Certain passive benefits were toned down. At the same time, more passive abilities were added into the tab (think extra valor, vengeance, etc.) so a character can now achieve greater statistics than previously possible.
The final area where people take issue with this system is that the PvP PAs are shared with the regular PAs. You now have to choose whether you want to put your points in for PvP or for PvE/PvP. The argument being that “PvE” PAs help in PvP but PvP PAs do nothing in PvE. This has some PvP-focused players quite miffed. Trion does address this by giving a character a full PA level each time they gain a new rank. In the end you’ll have 3900 points which fills roughly 30-40% of the tree. Again, for some players, that isn’t enough. They want enough PA per rank to be fully maxed out when they reach rank 40 which, to me, is a poor idea.
The PvP PA tree offers more benefits than are currently achievable with a character’s PvP soul. Even if you spent 21 points in the tree you can’t get what you’d get out of a max PvP PA tab. Why then should you get the entire tab through the regular course of leveling? What would your incentive be to continue to PvP after 40? Planar Attunement represents post-max level play. You should reach rank 40 and then start working on your PA. The only issue is that grinding PA is most effective in Ember Isle through a PvE activity. I can get being upset about that. Trion addresses this too, however, by allowing you to exchange Favor for experience in this patch. As long as the rate of PA gained through PvP is similar to that of PvE I don’t see the issue. Some people just don’t want to work for their rewards I guess.
Item Improvements for Everyone
Trion is trying to make PvP less of a “I have better gear so you’re dead” experience. Any rank 4 that ever had to deal with an unmatched game knows your statistical chance of killing a rank 8 was about zero. Sure, it happened sometimes, but most of the time you just got stomped. To alleviate this there are now only going to be three PvP sets instead of four. They are also no longer gated by rank. If you earn enough favor to buy your piece you can go for it. The statistics have also been adjusted slightly so that the top gear isn’t as huge a jump as it currently is.
In some ways I’m sad about this. Earning your PvP gear was a rite of passage. You took your lumps (until the matching system came in) and bought your pieces and eventually started to compete. With the matching system I don’t see a real need for this change. With 40 ranks we simply should not see a rank 4 equivalent going up against a rank 8 anymore. That said, it isn’t a bad change. If the patch releases before I hit rank 8 I’ll be able to buy some pieces that were previously unavailable to me.
To make the gear change seem even less necessary Trion is also adding bolstering to Rift PvP.
Bolstering simply pumps up your stats to the minimum recommended for PvP. In the event one of your stats is higher than the bolstered value already then it uses that instead. Bolstering will adjust most of your core stats, including Valor. Once you have reach rank 13 you should have the appropriate amount of Favor to purchase a full set and will no longer be bolstered.
In short, until you reach rank 13, you basically don’t need PvP gear. I believe this is what is done to make up for the removal of the rank 1/2 set. I think it is a good idea. Your first PvP experience shouldn’t involve some jerk in a warfront blowing you up in two seconds. It isn’t fun and gives a bad perception of how the whole system works. I think this will bring more players into the warfronts.
Quite possibly the greatest change coming in 1.7. I am not a fan of the “two factions” MMORPG. I believe it is a long dead mechanic that has no place in a game that doesn’t focus on RvR combat. Even a PvP-focused MMORPG doesn’t need factions. Mercenaries reduces the inane and illogical black-and-white separation of the Guardian and Defiant.
The Mercenary system seeks to slash queue times by queuing some players and groups as mercenaries – this designates you as a team mate of the opposite faction as a sword for hire, you’ll receive a Mercenary buff and on-screen callout. Expect to see shorter waits between warfronts and while we realize it might be hard to not kill the dwarfs, remember: they could be on your side now!
There is nothing bad about this system. Shorter queues, less “us vs them” mentality, and more of a “this is a sport, not a death match” feel. I’m not a roleplayer in MMORPGs, I admit that. This may be upsetting to those people but at the end of the day anything that lets you play more and wait less is a good thing. I look forward to this system being expanded to the Looking for Dungeon tool.
There are some other things that have been talked about in patch 1.7 but didn’t seem to make the focused test. One of them is that there can only be one PvP rift up at a time and the winner of it will earn a faction-wide buff. I think this is a bad idea but don’t think the benefit is enough to worry about. With server populations wildly unequal one side will ultimately come to dominate and basically have the buff up constantly. I think instead of trying to lure players into PvP Rifts with rewards Trion should address the main issue: they’re not fun. If PvP Rifts were more fun and engaging people would participate more. Nobody wants to run stones to pads and be ganked. It is far easier for the attacker than the defender. That is precisely why players across all servers level up alts on the opposing faction, open the PvP rift with that character, and then log to their main to kill it. This change does not address that concern.
Damage has also been drastically increased in PvP to the point where players are calling out about it. As of right now everything seems to be a three shot shootout. I’m not a fan of this kind of play and I hope damage comes down significantly.
Beyond those changes everyone will now get Break Free at level 1. That is good and will be useful in PvE as well. There is a lot going on in this patch and I’m excited about it. I just hope Trion gives it enough time to properly simmer and be perfectly cooked when it is served!