Vitae Aeternum: Did New World’s morph to full MMORPG hamstring its PvP?

    
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Leading up to New Worlds original launch, I had virtually no interest in playing. Even after Amazon Games pulled the ol’ switcheroo and added a bunch of PvE to the game, I still wasn’t sold. Hell, even after playing in a couple of betas, I still wasn’t on board. But then the final launch date was set. I began to hear the chant of the collective. “It’s a new MMO.” “It’s going to be a real MMO with a AAA budget.” “Amazon isn’t just throwing this out the door; it’s really put some time into it.”

Then came the feeling, that build-up of hype, that excitement to play a brand-new game on launch day with thousands of other players. So, the week before launch I bought in. Just like so many of the other writers at MOP, I’m in it. And I am having so much fun!

Several of MOP’s writers have covered the game so fantastically in this column already as well. From Tyler’s thoughts on customization options (or lack thereof), Chris’s masterfully written piece about how the game’s hooks sneak under your skin and pull you in, to Ben’s point of view from an Elder Scrolls Online and EVE Online player, we have covered a wide range of the New World experience.

So I’m going to try to complement their work today by coming at it as a PvPer who’s somehow gotten lost in the game’s PvE.

Leveling is a wholly PvE experience

I’ve cried, I’ve moaned, and I’ve whined incessantly in our Fight or Kite MMO PvP column about PvP games that hide their PvP until endgame. And so far as I have seen (through about 20 levels), New World’s more or less gone and done it too. I just can’t fully understand it. You want players to fight it out, but you don’t start encouraging and rewarding it until way down the line. In fact, I don’t know that PvP’s availability has even been mentioned by the game itself aside from when I chose my faction.

In New World, not only can you level up totally safe and free from any PvP, but everything basically leads you to playing more PvE. You start out on the island following your typical PvE MMO quest givers. Those quests lead you to other PvE quests and lead you further on to other PvE quests. Honestly, if I didn’t really know that this was originally intended to be a PvP game – or if I had turned off faction chat – I wouldn’t even know it was a big thing.

When you pick a faction, a bunch of splash screens fly by telling you about why you picked a faction and that there’s some PvP to do, but there isn’t anything really pointing the player in that direction. There are some PvP faction quests, but those don’t stand out any more than the PvE ones. The maps keep announcing that there’s a war and “this group” or “that group” is fighting – but so what? The game doesn’t go out of its way to explain how its PvP scaling works, so typical MMO players are going to assume they shouldn’t risk taking their level 15 newbies to get smoked in PvP, and if they aren’t paying attention to the war chants in faction chat, they’re going to miss the game’s warfare until much later in the game.

So if anyone is still out there, sitting on the fence on New World because you’re a PvE player and you just don’t want to deal with the PvP side of this game, rest assured it really won’t get in your way, certainly not while you’re leveling and gathering at least.

But personally, I’d say the presence of PvP, factional and beyond, should be dialed way up. If there’s more to do while leveling other than those random faction quests, then they need to be more prominent. If there’s not, then we need more. I think players would like local arenas that have a level restriction to join that fit the general towns level – something like classic Guild Wars had.

Flagging for PvP has been lonely experience

The only thing I’ve seen that New World does attempt to do to encourage you to PvP is offer you some bonus experience if you flag yourself up in the open world. Now, I’m a PvP boy. However, there’s nothing worse than finding a PvP hair in my PvE soup.

It's a whole new... yeah.

When I’m hunting, gathering, and killing regular old mobs, I’m usually kicked back relaxing and just enjoying my time. When you’re flagged for PvP while doing these activities, though, that isn’t the case because you can’t ever fully relax. You never know when someone might gank you. And my thoughts on ganking have been well-documented.

Now, I do try to think back to the before times (prior to the PvE overhaul) when presumably there wasn’t any flagging up or down for PvP. I can see how, if everyone is open to being ganked at any time in the open world, that PvP would happen spontaneously and naturally. Not only would that somewhat solve my issue above (although I do wonder how quickly players leveled without quests back then), but it also would prevent the real issue that keeps bugging me, which is looting. Don’t jump to the comments to freak out over flag PvP because I’m definitely not saying that we should have open PvP at all times. It’s just that I can see how switching from that system to this without actually handling interdependent features has caused the problems I’m having.

