Blizzard Comments on Tol Barad Balance Issues

There’s apparently been a great deal of discussion over the balance issues in Tol Barad – that they’re rough enough that there’s little incentive for anyone to try and take and to even bother to hold Tol Barad for their faction, and that overall the worst case is that no one’s actually PVP-ing in the zone and in best case factions are essentially win-trading on their servers to give everyone a chance to get the gear they want out of it.

Well, the furor has been rising on the official forums, and eventually Blizzard said that they would comment in a blog post on the issues and their plans for Tol Barad, and they made good on their promise yesterday:

Now that Cataclysm is out in the wild, more players are getting geared up and checking out Tol Barad, the new outdoor PvP zone. Today, we wanted to address some of the concerns players have expressed about the zone, including how challenging it can be to win as the attacking team, and provide some insight into our design approach. We also wanted to share some of the lessons we learned from Wintergrasp, discuss the difference between the two zones, and touch upon the recent hotfixes made to Honor Point gains and how we plan to improve Tol Barad going forward. We’re confident this zone will provide meaningful and fun PvP for some time to come, but we also recognize additional tuning is required to ensure Tol Barad is everything we intend it to be.

Cory Stockton, lead content designer for World of Warcraft, penned the blog post, and explained that while the situation isn’t where the developers really want it to be, it is closer than the community thinks it is. They do want the attacking team to have a really tough time taking Tol Barad, but they don’t want it to be neigh-on impossible as it seems to be now. Still, they think that a lot of people simply aren’t putting the right kind of effort into it, I think:

With that being said, we want winning Tol Barad to be a challenge for the attacking faction… but we don’t want it to be impossible. Taking Tol Barad should be tough — but right now it’s a little bit too tough, and it’s something we’re actively working to balance. Earlier, we attempted to temporarily address the issue by offering a far better reward to the winning attackers: Honor Points awarded for successfully attacking were increased tenfold, but that was such a great incentive that it ultimately undermined the spirit of competition. Since then, the reward for winning as an attacker has been brought back down to a more reasonable amount.

While we’ve already made minor adjustments to improve the gameplay and address select exploits, our job in Tol Barad is far from over. We ultimately want to make sure that any changes we make are all steps in the right direction, and we intend to make several updates in the next minor patch to address design and balance issues affecting attackers that we can’t address with hotfixes. For example, we plan to alter the battle slightly so that a team with two bases captured can more quickly and easily capture the third, as opposed to a team with one or zero bases. This way, if the defenders turtle up, it’ll be a little easier for the attackers to take their last base before the defense can take one of the attackers’ other bases.

He implies that the work is far from over and they do have some more ideas up their sleeve to make the zone more fun and more balanced for everyone to play. Now we’ll see if Blizzard delivers, or whether the community is just having a difficult time playing something that’s intentionally designed to be challenging.

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