SWTOR launched with a single PVP bracket for warzones that spans levels 10-50.
Viewers of my YouTube videos have posted comments similar to this one:
Wait if your level 18 in PvP why is there a level 50? Or is there a way that they even up the fight
SWTOR implements a Bolster PVP mechanic to help lowbies compete with higher-level opponents.
Here’s how Bolster works:
- Bolster scales your damage / healing tooltips to level 49
- Bolster scales your stats to level 49
- Bolster does not provide the talent points that a sub-50 would have earned by 49
- Bolster does not provide new abilities that are not trainable until a higher level
Does Bolster provide parity for lowbies against higher-level opponents? No, but it does help to minimize the gap and help lowbies to be competitive if not equal.
An interesting implication of #2 is that a low-level player who is geared in solid greens and blues for their level can hit hard in PVP. I’ve put up 200k damage with various RDPS classes at levels 10-12 in PUGs while focusing on winning the match not padding my stats. On an early Sniper stream, I delivered ~9k damage with 3 abilities thanks to crits.
If you keep the same gear across levels, you’ll find that your damage / healing decreases as your level increases. Bolster takes your current stats and scales them as if you were level 50. As such, a level 15 player in 13-15 greens and blues hits harder than a level 40 player in 30 greens for the same ability, assuming it’s not talented (e.g. the armor ignore talent for Powertech / Vanguard in the Advanced Prototype / Tactics tree). Therefore it’s important to keep your gear relatively up-to-date. The other thing to consider is that as classes level up, they gain abilities that provide utility, e.g. CC, buffs, debuffs, etc. What I’ve found as I’ve leveled up my Bounty Hunter Powertech and Trooper Vanguard is that I spend a lower % of GCDs for damage abilities compared to other abilities. While your abilities may hit or heal for less at higher levels, this is more than offset by the increase in utility and survivability gained with talents and abilities.
In addition, from a stats perspective, level 50 characters have access to level 50 PVP gear, which has the PVP stat Expertise. Expertise increases damage / healing and reduces damage takent in PVP, and the stat is not available on lower-level gear. This is a significant advantage for level 50s over level 10s.
In my opinion 10-49 should be one bracket and 50 should be a separate bracket. As I discussed in my streams during Beta, the last thing I want is to face level 10 players when I’m level 50 – it would be unchallenging.
Per the recent Best Buy Dev Chat, BioWare said they’ll be putting level 50s in a separate bracket:
Guest-346: In regards to PvP, are you guys planning on bracketing off level 50′s in warzones once there is a high population of them?
Gaming-BBY: >>Gabe: Yes, stay tuned for a Developer’s Blog with more on this and other PvP features coming soon.
When 50s are moved into their own bracket, I think having 10-49 all together will be fine.
On a related topic, the red buffs in warzones do provide +15% Expertise, so even if you are below level 50 you benefit from getting the buff.
UPDATE (2012/04/26): per the 1.2 tooltip for Bolster, the buff upscales players in 10-49 up to 49. Previously I had thought it bolstered players to 50.
UPDATE (2012/01/18): the level 50 PVP bracket for warzones was implemented in Patch 1.1. So there are now two brackets: 10-49 and 50. This is exactly what needed to happen.