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Rift’s 1.7 PvP Power-Up

AnzelTrion 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.

Bolstering

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.

Mercenaries

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.

Other Changes

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!

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4 Responses to Rift’s 1.7 PvP Power-Up

  1. sean says:

    Haha, and on this one I disagree almost entirely with you.

    Before I start ranting however, I’ll point out that my comment yesterday ‘Trion don’t stop being brave’ relates in large part to the PvP revamp: I don’t like a lot of it, but I’m impressed that they’ve got the courage to address underlying problems, rather than just hotfix symptoms.

    I’m also not fussed about the Prestige Rank changes; they’re probably for the best, to be honest. More dings = more satisfactory experience for more people, even if the dings are greatly reduced in significance.

    On the other hand, the Path of War… where to start? It’s a very good thing for people whose builds – PvP or otherwise – never used their PvP souls. My low rank rogue, using only a zero-point PvP soul build, will benefit quite substantially: some more vengeance and valour, and possibly some skills he’d never have had access to previously. Anyone with such a build will gain. However, any build utilising PvP souls loses out substantially: my R8 mage is losing 12% damage against players; my R4 cleric, using 12 pts into Templar loses a detaunt, Nysyr’s Brand, passive damage shield to heals on cc’ed allies and passive 6% damage reduction. That’s gonna hurt, without any doubt.

    But ok, long-term I can see the sense in the decision, and I do applaud the courage to take it out now, even if it affects the hardcore player (but hey, any MMO publisher who caters to the hardcore, with the possible exception of CCP, is making an enormous mistake). But but… gaining PvP PA by doing something that isn’t PvP? that’s daft, seriously. And worse, it reduces the flexibility of the soul system: I can have my PvP build now, and a PvE build, and it takes seconds (out of combat) to swap between them. Going forward, I’m faced with a choice: points into PvE *OR* points into PvP.

    The counter-argument here, of course, is ‘but in the long run you can fill out all PA, so where’s the lass of flexibility?’; the counter to that is to cite Keynes: in the long run we’re all dead. Which is to say, any argument that relies on the long run to equalise imbalances is just an excuse to not take action about those imbalances. So where is the imbalance? Well, not on my R8 mage, as it happens. I’ve (sensibly) stockpiled so many PAs that I’m confident when it launches that I’ll fill out the PvP PA tree. Is this good design? I honestly don’t think so. My rogue and cleric though, will have only those points they gain from the conversion of their Prestige ranks – so not huge quantities of PvP PA. So we *remake* the PvP gap, but instead of being between newer PvP chars and older ones; it’s between newer lvl 50s and older ones. Same pain though, I fear.

    And yet there is, to me, a sensible solution: one that both returns the flexibility to the soul system AND frees those raid tanks who find, now that they have to fill in the Earth PA – which is otherwise rubbish, for PvP, World PvE, whatever: make PAs linked to roles. Swap roles = swap PAs. Flexibility for everyone!

    And I’ll add, by way of disagreement, that I don’t think the argument is that PvE PAs have no help in PvP, but not vice versa (or at least, that’s not how I read it); it’s that PvE is the most efficient way of gaining PvE AND PvP PA. That’s a bit mental, frankly. I realise, again, that raiders feel a specialised form of this craziness too: the best way to gain PAs for raiding is by daily quest grinding, which is something few raid loggers wish to do. And for me, that’s kind of the point: the PA system, which I generally like, has, and going forward will increasingly have, the effect of reducing our choices in the way we play this game. If a warrior’s raid tanking build had a PA set for it; his/her World PvE build another PA set; the PvP build it’s own PA set, etc, we could at least retain the flexibility of our choices. One PA set, for (soon) 6 different builds is, again, mental: I fear for that loss of flexibility, I really do.

    Bolstering and/or gear improvements: long overdue, frankly; and I don’t think the crazy damage buffs will make it to Live. The PvP rift changes are trivial unless they also apply to closing the other side’s rifts; in which case we’ll see a whirlwind of exploiting before they get disabled and patched.

    But then, the real fly in the ointment: Mercenaries. Some of us – those of us on RP servers, as one example – don’t want to play for the other side. Unreasonable? Maybe, but go check the long thread on the RP forums about cross-faction AH and whether it’s a good idea or not – the fact that something so straightforward as cross-faction AH is so controversial might just point to why the mercenary idea is so desperately unpopular with a small section of the player base. I get that some people don’t care: I’ve played lots of FPS myself; sometimes you shoot your friends, sometimes you fight them, I get that. I get also that queue times are a feature as much of unbalanced faction populations, and this is the simplest way to undo that. I also get that the mercenary system has the (very beneficial) side effect of defeating all those pre-made groups who sync-queue to mash PUGs – and I do realise that this is a major problem, perhaps the biggest single factor in unbalanced warfronts.

    And yet, there are factions, and there are RP-supported servers, and I, and other RPers (but I’m speaking for myself here, not anyone else), don’t want to support the other bloody side. Whether I don’t support them by logging out and eating the 15 min debuff, just because I got put in a team I don’t want to play in; or whether I don’t support them by – to put it politely – not playing my best: either way, the outcome is undesirable (extremely undesirable if I find myself supposed to fight alongside Defiants from my own server with whom I’ve developed a fierce rivalry). Give me a choice to opt out please, even if it blows my queue times to hell.

    And yet, in spite of all my fears and crankiness, I’m optimistic for this patch: not because I like the changes; but because Trion remain brave enough to address core, underlying issues, rather than band-aids or class re-designs to cover said issues. PvP will change fundamentally with 1.7: enough that we can’t talk about better or worse, but instead ‘how different’.

