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.

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8 Comments on What’s Wrong with PvP in SWTOR


On February 16, 2012 at 10:30 am

First Bioware has to hire some more people because as of now it almost looks like they don’t have the teams present to take care of the work load.

Second they need to have one team looking at Class balance because it doesn’t matter what you do to pvp instances if classes are steam rolling over other ones. I mean right now its basically Knights of the old Jedi/Sorc Class, and its not like those classes are a little better, its almost shocking just how better some classes are then others.

Third you another team look at the PvP warzones and Ilum, right off the bat, cross server warzones, rated warzones so that a brnad new lvl 50 isn’t playing against a team of battle masters. Work on getting Arenas for 2v2 3v3 and so on. Ilum make it an instance and have people queue for that instance, when both sides have 30 people it starts, should be simple if you have all servers in the pot.

Fourth you have another team look at pvp gear, right now expertise is a game breaking stat when it comes into pvp gear, and it shouldn’t be. Gear should give you a small edge over those that don’t have it, but it shouldn’t be a blantant stat that allows you to destory everyone that doesn’t have a full set of pvp gear. My lvl 50 purple gear should at least make it a fair fight, yeah sure you should win but not by just two shooting me.

Sixth and this is a big one, have some sort of damn communicaiton with your player base, Bioware has failed in this area 100%, they have no open table discussions with their palyer base. Bioware just needs to say something, anything but instead they talk about white crystals for light sabers :(


On February 16, 2012 at 12:23 pm

First: Arguing about PVP in any [b]RPG game built around PVE[/b] is redundant. That’s like people complaining about PVP in a game like LOTR. You do know RPG games always tend to put storyline and adventuring over players mashing keys, circle jerking, and macros right?

Second: Read the first one over till you are intelligent enough to think.

Third: Read the first one over till you understand and grasp the concept of common sense.

Fourth: Turn off the internet and go outside. Perhaps research what [b]roleplaying[/b] games are about or maybe just read a book.

Hey I know, let’s complain about a lack of multiplayer in Planescape: Torment!


On February 16, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Okay fine call it a RPG game, make it a one player game and move on with life, but if you are going to call it a MMO, and your going to put effort into having pvp, then you might as well make it enjoyable for the vast amount of people that play these games for pvp.

Do you think WoW would have been the game it is now if it never had pvp, No it would have died after a few years. PvP player are a major part of these games and if you ignore them your MMO will die. People don’t complain about PvP in LOTR because its pretty much non-existent, you can’t complain about something that everyone knew wasn’t going to exist.

Star wars, Bioware said numerous times that Pvp in this game was going to be great, ground breaking, something to write home to mom about, and so people played it to find out that none of that was true.


On February 16, 2012 at 3:22 pm

“Every server’s goal should be a 50/50 split between Empire and Republic; so, upon character creation, a pop-up could tell you the current ratio of Empire to Republic and the associated XP bonus for joining the smaller faction.”

What populations do you take from? Only active players? Only the highest character from each account? Only level 50′s? If it is the full population, you would have a bunch of new, low level characters filling up one side to even it out. Maybe they dont make it all the way to 50, and then it even more negatively effects the level 50′s queue times. This system would raise all kinds of issues. Why not invite certain guilds to change their faction and to their mirrror’d class. It could be a one time fix, or a once a year fix, to even out the factions.

“A character can hit level 50 through PvE alone, but he can’t hit Valor Rank 60 without leveling up significantly.”

This statement makes me wonder just how well the writer even knew SWTORs PVP, as the Valor level cap IS your current level, and it doesn’t uncap until 50… So in order to reach Rank 60, you have to level up completely, not significantly.

I agree 100% at the need for a deathmatch Warzone. It could be as simple as using the Huttball map, but having 200 reinforcements for each team, each death drops 1 reinforcement. Hell you could keep the ball in the game, and each score increases your teams reinforcement by 15 or so…

And I do not understand the system of having Huttball inter-faction but not Voidstar or Alderaan. Change the dialog to ‘an enemy ship’ instead of ‘an X faction ship’ and allow for inter-faction play… Those two changes (deathmatch huttball, inter-faction Voidstar / Alderaan) would keep WZs interesting in SWTOR for at least another few months for myself personally.

And PVP is the only reason I play MMOs. SWTOR’s PVP isn’t innovative. It isn’t balanced, but few of them ever are. And thus far its been enjoyable. But there really is a ton of room for improvement. And expansion.


On February 16, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Since the game itself has an entire planet devoted to pvp combat, I think it’s safe to assume that the developers felt a large focus of this “roleplaying game” would be that of players fighting other players. The game has PvE. The game has PvP. The classes are being balanced (or attempting to be) to make players be on more equal footing in PvP. The story isn’t being updated, the class balance and PvP mechanics are. 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 4.

Perhaps a control and hold mechanic could be added to the points. Focus was switched from objectives to kills because players were simply cap-trading back and forth. Now with kills players are simply aoe zerg trading back and forth. Returning the focus to the objectives, and then adding some sort of time limited mechanic could help. Perhaps having a dual mechanic would work.

After capping the control point, it would take X amount of time to actually gain control of it. Make this amount of time something relatively long so that players actually have to defend the point, but perhaps add in a second mechanic that reduces the time to gaining control for each player that the defending team kills within a certain radius of the objective.

Perhaps making it progressively more difficult to maintain control of an objective would help for faction imbalances. Having control of the objective could place a debuff on any nearby players that would make them take more damage, do less damage, or something of the like. That way eventually even the most outnumbering team would no longer be able to hold the objective from their weaker opponents. This buff would have to persist for some time – maybe reduce in double time from the point the objective changes hands – so that the outnumbering team wouldn’t be able to just cap it right back to lose the buff. So for example if the debuff took 30 minutes to reach full strength it would take 10 or 15 minutes to wear off completely.

I have no ideas for Huttball atm… I’ll have to think about that.

Sith Sorcerer

On February 17, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Make light side sith join the republic side so that we now have a purpose to play light/dark. Dark jedi can join imps. Grey jedi can choose either side if they’ve reached dark IV or above on both light and dark. If you switch sides (i.e. Light sith fighting for repubs) you gain extra social points.

I’ve never played an MMO before but all the comments seem to be a result of experiencing WoW. My suggestion seems outside the box and the easiest way to introduce a new concept into the game while balancing warzone matches.


On February 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Simplest way to balance factions is that there should be NO same faction Warzones. HuttBall should be changed to be only Republic vs. Empire.

People in WoW often would choose their faction to reduce queue times. You want to PvP without waiting go to the under represented side.


On February 20, 2012 at 7:37 pm

It doesn’t help that the Empire has amazing looking armor compared to the garbage that the Republic has.