Massively Overthinking: PvP MMOs without the PvE

Back in April, we ran an Overthinking about a perceived lack of high-quality PvE-oriented MMO titles on the horizon, and that’s a conversation that keeps coming up whenever we talk about upcoming MMOs, particularly Camelot Unchained, as we did on the podcast last week. And that leads me to this week’s question:

Would you play an MMO without standard PvE combat? Are you planning on playing Crowfall, Camelot Unchained, or other MMOs that focus on PvP (and non-combat activities like crafting) to the exclusion of PvE combat, or do you need to be killing mobs for it to feel like a “real” MMORPG?

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): I don’t think MMOs necessarily have to focus on either PvP or PvE; in fact, one of my favourite things to do in a new MMO is often to switch off or ignore the UI and just explore a new big fantasy world. Exploring high level zones often means sneaking around and avoiding combat, something few MMOs offer as deliberate gameplay. When Massively was young, I even ran a series of articles about urban exploration and freerunning in MMOs in which I looked at all the different secret places you could get to in games like EverQuest II and Age of Conan and how non-combat abilities like gliding and speed boosts could help. EverQuest II also has some really compelling non-combat pursuits like collecting and decorating, and a lot of my time in EVE over the years has also been spent playing the market, manufacturing, or taking part in the player-driven community rather than actual combat. I think if it were done right, I’d definitely play an MMO that has no combat at all or very little emphasis on it.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Yep, I’ll play them. I like PvP, and I especially like PvP that feels epic and has a grand purpose as it did in Dark Age of Camelot. Way too many MMOs with PvP are just griefer havens or battlegrounds-as-afterthoughts, and I’m over that as much as I’m over PvE combat grinding just to get to the good stuff. A game that’s going to provide the RvR experience without the gankboxing and the themepark grind? Oh yeah, and there’s crafting too, and it’s not just another MOBA trying to elbow into the MMO market? Sign me up.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): Frankly, I’ll play any game that makes me feel that I’m getting enjoyable things to do on a regular basis. The problem with PvP isn’t really PvP in and of itself; it’s that making a game with a strong PvP focus tends to make players a form of content rather than, well, players. I am actually interested in seeing how Crowfall develops, and I’m not about to write it off simply for a love of PvP, which is something I frequently enjoy even if it’s not always my main objective in a game.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): Honestly? Probably not. I tried, really, really hard, to get into the PvP scene with Warhammer Online, but ultimately I had to face the fact that PvP stresses me the heck out and is the opposite of what I want to do in an MMO. Now combat — any variety — doesn’t have to be the centerpiece of an MMO for me to play it; I’d be open to a really excellent non-combat MMO if one came along.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): If the game were lacking PvP combat along with the absent PvE content, I might very well play it to see what other fun features the game is centered on. (I think I just pinned myself into trying Ever, Jane, eh?) But no, I have no interest in playing a game that is solely PvP unless there are other robust systems to enjoy. To me personally a MMO is so much more than combat anyways that the lack of combat doesn’t change my perception of its MMOness. The games that are adding deep and integral crafting systems are certainly worth checking out because that would be the area I would want to focus on. If a game doesn’t have a system I can devote myself to, then it is not worth bothering with. I am just not a people-hunter at heart.

Your turn!

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149 Comments on "Massively Overthinking: PvP MMOs without the PvE"

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Wandris
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Wandris

Dixa Wandris disUserNameTake mysecretid  That is not even the case with Eve sure many things are crafted but you still have a great PVE element with gear that drops, missions that let you buy loyalty items etc. Now look at a game like BDO, right now it isn’t quite the definition of what people would call a sandbox although as years go buy and more sandbox elements are layered on it may very well be considered a “sandbox”. When it comes to MMO’s the scope is usually so large and so changing that very few can be considered pure sandboxes, maybe landmark, trove, minecraft, rust, Ark, LoF etc. if those can even be considered MMO’s.

Dixa
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Dixa

Wandris disUserNameTake mysecretid what i don’t get is people using sandbox for games that are not actually sandboxes.

a sandbox is a game where every single aspect of the game is player controlled or created, like eve. sure, basic shuttles are provided by the system but everything else from ammo to weapons to ships and modules has to be created by a player first.  that is sandbox.

