Review: World of Warcraft – Warsong Gulch Battleground

Intro
Since its release in late November of last year, World of Warcraft (WoW) has gone on to become one of the world’s most popular MMORPGs of all time. Solid gameplay, beautiful environments, and the promise of an expanded Player versus Player (PvP) system have kept players roaming the lands of Azeroth for months.

On 6/7 Blizzard released the latest patch to WoW that launched two battlegrounds, Alterac Valley and Warsong Gulch. These battlegrounds introduce a new style of play that previously was not available in WoW. Anyone familiar with the non-deathmatch setups of some first person shooters will immediately be at home in either of these two instances. While Alterac Valley brings a more Battlefield 1942 aspect to the game due to its environment and respawn control points, what I will be focusing on in this review is the Warsong Gulch battleground.

Story
The existence of the Warsong Gulch is due to the battle over the deforestation of Ashenvale. The Horde wishes to advance its progress past the northern border of the Barrens while the Alliance will stop at nothing to thwart the Horde whenever possible………so what better way to settle this than a nice game of capture the flag?

Gameplay
Warsong Gulch brings a capture the flag style of play to WoW. A maximum of ten players on each side (Horde and Alliance) battle in an instanced area in an attempt to capture the other team’s flag. The first team to capture the opposing team’s flag three times wins the event. Anyone from levels 21 and above may compete in this battleground, and are placed with other players in their same level range (21-30, 31-40, 41-50, or 51-60).

To join a battleground, one must first enter his/her faction’s instance portal located in the Alliance-controlled Ashenvale or Horde-controlled Barrens. After entering the portal, the player is placed into a queue and must wait until an opening is available. Fortunately, players are not required to wait in this area and may travel anywhere in the world to pass the time until they are alerted that they may join a battle. When this happens, an alert box appears asking if the player would like to join the instance. If a player chooses yes, s/he is instantly teleported to the event.

Upon joining a battleground, players have about two minutes to enter a group with the other participants and devise a strategy. Once this time is up, the gate is lifted and the event begins.

The layout of the bases where the flags reside in Warsong Gulch is identical, with power-ups scattered throughout the landscape. These power-ups are a new feature of WoW, and once obtained give the player a special ability for a short amount of time. These power-ups include a boost to speed, increased health regeneration, and increased strength.

Games may last anywhere from five minutes to an hour or longer depending on the composition of the teams. Unless entering the battleground as part of a group, players will be placed with other participants of varying levels and skill. However, if both sides are evenly matched expect the event to last for some time.

Like many first person shooters, participants may click on an icon displayed on their minimap at any time during the battle to check the stats of all the players. This will rank everyone playing by the number of killing blows they have had and also display the current number of honorable kills, flag captures, flag returns and honor points. Once the event is finished, players are given two minutes to review this information before they are teleported back to the instance portal of the battleground.

One of the great things about participating in the event is not only the increase in honor points, giving you access to more PvP rewards, but if one’s team happens to win he/she may talk to an NPC standing outside of the instance gate to complete a quest for some experience and faction reputation. In addition, this quest may be completed an unlimited number of times.

Graphics
The overall graphics of the game have not been improved in this newest patch. Although the battleground environments are well tailored to a capture the flag style of play, all of the graphical characteristics of the core game come through.

Sound
The sound quality in Battlegrounds transfers over directly from the core game with no need for improvements.

Controls
The controls in Battlegrounds are identical to those used outside of the event. All actions may be made with simple combinations of keyboard commands and/or mouse clicks.

Replay Value
Battlegrounds adds to an overwhelming amount of replay value already in the core game. Not only does one have the ability to create new characters in order to spice things up after hitting the level cap, but now s/he may also take high level characters and battle others for special rewards and honor. This addition will no doubt significantly increase the amount of time normally spent on this game.

Conclusion
As with any new addition, Battlegrounds is not without its faults. First, the wait from the time one enters the queue until s/he actually plays can be anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. This largely depends on the number of people playing on the server at that time and which faction the player’s chose to align their character. This is mainly due to there being a greater number of Alliance players than Horde players across all servers. Also, there is an estimated wait time that one may check while in the queue, but from my experience it does not seem to be at all accurate.

Another issue with Battlegrounds is the fact that players have to travel to a location which many have no business in because the environment is geared toward lower level characters. Something that Blizzard added with the newest patch was the ability to join a meeting stone for an instance by simply speaking with an innkeeper. If this were used to also allow others to join the queue for a battleground, it would save a lot of time traveling to the battleground portal and back to wherever the player was grinding or completing quests.

Overall, Battlegrounds is a great addition to World of Warcraft with only a few minor setbacks. However, one of the best things about an online role playing game is that the developers can address these issues in a future patch. Battlegrounds enhances the PvP experience and gives players even more reason to participate in combat with one another. Finally, if Warsong Gulch is any indication of what we can expect from future battlegrounds, I predict that many new players will be picking up the game for the PvP opportunities alone.

About the Author

Having over 25 years of gaming experience, Zach knows a thing or two when it comes to one of his favorite entertainment activities. Additionally, he has also written many articles previewing and reviewing titles which can be found in various places around the net, including VGBlogger.com.