Carbine Studios' Wildstar has some intense PvP. It's super frenetic enough to be considered a competitive party game and has kept me playing the darn mode for hours on-end. So far, all I have to say is the game does PvP quite right, at least where it is at right now. This is because the classes are balanced in the arena enviornment and the battles are intense and crazy enough to keep you entertained for a good chunk of your time. Also, you can level your character purely off of PvP batlling which is a nice bonus for those who are deeply into it.
I've always said in the past, PvP doesn't really belong in traditional MMOs. Tell me off if you want, but most of the player versus player content in every tab-target MMO was boring, lame, and horrendous to watch and I am a lover (perhaps at an intimate level) of eSports and healthy competition. On top of that, some of the content in other games was either too easy at a casual level or too hard at a more hardcore level so there was no middle ground for pure enjoyment for the player like me who focuses strongly on PvE and uses PvP as a secondary priority.
Wildstar on the other hand has as close to frenetic, skill-based play as you can get in a game so there is an action element that makes PvP much like games that were actually designed for deathmatches, like action shooters or arena games. So with the base foundation of the combat system itself, it makes the deathfest feel like its own game. So if you are worried about the base enjoyment of Wildstar PvP, then stop now because you'll probablly like it, so long as the systems in place are within your tastes (action, full-motion combat).
How PvP works
This article coveres PvP instances and not Warplots or world PvP.
There are a handful of different maps and modes for PvP but let's discuss that another time. All you need to know is all the maps are indeed designed with objectives in mind. So far, there are no kill-score based modes which is fine since it promotes team play and allows for classes that are under the illusion of being unviable to be more openly seen as viable. Also note that all modes are Dominion VS. Exile. You cannot inter-twine with those of the other faction. Ever. So keep that in mind if you make PvP-dedicated characters with your friends.
PvP is accessible once you hit Level 6 and from there, you can level purely off of PvP if you really wanted to. Not PvP levels or anything, actual levels, in-game. There is no seperate leveling for player v. player.
Once you have decided you are going to duke it out with your fellow Wildstar bretheren, you start at the 1200 rating, which is similar to the ELO ratings used in other ranked based systems. If you win, you earn rating points and when you lose, you lose rating points so eventually, you'll fall into instances that hold players within your supposed projected skill level. Fairly straight-foward. As for if the skills of your opponent, whether they are harder or easier, have a determining factor in the rise and fall of this number, I do not know at this time.
In-terms of what I have experienced personally, the PvP splits you off into brackets. The brackets I know of are Lv.6 to 14 and Lv.15 to 29. Depending on the bracket, you will be "rallied" to the highest level (14 or 29) so even if you are level 6, you will scale up to Lv.14 so you can fight others without worrying about levels. However, even with the rise in level, the game does fail to mention gear is still a factor so a lv.14 player with lv.13 gear will be a tad bit stronger than a fresh level 6 PvPer with lv.6 gear scaled to Lv.14. Is it a big difference? No. I entered PvP on my fairly under-geared Stalker at around level 8 and was still able to score kills on players I definitely knew were at least lv.13 and geared. Even if I wasn't scoring kills, I could run objectives and play that role for my team. There's a place for everyone.
So far, I've had the opportunity to try out a great majority of the classes in PvP: Spellslinger, Engineer, Stalker, Esper, and Medic; all of which are above the 1450 rating for me (in the Lv.6 - 14 bracket & Lv.15 - 29 bracket) and featured on the GameGeex stream.
So far, I've never really felt under-powered as whatever class and more or less, I mainly felt certain classes were easier than the another - which makes sense anyways. Am i saying easy = better? Not at all. Take for example the Medic, which as a healer, has a strong area-of-effect heal at close range while providing moderate tankiness through Medium Armor. Their skills were much easier to land and being tanky was such a relief in the heat of battle. Now let us compare that to the Spellslinger healer, whom has longer range but more stationary heals that can be more diffuclt to land and light armor. Despite the need for more twitch-reaction on my end, I was able to keep my targets alive just as good, if not better, as a Spellslinger than on Medic but it required more thought and understanding of my class to execute properly. Did I do my job any less on either class? Not at all, we still scored flags at got "W's" even as the sole healer of the team.
How Damage Classes stack up
I'm sure one of the big factors people are wondering about in Wildstar PvP is of course, how the DPS classes stack up against one another. While I haven't been pit against every possible combination of DPS 1v1 battles the game has to offer, I felt every class did equal damage when stacked against each other and if they didnt, they provided support through CC because, you know, Action Skill-set (hybrid).
I'll admit, Warriors and Stalkers are extremely powerful in the lvl 6 to 14 bracket in terms of damage to utility/escape ratio. This might be because not everyone has their core skills at that level yet or the bracket has more players that are newer and don't understand all of the game's concepts (Stalkers can stealth into your base, etc etc). Once the PvP mode pushed players into the level 29 bracket where everyone had a good grasp of the game and PvP modes, suddenly, everyone, if focused properly, simply blew up and the matches, with everyone understanding what to do, where much more fun and evenly matched. Even Tanky Engineer could melt squishy opponents who were simply out of position.
In some sense, I actually enjoy balance by making everything extremely powerful, makes the game more amusing. However, this could change later on.
Is it eSports viable?
Now we are in my area of expertise. eSports. A common question people ask me is if Wildstar is eSports viable. And my answer, unfortunately, at the moments of this write-up is NO.
When I played my fair share of Wildstar PvP, it was really fun to play. Almost addicting infact and I am a dude that leans strongly towards PvE. But for an eSports game to succeed, there has to be excellent spectator value and a skill cap that seperates players who are in the base 1200 rating to those who may have climbed their way to the 2000 rating. Wildstar, where I am at currently, does not have these things. From a viewer, the game is frenetic flashlight battles of death and while play-making is possible, the best I could come up with was jumping off a bridge and dash-stunning players in mid air back onto the bridge. Whoop-dee-doo.
Don't get me wrong, the game is way more entertaining than tab-target team deathmatch (in my opinion, bite me if you will) and what the players are doing to get kills is hard in its own way (100% skill shots) but it just does not show. Most eSports titles are just as fun to watch as they are to play because the play-making at the highest of tiers is incredible and you can actually see it unfold. Wildstar ehhhh.... maybe at Lv.50 I can assess the situation further so I won't break down my thoughts on what could be better. Yet.