Worlds Adrift admits early-game PvP griefing is a big problem and vows to address it

In Andrew’s hands-on with Worlds Adrift published Monday, he expressed some serious concerns over the title’s approach to PvP. Even as a hardened sandbox PvP player, he found that the early game is overwhelmingly set up in favor of medium-tier players who are free to grief newbies all day long – and do. Worse, he worried that it would turn traditional MMORPG players off from the game, and that it might not be fixable thanks to the physics system that underpins the entire experience.

The good news is that Bossa Studios has been listening to concerns like Andrew’s and is promising to do something about it. The studio notes that the game is in early access and that the PvP system will see a big revisit.

“While mid-level PvP (i.e once you’ve managed to progress past the initial Biome) is working well, it’s apparent that some players are struggling to reach this point, due to a minority of more advanced players returning to the beginner’s zone for, let’s say, some ‘easy pickings’. This pretty much exemplifies the difference between PvP and griefing; one is a fair fight between two similarly levelled players. The other, a completely unbalanced slaughter, whereby one player has little to no chance of defending themselves. And so, we’re looking to improve this onboarding experience in a number of ways to ensure players have the best introduction to the world possible, and a better chance of progressing past the first zone.”

In the meantime, the devs have requested a feedback pile-on to point them in the right direction.

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Stropp

This is one of the reasons why whenever I hear a new game announced as PvP Sandbox, Open World PvP, or similar I immediately lose interest and switch off. The devs never seem to get the memo that unrestricted PvP means that high level players will prey on low level players to the detriment of the game.

I love following the development of MMOs that interest me, but I have no interest in these Gankers Paradises so I ignore them. I generally then hear about them in articles like this one.

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Brian McBride

Does this game have any mechanics that emulate morality and consequences?

It’s like every virtual world with open PvP where the developers are shocked to discover that the actions of the few ruin the experience for the many and get confused on why players are leaving their game.

Persistent worlds with character growth will always lead to imbalanced PvP. That’s why we don’t see games like Fortnite and Overwatch allow for character growth and instead rely on player skill. Or at least a reset at each match like in Fortnight.

MMO/Persistent world developers really need to think about how to emulate, in game mechanics, morality. Or at least crazy enough consequences that it keeps players focusing on even fights. But even in mid to high range, you’ll still get PvP bands of people where they grief others in smaller groups and run from bigger groups.

Tamanous
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Tamanous

Like OhEmGee!

How ever did they not see this coming?

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Arktouros

How ever did they not see this coming?

They built the game for one audience while marketing it towards another.

Equally they also never saw the kind of population that they’re seeing now. Lot of new people come to check out the game, to the point things like login servers are overloaded for them. That many new people creates a ripe target for veterans who could get out to T4 but have basically no one to fight.

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Mr.McSleaz

About time. Just a few days ago the devs were in the Steam forum saying this game is about survival & PVP and they basically told all the PVE players to “Git Gud” or quit, But they were more polite about it.
The best way to deal with this game is to have seperate PVE server & let the wolves gank each other on the PvP server.

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Arktouros

After playing the game for about a week now the issue is basically threefold.

For one, the world is too small for the amount of people playing the game currently. This makes some zones super packed and a really ripe target for grief play. Created a new dude and every island had 3-6 people/crews making a boat. Get to next island, it’s same. Next island, same. People then forced to kill each other for resources.

For two, bigger seems best. Once the veterans have mathed out the materials on the designs they can make big designs with multiple cannons and tons of engines to compensate to allow them to have a massive, fast, heavily armed ship. It makes trying to make an escape ship impossible since you’ll unlikely be able to outrun anything before they cripple you and being too agile/fast means if they get your helm at all then they going to just ruin your day. Needs to be more disadvantages to stacking cannons/weight on a ship.

Finally, too easy to get on enemy components. Being able to steal a helm in 10 seconds is rough. Having a defensive swivel cannon is a nightmare if enemy gets on it and uses it to one shot you over and over. Would go a long way to make the solo experience less an issue if things like the Helm weren’t accessible.

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Schmidt.Capela

One quick note: Worlds Adrift is currently at a 70% positive review score on Steam — the lowest score that is still displayed as positive in the site — while its recent reviews are just 64% positive (which means one in three players who purchased the game in the least month regret purchasing it).

