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World of Warcraft Nostalgia: World PVP

Updated on May 30, 2013
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Before Battlegrounds

Believe it or not, there was once a time where battlegrounds did not exist. The only pvp to be had was out in the open world without any game created goals. It was entirely player driven for the soul purpose of having fun.

It is no surprise that there was no structure to the pvp as Blizzard actually never intended to have pvp in the first place. They changed their minds during the beta as there was an outcry over the lack of it and they tacked it on at the end with no real goals in mind.

Despite the lack of in-game goals for battling it out, it didn't stop people from forming raids and attacking cities. Capital Cities like Orgrimmar and Stormwind would be raided fairly frequently (if you were on a good population server) but they didn't always succeed. Not like now where you can attack a capital and maybe have a few people try to defend it, especially because how much of a ghost town some cities can become.

Raids on capitals were fun but not quite as memorable for me as the smaller town raids. Good Old Tauren Mill and Cross Roads.

Tauren Mill

Up in Hillsbrad, the battle between Tauren Mill and South Shore was almost always raging. Although I'd say groups forming for Cross Roads were more common, it was a lot more interesting to have large scale fights on the short road between these two towns.

Hillsbrad was one of the more true "contested" zones as both horde and alliance players would level there. Alliance also tended to have the advantage in levels and the fact that there was a friendly town of npcs that was hostile to horde characters where people would often gank. So it is not hard to see how large scale battles could erupt here, gank enough players and they'll ask for help and it was pretty common for high levels to come in when asked for assistance.

What was really cool about these fights is that people of all levels would participate. Sure the level 60's really led the way but people between the 30's and 50's were still plenty helpful. These battles also always felt spontaneous and once the call to arms was sounded, people were sure to fly in to help.

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Cross Roads

Cross Roads was also a major place for people to form a group to attack. Half the time you'd have a few people jump the gun and attack before everyone was there which let the horde respond more promptly. Often these battles were massacres for the alliance (at least in my experience) due to lack of organization.

Orgrimmar was also close by so it was not too much of a hassle for players to come and help. Epic Mounts also played a huge role in these fights. This was before everyone could afford them and someone with an epic mount could run down just about everybody.

I always found it weird to raid cross roads personally, it was just a place that was common to attack for whatever reason. It was in a horde zone so players there could not be attacked unless they fought back. Even the level 60's that road in, alliance was always at a disadvantage here but that sometimes just made the fight even more interesting.

No Reward, Just Fun

World PVP used to just be done for fun. There was no goal other than to have a good time. I remember enjoying going into contested zones with the goal to fight people my own level in mind. The large scale fights were great but the world used to be filled with enough people that you would often run across enemy players while questing.

I still remember making characters that had the sole purpose of reaching a certain level and then using them to pvp in certain areas for fun. I got a shaman to level 24 and brought him to alliance zones to run around killing players my level and killing npcs. I would "ravage the lands" as I liked to put it.

I would fight people my level or higher in Duskwood, fight multiple people at once in Redridge or just go around killing npcs in Elwyyn and Westfall. It was just fun. This was also back when shamans were not utterly worthless like they pretty much have been since.

After Battle Grounds

Battlegrounds were eventually introduced several months into the original game and did diminish world pvp a bit. With battlegrounds came rewards, honor points, badges, and the ranking system. Now I will talk more about these battlegrounds in a separate episode but their impact on world pvp needs to be mentioned.

One perk for world pvp from these battlegrounds was that you actually needed to go to their respective entrances. So for Warsong Gulch, you actually had to go to Ashenvale to queue up. This meant you had to travel and perhaps pvp along the way. It also meant the opposite faction would sometimes come in to pick people off and start fights. (Though the npcs at the battleground entrances were incredibly strong and rarely killed)

The rest was pretty negative to world pvp overall. Besides kills, there was nothing to be gained by not being in a battleground. Each battleground gave a corresponding mark you turned in for rewards so you'd have to keep playing them if you wanted to get new gear. The ranking system was also very punishing, where if you didn't pvp enough and get x amount of kills you could actually down rank. This encouraged people to stay in the more reliable battlegrounds for this instead of going out in the world.

