The Daily Grind: Which MMO handles PvE – not just PvM – the very best?

    
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Where now?

There’s a thing we do a lot when we’re talking about MMOs: We elide PvM and PvE. I suppose we do it with different types of PvP too; there’s an underlying assumption that PvP must be combat-based, when of course it could also be about trade or card games or whatever. But today, I want to talk about PvE – player-versus-environment content – and do my best to separate it from PvM – player-versus-monster content, the kind most of us think of first when we hear the term PvE. Why? Well, because player-versus-environment content is actually interesting! And underused in MMOs!

I’ve been thinking about this a lot the last couple of weeks since I went back to Guild Wars 2. One of the things I deeply appreciate about the game, even when it annoys me, is the focus on the Environment beyond the mobs as a separate hostile entity. The boiling ocean’s gonna boil you. The lava is no joke. The dust devils will literally blow you over. And even the gameworld outside of the formal jumping puzzles is a jumping puzzle. So much of the time, I’m not just fighting monsters; I’m beating my head against a tricky environment.

Which MMO handles PvE – not just PvM – the very best?

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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Shaun Michael

WoW Classic. Don’t fall in the lava. Underwater quests are challenging. No flying over terrain. Pulling multiple enemies is dangerous and sometimes hard to avoid, requiring the use of your terrain and line of sight. Enemies can knock you back off cliffs. No fast travel means you will have to go on long jouneys on foot through environments sometimes far above your level range. No loading screens or invisible walls.

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Tobasco da Gama

No Man’s Sky. Multiple hostile environment types that require different shielding gear and constant resource management. Digging or entering caves will let you escape the shield drain temporarily, but your digging tool also requires resources. Going underwater also escapes the shield drain, but it puts more stress on your oxygen supply. Or you can use your ship or an exocraft to navigate around, but those options also take resources. So you have options to arbitrage one resource for another, but you’re always consuming something to stay ahead of the environment.

And, most importantly, each of the hostile planet types has some unique resource that encourages you to actually go out there and drain your other resources. Especially the Storm Crystals.

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Melissa McDonald

For my money it’s obviously LOTRO. A game built as PvE, really. Thousands of PvE quests, and Epic/Book quests that supplement those. PvP is consensual dueling.

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Jeremy Barnes

Everquest Landmark?

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Matt Comstock

Of the games I’ve played, probably BDO– there is so much to do other than just grinding at the various hunting grounds. Maybe Conan Exiles… While there is significant PvM, the environment will kill you if you’re not prepared. You can also literally build castles, fortresses and cities, and lay siege to those structures.

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Oleg Chebeneev

Lava in GW2 hurts? Daym, thats revolutionary /s
There isnt an MMO that really stands out in what was asked here.

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Rheem Octuris

Don’t forget GW2 has jumping puzzles, those technically count right?

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

Sure, but it’s still just a rock-climbing wall in a themepark. Contrived. Irritating.

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

ARK, and it is an MMORPG in all but name. Thousands of players across hundreds of linked zones, overarching storyline, dungeons, raids, PVE and PVP servers. It hits every mark for an MMO that I can think of and then some.

The water wants to kill you. The ground wants to kill you. The air wants to freeze you at night and bake you to death during the day. Your survival is dependent on shelter and utilizing the resources you find, and if you die there’s no guarantee you’ll recover your stuff.

Even after the monsters have become trivial, and you’re jetting around in power armor, there’s usually a falling asteroid or lava pit with your name on it.

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PanagiotisLial1

If I want to be honest, most sandboxes do it far better than themepark games, by design as many try to be more realistic sometimes at the expense of fun. I see it a lot on SotA too, falling from heights, getting burnt from lava spots, stepping on unstable wood and it breaks , poison and illusion gases, traps etc.

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

I mostly agree, though I also credit Minecraft and the survival genre for reintroducing PVE. Most MMOs choose accessibility over a challenging environment.

Having to hunt for food, gather resources, tame and breed pets and mounts… these environmental challenges expect you to be an invested actor, not just a media participant. Minimaps and quest chains and forced narratives all distract from or mitigate environmental challenges.

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PanagiotisLial1

I like realism to some extent really, even if it is sort of at the expense of being more fun

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3dom

LOTRO had (has?) festival horse races and they were exceptionally fun. There you had to avoid mud and balance on narrow bridges + jump over barriers to keep the speed.

And jump puzzles aren’t fun at all. It can be witnessed in Warframe where people queue to certain levels in hope to have a single “jump-y” person in the group to complete it – often to disband in the end after angry chatting about nobody being able to complete the puzzle.

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starbuck1771

Star Wars Galaxies 😈

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Venomlicious

I was going to say the same thing