WoW: Dishonorable Discharge

Yesterday Blizzard introduced the long awaited Honor System to it’s World of Warcraft MMORPG. Needless to say this new dynamic has changed the entire character of the game for the worse. I’ve never seen such unified outrage on the part of rank and file players until this firestorm erupted over a system designed encourage PVP.

Many of us who were concerned about the so-called Honor System predicted what would happen. Much of the following was forecast:

  • gank squads of level 60 players roaming the countryside looking for easy prey so they can harvest “honor” points
  • solo gameplay is dead
  • windrunners and gryphon masters camped and killed 24/7 making transportation a death sentence and transportation out of your area impossible
  • quest NPCs and other NPCs in towns camped 24/7 making questing and buying/selling impossible
  • unspeakable lag in most contest areas making those with less then stellar connections to the Internet die due to lag
  • graveyards camped 24/7

This post from a player named Zuju summed up the situation in this post to the official PVP discussion forums:

It’s already done. My account is canceled. Just so that there’s no confusion about the purpose of this post, it’s to detail my personal reasoning as to the flaws in the honor system and why it’s led to my cancelation. If you do not care, then please feel free to stop reading now. For those who care to have a proper discourse over the matter, carry on.

I started playing on a PvP server for a simple reason, my friends were playing there. One of the main selling points they gave to convince me to join WoW was the prospect of battles erupting between factions. I was drawn to the dream of group on group fights.

Sadly, the reality was far dimmer than the briliant picture I had painted in my mind. In place of grand tactical skirmishes were an endless stream of gankings, where the only question about the outcome concerned the level of laziness on the part of a potential ganker and whether killing me was worth the effort to dismount. If two groups of roughly equal strength managed to run across each other in a happy, coincedental happenstance, it usually dissipated quickly or was abrutly ended by the arrival of more people to put the skirmish to rest.

You see, for me PvP stands for player versus player; a contest between two sides where skill, teamwork, and even a little luck, shape the outcome. The fun is in the fight, not the final result. However, I slowly came to understand that the prevelent philosophy of the playerbase was not about balanced combat, but rather entailed one-sided slaughters where victory was certain. Still, I carried on and endured the gankage and relished the fun PvP when the planets aligned.

Then the new honor system was released, and everything went to hell. The usual level of ganking remained, but on top of that was this new layer of destruction even more horrendous than the casual killing. Now, every opposing player attacks me. Entire cities are being raped constantly. Instance entrances are being camped. On my server, the day the patch went up Tarren Mill was occupied by no less than 100+ Alliance.

And these acts go unchallenged, mainly because my side is doing the same thing elsewhere. Why defend aginst a large invasion when it’s easier to attack a weaker target? It’s simple logic, and I don’t fault players for persuing the easiest path towards advancement. But theres no fun for me to either get crushed by an overwheleming force or participate in overpowering helpless opponents.

Honor has changed everything. There’s a tangible reward, a real reason to kill. And gameplay that was once fun and casual is now being bulldozed by massive honor whoring. My enjoyment of the game has diminished beyond the point im willing to pay for the service anymore.


The moral of the story is that MMORPGs are delicate mechanisms that are vulnerable to devastating changes much like the way the ecosystems in the real world operate. Destroy that balance and the the dominoes start to fall. One small change in something that motivates PVP combat and the entire character of your world is changed.

Another problem is designers should work on making one successful game rather then two. WoW is clearly two different games as both PVP and PVE gameplay have their own needs. Trying to balance classes for both PVP and PVE is pretty much impossible without one affecting the other.


Latest Comments

  1. Tobold June 9, 2005