Every time a new MMO is released there is a long hard cry about how it is another “theme park” MMO and how it has no RvR or world PvP. Every time this argument comes out my personal response is always, good.
In this article I intend to argue that large scale world PvP is bad and people should not want large scale PvP elements.
A World PvP Story
I remember when I was doing Tempest Keep progression. We were the only guild on the entire server that was progressing through content. We were getting very very close to getting an A’lar kill. A’lar progression wise is the second last boss you do, and he/it is a tough one.
We were somewhat of bragarts on the forums about our progression and so the entire server knew who we were and what we were about. It also just so happened that our guild had the gladiator 5v5 arena team in our guild.
If being a bragart doesn’t get you negative flak, having people who win will. In our 5v5 team was two warriors and three healers, the gayest of all 5v5 arena compositions.
Tempest Keep is a rather unique dungeon. It flies in the air and requires a flying mount to reach. Well it was unique at the time. Now we have all sorts of dungeons that require flying mounts to get to. The graveyard for Tempest Keep is on the ground and easily accessible.
So half of a rival horde guild are sitting at our graveyard on one of their off nights (and our raid night) farming us down as we wiped. We would have to ghost to the nearby town, mount up and run. Eventually they killed off town guards and there was no place to run. People were being camped for miles.
Eventually our guild organized, threw on our PvP gear and wiped them out. We waited until they were at their progression boss (one behind us) and we struck. We used the exact same tactic and indefinitely delayed them by one boss.
Every progression night afterwards would involve our guilds farming each other out and mutual raid nights would involve random wipes at the same time and random PvP encounters.
The end result of this was that our server’s progression was stunted and eventually both guilds would break up out of sheer frustration. People left the server en mass for PVE servers and this place existed as a server wasteland. It is still a wasteland. Blizzard tried so many times to resurrect this server but it’s still dead.
A dead server all because there was an odd world PvP element accidentally placed in the game.
Argument #1: Because of Interruption
When you ask people what they think world PvP is they explain to you it is these big epic battles between two sides that randomly occurs. People will mount to the defense of their allies and force off their enemies.
But that’s not what it really is. World PvP is when two or more random people meet up in an environment and fight each other.
That is all it is.
It’s VERY easy for developers to facilitate this. All they need to do is create a tightly packed questing zone that all players will have to go to.
In this sense world PvP is player initiated disruption of the normal planned activity.
So here is a scenario. I go to a particular zone, let’s call it Tarren Mill in order to do quests. But someone else there of the opposite faction is also doing quests. He attacks me and I kill him. He calls his overpowered Level 50 friend to help him. I have to have a level 50 friend or I’m screwed. If I do then we’re even again.
But at the end of it I am still pissed as I was unable to finish my quests. I am then required to return to this zone again tomorrow and no doubt have the exact same situation happen.
The same is true of most cross-faction zones, they just become areas where Level 50 players ‘gank’ lowbie players. Some zones became so notoriously bad for it that people would opt to just kill mobs for XP instead of quest there.
Thankfully when Warsong Gultch was released it saved most of us from the tyranny of overgeared Level 50s having nothing to do.
For 99% of gamers world PvP is nothing but a nuisance. Since all of the emphasis has been on end game content people want to get to max level and world PvP represents an interruption of service.
Argument #2: Because of Imbalance
You bring your 10 friends and they bring…. 40 friends… oh shit.
I cannot think of a game that has launched with servers that had balanced faction representation. But it happens most indefinitely.
You will NEVER have a fair fight in world combat. It’s not possible. There will be varying numbers of people and varying numbers of levels. Let’s not even talk about class imbalance.
The fact is the larger the fight is the largest imbalances in the game become obvious. This is the main reason why developers have shifted to try and shrink down large scale battles to smaller ones.
There have been many attempts to try and control the balance of PvP. Most notably was the Wintergrasp system developed by WOW. This system would give the side with less players a special buff that would give them more health, damage and healing. So if there are two of you.. that’s fine because one of me is just as strong. The encounter would cap at 40 so it wouldn’t get too out of control.
But is this REALLY what people wanted in world PvP. Isn’t this just another battleground?
The fact is in the mass of numbers there is no skill, just zerging. If you get killed by 10 people are you really going to feel like this is something fun to do? Probably not.
Argument #3: Because You Have Better Things to Do
When Ultima Online was first released it came with all sorts of cool stuff. However after everyone just hack and slashed each other to death in crowded areas the game developers were forced to instead of making small quality stuff create large expansive worlds. This was one of the first real world PvP elements. People were having fun with it.
Many people remark the world PvP of these early pre-WoW MMOs.
Most notably of these is Dark Age of Camelot from Mythic Studios. Here is a game that had 1.5M players (a lot for the time) and was the only MMO able to take a chunk out of Everquest and Lineage.
They did it because at the time everything was open world events and they were going to design the greatest open world events game. Mythic realized that faction vs faction fights would always be imbalanced, so to counter that they created a game that involved three factions. This way you always sort of had to worry about that third guy.
Mythic even invented a realm vs realm concept where people would fight for property.
Everyone involved in these games felt THIS was the epitomy of online play, player vs player combat. Every game that was being developed on its 5-6 year cycle would feature some large open world elements.
World of Warcraft was originally designed to be a large open world just like Dark Age of Camelot. A lot of the zones were purposely made smaller so that player vs player combat was bound to happen. Tarren Mill became notorious for its world PvP.
But then tragedy struck, Tarren Mill was deserted. Blizzard released its first conception of end game, Molten Core and Warsong Gultch. People were in shock as they had thought Tarren Mill WAS the end game. No Blizzard had more in stock for them.
As it turned out people were only doing world PvP because that was the funnest thing they could do in this game. There were some who would go to Tarren Mill in hopes of hitting these big epic battles… but they were never as big or as epic. As time went on these areas would dwindle. Instead of spending their time in Tarren Mill people would settle themselves in trade chats looking for groups for dungeons, waiting in queue for a battleground, or farming the plains for resources they would need for raiding.
Two AAA MMOs since then have come out stressing world PvP, Age of Conan and Warhammer Online. Both of these were abysmal failures. Both Funcom and Mythic missed out on an important aspect of the success of Dark Age of Camelot… people were doing it because they had nothing better to do.