Many good changes went into patch 1.1, Rise of the Rakghouls. The patch added a new flashpoint, implemented anti-aliasing, and expanded Karagga’s Palace to a full-size Operation. However, as the title of this article implies, Ilum is still a hell of a mess.
I realize the majority of players have yet to reach level 50 and experience this open world planet, so I will provide a brief overview of how the systems and mechanics on Ilum worked previously. Upon entering the PvP area of Ilum, players received missions for the five objectives on the map: the Republic base, southern assault, central assault, northern assault, and the Imperial base.
The two bases consisted of turrets which players could click on to begin a 10-second casting animation of loading a rocket launcher and firing it at the turret. As each turret was destroyed, that objective was captured. On the flip side, if one of the turrets was destroyed, players could use a terminal next to it to repair the turret to working condition--similar to how capturing a turret in the Alderaan Civil War Warzone works.
The three assaults were mechanically similar to the bases, but performed aesthetically different. Instead of firing rockets at turrets, players fired them at opposing faction transports, three of them per objective. When all three were destroyed, the objective was captured. Instead of repairing the transports, the defeated faction captured the objective back by destroying their opposing faction’s transports.
When either faction controlled all five of the objectives, they received a buff called War Effort that increased valor earned per kill in the Battle for Ilum by 200% and gives 100 bonus valor per Warzone. This buff lasted 30 minutes and can be stacked up to five times for a 400% valor increase in Ilum and 200 bonus valor per Warzone.
Daily and weekly quests picked up at the Imperial and Republic fleets tasked players with capturing a number of objectives and rewarded players with Champion Gear Bags that contained Centurion Commendations and a chance at a token for a piece of Champion PvP gear. Players quickly realized getting the quests done faster would reward them with gear quicker, whereas killing players only wasted time they were not rewarded for. With no incentive to kill other players, this led to a situation where players on opposite factions ended up trading objective captures to complete their quests quicker. This kind of play defeats the purpose of open world PvP when no actual PvP is taking place.
With patch 1.1, the daily and weekly quests changed from requiring players to capture objectives to requiring players to kill opposite faction players or collect armaments from the central assault objective. One of the problems with this change is it completely ignores the goal of capturing objectives. If a player wants to get their daily and weekly quests done, they can simply kill other players or gather armaments. Why bother capturing any of the objectives for control of Ilum? The War Effort buff is nice, but it does not help players complete their daily or weekly quests.
If the design of the PvP area of Ilum is for players to face off against each other, what is the point of capturing objectives? If BioWare wants Ilum to effectively be the place where players acrue valor, then it serves its purpose. However, that is likely not what they intended. Why not require players to satisfy a combination of capturing objectives and killing opposite faction players? This would create a situation where players are not clumped up in one small area, and small groups could assault objectives across the entire map.
Design problems like these need addressing, but at least world PvP is happening. That is, if the mechanics of Ilum were working correctly.
Even after the emergency patch 1.1.0a, players are still experiencing client performance issues while on Ilum. Despite the lowered player cap, frame rates still decrease when on Ilum, even when not participating in PvP. Loading screens still pop up seemingly randomly. Latency also becomes an issue, delaying the time it takes to fire off abilities or jump on a vehicle. Similar stuttering occurred on Taris near launch, which suggests that Ilum might also suffer from a memory leak.
These problems combine to spotlight the main problem with PvP right now: faction imbalance. Most servers have a Sith population that dwarfs the Republic, and it is easy to notice on Ilum. BioWare needs to find a way to either make the Republic faction more attractive to play, or have some benefit to playing the lower population side. Use the Bolster mechanics to a lesser degree on Ilum to give the lower population side an extra push. Or hey, just give Jedi Consulars blue lightning, that's why most players flocked to the Sith faction, right?