If Bossa can’t stop the influx of negative reviews ASAP their Steam score will fall out of the positive range, which is often damaging for any game’s future prospects; right now, seems like it would take a dozen negative reviews or less to remove from the game its positive score.

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Tiresias

Yeah, the real problem here is the “PvP-heavy sandbox” theme that everyone seems stuck on these days.

News flash: it doesn’t work. The vast majority of MMO players aren’t looking for PvP-heavy sandboxes; they want a mix of content and the choice to participate in PvP. Even open PvP servers are fine as long as you also offer servers that give players more control over their experience.

I’m just amazed that game developers haven’t figured this out yet! Even EVE Online gives players this choice by offering areas where PvP is possible but HEAVILY punished, tamping down on the occurrences of mindlessly random PvP.

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Arktouros

You look at existing PvP-heavy sandbox titles (Rust, ARK, Conan, etc) and it seems to work pretty fantastically. Then look at other popular trends in gaming: MOBAs, Battle Royales, Lobby Shooters, etc and you can see there’s a healthy market out there for a competitive type of game. I think it’s pretty reasonable to see developers aiming towards that market in the MMO space which is why we see so many competitive oriented games coming out or are on the horizon.

As for figuring things out, you can’t really point to one aspect of a game because really a game is a whole series of connected parts that can’t be separated. For example PvP in EVE, even in high sec, isn’t heavily punished. What it has is an economic cost and if your economic cost can be recouped via the death (IE: You use a minimum cost suicide gank ship) then it’s not punished at all. Items have a resource value which has a money value. Conversely in a game like World’s Adrift, most materials have very little value due to their lack of scarcity so attacking doesn’t cost much but neither does losing. It’s all big, different, interconnected systems.

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Mr.McSleaz

Conan & Ark both have vast amounts of PvE servers, so both those examples are Moot.

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Arktouros

No, they aren’t moot.

In the case of ARK, PvP servers have traditionally always been more populated than PvE servers. And in the case of Conan they literally had to convert servers to full PvP due to (their words) overwhelming demand.

Furthermore my argument was not based solely on these two games, or what other game modes they potentially have. The fact that have robust PvP audience, along side other titles, shows there’s a strong and large demand for competitive focused products. With such a large audience, it’s reasonable that games will attempt to chase after those kinds of players. Especially given the fact there’s very few competitive oriented MMOs that have been successful (many were simply bad games and no one wants to play a bad game be them PvP or PvE oriented) leaving a market for it. By comparison you have the bastions of PvE experiences in WOW, FFIXMVIXIDCDIVIVMMV, ESO, GW2, etc etc etc.

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Schmidt.Capela

Is there an audience for PvP MMOs, though? Because the experience in the most successful PvP games is completely different from that of a typical MMO, usually requiring no commitment at all and often having either no power progression or a very fast one. Worlds Adrift itself seems to allow players to reach the end of progression in a few days, if not faster.

Which is where Bree’s answer, below, makes sense; PvPers seem to flock to quick, commitment-free games where supposedly everyone is on an equal footing.

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Arktouros

Is there an audience for it? Absolutely.

Most of the limited progression in competitive games is limited because of their limited duration. You can’t have a year of progression in a game who’s match duration might last 30-60 minutes.

The main issue that PvP focused games have run into in the past is they are usually just bad games. Take the classic example of EVE where your fast paced action Overwatch player isn’t going to take to spaceships rotating each other in space as little pop guns go off. The biggest criticism of a game like Bless Online in PvP circles, before it’s even out, is it’s dated and clunky combo system (yes, even after combat revamp). So even if people like the PvP elements to a game if the game doesn’t click with’s audience it’s just not going to work out.

What they are are potential customers who are interested in competitive play. It’s likely a good chunk of them, as Bree stated below, are looking for low commitment commitment game and will stick with those options. Just like if you made a PvE MMO game title most people will stick with the existing PvE MMO options where they’re already established. At least with PvP you have a chance to acquire a market that hasn’t found it’s WOW yet.

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Arktouros

Also I’ll further expand on the audience thing, I have been in or around PvP oriented and PvP focused guilds now for the better part of 20 years starting with Ultima Online.

