Why PvE?

There was an interesting post at Wolfshead last week that has had me thinking since then. I commented on his page, and touched on my thoughts briefly there, but I felt like exploring the idea a bit more. The boiled down version of his post (though, you should go read it all), is that all his experiences with PvP have been underwhelming and meaningless on the whole, for two primary reasons. A lack of danger for failure, and no emotional incentive to be involved. The reason I find his post interesting, is not because I agree with him (or fully disagree even), but that the points he makes are almost the same reasons why I dislike PvE content in MMOs.

I’ll use WoW as my example of this, as it’s the biggest target in the room that most of you guys have some experience with. In my time in WoW, I never had an emotional reaction to the generated content of the game. I never felt aggression to the invading trolls, or the desire to cleanse Karazhan of the undead. I don’t care what convoluted story was used to persuade people to continue on the trail of quests to the next zone on the fast-paced run to max-level. Whatever my reason du jour was for each play session had nothing to do with what the NPCs typed out in their conversation windows. I clicked accept as quick as possible, and looked at my map with the “Quest Helper” addon to run to each target and kill/harvest/deliver/use whatever it is that needed to be handled. Essentially, the game was a gopher hunt, with the ultimate goal of flushing out all the possible burrows to reward myself with the best possible gear.

In all the graphical MMO PvE games I have played, this was the entirety of my drive. Always looking to reach the cap, get the gear, perfect my character. The original Everquest was no different, despite the novelty of the experience. I wanted to level, I wanted to get gear, and play with other people. Nothing ever impressed me from the story of the game itself.

I remember when the realization hit me of the pointlessness of PvE. I was playing EQ2 at the time. An amazing PvE game, one I’ve always loved. The game world is beautiful, the landscapes are massive, the gameplay is more fun than any other MMO I had played before, but I was feeling continually apathetic towards playing the game. What point was there in progression? The ultimate goal was what? The answers were to be able to do the next raid and then to get more gear to do bigger raids. I saw the circular nature of it, and the treadmill became obvious to me.

Of course, what did I do next? I played WoW. My co-worker at the time convinced me how much focus there was on PvP in the game, how PvP is some of the best fun to be had. So, I fired up my old abandoned account with the release of Burning Crusade, and created a paladin for the horde. Thinking, the entire time, that PvP was there, and I just had to hit 80 to REALLY experience it. All this other stuff was fluff, just to be done to get there. I saw gear and weapons, arenas and battlegrounds, obviously I could just do PvP and enjoy that. Obviously I was mistaken, but I found that time to realize this was becoming less with each game.

So, now that I’ve rambled off on my recent history of MMOs and bored you to death, let’s get back to the topic. Why do you choose to play a PvE-focused MMO? Has there EVER been an emotional response to the story? Have you ever felt a true concern of dieing? The original EQ had the second issue, which anyone who had to do a corpse run or re-gain that 8 hours of experience gain can tell you, but even that has been mitigated in today’s game. What incentive does any player have to feel attached to their character beyond that which naturally grows over prolonged exposure.

In PvP MMOs, the issues are much the same. In WAR, death is a pittance statistically. The direct penalty is easily and cheaply removed. As far as the story ins concerned, I could care less if Chaos eats babies, or are defenders of hope and change (or both!). What I’m concerned about, is that the PLAYER on the other side doesn’t win. I want to kill them. I want them to lose. Even more, I want to WIN. The more I win, the happier I am. The more difficult it is for me to win, the happiness factor just increases. I don’t care about the gear for gears sake, I don’t care about the PvE for the sake of beating it. PvE can be fun at times as a distraction and a change of pace, but doing PvE for the sake of doing it, is monotonous and repetitive. I do these things to gain an advantage against THEM. I do these things to have an upper hand in every fight. I do these things to have as many weapons available at my disposal as possible. The more tools I have to win, the happier I end up.

At the very least, when I play a PvP game, I know there will be variety and change in my gameplay. I don’t have a schedule, or a punch-card I have to hit to do some planned activity. I log in, I play, and that play will be varied from each session.

I just don’t get the motivation of PvE games any longer, when a game is released with penalties that matter, and/or a story that actually reaches me, I’ll change my opinion. Until then, pick up your weapon of choice, and lets fight!

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About Shadow
Making serious business out of internet spaceships.

9 Responses to Why PvE?

  1. Mr. Meh says:

    How did your experience with EVE go? The journals kind of died.

    It is the only game that truely involves penalties for doing something stupid. And has unlimited PvP. There is no game that has ever accomplished it like EVE. You need PvE for ISK. You need ISK for PvP. You need PvP for more fun. The only formula that truely involved the 2 worlds.

    • shadowwar says:

      I loved EVE. Like, lots. But, my baby was born (if you’ll notice, my last EVE journal was literally the day before my daughter was born), and MMO playtime had to be cut. I’m really, REALLY tempted to go back, every single day.

