There are a lot of exciting changes coming for PvP in Legion, and today, we'd like to take the opportunity to share some more details on some of those changes!
The Honor System
In Legion, Honor and Conquest will no longer be currencies that you use to buy gear from vendors. Instead, characters who have reached maximum level will earn Honor Points from competing in Battlegrounds or Arenas, similar to how lower-level players earn Experience Points. As you earn Honor Points, you will increase your Honor Level, up to the maximum Honor Level of 50. Along the way, you'll earn a number of rewards, including Gold, Artifact Power, and a brand new set of PvP-only Honor Talents.
Honor Talents are a special set of Talents that are only active when a player is in a PvP instance (such as a Battleground or Arena) or otherwise engaged in PvP combat, and work in addition to your normal Talents. They are unlocked, one at a time, as your Honor Level increases. So, by Honor Level 10, you'll have one option available in each row, but as you continue to increase your Honor Level, more and more options will become available for you to change up how you approach PvP gameplay.
For example, a Windwalker Monk who has reached Honor Level 10 can choose Rushing Tiger Palm, which lets them use Tiger Palm at range to dash toward and slow their target. Or, a Restoration Druid who has reached Honor Level 46 can take Deep Roots, which makes their Entangling Roots spell no longer break when the target is damaged.
Which Honor Talents you choose can have significant impact on how you play your character, and allow you to tailor your abilities to fit with the type of PvP content you're participating in, or even who you're playing with!
Kicking It Into Gear
So, if you're not earning Honor or Conquest to purchase gear any more, how will your equipment contribute to your character's strength in PvP? The answer is... it won't (much).
In Legion, as soon as you zone into a PvP instance, the stats on your gear will be nullified, and you'll be given a pre-determined set of stats that's uniquely configured for your specialization. Furthermore, any set bonuses, enchants, Legendary bonuses, or trinket effects will be deactivated (although your Artifact and its related Artifact Powers will remain active).
The only contribution your gear will make to your overall power is through a small modifier based on your average item level. For every point that your average item level increases, your pre-determined PvP stats will increase by 0.1%. That means a 25 item level difference between two players only results in a 2.5% difference in stats, compared to the 25% difference it makes today. There’s still a little incentive to improve your gear – a concept we think is important for World of Warcraft – but the benefits are much less pronounced.
These changes bring a couple of major advantages. First of all, it puts everyone participating in organized PvP on a much more even playing field. Obviously, you'll still want to unlock your Honor Talents to reach your full potential, but you'll be able to hold your own in battle in the meantime.
Second, it allows us infinitely more control to make PvP-specific balance tweaks. If one spec's Mastery is too strong in PvP, that's fine – we can just reduce the amount of Mastery they have. If a spec is too easy to kill, we can increase their Stamina. If a healer is having too much trouble keeping teammates alive, we can increase their Spellpower. In short, we can tune classes for PvP in a way that’s exclusively focused on PvP.
Equipping For Battle
Even though your gear has very little impact on the strength of your character in instanced PvP, and you won't be spending Honor or Conquest to buy gear from vendors, we still want you to be able to earn gear through PvP. We really like how the Strongbox system has worked out so far in Random Battlegrounds and Skirmishes, and so we're working on a similar system for Legion, with some major improvements.
In Legion, you’ll earn gear simply by completing Battlegrounds or Arenas. In rated matches, the quality of the gear will be increased based on your rating. Of course, that's in addition to the Honor you'll earn towards unlocking your Honor Talents.
We're also doing away with the idea of PvP-specific gear. Since your stats are pre-determined, trinkets and set bonuses are disabled, and your item level gives only a small increase, we don't need to worry about making you wear a separate set of gear in PvP. So, in Legion, gear is gear, regardless of where you earned it, with no PvP-specific stats or fluctuating item levels, and the best players in both PvP and PvE content will be able to earn the best gear.
'Tis The Season
Legion is also bringing several changes to how PvP seasons, as well as their rewards, will work. Over the years, we've seen the high-end PvP community tend to flock to one faction over the other, even if it's not the faction they'd prefer. Racial balance is an important part of that, but we also think many players tend to simply choose the faction where they feel the best players are.
So, in Legion, we'll be handing out end-of-season PvP awards separately to the top percentages of players in each faction, instead of in relation to the overall player base. That means that, even if you believe one faction to have an advantage over the other, you can still play the one you want to, without having to worry about losing your shot at Gladiator.
On top of that, we're planning to have more frequent, shorter PvP seasons. Since your Honor Level doesn't reset between seasons, and the effectiveness of gear has been greatly diminished, you'll be able to start competing at near-maximum potential immediately, instead of having to wait several weeks while you collect a new set of gear. That means we can have more PvP seasons, which means rewards can be handed out more regularly.
All For The Prestige
However, once you've reached Honor Level 50, you'll have a tough choice to make. You'll be given the option to Prestige, which will reset your Honor Level back to 1, and once again restricting access to higher-level Honor Talents. However, in return, you'll increase your Prestige Level, which grants access to a number of other rewards, including:
- A badge, based on your Prestige Level, which appears on the scoreboard in Battlegrounds and Arenas, as well as on your nameplate and unit frame.
- A title, also based on your Prestige Level.
- A wearable faction pennant
- A new appearance for your Artifact
- A unique mount and pet
The higher your Prestige Level, the better rewards you'll have access to. We see the Prestige system as a great way for players who aren't interested in pursuing higher rating, but still enjoy PvP, to have their own unique rewards to chase after.
A Change of Scenery
There's one more exciting addition we’d like to share today: Legion is bringing two brand-new maps to the Arena.
Located in the fortress of Black Rook Hold, this arena features a large statue in the center, as well as three alcoves to the sides. Access to those alcoves is restricted by a series of gates, which will open and close randomly as the match continues. When the gates are closed, you can use them to hide out of line of sight of your opponents… just be prepared for them to open again moments later!
Also in development is another arena located in the forests of Val’sharah. When you first enter this arena, you’ll be encased in a dome of vines. When the match starts, those vines will retreat, leaving the starting area exposed to the rest of the arena. In the center, you’ll find three statues, which can be used to break line of sight. However, those statues are located very close to each other, so you’ll need to keep moving if you want to play defensively.
We're very excited about all of the improvements coming to PvP in World of Warcraft: Legion, and we hope you are too! We look forward to seeing you on the fields of battle.