To PvP or not PvP, that is the Question

The Talkback Challenge hosted by the NBI, is a feature that gets the community talking about the same subject. This was done in years past, and this year the topic at hand is: Do PvE and PvP mix?  There is another topic as well, but that one hasn’t made its rounds yet, so let’s cover one at a time, shall we?

I read Doone’s post on the topic over at XP Chronicles, and that was the first one I commented on. Here’s what I had to say:

I’ve only experienced open world pvp in one game, and that was Everquest II. I started playing the game in ’06, and had been playing a month or so when the pvp servers opened. I rolled a fresh character on Nagafen with my then-roommate and we had a lot of fun, as everyone was on an even playing field. There weren’t players that much higher than you, and the rules kept you within a reasonable level range for pvp conflict. There were raids that would form in the world and massive battles would play out over hours. It was an epic feeling. But as I leveled, the mid-game was terrible, as it got to the point that you couldn’t complete quests without being consistently ganked. The frustration of trying to do both at the same time eventually had me seeing through the eyes of a “care bear.” This isn’t to say I don’t think pvp has its place — Players will always be more of a challenge than AI — but I like instanced pvp in a battlegrounds fashion.

Being a League player I like objective based pvp, so battlegrounds are a good way to have your MMO and eat it too. I do think that it would be better to do something like League does though, and give a pre-constructed character to play with. Like your appearance/class would still remain, but you would be given a few class-specific abilities and your gear wouldn’t change their effectiveness. That would keep it “fair” and “separate” from the pve game. People who don’t normally pvp might jump on that too, because they wouldn’t have to worry about not being geared right, and being on an even playing field is a true measure of skill.

This is to say that I enjoy PvP, but that I can acknowledge that it is annoying when being followed around by griefers while trying to finish up quests. In most cases, I get my PvP elsewhere, outside of the MMO sphere. I play games like League of Legends, Awesomenauts and Hearthstone, used to be big on FPS conflicts, and still love a good Street Fighter variant. When I play massive games, I tend to roll on PvE servers just like the rest of the carebears, because there has yet to be a system that keeps things fair.

Fair is a relative term. People think that everything is unfair when they are losing. That isn’t to say that PvP in inherently unfair, rather that developers have always seemed to add it in as an afterthought, or do very little to address the balance issues. In games like LoL, you are able to choose amongst many different pre-set champions. The only real affect you have on their power is your Rune/Mastery setups, along with what items you build during the game. However, those items are available to everyone, and Runes/Masteries are earned, but don’t provide huge gains. This keeps the players on a level field, where skill makes up for lack of knowledge of builds. In MMOs, there are either limitations due to gear discrepancy, or mechanics that allow for griefing of other players.

The easiest way to avoid the conflict between so called carebears and pvpers (assholes) is to keep the PvP element separate from the rest of the game. WoW and others have done just that, where you queue up for a separate game mode to have it out in PvP style. Some people would argue that this dilutes the PvP aspect, because they are restricted to instanced PvP. But how is that really different than any other game that pits player versus player? All of the games I listed above are purely PvP, and its conducted in a way that people who join the game know what they’re getting into. I suppose it is blind siding to create a character in an MMO and be killed by people you thought were on your team. But in this day and age, unless you have been living under a rock and don’t read anything about a game before you try it, I’d say you knew what you were getting into.

I think PvP works in MMOs, but it would be best to keep it to the battlegrounds. That way the PvE players can avoid it, and those who want the challenge can participate. Taking it a step further, I would make either pre-made champions to play with, or have gear not matter. This way, someone who plays a Druid can stay a Druid in PvP, but they will be homogenized into a generic version of the character. Their gear wouldn’t make a difference, and they would have the same skills as another Druid on the opposing team. Then skill would be paramount, and the arguments over gear scores could cease. PvP can be a mini-game or end-game activity for people who don’t want to raid. Or simply another option. I think a lot of people who don’t PvP might give it a shot if they knew it was only a mini-game, and knew that they would start on a level playing field.

One bit that I noticed while reading other’s writing on the topic, is that those who are against PvP are more adamant about it being the wrong way of doing things than those who are pro-PvP. It seems like PvE players think that all PvP players are assholes and are degrading their game. I find that somewhat insulting, because as a player who is pro-PvP, I can see both sides of the argument, and am trying to brainstorm ideas where we are all happy in the end. Of course, this is a small sampling of people, so I know that there are most likely people on both sides of the fence who are assholes and those who are reasonable. It just almost feels like a more social issue, like people being adamantly against gay marriage, when really it doesn’t affect them one bit.

Anything else I could say on the matter has already been covered. Here’s a list of some others participating in the discussion:

House of Witches
Joseph Skyrim
Doctor Hannah
XP Chronicles
Looking for Playtime

#pvp #nbi2014 #newbiebloggerinitiative #community #opinion

18 thoughts on “To PvP or not PvP, that is the Question

  1. While not exactly what you describe, Structured PvP in GW2 has everyone on an even playing field, max level with all the points for traits and any weapons or gear you need for free. And it doesn’t impact the PvE game, which has its own gearing as progression. Of course, there are still choices to be made in sPvP regarding your traits, weapons, skills, and runes (gear stats). But I feel it is very egalitarian.