  2. Erbse says:

    I can understand what you’re saying, still I suggest you to differ. PvE isn’t necessarily PvE in todays MMO’s. There’s a Westernized version of PvE and the Asian version. Bluntly put, Quest grind versus Korean grind.

    Now, I’ve played Korean grinder for a long time, and will keep on doing so in the future. The reasons for me? Those games are rewarding, in their own way – a battle of patience and peace. You only get so far dependent on your willingness to spend time in the game to grind – grind and farm the same mobs over and over and over. Moronic? Simple? By all means it is, but it definitely puts me to inner peace and into a relaxed state of mind.

    The real problem I see with MMO’s today is their item systems, for all I know 90% of the MMO’s item databases these days are static. By static I mean that if you picked the ‘Hammer of Smash joor Face’ it will have specifically the stats were assigned to it. My first MMO was ‘Priston Tale’ which I still consider a very nice game (it’s F2P these days) – it’s basically a Diablo II wrapped with a happier surrounding. You spent your days grinding and grinding, picking up item after item with same names but here comes the difference (much like Diablo II) – Just because the item was named ‘Battle Axe’ it wasn’t necessary the ‘Battle Axe’. Items in Priston Tale were dynamic – An item had a damage range pool which made hunting the perfect item extremely fun. The same Axe could drop with 19 – 35 damage, 22 – 32 damage or 21 – 36 damage with different stat requirements and other stuff attached to it. Not only were you grinding for a ‘perfect damage weapon’ but for the perfect damage weapon with the lowest requirements to wear it. The ultimately bragging material.

    This surely was a superb feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day when it finally happened – also the game was the best when a new server opened as everyone started with under the same circumstances – grinding for the sake if being the first 70, 80, 90, 100 or max level – sometimes as friends and more often than not as rivals.

  3. Longasc says:

    To spin the thought a bit further, you are done with MMOs. Why do you pick a MMO if you want interesting combat and victories about other players. There are strategy and action games out there that do this much better, as MMO combat is not really the most refined combat.

    Interestingly, Street Fighter style combat games, mostly known on beat em up arcade machines or consoles, have not been ported that much to the PC nor have they become too popular.

    I think playing some kind of Avatar is important, be it a spaceship in EVE or a toon in a MMO. This is a bit different from commanding armies in RTS or strategy games.

    I can understand that MMO PvE got stale for you, as veteran I can totally relate to that. But there must have been a time where the worlds and mobs still interested you. And I claim that most players just move on or play more PvE like automations, the amount of players who then really PvP is rather low. And gets even lower if there are death penalties that really hurt.

    And to bring an example from my Ultima Online times, PvP players were often players who already experienced everything the game had to offer pve wise and were simply bored, in so far you are quite right that PvP might be the last thing one does in a game before one totally gets bored by it.

    • shadowwar says:

      I’m worried about seeing that come down the pipe as well. It’s not the gameplay per-se that has me interested in PvP MMOs, it’s the group coordination and the direct competition with other players. It’s part of why I loved Starcraft so much. The one thing I really DO like about PvP MMOs, when done right, they allow for stake in a world, and a sense of permanency.

  4. Brian Inman says:

    I have always liked PvP more than PvE. I tease all of my coworkers every day who tell me about their ICC 10, or their heroic mode this, and that.

    I always respond back that PvE is predictable. I tell them any 12 yr old can watch youtube videos, read strats, google, and listen to orders on vent.

    I tell them no matter how many times you kill a boss in Warcraft it will do the same thing every time. Is it fun?

    In PvP you can’t read a strat guide, know every spell another player is going to cast. Every single pvp encounter is different. This is why PvP is so much fun.

    Real skilled players play PvP.

  5. theerivs says:

    Then you never felt the joy of sheeping a rogue, and blasting them to kingdom come.

    Actually WoW use to have some fun PvP, but they ripped it apart and gutted it.

    I do like a little PvE, to break up the monotony of PvP scenarios in WAR. But the PvE was REALLY bad.

  6. Mike says:

    The early days of Ultima had a great pvp penalty system. This was before it switched to an item based system and nerfed the whole penalty system though. If you died in battle your corpse remained with everything your character had on it if you couldnt return to it within a certain amout of time you got robbed and lost it all. This made pvp more about how well you played your character then how you equipped it since you didnt want to take the chance of losing any good armor. Also in the early days there was a murder count system that tract your kills and labeled you based on those kills reaching a certain level kills restricted that character in where he could go and what vendors you could use. Plus if you had a lot of kills and where harassing newbs a bounty could be put on your head at the castle and other players could seek you out and turn in your head for the bounty. All this was eventually gotten rid of since even though the forum monkeys may like the idea of penalties the mass population of players does not want things this way and money talks.

  7. Pingback: I guess I’m a finisher « Shadow-war

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