  2. Ferrel says:

    However, any build utilising PvP souls loses out substantially: my R8 mage is losing 12% damage against players; my R4 cleric, using 12 pts into Templar loses a detaunt, Nysyr’s Brand, passive damage shield to heals on cc’ed allies and passive 6% damage reduction. That’s gonna hurt, without any doubt.

    Yes, I mentioned the de-taunt issue. It is sad that their method of balance is to just completely remove things.

    And yet there is, to me, a sensible solution: one that both returns the flexibility to the soul system AND frees those raid tanks who find, now that they have to fill in the Earth PA – which is otherwise rubbish, for PvP, World PvE, whatever: make PAs linked to roles. Swap roles = swap PAs. Flexibility for everyone!

    I like that idea a lot myself actually. I’d like to not use healing PAs when I’m DPSing. Nothing wrong with doing it that way. I just didn’t like the entitled attitude that you should get ALL the PvP PAs just for leveling up.

    And I’ll add, by way of disagreement, that I don’t think the argument is that PvE PAs have no help in PvP, but not vice versa (or at least, that’s not how I read it); it’s that PvE is the most efficient way of gaining PvE AND PvP PA.

    If I wasn’t clear I meant that PvE PAs really work in both while PvP PAs only work in PvP. Thus, in theory, the PvPer would have to get both where the PvEer wouldn’t. We’re in agreement here.

    And yet, there are factions, and there are RP-supported servers, and I, and other RPers (but I’m speaking for myself here, not anyone else), don’t want to support the other bloody side.

    I would not tell an RP player their business but as someone who does role-play at table top I’d say I can’t see this argument. Black and white isn’t role-playing to me. You’re Green I’m Blue lets fight isn’t role-playing, it is an artificial creation by Trion. What about the elf that wants to betray the Guardians and fight for the Defiants? How do we explain all the technology the Guardians use? Yes, factions exist but role-playing to me means I decide which one I’m on. It doesn’t mean a company tells me what side I’m on and how I’ll believe. At the same time it isn’t fair to force that on people so I could see special rules for the role-playing server but still, I prefer to make my own choices.

  3. The decision to have PVP PA share the same pool emphasizes how the single PA spec doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the class system. Everything else about the soul system is designed so players can seamlessly swap roles. Whatever its other balance issues, the PVP soul fit in that model – a raider who wants to lose their way to R8 for the gear (a bad design, but not the point) can stick a PVP build on a separate role slot with extremely limited impact on their ability to raid. (I.e. that’s one fewer encounter-specific build that you can carry around.)

    Having only one PA role has always meant that players have to choose, but at least those stats are relatively generic. Even if my Cleric someday goes melee or tanking, at least the spell power PA will give me some boost (albeit suboptimal) to abilities that run on spell power. PVP-only stats are PVP-only. Further, while no one PA grid point breaks the power curve, I’d argue that the number of points needed to max out that PVP tree is large enough that it will reduce your performance in PVE.

    At the end of the day, this game is nearing its one-year anniversary and already implementing a somewhat radical gear overhaul. The way the PA system is shaping up – with the third grid tier as yet unreleased – threatens the need for either a similar reboot or the scenario you’ve always described from EQ1, where fresh characters at the three year mark are massively underpowered compared to characters who have been earning PA since the system launched.

    • Ferrel says:

      Yes, that is an entirely other point though that needs attention. We are in a situation where the next raid zone will require level 50 + 20K PA points. I’m not looking forward to that. We run a pretty casual setup these days. We do current tier but at our pace. Asking everyone to get all that PA is going to be rough. It is a step away from casual and towards hardcore. It makes it harder to bring new people in. Honestly, there should be a cap on PA or a commitment to never balance against them. If you earn them you just always have an advantage.

      The PvP player is in the same boat of course. They have two sets they have to earn to engage in their play style. That said, they DO get theirs, in part, without any effort. 3900 points for free is pretty significant. The soloer, grouper, and raider has no access to that. They do not earn free PA points for leveling. PA starts once you reach 50. I think that is what people are missing the most about this. PvP PA isn’t just about removing the PvP souls. It is about PvP progression AFTER rank 40. I PvP a decent amount and I watch people rank up. They hit 8 (40) get their gear and then stop. Why? There is nothing to keep them going. They cannot get any more advantage against other players. They have hit the gear ceiling. PvP PAs cannot be completely tied to the PvP souls in the minds of players. There is more than one force at play here.

      The problem is, that message isn’t being clearly communicated by Trion and, frankly, it isn’t a fun system. For a lot of players PvP PAs are just a replacement for the PvP souls and a poor one at best. In some cases you lose big but in raw statistics you gain. These players are already working on regular PAs and this just seems like an additional burden (even though you get free ones). That honestly isn’t fun but is it any different than chasing another set of gear?

      There is also the matter of effort. As a PvP player once you reach rank 40 and earn enough favor your gear grind stops. You are not beholden to random drops. You earn your favor and buy the pieces you want. Raiders can purchase seven pieces but must rely on random drops for their rewards (to include weapons, off slots, and such). That is how they are encouraged to continue play (a whole other thing, let’s avoid that derailment). I believe this is Trion’s way of placing a carrot in front of the PvP player. PAs are something to chase that give significant advantages through a huge series of marginal gains. They are something that you select by earning a currency which flows exactly with the PvP experience.

      Ideally the PvP souls should have been balanced against each other and made comparable in power to having a third non-PvP soul in your build. Trion isn’t going that route and has, instead, created both a replacement to that and a carrot. For better or for worse.