I watched games get progressively more and more “carebear” over time from FFA PvP full loot glorious carnage (UO) to being regulated to PvP servers with single loot drops (EQ), to protected high value loot drops (AC1), to faction only PvP with coin only drop (DAOC) to item saving (AO) to zero consequence PvP (AC2) to faction based, zero consequence PvP later penned into tiny battle grounds (WOW) to games launching without PvP options at all (EQ2). The few MMO PvP games catered to us were either unimaginably hackable/buggy (Shadowbane), ultra slow and boring (EVE) or just flat out badly designed (Darkfall).

PvE players dominated game development for most of the mid 2000’s and on and it’s only after recently through so many back to back to back WOW clones and failures. Those players have their games and they showed developers that they consume PvE content like locusts then just go back to their old games for the latest expansion drop. Is it really a wonder why major studios have stopped developing new MMO games or focusing on a market they can’t keep up with let alone keep?

And all this time these PvP oriented groups who started way back when have been hungry. When WOW launched there was so many PvP focused players trying to get into Archimonde we obliterated that server for a whole week. The crazy diplomacy and rumor mongering and just general insanity that goes on over a new PvP game release is insane. Oh this alliance is going this faction/server, oh we’re going that faction/server! Last minute switch ups, secret alliances, mass recruiting, the works. Over 2000 people in a mega alliance in GW2 designed to dominate with 24/7 server coverage contacting foreign players to give them the edge during EU and SEA time zones!

So you tell me there’s no audience for it, you tell me there’s no market for it, and I just laugh cause we’ve been here the whole time. Every major game release we’re out there, looking for that game to bring us home. And no, World’s Adrift ain’t going to be it, but them looking to grab a slice of that market is pretty understandable from my point of view.

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Schmidt.Capela

I watched games get progressively more and more “carebear” over time

Yep. More or less coincides with devs figuring out that the average mainstream MMO player is a carebear, and that catering for fans of hardcore PvP tends to drive away all the carebears.

In some cases this was even measured inside a single game. For example, there are multiple Ultima Online devs that vouch for the fact player retention was greatly improved when the option to avoid all PvP was added.

So you tell me there’s no audience for it, you tell me there’s no market for it, and I just laugh cause we’ve been here the whole time.

It’s not that there isn’t an audience, but that catering to that audience usually means discarding most PvE players; there is a subgroup of PvE players that enjoy playing in a world where PvP can happen, but the vast majority of PvE players seem to prefer to simply opt out of PvP and be done with it.

And no, World’s Adrift ain’t going to be it, but them looking to grab a slice of that market is pretty understandable from my point of view.

Is it worth throwing away the PvE players, though? Because that is what seems to be happening.

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Arktouros

Is it worth throwing away the PvE players, though? Because that is what seems to be happening.

So far, their answer seems to be yes.

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Cosmic Cleric

Is it worth throwing away the PvE players, though? Because that is what seems to be happening.

It’s dumb for them to leave that much PvE money behind, that’s for sure.

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Schmidt.Capela

You can’t have a year of progression in a game who’s match duration might last 30-60 minutes.

You could easily make those 30 minutes of progression persist between matches, and yet many, if not most, of the largest PvP games — games that have plenty resources to develop such a progression system if they so chose — refrain from doing that.

Which, mind, I consider a very good decision. I, at least, will never bother playing any PvP game where there is persistent power progression, despite spending a lot of time playing PvP games; I can only enjoy progression in PvE. Comes with the territory when you hate fights where there is any power discrepancy between you and your opponents, even if it favors you, I guess.

The main issue that PvP focused games have run into in the past is they are usually just bad games.

If there was pent up demand, even bad games should have been successful enough to raise eyebrows. That doesn’t seem to be the case.

At least with PvP you have a chance to acquire a market that hasn’t found it’s WOW yet.

Actually, I believe EVE is the “WoW” of western open-world PvP MMOs, in the sense it’s so large that competitors can’t get enough players to prosper. No other game in that segment managed to get even close to EVE’s success; you only find larger PvP games when you start to shed typical MMO elements, such as large unified servers or, as I pointed above, progression.

In Asia there are larger open world PvP MMOs, mind, but from what I’ve seen Chinese, Korean, and Russian players enjoy that kind of gameplay a lot more than Western players.

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Arktouros

If there was pent up demand, even bad games should have been successful enough to raise eyebrows. That doesn’t seem to be the case.

I don’t think you understand the level of bad I’m talking about.

