The Daily Grind: How do you feel about the increased focus on PvP in upcoming MMOs?

Don’t look now, but PvP is coming — and it’s coming to almost every new MMO in development. It only recently hit me just how many upcoming games are being centered around PvP as a core mechanic. Camelot Unchained, Crowfall, Ashes of Creation, Wild West Online, Worlds Adrift, Dual Universe, Chronicles of Elyria, every survival sandbox you could name… all PvP, pretty much all of the time.

I don’t outright resent PvP from being in MMOs, but as a primarily PvE player, it concerns me to see a flood of this washing over titles that I would otherwise have no reservations about playing. Many of the worlds and mechanics of these games have appeal, but not at the expense of having some jerk ambush me and kill me in 1.5 seconds flat at any moment.

Heck, even Sea of Thieves’ piracy gameplay loop has triggered alarms in my head that captains will be looking to swarm the title with griefing tactics once they’re done playing the “proper” way.

Maybe I’m overreacting. How do you feel about the increased focus on PvP in upcoming MMOs? Why do you think we are seeing a rise of such games?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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282 Comments on "The Daily Grind: How do you feel about the increased focus on PvP in upcoming MMOs?"

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sigtyr

One solution is of course the one tried in Landmark with players as content creators, even with the somewhat bulky tools we had in LM people in the end were able to do some amazing stuff that well matched any professional PvE game. A game with a some sort of Lobby/home realm and good tools for people to do their own instanced content would be amazing.

Gel
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Gel

We have that with Neverwinter and Star Trek Online right now actually.

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Kevin McCaughey

PvP = seriously less content needed = much, much cheaper game to make. It could be described as a copout, or it is maybe the only way games can be made at the minute, with no money available for large content PvE MMO’s. It is a sad but logical (and somewhat self-fulfilling) destination due to all the horrible PvE failures in recent years, starting with SWTOR. I think SWTOR spelt the end of big-budget MMO’s for this generation.

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Brown Jenkin

Love it frankly. Well supported PvP does a much better job of making a game feel alive than any PvE that I’ve seen to date does. In PvP the conflicts are dynamic and changing, PvE more often than not is about repetition and grinding. EQNext seemed to be our one great hope for making PvE in MMOs actually about a changing and growing world, and it went the way of the dodo.

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Yuri Geinish

Pvp is cheap and repeatable. Pve requires good storytelling unless it’s mindless hack and slash, in which case pvp wins over anyway. I blame lack of talent and high risks.

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Alex Younger

To me, it boils down to this. I’m bad at PVP, I’m not actually interested in investing the time to get better at it, and I refuse to pay to be a Victim.

kerzic
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kerzic

I played quite a bit of PvP in GW2, which had places in the game where you could go for that, but also enjoyed the PvE. You hit the nail on the head that it’s not fun being a victim. The PvP players that realize that and actually want to fight challenging opponents who want to fight are not really the problem, in my opinion. The PvP players who want an experience like clubbing baby seals are. And it really amazed me how many people who claim to be into PvP for the challenge in practice seem to really be looking for easy wins, lopsided battles, and ganking.

The lopsided battles make a lot of sense from a winning rather than challenge perspective and there is a reason why most PvE battles against NPCs are lopsided battles against NPCs that dutifully stand around waiting to be killed. It’s natural to attack when you think you’ll likely win. This is from Strategy: A History by Lawrence Freedman 2013:

“More striking than the incidence of extreme violence was the calculating attitude to conflict. Goodall observed that ‘a small patrol will turn and flee if it meets a larger party, or one with more males, even within its own range; whereas if a large party, travelling out of its range, meets a smaller party of neighbors, it is likely to chase or attack.’ When there was greater symmetry among the numbers of adult males, the typical result was ‘visual and auditory display exchanges without conflict.’ The important point, therefore, was that the apes were astute when it came to working out power balances. They tried to avoid a fight if they were weaker, readily retreating in the face of superior force, but moved in when they were stronger. Thus it is no surprise that no instances of one of the attacking pack getting killed were recorded. What made the difference was not strength in battle but ‘the relative size and composition of parties when they encounter each other.’ This pragmatic attitude to violence underlined its instrumentality.”

