An awful lot is about to change in PvP when Blizzard’s latest expansion goes live on August 30th. The redefinition of PvP in Legion has seen the company throw away the foundations of the established play style and start again from scratch, and early indications are that these changes have gone down pretty well with players. Of course, you won’t please everybody, but there should be at least something for everyone as an alternative to organized raiding and PvE gameplay. In fact, between you and me, I’m seriously approaching a PvP Hunter for the expansion and hope to play this on a semi-regular basis, and some of the changes are already live and in-game. So let’s start this overview by explaining what’s already been altered, and why farming Marks of Honor might be worth your time before the end of August.
Honor Amongst Thieves
My son is fifteen and has spent pretty much the last three weeks in Alterac Valley, having a whale of a time and racking up the new form of currency for Legacy item collection, the Mark of Honor. This has been introduced to allow players access to what is a substantive amount of old gear, all of which can now be freely used for Transmog. However, that’s not all you can use your marks for. It’s easier to do a list, as the selection of items is fairly comprehensive:
1 Mark buys Pre-Warlords of Draenor Cloaks, Belts, Bracers PvP gems, Tabards and Battle standards.
2 Marks buy Feet, off-hand, shields, shoulders and gloves from pre-Warlords of Draenor expansions.
3 Marks buy Pre-Warlords of Draenor Cloaks shoulder enchants, helms, chests, and legs.
4 Marks buy Heirloom PvP Trinkets: Inherited Insignia of the Alliance/Horde, plus the Inherited Mark of Tyranny.
5 Marks buy all pre-Warlords of Draenor weapons.
8 Marks buy all Heirloom Armor pieces.
10 Marks buy all Heirloom Weapon pieces.
12 Marks buy all level 100 Armor ‘Ensembles’, which grant the look of every piece of a specific PVP armor set.
14 Marks buy the Ancient Heirloom Scabbard, which upgrades any L90 weapon.
15 Marks buy a selection of PvP Honor Mounts, but not the Vicious Saddles.
These Marks are available right now from taking part in existing Battlegrounds, Arenas, and Skirmishes, so there’s no excuse not to start getting in some early practice. Of course, you’ll have to wait until Legion launches to get your hands on the full changes that will be coming to this section of gameplay. Due to the changes, the Arena Master achievement has become a Feat of Strength, due to the fact that 5v5 Arenas will cease to exist once the Legion comes to Azeroth. That’s what you already have to start with, but there’s so much more on offer. Let’s take a look at what you can expect to find when the expansion launches on August 30th.
Major System Changes are GO
The biggest single difference when you approach PvP in Legion is that neither Honor or Conquest exist as currencies anymore. However, you will still earn Honor points, but instead of these being used to purchase items, they will increase your Honor Level.
Don’t think you don’t get anything from them, either: increasing your Honor Level rewards gold, artifact power and grants you access to the new selection of Honor Talents that are only used when you take part in PvP content. If you’re wondering where your gear comes from? Well, the Strongbox system already in place prior to the expansion has become the defacto reward system for participation, but gear has been given a far lesser significance in the grand scheme of things. In fact, the moment you enter any PvP content, all your PvE set bonuses, plus on use trinkets, will be deactivated along with enchants.The plan here is to level the field to ensure that skill is rewarded above your gear. End of season rewards will be granted separately on a factional basis, not to the overall player base, thus removing what has often been perceived as bias. More importantly, and probably familiar to those of you used to playing particular FPS titles, Blizzard is introducing Prestige levels to Legion PvP.
The plan here is to level the field to ensure that skill is rewarded above your gear. End of season rewards will be granted separately on a factional basis, not to the overall player base, thus removing what has often been perceived as bias. More importantly, and probably familiar to those of you used to playing particular FPS titles, Blizzard is introducing Prestige levels to Legion PvP.