Since there is a mismatch between flagged PvP and unflagged players when you drop a beast or find a node to harvest, you just might be totally out of luck if another player snatches it before you. Now, for gathering nodes, I kind of get it. In a PvE game that doesn’t have player nodes, it’s going to be a first-come, first-serve kind of situation. But few things make me more angry while hunting a buffalo than hitting it with an arrow from yards away, only to see some random player run over and start skinning it – and I have no recourse to stop this.

Back in no flagging days, you probably could just beat them over the head with your sword, but now if they’re not flagged, you are out of luck. There really needs to be some kind of locking that occurs for these instances because it’s frustrating.

Another thing I wanted to point out after playing several nights flagged for PvP is that I haven’t encountered another player in the wild to fight. Granted, these are low-level zones, but it’s actually been very surprising. So I’m not sure. Maybe most players really aren’t interested in casual or open PvP at all, or maybe they tend to feel like I do and would rather not leave the option to be attacked open while they run quests and gather, preferring to compartmentalize their PvP moments for faction warfare.

Leveling with a friend is a frustrating experience

One last note before I wrap this whole shebang up. I’ve been playing New World exclusively as a duo team, and it has been kind of awful, at least in terms of syncing with one another person. I have absolutely no idea how it could have been so poorly handled, but it’s terrible.

For starters, despite creating accounts at the same time and joining the server together, we spawned in two different starter zones – there’s no way to choose to spawn together. Since I had no idea this was even a possibility, I just as well figured once we got through a few starter quests, we’d be sent to a matching zone, but that didn’t happen. Even once we both joined the same faction, the quests were different since it was a different town. Then, going over to the other town didn’t help a lot because all the quests to start were ones my partner had already completed. So, she can rerun some quests with me so that I catch up, and eventually the main storyline will get us on the same page and by endgame it won’t matter. But as a starting experience, it’s just needlessly messy and I don’t love it.

Despite all this, as I said at the top I’m really having a lot of fun playing. I see there being quite a few things that I don’t love, and I’m not sure if there’s really going to be enough depth to keep me playing long-term. Certainly right now, though, I can’t wait to log back in.

New World’s Aeternum is a land of many secrets. In MassivelyOP’s Vitae Aeternum, our writers delve those secrets to provide you with in-depth coverage of all things New World through launch and beyond.
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respectfully Yours

Lets be honest . the game is a massive grind . a ton of running. once you get to 60 its all about pvp. but to convaluded really. have to sign up with companies to be included in wars .. and no pay off really like zero.the corrupt runs we call trains on manghelkor server the character collision is so idiotic in pve they force 50 people into a small closet to kill the last beast . maybe you got enough hits to actually get arerward. so you run from rift to rift cause that is what it is stolen way out in the open too.
The quests are just so repetitive . mind numbing.

the game is dying already talk of server merges now , they just got the game stable enough for transfers ,at this point for me anyway why even bother transfer to a new server when so many are leaving the sinking ship already . see what I did there )

anyway bad game is bad

MrEllis
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MrEllis

In alpha it was all PvP and no real PvE to speak of. I enjoyed my time there and enjoyed the foolks I tested it with, but that game was never going to be made. It was so niche that Amazon would have never relied solely on PvP. You could see it even then. I don’t think it’s very genuine to pretend the game was ever going to be a pure PvP experience.

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Tamanous

As far as I can tell, this game just cloned the Black Desert model.

Get players hooked on pve … then bait and switch the end game to pvp grind. These new mmos are mostly just small pvp games bloated enough to pretend it’s an mmorpg.

Not my thing, but I leave room for them to prove me wrong over time.

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Meanie

I dont think anyone who started black desert, especially early on was hooked in by the promise of pve.. the pve was never interesting and the only reason anyone did it was to pvp, or they just really liked mindless grinding.

Reader
styopa

“I just can’t fully understand it. You want players to fight it out, but you don’t start encouraging and rewarding it until way down the line.”

