June 6, 2017 In
“It’s kinda boring repeating the same thing over” – Yis
Currently many players in Blade and Soul’s arena are locked in a cycle of constant repetition, as they fail to make progress in the ladder. Players bounce in and out of the same rating without making advancements in their play leading to frustration and a dwindling arena population. In this article, I will discuss the problems that resulted in the current state of the arena.
The Dead Zone
Because of the small player base this game has there already exists a gap between the top-tiers and the rest of the players known as the “dead zone”.
Over time Blade and Soul has had its arena scene decline in population resulting in the pyramid structure having a dead zone due to high skill stratification that naturally arises in competitive games. The dead zone makes it unrealistic for new players to improve because of the huge skill gap between players. They are unable to realistically become a top tier because they cannot see what separates them from top tier which causes a repetition of climbing and losing after a certain point. An example of this would be the important of trying to bait out tab while managing your cool downs. An inexperienced player would not know the optimal combo for their class and would not try to avoid tab.
Lack of Incentives
This also brings up another point which is that there is no incentive to get new people to play arena. Rewards provide no incentives for people who participate in raids and dungeons seeing as how decent rewards are at the top only and it is unrealistic for them to become top. They will be lacking in knowledge that they generally do not pick up without guidance. They also will not have the opportunity of climbing tier by tier like in the past. They will simply just queue and get frustrated from not knowing how to improve and seeing what makes other players better. The lack of an incentive causes the arena community only to get smaller and smaller from how it was originally and never expand. A good example of an incentive is providing better ways to actually obtain items through arena. There should also be more exclusive costumes for arena since fashion is the true end game of most Blade and Soul players.
Ladder Versus Tournaments
There’s also a huge difference between ladder and online tournaments. Whenever a player queues on ladder they state that it is like a slot machine. If they get a good class match up they will win and if they do not they will lose. There is also a factor of who they get so a player can get high plat without facing any top tiers and think they are good. However, in tournaments the change of running into a top tier is guaranteed if they want to perform well. Then this sudden feeling of seeing how a top player plays and the difference between them comes rushing into them. It’s generally impossible to face a top tier on ladder unless you are one. However tournaments provide a way for players to face these people and realize what they still need to improve on.
Now let’s take a look at NCSOFT’s perspective. NCSOFT was asked a series of questions and decided to share their answers with the communities. Here are the questions being asked and their response in red.
Overall, what is your opinion of arena based on current player behavior?
We’ve seen a lot of good competition, but we know there are plenty of skilled B&S players who need to get into the PVP arena! We have Regional Championships in both North America and Europe coming up, including Wildcard Tournaments, so it’s time for all those skilled players to really step up to the plate and begin competing for serious prizes. In general, we’re hoping that by stepping up our commitment to official esports tournaments that we’ll see the overall skill of players in the arena lift. Tl;dr: we want to see more people git gud.
What was the purpose of the disconnect system that makes player lose 60 points and prevents them from entering arena for a period of time?
We consider this a “leaver” penalty, designed to discourage players who intentionally disconnect from the game in order to gain a favourable matchup.
Do you believe this system helps or hurts the community more than the other?
As we commit NCSOFT West resources to setting up legitimate esports events, we need to ensure that no one is gaming the system to get ahead in the rankings, and this is the solution that is working for us currently. It’s not to say we’re not looking at other ways to level the playing field, but right now it’s what we feel is most fair.
What was the purpose of the “duel match battle frenzy”?
Like we mentioned earlier, we’re trying to get more players into the competitive mind space, and we feel that it’s something that’ll encourage more people to test their skills in the arena!
Do you believe the community is overall satisfied, neutral, or unsatisfied with arena? Based on what you answer please provide reasons for why you believe the community feels this way.
The arena, as a concept, is one of Blade & Soul’s strengths as it highlights the skill involved in the action combat system. The fact that it is equalized in terms of stats and places an emphasis on player skill in order to win is also well-received. I haven’t heard anyone complain that gear scores should be included in Arena; and I’ve seen others tout the equalization as a selling point to play the game.
Now with this it becomes possible to see the reasons behind some of the existing systems in the game. NCSOFT is willing to step up their commitment and hopes to see the same from their players. They are looking after players and making an effort to make sure no one can game the system. However, it appears difficult to see how this system prevents people from cheating the system: especially if there is no benefit in trying to disconnect and queue again when there is still the risk of running into the same player over and over because of a small player base. This system hurts the community more and may discourage players from even playing when they disconnect from the game in a match. Hopefully there will eventually be a new better replacement for this system. The duel match battle frenzy also completely misses its mark and fails to actually encourage any players to queue in arena. There is just no point in extra zen beans for someone who plays arena only and has all the necessary “HM skills” needed.
Game Promotes Skill
For the last question I do believe that gear equalization is a good trait of Blade & Soul. The goal is to promote actual skill over gear. However, if the goal is to promote and encourage skill in the arena scene, then current balance patches do not prove this case since; players are unable to compensate the disadvantages they have in a matchup with skill. This brings up the point that there is no dedicated PVP balancing and how PVE class changes can influence PVP balance. Also, if the focus of NCSOFT by getting rid of gear in arena is to promote skill; then there certainly needs to be a change to integrated RNG mechanics that happen in arena.
The arena needs some improvements but not many. NCSOFT needs to do a better job of persuading players into queuing and creating a better competitive atmosphere. They should also find a better replacement for the current leaver penalty system because unfortunately, that harms the community more than helps it. There also needs to be a growth in the actual player base. This doesn’t mean that more people need to join the game but specifically that NCSOFT should encourage players into joining the arena scene. It may seem like a lot however; this game is still doing well and in a good state at the moment. At this point things can only get better for the game.