Wandris
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Wandris

disUserNameTake mysecretid GW2 WvW lack the breadth of games like EvE and other sandboxes. Everything in these games from armor, siege gear etc is finite, destructible, lootable, craftable. The gameplay is slower and largely based around guilds which can bring alliances/politics into play. GW2 had this potential but it opted for something more fast pace, less complex, and the whole game built on different design principle. In a game like EvE you have entire guilds or groups of players dedicated to mining to support industrialist, to support PVE and PVP operations which then all ties into territory control and warfare. Darkfall had this in a fantasy setting, as well as perpetuum and I am sure a few others. GW2 you have your group loot barrels to build your siege equip to smash a gate, kill the boss and get control. If you lose players the respawn and are with you again in a few minutes. Then there is territory which trades hands every half hour., there is little attachment to the teritory you claim. It is different when you have to work months if not years towards something as a guild instead of a hollow victory which is undone a few days later at best.

These days EvE is really the only game that stayed healthy for a long enough time to fully develope and still has many years ahead of it. Camelot unchained and crowfall may turn out to be great games but it could also be another 5+ years before they reach their potential, and I am not sure if a game like crowfall is going to be much more than a lite version of a sandbox although I could be wrong on that.

Gylnne
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Gylnne

SkyyDragonn I hope MJ will also stream the crafting, building system of CU.

AGx
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AGx

Would I play it and would I enjoy it are really two different things. When I played WoW, the PvP was actually my favorite part, especially the open-world stuff. I loved it when it felt organic such as when the quest-line you’re on involves, say battles between the opposing factions where each faction is questing in the same general area and fighting opposing NPCs. When you run into a real player, it’s a thrill to fight them. It feel like just a part of the quest but much more dynamic. I don’t want to play something that’s just a glorified lobby and arena. If they can somehow make an all PvP game feel like that, I’d be on board.

disUserNameTake
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disUserNameTake

fluffymagicalunicorn CU is going to be a technical nightmare, and I would guess it will fail rather dramatically soon after it goes live due to lack of players.
Balancing 30 separate classes across three realms will essentially be an impossibility; most MMOs struggle to balance for PvP just 8-10 classes and usually that’s with every side having access to the same set of classes.  CU will suffer from the same problem of DAOC, which is that entire factions will be considered under-powered and will be under-populated because of this inherent balancing issue.  The three separate realms to which you belong permanently (I think?) is also going to have the same problems that this type of system always comes up against, which is that people will abandon the losing side and pile onto the winning one even if they have to re-roll their characters.  
It is also relying on a monthly subscription model, which is not something that looks like a good business choice for the future.  How many people are actually willing to shell this out when there are quality “free” or buy to play options out there like GW2 or MOBAs?

Anyways, I’m not looking for them to fail, and I wish the developers the best and hope they’re successful.  But their game model and their financing system really looks like a dinosaur to me.  I could have some of the details wrong (probably I do!), but rebooting DAOC seems like a loser if you’re just going to make the same mistakes twice in terms of game mechanics.

disUserNameTake
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disUserNameTake

Infraction Many of the most played games in the world right now are purely PvP: League of Legends, DOTA, Starcraft, etc.
The problem is that the mechanics of the MMO genre do not lend themselves to PvP systems that most people enjoy.  They want a level playing field which is more like a baseball match, not a system where they are immediately at a disadvantage due to not having grinded levels or gear.

disUserNameTake
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disUserNameTake

CastagereShaikura Yes, it is an inherent conflict between PvE and PvP that when you balance for one of them, it often imbalances the other, either from something being nerfed into the ground (usually because it is too powerful in PvP) to a class being buffed for PvE which then results in it being OP in PvP.  It requires constant balancing to keep both of these areas in a good state.  In my experience, GW2 has done a pretty good job of this, though in some sense it is a neverending and unsolvable problem in the genre unless PvE and PvP are completely separate from each other with different gear etc.

disUserNameTake
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disUserNameTake

SirMysk Needs (More) Coffee, Probably A more “twitch” oriented play style has generally not been implemented in MMOs because of technical restrictions.  The more players you have on one map, the more interactions you need to tell distances between them and for computing collisions.  So that’s historically been why tab targeting and the like is used in large real time PvP battles.  It doesn’t require much intense computation from either the client or the server, which is not the case for instance in shooters.

disUserNameTake
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disUserNameTake

Dandurin Nanulak But what prevents bringing 50 cats to hunt one mouse?