That’s obvious: because, ‘level based’ and ‘PvP’ intrinsically don’t go together. What I don’t understand is why devs keep thinking they can bolt the two together and make a satisfactory game out of it.

The reason games add PvP at the end is because that’s the only place they’re ostensibly relatively equal.

Would anyone play chess if their opponent was handed a fundamental advantage or ability just because they’d played longer?

Pve is about leveling up the character. The playing field is a slope you climb, accretively gaining abilities that let you challenge the next slope.
PvP is about leveling up as a player, and requires (to be fair) as level a playing field as possible.

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Arktouros

The reason games add PvP at the end is because that’s the only place they’re ostensibly relatively equal.

The reason they add PvP at the end is because in virtually all games PvP is an afterthought and not something theme park PvE developers devote any time or effort towards.

Just the same, it’s also not balanced for progression for similar reasons in that balancing PvP for progression is possible, but difficult, and would take time and effort to accomplish. Things like gear squish or level squish and designing the game in such a way as to not encourage max level players to just go hell camp noobs and the like. Most games don’t separate PvE and PvP mechanics so that means rebalancing for one impacts the other which causes all sorts of other issues, headaches but most importantly complaints that one mode or the other is “favored” and such.

Your Chess example is kinda funny because that’s exactly how Chess works. The longer you’ve played Chess the more experienced and better you are despite starting similar. If you sit down across Magnus Carlson (I had to look that one up) you’re gonna lose. However Chess is an awkward example because it’s a static game with static rules and most PvP in games dramatically is different game to game. There’s also no brackets or progression system where you eventually work your way up to the Champ as with online you can be a novice immediately going up against one of us PvP veterans with 20 years experience in murdering our fellow players.

So to use a more relevant gaming example, yes imbalanced competitive scenarios are incredibly popular as battle royales have shown where one guy gets a shotgun and you get a frying pan: better luck next time, you lose. What Battle Royales do better than MMOs is when you lose you don’t keep losing which is largely a failure of game design on MMO parts as successful PvP MMOs prevent players from repeatedly pushing you back down onto the ground by removing you from the area entirely.

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styopa

“…that’s exactly how Chess works..”
What?
Not at ALL. You’re confusing PVE and PVP.
Yes, obviously you sit down against a long time player they’re BETTER than you, but they don’t have pawns that can move an extra space, nor knights that can ‘resist’ being killed. The game doesn’t give them INHERENT mechanical advantages for playing longer, was my point.

PVP it’s about player skill, so the competitors should be equivalent.
PVE it’s about levels and accumulating gear to give you a mechanical advantage against later content that’s harder.

Crossing those two (ie in an MMO) is just dumb; then you have competitors that start with an inherent mechanical advantage. How is that fun?

I don’t think it’s impossible; I remember Age of Conan proposed (but AFAIK never implemented) ‘tavern brawl’ pvp where you were all normalized by level, and your gear was disregarded. That seemed to be a great compromise, and could even be (carefully) extrapolated into open world pvp as well – computers can handle two different rulesets in play at once. If player A (lvl 80 thief) ambushes player B (lvl 20 warrior) the system could apply damage and effects as if both players were the same level but (again, just for example) if that AoE dropped includes a lvl 20 npc mob, then THAT part of the combat is handled on the PVE rule structure.

Raap
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Raap

What killed PvP in this game is AGS listening to complainers rather than having some actual internal design direction.

“I don’t like PvP!” – okay, PvP gets made optional.
“I don’t want PvP to get rewards!”– okay, PvP gets no rewards.
“I want my time to matter more than skill!” – okay, high levels now 2 shot low levels.

The end result of all these complaint-reactions is a mess of a game where PvP got put out of existence, even on the most populated servers.

PvP isn’t balanced until you’re level 60 because people want their e-peens to matter in a fight. PvP isn’t rewarding because Mister Dungeon Farmer is vocally opposed to PvPers getting any sort of rewarding content, but totally fine with forcing PvP players into PvE farming for gear. PvP flat out doesn’t work since endgame PoI grinding actively discourages flagging by design.

TLDR: By doing a 180 on their target audience, AGS succeeded in creating an unfinished and mediocre PvE game that appeals to no one, and most people will have quit within the next 2 months.