In Shadowbane they actually, factually literally had players hacking the servers granting themselves GM powers and running amok. It was bad man, so bad.

In DarkFall they hid off huge chunks of their game content in beta and at release it was fully buggy and exploitable. We’re talking immensely exploitable things we hadn’t seen since early days of MMOs.

EVE’s success is because it’s the only one who hasn’t been a complete trainwreck of a game. That’s how bad most PvP focus MMOs are and it’s unbelievably tiny and ignored by the PvP population at large. Most of us have all tried it, and we all love the meaningfulness of everything in it, but it’s literally like watching paint dry to play. That just isn’t going to attract the foamy mouthed, gibbery battle royale or survival genre player.

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Cosmic Cleric

Most of the limited progression in competitive games is limited because of their limited duration. You can’t have a year of progression in a game who’s match duration might last 30-60 minutes.

Because, reasons? Agan, you can persist progression between matches, be it over a month, or over ten years.

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Schmidt.Capela

You look at existing PvP-heavy sandbox titles (Rust, ARK, Conan, etc) and it seems to work pretty fantastically.

Kinda ironic in that most of them, including every one you mentioned, offer PvE servers, with Conan Exiles and Ark even advertising themselves as also being single-player games. And Conan Exiles has an interesting twist in that even in PvP servers destroying buildings is only allowed during 7 hours per day (5PM – 12AM local time).

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Arktouros

Kinda ironic in that most of them, including every one you mentioned, offer PvE servers, with Conan Exiles and Ark even advertising themselves as also being single-player games

It’s only ironic when you zoom in on specific examples thus missing the forest through the trees. Specifically, and to thesis of my original reply: there’s a heavy and large market for PvP and competitive oriented games.

And Conan Exiles has an interesting twist in that even in PvP servers destroying buildings is only allowed during 7 hours per day (5PM – 12AM local time).

You mean the servers they literally started removing to make room for pure PvP servers due to (their words) overwhelming demand?

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Schmidt.Capela

there’s a heavy and large market for PvP and competitive oriented games.

Sure.

Which kind of PvP, though? Because the target audience of Mario Kart is different from the target audience of Battlefront, which is different from the target audience of Starcraft, which is different from the target audience of Fortnite, which is different from the target audience of LoL, which is different from the target audience of EVE, and so on.

The two “hot” PvP genres right now, BTW, — Battle Royales and MOBAs — seem to have as a core trait something that isn’t exactly compatible with the MMO format: they don’t have persistent progression. All characters get reset to the same power level at the start of every match.

You mean the servers they literally started removing to make room for pure PvP servers due to (their words) overwhelming demand?

Nope. It’s the pure PvP servers. You can only destroy buildings during prime time, the rest of the time buildings are indestructible.

In the PvE-Conquest servers (which have since been added back) you can never destroy buildings, and can only attack other players during that same time window. And in the pure PvE servers you can never destroy buildings nor attack other players.

BTW, players can also play in private servers and offline, so the number of official servers of each kind doesn’t tell the full story. On the PC side at least, where we can see the current number of players, the official servers don’t have enough capacity to hold even half the concurrent players.

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Arktouros

Which kind of PvP, though?

As with anything, there isn’t going to be one universal classification. Just like there’s people who enjoy WOW there are plenty who enjoy a game like Fallout 4. However what you’ll find is there’s an amount of overlap there where a chunk of both of those game populations do both. Not everyone has to neatly fit into one game category or another, people just don’t work that way.

It should be pretty obvious that there’s no consistent progression in a game model that’s based on short duration matches. Instead you have micro progression in both genres (collect loot/gear, fight at end or level up 10 levels and unlock abilities, buy gear, etc) which is similar to the kinds of progression we see in MMOs.

Nope. It’s the pure PvP servers.

To which, again, they needed to add more of due to overwhelming demand. Custom Servers are a distraction from the point that we have the developer stating there’s an overwhelming demand for official PvP servers which shows an audience for PvP competitive game play exists in game. That’s all that needed to support my assertion.

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Schmidt.Capela

Instead you have micro progression in both genres (collect loot/gear, fight at end or level up 10 levels and unlock abilities, buy gear, etc) which is similar to the kinds of progression we see in MMOs.

And — the point I find most important — is reset every time a match ends. Everyone starts a new match on even ground, and if you fall behind you just have to wait for the next match for it all to be reset.

