The Daily Grind: Is it time to move on from PvP ‘factions’ in MMORPGs?

    
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I’m think I’m over factions in MMOs. I get why RvR games need them, and I’ll grudgingly concede that the average player is far better off joining an arbitrary NPC faction for PvP than wading through the morass of player gangs and protection rackets that pass for guilds in some sandboxes. But for MMO themeparks where the PvP is minimal or walled off or without any impact on the world, I’m kind of sick of them.

That feeling’s come to a head the last few weeks thanks to World of Warcraft’s cheesy attempts to rile up the playerbase and make us shout down the “other side” like sports hooligans. One reader pointed out how these kinds of factions still functionally divide friends from playing together for no reason. Another called faction jabber “forced propaganda.” I wouldn’t be sorry to see factions go away in most MMOs. The whole thing feels so fake and exhausting.

Is it time to move on from PvP “factions” in MMORPGs? Am I missing some vital and necessary function for this type of design?

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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camelotcrusade

“Can’t we all just get along?” and the road to get there has always been a more compelling fantasy narrative for me, and I like being part of stories that bring together diverse characters and build a team, however uneasy or imperfect it may be. Less impressive to me is the other extreme, emphasizing the reasons to fight with dogmatic and forced stricture. You would think if the differences and grievances were potent enough they’d reinforce themselves. Anyway if you really want people to fight make it a competition where only some will win. That’ll get people to eat each other no problem.

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Eamil

Final Fantasy XIV, for all intents and purposes, has no factions. I personally prefer it. One of the big problems with the way games like WoW do it is that it requires them to develop twice the amount of PvE content for half the player base.

If a game is going to have open-world PvP, it needs to be a game that includes that as a core focus rather than throwing it in just because, and more than likely such a game is going to opt for a “player factions” approach or one where PvE content is less relevant; in either case, just doing the standard two-faction thing wouldn’t serve the game very well.

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draugris

Factions are great, they remind us of what we are fighting for in MMORPG´s and they create something like realm pride. Even more important in PvP or Realm vs Realm games.

kjempff
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kjempff

Two or three factions is such a simplistic approach. As a mostly pve player, one thing that could lure me into a pvp mmo, would be a more extensive faction setup of numerous forces at play. This would lean towards a more natural setup and a living breathing world..and also less focus on mindless slaughtering of other players (the actual pvp combat) and more focus on supporting factions in many ways..meaning focus on the conflict on the virtual world terms instead of on the person behind the avatar.

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flying_dutchman

I think factions are a good thing…. IF and only if a game actually has a real reason for them. Alliance and horde were actually pretty good the problem is Blizzard got too happy go lucky about marginalizing all the differences between them. Back in Vanilla and BC (Although less in BC) the factions meant something, people had pride in them.

But you can’t spend the next 10 years trying to make the two factions as similar as possible, then try and dust them off and get people excited again. Blizzard sunk their own ship.

Factions themselves aren’t necessarily bad but you have to justify them both with story and with game mechanics. Most games only bother with story and it’s always a pretty damn thin one.

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Roger Melly

No it certainly is not . World PVP works best with factions . Without it you get gankfests . Also in games with world PVP factions build a sense of community .

WoW got world PVP right all those years ago back in 2004 its spent the intervening years getting it wrong as have most other mmo’s .

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mysecretid

As Bree suggests, If it were interesting in some way beyond “kill all thems who ain’t us” I might be more interested.

Maybe.

But most MMORPGs don’t really go anywhere with it beyond paper-thin, annoyingly jingoistic motivation for the walled-off PvP our editor mentions.

So, yeah, I’m burned out on it all now. If you really want the PvP, there are good games which do only that these days with more slated to release.

And to be honest, with the thrice-damned specter of neo-fascism attempting to reassert itself on our real planet Earth, (simpletons seeking simple answers to complex problems because they’re afraid or power-hungry) the themes of “those who aren’t like us are an enemy to be eradicated” which filter through a lot of PvP chill my blood.

My opinions, anyway,

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Vaeris
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Vaeris

Factions are a natural (for better or worse) part of the human psyche. I mean, just look at your article, bree. You created an “other” by dropping “sports hooligans”. Hooligan not being a term of endearment in most parlance your word choice suggest some superiority to people passionate about sports, whether that was your intent or not.

I agree with others when they say the factional stuff has been unimportant for years in MMOs. That said I think that there should be MORE viable factions instead of the bland two party system. Of course, you risk being stuck in the same rut with just “more parties” until developers get out the real hole (in my view) and make other non-combat content/features equally important. Right now MMOs are just NPC genocide emulators.

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Crowe

I don’t think I’ve cared about MMO factions for the last decade. They’ve rarely had any meaning… developers have to be careful about having an “evil” vs “good” faction so every two faction system is chock full of shades of gray. The last game I played where it seemed like they were willing to risk that was SWTOR and most of the asshats I knew ended up on the Empire side. But anyways, I’m not really a PvP guy so factions just seem sort of stupid these days. I’d kill for a good PvE MMO but there just hasn’t been anything good out with deep fulfilling gameplay in years now.

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Mush V. Peets

Well, the title says “MMORPG’s”, so no, it isn’t time to move on from PvP ‘factions.’ They’re a quick and easy way to have meaningful world PvP without just letting everyone grief everyone else everywhere. This WoW strangeness isn’t a reason to not have PvP factions in MMO’s ever, it’s just a reason to not… do it like, uh… that.

The ARTICLE specifies themeparks with ‘minimal’ PvP. In those games, no, factions are generally superfluous and a waste of development time IMO. If it helps the world feel more authentic and makes the game work, that’s great, but no MMO seems to give half a damn about preserving an “authentic” world after launch anyway so whatever.

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Crowe

Er… why would a title of “MMORPG’s” (sic) have absolutely anything to do with factions? Or PvP? I don’t follow your logic. (not attacking, just confused) :)