WoW: War Mode

In the previous post I mentioned that War Mode had great benefits for leveling – in particular in the portions that are pre-Legion.  The BfA content with War Mode puts you in the same zones as fully geared 120 players – you’re going to die a few times.  Still worth it if the bonus is 20%+.

War Mode as a concept is neat.  Add some extra risk for some extra rewards.  Where things gets messed up is in the actual risks and rewards.  So let’s start this backwards.

The rewards themselves scale from 10% to 30%, depending on faction balances.  At low amounts, the rewards aren’t exactly stellar.  1 death per hour is enough to offset a 10% gain to experience.  But let’s say you’re 120.  The rewards are limited to gold, war resources, and azerite power.  War Resources have been meaningless since 8.1.  Azerite Power has marginal use today.  Gold is always useful.

The risks are more complex.  You are sharing space with the other faction, and therefore you can be killed by the other faction.  You only share space with people who also have War Mode on, and if your % is high (20%+) then odds are there are MORE of the other faction than yours.  So yeah, the chance of dying is higher but in practical respects, most other levelers have no interest in attacking you.  People at 120 do, which makes leveling in BfA zones riskier.  The way WoW is built, most classes offer AE attacks as an effective way of dealing with content.  AE often triggers a PvP battle if you’re next to someone.  So you are going to be less effective if you avoid AE attacks.

Since the rewards are related to completing activities, you want to complete those activities safely and quickly.  Is it better to get 10% more gold completing a quest alone, with threat of PvP, or to complete a quest with 5 other people, no chance of death, and 5x as fast?  Any elite WQ is effectively impossible if there’s no one around to help.  So in this respect, it isn’t really a risk, it’s an active hurdle.  At max level, if you are not in a critical mass of other players, then there’s no point to War Mode.

Does it matter?

Really, does it?  Is WoW a PvP game?  Taking  BfA’s (poorly received) storyline out for a minute, when’s the last time we saw PvP as any sort of driver for content?  Even WoD had both factions working together, so you need to go back to Pandaria (early parts) – 8 years ago.

On even footing (like a BG), the Horde has a marginal advantage to the Alliance due to some racial skills.  That inherent advantage has attracted min-maxers where every advantage counts.  That adds yet another advantage to PvP for Horde players.  There are only two ways to offset that advantage – more “good” Alliance players, or more “power” for Alliance players.

War Mode tries to get there with incentivizing playing Alliance.  But the rewards are so miniscule that they cannot be seen at all as any advantage to pull someone AWAY from playing Horde.  Even if you were to swap all racials between factions, the playerbase is stronger on Horde and enough to offset the racial imbalance.  Not to mention the $$$ impacts of a faction change.  There’s only a small percentage of players who would pay to swap for a 1% gain to power.  There’s an astronomically larger percentage that goes “I’ve got friends and dozens of hours invested in this character, I’m good.”.

Way Forward

War Mode for leveling has next to no risk, it’s all reward.  Shadowlands is re-writing the leveling experience anyhow.  Unless the incentives are massively swapped (e.g. a % boost to primary stats in non-instanced content), there’s really no purpose to it for max level characters.

A good experiment, in the social carrot aspect is much larger than Blizzard had assumed.  But unlikely to matter in the long run.  Better off putting money in breaking the faction divide and getting people playing together.

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