One of the first columns I penned for MOP after we went indie was a column about what I wanted from serious MMO PvP. I cut my MMO teeth on an open-PvP sandbox at the dawn of the genre, and I’ve joked plenty about my box of heads in Ultima Online, collected from all the PKs who failed to gank me. I enjoy PvP – but I say that knowing full well that nearly 26 years of watching and playing my way through the MMO genre has long since taught me (and many of you too!) all the ways MMO PvP design can and does go wrong, often to the doom of the whole game. Hence that article, which laid out the things I considered essential for PvP worth bothering with, like faction balance, gear equality, large-scale encounters, accessibility, justice systems, and a clamp-down on toxic PvP culture.
I think 2023 me is even more skeptical about the modern MMO PvP experience than 2015 me, and it’s for a whole host of reasons: designers like Raph Koster losing faith, games like Crowfall tanking, weak reception to games like Mortal Online 2, the steady decline of EVE Online, New World struggling with its PvP approach, and the best territory PvP experience on the market right now demonstrating a thousand times more toxicity than I ever saw in UO. I guess I still believe that a good PvP MMORPG is theoretically possible, but I’ve begun to doubt that there’s any will to make it happen, and by the time it does, I’m less sure I’ll even still be interested in it as a way to spend my free time.
Have your opinions on MMO PvP changed over the years?