Yesterday Blizzard revealed they were developing a ‘Mercenary’ mode for battleground queing.
In brief, it’s a system that would speed up queue times by letting members of an over-represented faction play on the opposing faction team for that match.
I like that Blizzard are very careful about there being ‘lore’ reasons behind all the pvp content the players have available. There needs to be some small suspension of disbelief in the number of times the battle for Alterac Valley plays out, but everything has to this date had to be explainable in terms of lore and story and setting and motivation.
So it is with Mercenary mode. A simple conceit that allows us to imagine, if only for a moment, that some traditionally Alliance races have individuals that would be willing (for a wage or a cause) to join in on the other side.
Sounds pretty cool to me.
I’m sure a lot of questions immediately spring to the minds of the perpetual complainers. “What about people who join a match intending to throw it for their friends on the other side!” Etc, etc, ohmygodarewebacktothat.
I remember a time, lost to the pages of history, where you could have characters of only one faction on a server. You could go Horde or Alliance on a server, but not both. Why? Because OMG what if your friends on Alliance were going to PvP and you could switch to Horde and listen in on enemy plans WTFQQBBQ.
Yeah, that was a thing. Didn’t really happen because, as we all discovered, outside of flaming forum posts nobody ended up having the energy to truly give a shit what the other side was planning. I mean really, nobody has time for that shit.
Remember when Transmog was impossible to consider implementing because of how game breaking it would be for pvp if people couldn’t evaluate your power level by recognizing the look of the individual pieces of gear you had equipped?
Oh yeah, you think I’m kidding. That was also really a thing, and some people actually took that argument seriously.
I like this idea, I think it sounds fun, spices things up and adds some additional flavor options.
But I don’t think we’ve gone anywhere near far enough, and I wonder if the desire to match gameplay into existing lore and story are limiting our options.
As an example.
We have these wonderful maps for PvP battelgrounds, places like Alterac Valley, just as an example.
These maps, if present in a traditional first person shooter game, would each have multiple mission types you could choose from. capture the Flag, Team Deathmatch, you know the drill.
We get one type of battle built in to each map. Wouldn’t it be WONDERFUL if we could use these maps for other types of missions? Missions that perhaps wouldn’t use the looking for more / automatic matchmaker function, but would instead open them up for inner-guild or cross-realm friend gameplay events?
My first example of what I’m talking about, using Alterac Valley, would be a Snipe Hunt.
A group of friends or guildies, all same faction, group up into a raid and queue up for the battle.
The existing looking for group has role verification. You get a popup offering you the different types of role you are willing to queue for based on the capabilities if your class.
In this case though, it wouldn’t be a role check for tank, healer or DPS. Instead it would be a check for Hunter or Hunted.
In Snipe Hunt, one person would be the Hunted, and everyone else would be the Hunters.
That one person would be the target of everyone else. Obviously a class with stealth capabilities would be great for this, but consider this;
The first question everyone would have is, why not gang up in groups of four and ensure that whichever group finds the Hunted can lock them down and insta kill them?
My answer to that is, proximity based health and dps debuffs. The closer a Hunter is to other Hunters, the lower the debuff drops their health, damage and related atributes like armor.
If you hunt as a pack of four, you will be more effective in terms of numbers and multitasking but you will still have the effective health and combined damage of one player, the average of all four combined.
Can you imagine the fun of a stealthed Hunted sneaking up on a group of four Hunters and killing them all in a burst of Killing Spree or Barrage because of how weak they were when clumped up?
One grenade, man. Just one grenade. Don’t bunch up! Get scouts out on the flanks, damn it!
It would be a balancing act, but I think you could tweak the gameplay into something that would be fun and thrilling, especially if there were bonus objectives like capture the flag or treasures to steal or other things that could give the Hunted multiple paths to gather enough points to hit a win objective.
If it were all capture the flag, then the Hunted turn turtle, and if there are no capture points or treasures than there is no reason for a Hunted to go roaming instead of hiding in stealth in a corner. But give the Hunted a time limit and a point total to reach, and make each Hunter kill, flag point or treasure worth a certain number of points and the Hunted gets plenty of options to make the flow unpredictable.
Moving away from the gametype, think how you would feel being able to join a group of guildies for a night of “Hunt the Guild Leader”, where everyone gets to go into a battlegroun with one goal… hunt your guild leader down and kill him with extreme prejudice.
Or a cross-server group of Twitter friends able to group up with the express goal of killing someone like Rades. Rades is a badass hunter, he could handle it. Right?
Same-faction grouping for different pvp modes in battlegrounds wouldn’t really fit in with lore or story, AT ALL, but I think it would inject a lot of life into the game and add lots of possibilitiies for friends to get together and do things together outside of formal pve raiding or playing against strangers.
With all the innovation taking place in FPS games, i’d love to see more gameplay modes available for our existing battlegrounds. Heck, even tourist modes for Battlegrounds would be a hoot.
What do you think? Do you have any passing ideas for spicing up pvp by keeping the battle within your circle of friends?