A little while after battlegrounds came out they added Dishonorable kills. Some may remember this and it was widely hated. A Dishonorable kill would actually hurt your standing in the ranking system and just detract from you. The way you would get these detrimental kills was through killing quest related and vendor npcs.

As you can imagine, when they added this system, it really killed the drive to raid towns because every npc you killed resulted in a dishonorable kill. Though this didn't last all too long and was taken out, the damage had been done to world pvp.

World PVP Zones

To try to revive world pvp, Blizzard started to focus on specific zones which were designed just for pvp. They started this towards the end of Vanilla with such tactics as adding capture-able towers in the Eastern Plaguelands and the entire zone of Silithus.

The Plagueland towers never really took off that much but Silithus was pretty good. Although I did not participate much in the pvp there, it was the first idea to have a server wide effort to reach a goal. At the time, it was to open the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj. Besides the quests related to its opening in the zone, there was also dust players could gather to turn in for supplies. A player carrying the dust would be slowed and could not mount, an easy target.

After the gates were opening, at least on my server, the fighting all but died in the zone. But this was a tradition started back then which Blizzard still utilizes to this day, Open World Focused pvp zones. They really aren't quite the same as World Pvp used to be and for the most part feel lacking.

Silithus
Silithus

Once Burning Crusade came out, Blizzard really tried to push world pvp more. The expansion started with two zones, Halaa and The Bone wastes. World pvp wasn't quite dead in BC, although was very much diminished, and these new capture-able areas were pretty fun. Halaa in particular was regularly fought over despite the lack of a real reward besides a mount you would have to grind for.

I remember all the bombing runs I did to kill those guards and the epic skirmishes on the outskirts of the town that could take place. And if you had enough people, you could storm the town and just deal with the guards normally. The Bonewastes on the other hand, did not do to well after the beginning of the expansion as the rewards were not that great.

Halaa
Halaa
The Bone Wastes
The Bone Wastes

Isle of Quel'Danis

A real beauty of a zone for World pvp was the Isle of Quel'Danis. It came out towards the end of BC and many consider it the pinnacle of world pvp. It was a small contested zone where there was a boat load of dailies. Completing these dailies also went towards a server goal of unlocking more dailies, vendors, and eventually the Sunwell raid.

Because everyone was always here doing quests, there were plenty of players to fight, whether they wanted it or not. Because of this, I think most people either loved it or hated it. Some days, the ganking could be so bad that you simply could not complete the quests by yourself. If you wanted to get it done, you would form a group. In response, gankers would form their own groups and eventually you would have huge battles going on between the people that just felt like killing players and the people who just wanted to get their dailies done.

There were powerful guards in town but I distinctly remember ranged characters able to snipe people who went afk and escape. Other people would stand on top of vendors in the hopes of making a player of the opposite faction accidentally hit them, causing them to be killed by guards. It got so bad that they had to put an invisible barrier around a certain npc.

Sadly, world pvp has died off over the years. It still exists but doesn't feel quite the same. Many factors influence it, from flying mounts, to class imbalances, to a lack of players in the zone, and probably the most important, the games refocusing on a single-player experience.

World of Warcraft has really shifted paradigms and instead of being community driven like in the past, they now focus on making everything easily accessible and soloable. Even dungeons and battlegrounds are just something you queue for and no talking is needed to succeed.

Be it good or bad, it is just how the game has evolved. Without a need to be social anymore, people tend to become reclusive. Even I did, as the game became less about the community, the less I talked to people. So without a strong community to bring people together, or even to encourage people to go out of their way to help others, World pvp died out. What remains is a hollow husk of what was.


Next Time

I'll be covering all the wings of the Scarlet Monastery and my many memories of those halls. I have skipped a few dungeons and I may go back to them in an all encompassing episode.

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