Star Wars: The Old Republic Arena Preview
Players either love or hate PvP combat in Star Wars: The Old Republic for a variety of reasons. Personally, I'm not a fan of it for several reasons, but an upcoming change has me interested in dragging my bounty hunter off his ship to hopefully bag him some jedi scum. The new PvP feature coming in patch 2.4 for this mmo are arenas. To get you acquainted, MMO-Play offers this Star Wars: The Old Republic arena preview.
Arenas are a different beast than the warzones most players are familiar with. They are 4v4 team fights and are pure deathmatch, which means you don't waste time with boring objectives but focus instead of turning your enemies into bantha fodder. No worrying about capturing points, planting bombs, or trying to score with a stupid ball. Instead, you just concentrate on fragging the other team. I love this as I've been a tremendous fan of deathmatch style gameplay since way back to the days of Doom II. The setup for these arena fights are that they consist of three rounds total, with the winner having to win two rounds for victory. To ensure that the action is fast and furious, the arenas are much smaller than the warzones and have far fewer structures blocking line of sight. These conditions are specifically designed for players to get into the fight almost immediately.
There are some other interesting tweaks by this mmorpg to the arenas. One is that there are no respawns in a round. Which means that you had better make your one life count because once you're taken down, you'll have to sit to the next round. Effects and cool-downs do not carry over into the next round, so you can feel free to use that favorite ability and not try to save it for a later round. There are also no environmental hazards, such as firetraps or pools of acid, to interfere with the players, thus allowing them to focus solely upon their opponents. This is another component of arenas that I like as I hate distractions during a fight.
But what about those characters who can stealth and hide forever? SWTOR has made sure that rounds don't drag on with people hiding and refusing to fight. When the round timer hits five minutes, a poison gas will be released and will work its way from the edges inward. Players who get caught in the poison gas will have their stealth removed and they will also take damage over time. I think that this is a tremendous idea as it gets rid of that tiresome situation where the last two players are stealthing and attempting to get the drop on one another.
The arenas are run under the auspices of Giradda the Hutt, and there are three arenas overall for players to fight in: orbital station arena, Tatooine canyon arena, and Corellia Square arena. Each map has their own unique layout so players will have to figure out the best strategies for each. This is a welcome breath of fresh air as new maps are always appreciated.
Arenas queue in a similar way to warzones as there will be no dedicated queues for normal arenas and they can pop randomly when you enter the queue. Players can exclusively queue solo or with a full group of four for ranked arenas. If you queue solo for normal arena fights in this mmo, you'll be matched with a team of the same rank and you will face a team of the same rank and composition. This is a good feature as it will cut down on one group totally steamrolling the other. However, if you queue as a group, you are only matched by rank, not composition. If your group is comprised of healers, then you could be facing a group solely comprised of tanks or dps. This means that going in with a more balanced group is more tactically savvy, but your group can be comprised of whatever classes you desire.
Lastly, players will receive the same rewards for arenas as they would for warzones. Players will still receive warzone commendations, credits, xp, and ranked commendations (for ranked games). Overall, there's lots to love and little to hate about arenas in SWTOR. You get quick deathmatch fights that still provide you with the benefits and rewards from normal warzones. While I do have some minor quibble over the randomness of the maps when you queue, I'm thrilled I won't ever have to take part in another round of that damned Huttball.