  2. i’ve always thought that more of the PvE population, in general are far more aggresive than PvP. To them it’s mostly a zero sum game, PvP is a nuisance even if it is a side mini game as it takes development away from other spaces. The interest isn’t understood and is attacked. We have our crazies too but we take it out on them in game =p

    As for your suggestion, I think that’s what GW2 was trying. A mode where your character means far less and it puts you on an even playing field to start with options available to all. However it was actually quite unpopular, not sure what that means but it seems quite a few people were missing that purpose to play


  3. Well thanks for pointing that out guys. As I have never played GW2, I was unaware that this attempt was made. I thought it would be cool to have basically a LoL game mode within the larger MMO. I guess it would be more like Smite than LoL, but you know what I mean. That’s essentially what WoW/EQ2 battlegrounds are. Unfortunately there seem to be more PvE players than PvP, so like J3w3l says, they get offended when a company’s resources go towards PvP development. I don’t understand how that affects them, if they don’t play to partake.

    I don’t like the concepts of permadeath or losing your gear when you’re killed in PvP in an MMO. Mainly because that sucks. But those concepts are fine in other games, like Roguelikes. Open world PvP still appeals to me, but it should be done in a sandbox type fashion, and something like Landmark where you could create structures to defend or utilize in the PvP would be cool. Having quests and that sort of thing doesn’t really mix with the open world PvP. So I suppose the real answer to the question is that the two don’t seem to mix.

    I wouldn’t know half of the gamers I do know if it wasn’t for PvE though.


    • see, the thing with losing your gear in an mmo that develops around that is it doesn’t matter as much. It’s not raid based but crafting based and the economy revolves around it. you probably have spares set out, ability to but gear if you need and friends that can share when needed. It really isn’t an issue in a proper sandbox.


      • Darkfall’s setup is absolutely like that. And frankly it makes a lot of sense from a general balance perspective. No one, really, goes out and about in their best gear. You go out in whatever decent gear you have that is triplicated in your bank. It causes a bit more level playing field, as the gear-baseline is far less vulnerable to power creep.

        I wish that a PvE-based game would do something similar. Not necessarily the “you lose it” approach to gear, but a flatter baseline which creates a more balanced power dynamic. Creep is just awful. Last time I played WoW in MoP I was struck by the fact that every number was in the thousands. You had 13k HP and did 3k dps. Ridiculous.


  4. Level playing field is important to me, which is why I often have trouble considering PvP in vertical progression grind games.

    The state of GW2 PvP seems to be a little better now since the last feature patch allowed one to gain XP, levels and loot while playing PvP – so that you’re not losing the time progressing account and PvE character while playing what used to be a super partitioned-off side game. It allows people who play both to crossover a little more easily, while still keeping the fairness of having separate PvP build and stats that are made even across the board.

    Depth is in the builds you use or design, and how you best play with good timing, strategy and coordination to achieve the teamfight objective, and imo, that’s how it should be.

    Not how many hours one spent grinding or AFKing for a currency or rank up or RL $$$ spent to buy gear with better stats that give you a straight up numerical advantage.


    • Oh pay to win in PvP is a strict no no for me. Well it sounds like I’d like the PvP aspect of GW2. I guess I’m gonna have to buy a box soon. But I want to get through rift first.


  5. From your quoted portion: “Players will always be more of a challenge than AI”

    I disagree. My experience with pvp is that there are always min/maxed “best builds” that pvp players flock to and within those builds they use the same skills in the same order, or react to situations in the same way, and thus the “best” pvp players are little more than a scripted AI for an NPC anyway. If anything it’s the noobie scrubs that come in with “bad builds” and who don’t know “this is rock, to that player’s scissor” that add the element of unpredictability and challenge since you don’t know what they’ll do. But the “1337” crowd? Yawn. You know how they’re built, what their gear is and what they’re going to do – each time, every time — and thus is more boring than pve, becuz at least in pve there will be 40-100 different mobs, and even mobs in the same skin don’t necessarily have the same AI scripts or abilities so they can pull out the occasional suprises. And there’s usually some quest or story hook for killing them, where pvp is simply “Go kill players for no reason at all. It’s fun! No really! We promise!”

    OTOH, leet pvp’ers do tend to be defensively built, so killing them can either take a while or not be possible. Of course then you get the stand-offs where no one can win and that’s also boring, so…. yeah. I don’t find pvp to be anything that the pvp boosters say it is.

    And I’ll be the 1st to admit that pve is often easy, repetitive, and boring too. But at least in pve I don’t have to listen to mobs whining that I cheated if I killed them, or trash talking how awesome they are if they killed me.


    • This is why I was pointing out ways that could be fixed. Much of the discussion was also pointed at other games besides MMOs, where balance is better. Regardless, the essence of that quote holds true, despite you wanting to have something to be argumentative about. No matter what a person is going to creatively find ways to best their opponent, whereas AI will run one of several predetermined scripts, and will never change. The latter sounds a lot more boring to me.


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