March 1, 2010 9 Comments
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!