What’s Wrong with PvP in SWTOR
While player opinion on the Old Republic’s PvP varies from love to hate, one thing we can all agree on is that there is room for improvement. We won’t discuss the obvious technical issues, such as kills on Ilum not counting towards daily/weekly PvP missions or classes not being perfectly mirrored. We won’t discuss the subjective issues, such as the belief that there are too many crowd-control abilities and knockback effects. We won’t even discuss issues that can arguably be attributed to misunderstanding, such as the Resolve system.
What we will discuss are the issues that are an obvious detriment to the game and that cannot be resolved with a simple bug fix.
BioWare has been working hard to correct and improve SWTOR’s PvP gameplay, and while there have been some missteps along the way, the company clearly cares about the game and has the right intentions. The separate level 50 bracket made the level 10-49 crowd immensely happy. Dual-spec is on its way. Target-of-target is coming to answer the prayers of every healer. UI improvements will allow you to personalize your global cooldown bar.
Given BioWare intends to improve SWTOR’s PvP, it’s important to analyze what, precisely, is not working, and what are the best solutions that can be implemented.
The Problem with Ilum
Ilum is SWTOR’s level 50 objective-based open-world PvP zone. Republic and Imperial troops spawn at separate bases, and five control points spread throughout the planet form the intended objectives. The design goal behind Ilum is clearly meant to be an engaging, objective-based, mass-combat experience.
Unfortunately, in its current state, Ilum is failing at all three of those aspects. Large-scale combat becomes impractical — and in some cases unplayable — due to the massive FPS drops that even robust PCs suffer. A hotfix had to be released to actually limit the number of players that could be in the same area at once, which runs counter to Ilum’s design goal. With the introduction of patch 1.1, Ilum’s objective-based aspects have been ignored in favor of hunting for cheap kills, devolving the action to standoffs that encourage camping and are won by the larger army — gameplay that is neither glorious, challenging, nor engaging.
Before patch 1.1, Ilum was subject to so much exploitative gameplay that players could complete their weekly and daily PvP missions in short order and without any real PvP action. BioWare recognized the fact that Ilum was broken and tried to fix it with patch 1.1 by removing focus from the objectives and adding incentive for players to actually fight each other — unfortunately, this only created a different problem, flipping what once amounted to a quick activity for free gear into an exercise in frustration.
BioWare knows Ilum is broken. They just don’t know how to fix it yet.