And therein lies the part I think most computer games are missing. When people and animals think they are likely to lose a fight, they avoid it and run and, in the real world, that’s often a good strategy that frequently works. Most games, on the other hand, are designed to make combat very difficult to avoid so that detecting enemies early and avoiding combat doesn’t work all that well. They err on the side of offense, not defense. The idea is to give belligerent players victories because they get frustrated if they don’t have prey to kill.

So maybe if the PvP games did a better job of balancing the frustration and made the players looking to pick fights have to work to find, catch, and pin down their prey to kill it and make it possible for players who wanted to avoid fights to do so successfully most of the time, the players who don’t want to fight wouldn’t be so helpless and the line between player and NPC wouldn’t be so stark, with both attacking when they’re likely to win and running when they’re likely to lose. And it moves the skill required to defeat an enemy from combat to engaging or fleeing combat because the truth is that when a superior force attacks a reluctant opponent, there isn’t much combat skill involved in the outcome and the result is generally already known by both sides before the first blow even lands. Games should face that and change the focus.

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Kevin McCaughey

Some very interesting points. “and make it possible for players who wanted to avoid fights to do so successfully most of the time…”: that’s getting very close to being able to set your own PvP flag (which is my preference and has been implemented in Rift, amongst other, I believe).

mosselyn
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mosselyn

I don’t begrudge the PvP players their day in the sun, but all these games are effectively dead to me due to their open world PvP focus. From where I stand, there are basically no new MMOs on the event horizon.

I like some PvP in my MMOs, but I want it tidily cordoned off where I don’t have to have anything to do with it if I don’t want to.

Specus
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Specus

There are many good comments below, but here are my thoughts.

I’m not anti-PvP. Nobody can spend as many years playing EVE Online as I have while being anti-PvP. Unfortunately, most PvP oriented games do nothing for me. They are either oriented toward the uber-competitive, gankfest loving asshats (if I may plagiarizer from one of the excellent comments below) or they repeat the exact same battlegrounds over-and-over-and-over-and-over. I like variety and I play to relax and de-stress after my day. Most PvP oriented games don’t help me with either.

shazanti
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shazanti

Oh goodness I’m such a carebear in general. I love me some PvE. I hate with the burning rage of a thousand suns being ganked, or having to look over my shoulder at all times, or not being able to trust anyone- I have ZERO pleasure in any moment of any of that, regardless as to whether or not anything bad happened- the simple chance that it MIGHT is enough to ruin my enjoyment. And yet, I’m ridiculously excited for CU, as I really enjoyed most of the RvR in DAoC. It was my outlier, and I’m hoping CU will be, as well.

However, I still vastly prefer PvE MMOs in general, and I would really, really hate for them to be a dying breed. As much as I’m looking forward to CU, I really have to be in the mood for serious PvP, and I would hate for alternative games to be few and far between. Not everyone gets high off the rush of confrontation. And even though I’m looking forward to CU, I *don’t* get that confrontational rush… I get a sense of accomplishment when I work with my team (group, guild, realm) to overcome an obstacle. Yes, I could get that out of a PvE game, but I really enjoyed the ‘realm pride’ in DAoC and I’m hoping to have that in CU as well.

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NeoWolf

I’m a carebear with zero interest in PvP.. “but” provided it uses a flagging system or similar, and is not something that those who aren’t interested in have to be exposed to or forced to deal with then “mostly” I don’t mind if its there.

The one caveat to that would be that on the whole I think having PVE and PVP together is largely a mistake anyway, scaling and balancing for one often breaks the other it is a juggling act that will always end up in someone unhappy. Better that they be kept entirely separate so as to be true to the relevant fans of the relevant play styles..(but they aren’t, so we make do). just my opinion.

Having to deal with class nerfs because they needed to change something to make the pvp crowd happy however has driven me from games more than once.
There seems to be a weird irony whereby there are seemingly more pvp oriented devs, despite there being CLEARLY far more pve oriented players..

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Kevin McCaughey

Yea, I have hated how this has happened in the past, all the way since EQ1, if a game was PvE with PvP, in my experience the devs screwed the balance in PvE trying to balance PvP. And if it is your class getting nerfed it is absolutely infuriating. So I prefer, like yourself, a game with no PvP at all. Plus PvP pulls everyone to a very ugly common denominator with typical PvP players being those that enjoy clubbing baby seals or putting cats in the microwave (and usually male budding psychopaths of around 10 to 65).

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Space Captain Zor

If it’s consensual, skill based, and not stat based, I’m fine with it. Problem is it’s never just skill based or consensual.