Improving SWTOR: Warzones

This guest post comes from a good friend of mine.  We’ve spent many years PvPing together across many games.  He’s been hitting the Warzones in SWTOR since launch, so he’s got a long-term perspective on the subject.

Ways to Improve Warzone Queues and Matches

A common issue brought up on SWTOR’s forums is the need to fix warzone queues and the matches themselves. A lot of the complaints revolve around premade vs. PuGs and limiting those occurrences, but that’s not the only issue with warzones. Depending on the server, queue times may be extremely long, or matches will be against the same group over and over, or matches may start without full groups.

Below are four ideas on how to fix warzone queues to make them faster, more balanced, more competitive and more fun.

Merge Warzone Queues Across Servers

Probably the most requested change for PvPers. The advantages are clear, a larger base of PvPers regardless of the server you’re on. This will ideally lead to faster and more diverse queues, in other words, not fighting the same people/team over and over again.

The negative aspect here, at least brought up by Bioware, is merging warzone servers will be a detriment to the community. Merging queues will limit the creation of rivalries or teams through warzones.  This argument by Bioware is only a strong one if there are other ways to engage in PvP with the people you meet in those warzones. In the original vision of the game, this World PvP would have occurred on Ilum and possibly a few other areas, i.e. Tatooine PvP Area.

As we learned, Ilum didn’t work, and the extremely long load and travel times from planet to planet make wPvP a rare occurrence. Unless there’s a community event, most people will do dailies or just wait on the fleet while in queue for warzones. Without a rewarding wPvP system (and this doesn’t have to be rewards, but just fun and easy to engage with) the community argument for instanced warzones doesn’t hold up and therefore merging warzone queues across servers should be re-examined by Bioware.

Implement An Advanced Class Matching System

Similar to current flashpoint queues, have the warzone queue match random players by their advanced class. This ideally will limit unbalanced teams from a healer, tank, dps perspective. Possibly an easy to implement solution, but the problem with this solution is that warzone queues will be longer as the system waits to fill in the proper roles.

Most people will not be happy having to wait an extended period of time for a warzone to pop, therefore this solution can only be implemented if warzone servers are merged or other steps are taken to shorten warzone queues.

Limit The Impact Of Premades

People want to play with friends, there’s nothing wrong with that, afterall this is an MMO. But when a group of 2 dps, 1 tank and 1 healer queue together and end up against a pug, that makes the warzone fun for the 4 of them, but a nightmare for the other 8 random people they’re facing.

There are measures currently in place to try and place 4-man groups against other 4-man groups, either in an arena or warzone, but the system isn’t perfect. Alternatively that same system can be a detriment if you’re not a full premade (with alternating class roles). A good example of this is when 3 friends want to play together, but they all play DPS. There’s a good chance that they will be matched against a full premade, afterall they are a premade themselves, but because they’re not a well balanced group this will lead to a one-sided match, again making it a completely unbearable experience for at least half of the people in the warzone.

There are two distinct issues with premades, one is that a well balanced group of mixed roles is significantly more powerful than a group of all DPS. Simply having a tank and a healer working together is extremely powerful. Secondly, a full premade of 4 makes up 50% of the team in any given warzone (or 100% of the team in arenas). Specifically in warzones, having half of the team organized, experienced and likely on a chat service, gives a massive advantage to that team, on top of the likely class mix they bring.

If warzones were larger and the percent of premade players was smaller, the premade’s impact will be less. But having 50% of the team organized may be too much of an advantage for any PuG to overcome. To fix this, Bioware can either increase the number of players allowed in a warzone to 12 or limit the regular warzone group queue to just 3.

Increasing the total number of players in a warzone may not be possible as the maps were designed and balanced for 8, but even if it was possible warzone queues would get longer as they look to fill the additional four people. This may not be the ideal solution.

Limiting the number players can queue with to 3 is, however, an easy change. This will have two implications to warzones. First warzones in which a premade vs. a PuG occur will be more competitive as the percent of premade players on a team goes down from 50% to 38% and with only 3 queuing together the class mix across both teams may also be more balanced. Additionally, as an added benefit, limiting regular queues to just 3 people may encourage teams to queue for ranked as queuing in regulars as a full group will be impossible.

Utilize The Bolster System To It’s Fullest Potential

When this game launched there was one warzone group, which included everyone from 10-50. The first few weeks, maybe even first month, this worked well and was actually fun. This all changed once the majority of the player base hit 50 and started stacking PvP gear with expertise. With level 50’s in full PvP gear destroying entire groups of lower level players, Bioware took the necessary step and split the warzone brackets to 10-49 and 50.

Then came 2.0 and a new bolster system. Because bolster now bumps gear stats and not player stats, in most cases every player in a warzone, regardless of the level, will be near or at max of the expertise cap (2018).

Assuming no expertise is equipped by the <55 player, with bolster the only differences from a 55 and a <55 are talent points and abilities. Though a full PvP geared 55 will have a slight stat boost and a full PvE geared 55 player will have a slightly larger stat boost but less expertise, the difference among them shouldn’t be an insurmountable disadvantage for the <55.

Therefore, Bioware should re-examine the decision to separate max level players from the rest of the player base. This has two advantages. First it will increase the player base, lowering queue times and potentially resulting in a better mix of classes across teams. Second this will also encourage Ranked warzones, which should still remain only available for max level players.

An alternative to the current bracket system could be as follows:

  • 10-29
  • 30-49
  • 50-55
  • 55 Ranked

Another option is to roll the 30-49 and 50-55 brackets together, but this should be a decision made based on skills available at each bracket to try and limit the differences between the levels.

This change also falls inline with the design direction from both a PvE and GSF perspective, essentially expanding gameplay across the player base regardless of the level. 

What Will Bioware Do?

Any of these changes can be implemented independently or combined, it’s really up to Bioware. As players of the game, we can only request is that these at least be explored as possible solutions for a better warzone experience for all.

Which of the above would you like to see implemented or do you have other ideas on how to make warzones more fun for all of us?

– Kypros, Jung Ma server.

1 Comment

  1. Personally I think that merging the warzones across servers is the best solution. Obviously as mentioned the problem with this is the sense of community that keeping it on the same server allows us to have but truthfully I find that the community I see in warzones is who I hate because of the smack talk they do. If Bioware was truly worried about community they would work to improve the community on the server with more accessible world PvP or a reason to actually leave the fleet other than dailies. Ideally I’d like them to merge not only the warzones but also flashpoints and the operations across all servers. Allowing people to experience all the content should be a goal and as of currently, many servers can’t support that.

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