There are also other points of similarity between those games where they deviate from typical open world PvP games, such as not having any penalty for losing (more or less a consequence of resetting between matches), being heavily instanced and lobby based, etc.

overwhelming demand.

For a game that seems to have settled, post launch, at a daily top concurrency below 40K players on PC. Large, but PUBG on Steam is still 40x larger when measured by peak daily concurrency, even if it has shed over half its players since the January peak.

Plus, we can’t even be sure that PvP is the most played mode in Conan Exiles; the official servers seem to skew more towards PvP, but at the same time everyone playing offline is playing PvE (for obvious reasons), and public non-official servers seem to be reasonably balanced between PvE and PvP.

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Cosmic Cleric

It should be pretty obvious that there’s no consistent progression in a game model that’s based on short duration matches.

Your progression can be saved between matches, growing in strength over time.

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Cosmic Cleric

It’s only ironic when you zoom in on specific examples thus missing the forest through the trees. Specifically, and to thesis of my original reply: there’s a heavy and large market for PvP and competitive oriented games.

You are missing his point, that the PvP games are also PvE/single-player games, hence, dilluting your original point.

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Arcanum Zero

This announcement is a hopeful sign, but it represents such a violent 180 that I’ll still be waiting and watching carefully before I give these people any of my money.

These devs weren’t just ignorant of griefing, they actively argued that griefing was indistinguishable from normal PvP, using terminology directly opposite this announcement. They recruited community managers with a clear bias toward what they called “piracy” and those moderators are still engaging in victim blaming and encouraging new players to be satisfied with being targets for established griefers.

On top of this, I absolutely believe what they’ve said about it being impossible to completely regulate PvP due to the physics engine. Intentional or not, they’ve devoted all of their capital to making this game about the abuse of new players — it is difficult to have faith they will be able to turn it around in any meaningful way.

It’s a shame to say about a concept this promising, but this game has already started to burn — it’s only a matter of time before the powder magazine catches and the whole thing is just smoke and slowly spiraling debris.

Andrew Ross
Staff
Andrew Ross

I think one of the best things that Sea of Thieves does is puts you in game with a crew immediately if that’s what you want. We’ve seen that it can be abused, but I had far more positive experiences with it than poor, and as the wolves move on, I can see the core player base helping people out. I know a lot of passionate PvE-only people will disagree but you’re wrong. I say this as someone who plays in those games you avoid, as someone who has experienced it (Sea of Thieves), organizes or promotes newbie recruitment in those games (Darkfall), and even draws up ceasefires and friendly-rival guild alliances (unbalanced PvP servers in WoW, RIFT, SWTOR…).

I could see Worlds Adrift making a craftable newbie spawn point that would work as a potential spawn point akin to the starting areas. Again, it could be used as a griefing tool, but you’ll probably know it when you see it and be able to pick the option to spawn elsewhere pretty quick. I know that if it wasn’t for the grouping tool in Sea of Thieves and people actively trying to teach me the game, I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as I have.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

You can’t fool me! Your honeyed words are nothing more than a false shepherd leading the sheep straight into the wolves den!

BAA!

BAA!

BAA RAM EWE!

Seriously though, the payoff of pvp, for me, a mostly pve only person, just isn’t compelling enough to put up with the nonsense that comes along with pvp.

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Schmidt.Capela

There’s a cognitive gap. People that enjoy PvP can take some unwanted PvP, and even PvP-related griefing, in stride; people that don’t enjoy it can’t, and it seems conflating regular unwanted PvP with griefing is a common point of view (which I share, mind, because for me the end result of meeting the most courteous of pirates and the basest of griefers would be the same: completely ruining my enjoyment).

Thus, measures that reduce griefing while keeping forced PvP are seen by this kind of player as not effective at all. If you completely eliminate griefing from a game, while keeping “good natured” pirating, the end result is just as bad for me as if griefing was rampant.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

Very well put.

Andrew Ross
Staff
Andrew Ross

Oh no, I totally get that. I’m under no illusion that anything short of rebuilding the game would attract PvE only players. The developers have made it very clear this is a PvP game. It’s built for that from the ground up.

The problem is that it’s a PvP game that even turns off some PvP fans like myself. I’m more interested in repairing that than trying to suggest increasing mass appeal. At this point, only one of those seems possible in the immediate future.