MrEllis
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MrEllis

You were never the target audience. A game of this nature can’t exist within the structure of Amazon. Some indie dev, sure, but this game was never going to be the alpha. They made it clear when we were testing we were testing PvP elements and rule sets. None of us thought the final product would be PvP only. Amazon ain’t got time for that, space is expensive.

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Sarah Cushaway

One day these companies will learn that PVP MMOs are -very- niche. Eve and Albion and BDO…that’s about it in the past decade? Have done well enough to keep any sort of population. And they’re still pretty niche games. All the biggest MMOs are and have always been PVE-focused with PVP as a completely optional side activity.

Most PVPers are out there on FPS games or on hardcore survival games–not in MMOs, where social play and PVE are generally FAR more popular.

NW doesn’t know who it wants to cater to and never did. Amazon hoped to make big bucks with a PVP MMO and then realized that’s not really what the vast majority of MMO gamers want.

So they did a shoddy PVE-PVP remix and forgot to add in any depth or fun to the game, slapped on a bunch of literal copy-and-paste chore quests, some half-arsed crafting, and a janky PVP-node/town system and called it a day. They couldn’t even bother to add mounts or a decent character creator, jumping (not the auto-hop-over-this-log system they have) or swimming, yet claim “exploration” (LOL yeah no). The story is completely barebones and awful, so MMO players who enjoy story content are SOL as well.

Casual PVE players will be done with this game in a span of about 3-6 months, tops.

PVP’ers are off playing games that specifically cater to them and won’t stick around either.

This game will go F2P with a heavy cash shop within a year.

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Jeremy Barnes

Spot on except that the Devs did know what they wanted to do… but like you said, the full on PvP mmos are a very small niche market that generally can’t support themselves.

Then they do the attempt to rope-a-dope PvE players under this continuing delusion that “If we can just encourage them to pvp then they’ll love it!” as if these players have never experienced it.

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Sarah Cushaway

Yep. And it’s going to backfire just like it does with -every- game that tries it.

The average MMO player is -not- a hardcore PVPer and isn’t interested in hardcore PVP content. Most just want some challenging PVE and some fun side activities (and PVP can be included in those side activities).

I’ll just never understand why these big corporations think PVP MMOs are going to be a “thing”; they never have more than a niche dedicated fanbase that isn’t going to generate the monstrous cash flow these big companies are expecting. Then they realize that and jank some PVE on top of their crappy PVP systems and the game is dead within a few months. BDO is the only one that managed to pull it off, but even that game is fairly niche compared to the likes of FFXIV, WoW, ESO, etc.

Mark
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Mark

I’m level 46 and tonight is our fourth war.

At least twice a week we flag up to run pvp missions to claim influence to trigger a war. Once the current owners realise this they go out of their way to stop us triggering it. Had an absolute ball doing so.

I’m concerned about how quickly new things to do will be added to the game.

What I would love them to add is something equivalent to UO’s champion spawn system. [https://uo.com/wiki/ultima-online-wiki/combat/champion-spawns/]

The idea of being one of the few people on the server that could raise their, for example smithing to 210 or 220 by winning the scroll in a pvp only zone would be the perfect endgame content.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
squid

So I rolled up on a named mob the other day that had three flagged 60’s standing on it, farming for drops. One of them had the TTV warning in his name, so they all start doing random emotes and shit when I walk up. The guy asks me why the hell I’m running around at 60 unflagged. I say that if I was flagged the three of them would have just killed me and I would have wasted 15 minutes running to the mob.

He still didn’t understand.

Reader
AGx-07_162

Somewhere between the PVP switch and the crappy character customization I lost interest.

Reader
Bruno Brito

I don’t know. What i know is that it’s PvE is hamstrung to hell and back because of how the PvP inclination seeps into PvE gaming. Combat being delayed and clunky when against AI mobs is not something i enjoy. Fighting for resources is awful when you’re not flagged because it becomes a stealfest of griefing.

I feel like the game should go the Warhammer AoR route and focus on it’s PvP with PvE being a sideactivity that also feeds into PvP. And since this is Amazon, i expect that they achieve the incredible heights of mediocrity or fail spectacularly.