Testing Battlegrounds

[World of Warcraft] Over the weekend, the test servers with battlegrounds went live. When I logged I headed straight for Tarren Mills and then Alterac. It was unplayable. Pure and total chaos. People were yelling orders at each other and just running around doing their own thing. There must have been 4 or 5 different raid groups.

The Alliance seemed to be much more coordinated and one waypoint after another fell to them. I tried my best to fight back, but it was pretty much worthless. Adding to the problem is that you begin in a cave not too close to the front lines. In addition to the general confusion, the server was lagging like crazy. People were floating around and instant casts were taking several minutes. It was the first day of the Honor System all over again. One Night Elf rogue tried to gank me, but I feared him and he ran off never to be seen again.

I decided to quit and spent the next 10 minutes trying to log off. I eventually just alt tabbed out and closed game. OK, that was rough. It was a huge let down. Battlegrounds was supposed to be the savior for some of us.

My guild is basically myself and about 4 of my real life friends. We’ve picked up a few along the way, but we’re a small guild and we like it this way. We know that unless they change the way the game is played, we’ll most likely never be doing Molten Core or see Onyxia and we’re content with that. Battlegrounds and the Honor System was to be an alternative way to get the top gear and without having to join a huge guild, which many don’t have the time or desire to commit to.

Here it was and after a while I realized that it might not live up to the potential. I could let the lag and bugs slide. I’m willing to give them a chance to work it out a bit. Even with all their internal testing, I can understand that once this thing goes live they’re going to encounter unforseen problems. However, that was not my problem. It seemed as if the idea itself might not work. I think my friend described the concept best as a MMO version of the Defense of the Ancients custom maps from WC3. That was probably what they were going for, but this was nothing like it.

Today, I decided to log in again and give it another try. Instead of Alterac I headed to Warsong. While Alterac is 40 vs 40, Warsong is only 10 vs 10. There was a big group hanging around the instance entrance at 1AM waiting to get in. There was only 1 instance which meant only 10 could play at a time. After adding myself to the waitlist an icon came up and gave me an estimated waiting time of 40 minutes. I was in about 3 minutes later. Warsong drops you pretty much right into the action.

There was only 1 quest that I found and it was given by a NPC outside the instance and basically all you had to do for the quest was to win a round of the game. The game is a 10 vs 10 capture the flag, best 3 out of 5. Let me say that this is probably the most fun I’ve had in WoW ever. It was a combination of Guild Wars and Counter-Strike. With only 10 people and a fast pace it was easy to communicate and plan strategy. In fact communication was very important.

Unlike Alterac, this was fun PvP. A lot of 1 on 1 situations occured (Shadow Priests rejoice!) and the mad scrambles to get a flag back from the enemy was very exciting. When I entered, the Horde was down 0-2. If the Alliance captured one more flag it would be over, but we came back and won the thing 3-2. I can imagine myself playing this over and over again. Although, outside of honor points, there doesn’t seem to be a too many rewards for doing these 10 vs 10 games. The one quest yielded 2.5 gold and that was it.

After having fun in Warsong, I decided to give Alterac another try. Maybe it was the time of night or maybe there were some server upgrades, but the thing ran well. No more laggy than a typical day at Tarren Mills. This made the game more playable, but many problems still exist. The main problem is that there doesn’t seem to be a focus. People are just running around doing their own thing. It is just like the back and forth of Tarren Mills PvP.

There are several side quests available in and out of the instance that cause things to happen in the game. The Alliance seemed a lot better at triggering this than our Horde side, but all the extra help they had was easily repulsed. The lvl 62 Elite and above bosses did drop some good items, but looting is going to be a huge problem. Ninja looting is going to happen a lot I promise you. I played for about 90 minutes without a waypoint changing hands or much of anything else happening. Both sides just pretty much took turns zerging and getting pushed back.

The 40 vs 40 epic battles do more closely resemble traditional grouping. I was doing a lot more healing and shielding compared to Warsong. Alterac was better this time around and I think it will get better down the road as people figure it out. However, unless you get lucky and come on right before a victory, it will take a considerable amount of time to get anywhere in it. Also, a large, well organized guild will have a considerable advantage over a pick up group in Alterac.

I won’t go into the bugs and problems. Lots of other sites and forums are covering those. There are some pretty obvious problems that could probably be taken care of with a simple fix, but again this is just test server. Battlegrounds will definately get me more excited about the game, although it isn’t what a lot of people will expect. Alterac is not going to be fast paced PvP action. If you like participating in those Tarren Mills/Southshore raids you will enjoy Alterac. Personally, I enjoy the Guild Wars/Counter-Strike style of Warsong.

To each his own :)