Once you hit Honor Level 50, there is a choice: access a new set of high-level talents or hand in your Honor Level to gain a Prestige level for access to a selection of rewards. These include titles, artifact appearances, plus the standard mount and pet choices. What you get, of course, depends on your class, and you’ll have four Prestige levels to grind once Legion launches. Expect more to be added as time goes on.
Every Arena and Rated Battleground victory you take part in has a chance to reward gear on par with that found in organized raiding. As your PvP rating increases, item level increases too. Using an example from a Blizzard blue post: a player in the 1700 range might expect Normal Raid level gear while a Gladiator level player can see Mythic Raid level gear from Arenas. Each bracket rewards gear based on the PvP rating in your particular bracket. Each week, your first few victories in each rated bracket should mean a guaranteed piece of gear, but how many is still to be confirmed when the game goes live. Most significantly of all, the base item level at 110 is currently set to 800, meaning once your level increased to 810, stats only increase by 1%. Being over-geared is no longer an advantage, with the emphasis yet again being on skill over armor.
The Tools and the Talents
You get a brand new talent calculator for Legion, especially for your PvP skills, but unlocking them is not the same as the process when leveling. Instead of unlocking them left to right, you’ll do so from top to bottom in columns, with three types of skills to select: Role, Class and Spec specific. Also, don’t panic if you’re coming to all this cold, with little to no experience, because Blizzard has quite sensibly ensured that when you zone into a Battleground or Arena, an Honorable Medallion will be awarded to you allowing you to break out of PvP stuns and snares.
Then we should probably mention that there are three new places in which to PvP once Legion goes live. There are two Arenas at Ashmane’s Fall and Black Rook Hold, plus the prospect of doing PvP under the streets of the floating city of Dalaran. I’m still not 100% sure using the Underbelly as a prime fight location will be a great idea, but I have to assume that the devs know their hardware can support all these people fighting each other at once. You’ll be collecting a currency to start the fights, the Sightless Eye coin, and I can assume this is roughly akin to the PvP system that began its life on the Timeless Isle where you collected Bloody Coins from killing other players to buy rewards.
This looks like it will be a considerable grind. You’ll need 20,000 coins if you want the top achievement, but a giant rat mount will be yours if you do. There’s a ton of other stuff up for grabs, and this ‘world’ PvP has the potential, if successful, to be extended out to other areas in Azeroth as time goes on.
And of course, all of the old classic battlegrounds remain and these all possess a great many achievements for you to complete. In fact, if truth be told, this is an entire section of that game that many people may not even have considered beginning, especially when they knew that they’d already be behind other veteran players. The great news this time around is that EVERYBODY starts from the same point, so the process of gearing yourself and prepping to do battle shouldn’t make you feel as if you’re already on the back foot. You can begin this now, there’s nothing stopping you from being forewarned and suitably armed, ready for launch at the end of the month. My son keeps poking me to do this, and as soon as I get back from my holiday I’m going to take a Hunter and get back into it.
The long term plan for this redefinition of PvP in Legion, like it or not, is likely to have a lot to do with Blizzard’s eSports aspirations, and the intention (inevitably) to pull a whole new generation of players into the sport. I, for one, have no such lofty aspirations, but it would be lovely to possess a whole second game to be able to play that doesn’t involve PvE and questing. What this undoubtedly also gives Blizzard is more longevity: the changing PvP in Legion to such an extent ultimately allows the company to build and cement the two disparate play styles for distinct environments, effectively doubling the content.
With promised shorter PvP seasons and more of a focus on cosmetic rewards? If it’s appealing to the older person in the room, as well as her son, this really cannot be a bad thing. Of course, it also means hours of (potential) abuse, screaming at a monitor when people are stupid, and the undoubtedly amazing adrenaline high when you turn a failure into a victory by sheer force of will and people actually working as a team. I would really not have it any other way, because some of my best memories in 12 years of gaming are, like it or not, all centered around PvP.
I for one welcome our new team-based overlords and look forward to leveling this new system of play in the future.Related: Blizzard Entertainment, Column, eSports, MMORPG, PvP, Update, World of Warcraft, WoW Wednesday