SUWT 17 is out, and as always, it’s high quality podcast goodness, go check it out.
Near the end of the podcast a post of mine is linked and discussed, with the hosts talking a bit about PvP. I could be wrong, but I’m fairly sure none of the participants are particularly huge fans of PvP, which made the discussion a bit more interesting for me, someone who has long since declared PvP gameplay the cream-of-the-crop in an MMO game if done right.
I think the best point made on the podcast on that topic was the comparison between WoW PvP and a first person shooter, and how FPS fans play their game for the simple fact of playing it, while WoW PvP players seem to play only for the end reward, or however many points they earn towards some reward. This brings up a very important point; WoW players are not PvP players. The appeal of WoW was never an amazing PvP experience (somewhat funny considering the lore WoW is based on, but yea), the appeal has always been a superb leveling game, one which is very solo friendly and accessible to the ‘common’ gamer, both in hardware requirements and game difficulty. Players played to grow a character, gaining levels and get new, better gear. Once you hit the level cap, you are left with only items to grow, and at some point, PvP became the best/easiest source of items, funneling the PvE community into battlegrounds in further pursuit of growth. You can’t blame the players, they are only doing what is available to them in order to play the game they want to play, that being the PvE game. PvP is currently a minor inconvenience, or grind, before they return to PvE.
The major problem with PvE-based players is that they bring the PvE mentality into PvP, and when the rules of PvP are placed upon them, they are not happy. In a raid or quest, if you kill something, you get rewarded. You don’t get rewarded sometimes, and rarely does something kill you without you expecting it. Monsters don’t gank you, quest givers don’t scam you, and quest items don’t run and hide to keep you from finding them. PvE has a defined time=reward ratio. You put your time in, you get the reward, guaranteed.
PvP does not work like that, or at least should not. Even the best plans fail, a ‘sure thing’ could be a trap, and that ever helpful player might be setting you up for the kill. In comparison to PvE, PvP is far more open in terms of possibilities and consequences. It’s not ‘point A to point B’ gameplay. Some days you win, some days you lose, and the separation between a good and bad player is in the ratio. Win 90/10, you are good; go 20/80 and you might need some work. But even that 90/10 player has bad days, days were you get constantly ganked, or a bad disconnect hits you at the wrong moment and proves very costly. It happens to everyone at one point or another. The PvP player knows and accepts this; the PvE player will find it unfair and harsh.
Now I’m not saying all PvE players should avoid PvP like the plague, if anything they should give it a shot, many might like it. But it has to be quality PvP, in a game build with PvP in mind, not an afterthought. If you base all PvP perceptions on a few ganks in UO and WoW’s battleground, I would agree with you that PvP does indeed suck. Base it on a relic raid done right in DAoC, an EVE tourney, or Asherons Call Darktide, and your opinion might change. And if it does not, that’s cool too, you are simply not a PvP fan, and no one is going to force you. Just like the best raid instances don’t convert everyone into a PvE fan, no matter the quality of the zone/instance.
At the same time, you should not force your PvE-based view on a PvP focused game. Don’t expect quest focused, item based, ‘play without interference’ gameplay, just like PvP fans should not expect much when they queue up for a BG.
That is really my biggest fear for Warhammer, that the PvE community will over-influence it, and what was once a PvP based game will instead be WoW 1.5. The greatest unknown right now is whether PvP can be the base for a mass market MMO. History will tell us ‘no’ if we focus on games like Shadowbane or Fury, but that would be like arguing that PvE is not mass market because of games like Vanguard or Asherons Call 2. The truth is in all of the above, it was not the type of game that made it a failure, but the simple fact that those games were not very good to start with. If Warhammer has WoW-like polish and execution, I see no reason why it can’t hit that magic ‘mass market’ level, even if it is based on PvP gameplay.
If WAR delivers on all those PvP promises (a big if at this point), I get a bit worried when I hear PvE people talking about WAR, and how they hope it will be the next ‘it’ thing for them. If done right, it won’t be 100% safe, bad days will happen, and more often then not your gameplay will be based on the players around you. The ups and down in a PvP world are more extreme than those in a PvE world, and it’s those extremes that make it enjoyable for those that enjoy that style of gaming. It will be those same extremes that turn off others. I just hope the message is clear enough on day one for expectations to be set properly.