8 May 2012

Just Listen You Idiots!

It doesn’t matter what MMO I talk about, I’ve only ever played two thirds of the game. It doesn’t matter if it’s World of Warcraft, RIFT, Star Wars: The Old Republic or any of the countless other worlds I’ve kicked around in. Whatever the game, I’ve avoided PvP completely.

I’ve not always been like this: back in the vanilla days of WoW I’d play my hideously overpowered mage and have huge amounts of fun. Looking back, I think that my interest in PvP plummeted when all these special rules and exceptions came in. Resistance gear. Diminishing returns. Trinket rules. Yadda yadda. It went from being one game to three, all forced together like three unruly brothers.

Which is why the last few months have been incredibly strange. On the one hand there’s Guild Wars 2, where I’ve spent huge chunks of my beta time in World versus World (versus World versus World… etc). And then there’s Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes, a game that I’d describe as MMO PvP without all the MMO crap that goes along with it.

If you’ve been watching the MMO blogsphere, reading my articles on ZAM or generally following Kill Ten Rats, you’ll have noticed that a large chunk of Guild Wars 2 is made up of what I’d describe as “inclusive” PVP. There’s no vital talent spec or special gear to succeed in WvW. Just dive in and away you go. Competitive PVP is still there in smaller battleground matches, but for big mosh fights you can go with what you have.

I first played Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes three weeks ago, but since then I’ve been playing the game almost every day. By putting a 15 minute time limit on matches and stripping down the concept of arena PvP, there’s a streamlined route to getting into the game. No prep-work beyond a five minute tutorial, no gearing up, no talents to choose. Just in and fight.

The strange thing is, my niche in PvP is completely different from my DPS spellcaster roots. In Guild Wars 2 WvW I’m more comfortable playing a Guardian, with the ability to take a bit more damage but still have some spellcasting. In Wrath of Heroes I tend to stick to a tiny healer named Glowgob and a tiny Skaven rogue called Ikkrik. They’re all loaded with survivability, can deal a bit of damage and hold their own against most others.

Interestingly, both games are also microtransaction funded. While I’ve dabbled in the paid pool for both games, it’s not something that’s completely necessary. What I would say is that it helps you get where you want to go quickly. With Wrath of Heroes, you can either unlock a hero by playing hours of matches to earn gold, or you can pay cash and unlock it instantly. After facing the prospect of having to grind for PvP gear in full-fat MMOs, you can guess which route I took.

That said, there’s one way in which all forms of PvP are still absolutely identical, and that’s that people are generally mindless idiots that don’t listen. They don’t fight near the flag/artifact/objective/thing. They don’t focus their damage on a single target. They don’t stick together in a group and they certainly don’t listen to tactics or strategy. As a result, the easiest way to decimate your opposition is to get organised, communicate well and generally kick ass. It’s the kind of stuff that Gnomeageddon and Cynwise have been preaching for years, and it still works.

What I find slightly harder to understand is why there’s this desperate desire to push the eSports agenda into large scale MMOs, as if it’s somehow going to translate to the average joe having an occasional arena match. Why not just build a dedicated PvP game that’s intended to pull in the heavyweight eSports players but is also accessible to newcomers, and leave MMOs as the slightly unbalanced but largely fun thing that they traditionally were?

While I love the PvP action I’m now getting from my games, I don’t think that they’ll encourage me to play PvP arenas in MMOs. The PvP game is too divorced from the PvE experience to be meaningful for me any more. With other games able to provide a more accessible and rewarding PvP experience without any overly cumbersome barrier to entry, I’m already sold on where to spend my time.

(Note: Inspired by Gordon’s rant about why he doesn’t like raiding)

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4 Responses to Just Listen You Idiots!

  1. It’s quite strange as I would probably be the ideal person for PvP games like LoL and Wrath of Heroes as all I pretty much do in WoW is Battlegrounds (and Arenas with my main) as I level up alts yet, for some reason though, they don’t quite appeal to me. My guess is that it’s something to do with the loss of a virtual world and greater purpose… somehow flying around an open world, leveling up and solving quests makes me feel like I’m participating in a vibrant world. Simply queueing up for games from a chatroom doesn’t have the same appeal somehow.
    We Fly Spitfires recently posted..Why I Don’t Like RaidingMy Profile

    • Ahtchu says:

      It would be interesting to get your take on WoW BG’s now vs in vanilla, pre x-realm if you played then.
      One of the things I found to be disappointing in these pure lobby games (LoL and ilk) is the huge reliance on the other members of my team. In an ‘MMORPG’ BG, I am impactful [i]despite[/i] the rest of my team. In a lobby-style BG, we are only as strong as our weakest link.
      Ahtchu recently posted..Dimming TwilightMy Profile

  2. Longasc says:

    Usually I prefer to comment on Google+ but here we go:

    Yeah, PvP is too often an entirely different game and “tacked” on top. I can’t help but even the WvWvW in GW and the smaller scale PvP are again like another game in the game. Sure some dodging skills will translate into both areas, but the separation is there and I wonder if this will not exactly become like GW1, two very different communities in the same game. People will have their preference for the one or the other and only occasionally or never dabble into the other kind of game within their game.

  3. ellori says:

    What I understand even less is this desperate desire to force people to do something in PVP other than kill each other. Flag carrying, node capturing, tower capturing, etc. And then you get people who enter the game and all they want to do is just kill whatever’s red, so the inevitable 60-80% of your team ends up just fighting in the middle at EOTS or WSG.

    When it’s so obvious that the concept of flags in WSG or nodes in EOTS are either too hard for people to grasp or too uninteresting to them versus just dpsing the enemy, it’s strange that the MMOs we play still refuse to come out with a basic team battle BG where the sole purpose is just to kill the other team.