In the midst of all the existing and upcoming Fantasy based MMO's, it's easy to get lost in new features and cutting-edge expectations that might put game X over another title. For an avid PVPer like myself and many others, though, we tend to focus more on the actual game mechanics and PVP features of the upcoming titles. So, it's no surprise when we start to compare these games to other titles that we've enjoyed.
Ultima Online (pre Trammel) - the old school gamers holy grail, this was our first and perhaps only true love for MMO's. UO offered a PVP freedom that only Asian-grindfest games have reproduced since, with little success in the Western market. In UO it was possible to attack whoever you wanted (later with consequences) and even fully loot them if you had the time. This was wonderful for the community and you could easily be a "bad guy" or a "good guy". This sort of freedom came with a price, of course, as the danger was high and few (if any) places were really secure.
Dark Age of Camelot was the next major PVP release and introduced Realm versus Realm combat; this limited your freedom as you couldn't attack your brothers in arms, but you could attack the other factions, mostly in the Frontier or RvR zones. You couldn't really hunt your enemies down on their turf, so they had plenty of safe havens and could avoid PVP altogether if they wished. However, the dynamic and fun nature of RvR combat was still satisfying, at least on a different level. DAoC, to my knowledge, was the first major game to implement strictly PvP / RvR rewards as gear and items.
World of Warcraft was a step backward for PVP in many people's mind. Most people agree that WoW is a PVE game first with PVP slapped on secondary, something I fully agree with. WoW popularized instanced PVP, though most true PVPers perfer more random and dynamic encounters like world PVP - something that WoW has neglected, and something they are trying hard to implement in WotLK.
Age of Conan is almost not worth mentioning, as it was marketed as a PVP game but still has yet to provide any meaningful PVP system, nearly 4 months after release. After trying their proposed system out on the Test Server, I can safely say that AoC is actually a step backwards from WoW, which I didn't even think was possible. They've basically taken the instanced PVP of WoW and combined the lame penalty systems from UO and bundled it all up into an unbalanced piece of excrement. If only they could work on something to actually punch you in the face whilst you PVP'd, they'd be sitting pretty for the worst PVP system ever put into a MMO.
EVE Online snuck into the scene in the midst of all this and provided a true evolution to UO's dynamic PVP experience. It's been a bit of a niche game with a rocky start, but I can honestly say it's the closest thing to UO I've seen in the last 10 years. It's not quite as addicting as WoW / DAoC for me, which is sadly a problem as far as sticking with a game, but it's still worthy of a mention as a wonderful break from the cookie cutter fantasy PVP templates we get thrown into on a regular basis.
Enter Warhammer Online. The hype is there, and the game is going to deliver. For many people, it's kind of like a "Dark Age of Camelot 2" - with a different IP, of course. Mythic made the DAoC PVP experience fun and memorable, albeit with less freedom than UO or EVE - and from the beta, it looks like Warhammer will do well to evolve the PVP aspect of the MMO industry. Public Quests, meaningful RvR combat, and most importantly: a game focused on the PVP experience.
So, how is WAR holding up so far, to those that have played the beta? Do you find that they've help evolve the PVP aspect of MMO gaming - or have they taken a step backwards?
Original postage: http://www.r1ft.com/war/warhammer-progress-in-the-evolution-of-pvp/