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The General Store

A collection of articles created by me regarding anything that has some faint relation to an MMO(s).

Author: Nalestom

Pitting Ourselves Against One Another -- Player vs. Player Combat in MMO's

Posted by Nalestom Sunday February 8 2009 at 10:04AM
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For years, game producer's have attempted (and, as far as I know, have failed) to create an ideal, "perfect" Player vs. Player (Referred here as PvP) system, one that caters to all playstyles, whether it be casual or hardcore, "run n' gun" or strategic, or anything else you can think of. One that has a perfect ranking system that can't be abused and truly determines your ranking based on the skill of how you fight, not just your kill/death ratio. However, in all my 10 years of MMO gaming, I have yet to see a system that could be described as "perfect" or "ideal".

There are many reasons why so many PvP systems in some games have miserably failed. Some producers created systems that were wildly complex and hard to manage. Some producers created a system that was too simple, one that was based upon kill/death ratios, and the only rewards you were given was a title next to your name. Some producers were lazy, and just threw in PvP to please it's audience and assure them that there would be PvP servers. Some producers didn't put a lot of thought into it's PvP system.

Which raises another question. Look around at your most popular MMO's (Everquest II, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, Warhammer, Lord of the Rings, etc.) and analyze their PvP system. Most of these games have separate PvP servers for those who want to take the extra risk and be in a dangerous environment constantly. However, it does appear as if these games were not made for PvP.

And they weren't. It's very obvious, just from the structure of the game. You have the same old quests, the same old characters, the same old zones, it's just that everything you do has a certain risk to it, and you have to be much more aware. You can't set your character on autorun across the continent, go pour yourself a drink, and expect to still be alive when you come back.

Therefore, my conclusion is this: If anybody wants to experience a truly thrilling type of PvP, one that is newcomer-friendly and unabusable, then they need to play a game that has been structured around a PvP system, and has kept PvP in their mind through every line of code. As far as I know, there is only one game that is currently being developed as I described above, and that game is Jumpgate: Evolution. So far, the PvP system looks excellent and very well-planned, and I will be camping the front door of my nearest Best Buy on the day that it comes out. Or the mailbox. It depends.

More information on Jumpgate: Evolution can be found here:

IGaveUp writes:

Thanks for this.  It just saved me from a very serious mistake!

Sun Feb 08 2009 12:29PM Report
TCoops writes:

Dude you are going to get a flaameed for this one! But I wholly agree. MMO's (the RPG pen and paper variety) really arent set up for pvp at all. Its in the core nature for it to be a group experience where you throw dice against dumb targets, then role play how brilliant you are after you don your new armor plate. Its the playground for basement D&D nerds everywhere who calculate pen and paper numbers and collect those magic cards. Pitting player to player is simply a click and watch affair with, lets face it, not a heck of a lot of strategy or skill involved. Its a virtual d*** measuring affair of who has accumulated the biggest avatar. Good PVP games are out there, but they are rarely of the RPG variety. There have been some, and will be more like Jumpgate, that are purely pvp centric. I love em. Skill based so nobody can hide behind statistics and superior gear.

Sun Feb 08 2009 3:27PM Report
Quizzical writes:

You're right that WoW is a PvE game with PvP kind of haphazardly slapped on.  I think that's true of EQ2 and LotRO as well, and it certainly seems to be true of PvP in most MMORPGs.  But WAR is designed as a PvP game, with the PvE side kind of slapped on.

Guild Wars, on the other hand, takes a totally different approach.  There is a PvP side of the game and a PvE side, and they're kept pretty much disjoint.  There really aren't that many players who participate heavily in both PvP and PvE.  Skill balances are almost invariably done with PvP in mind--and sometimes make a mess of the skill in PvE.

After a few years, they gave up on trying to use the same skills for both PvP and PvE, and instead decided to have different versions of the skills.  This ended up making a bigger mess of PvE skills, as it gave the distinct impression that whoever is balancing them doesn't play PvE.  Just to reiterate that since it's such a strange thing to say, PvE skills were better balanaced for PvE when the balance choices were made for PvP purposes without considering the effects on PvE.

But the PvP side of Guild Wars is undeniably built around PvP.  You can create a PvP character that starts at the level cap with max armor and max damage weapons.  The character is unable to do anything but PvP.  That balances things so that PvP is not dominated by whoever is higher level or has better gear.  Instead, PvP is typically won by whichever side has more skilled players (or perhaps fewer idiots).

Sun Feb 08 2009 3:39PM Report
fansede writes:

 PvP has to be well thought out because you are entrusting your longevity of your game to other players. Balance has to be factored, tested and revamped constantly. It is more difficult to add on expansions and new game features when you have a PvP system versus a game that does not.  That being said, PvP that is going well for games like Dark Age of Camelot, Guild Wars, EvE,  Lineage and WAR show that it can be done. However, these examples also demonstrate it is not perfect and lots of issues have to be dealt with in PvP.


Mon Feb 09 2009 7:56AM Report
fansede writes:

 Examples where PvP has faltered. Shadowbane (Wolfpack closed shop), Darkfall (taking over 7-8 years to produce), Archlord (went from sub to f2p), arguably Age of Conan (though subs are rising again, I believe the PvP was not the reason of its hiccup, but endgame Sieges was clearly not tested).

Mon Feb 09 2009 8:06AM Report
Telre writes:

I don't mean to be offensive, but I highly doubt you played guildwars based on your post. Most people agree the game is based around pvp.

Mon Feb 09 2009 11:47AM Report
Nalestom writes:

Telre, you are very much correct. I have not played Guild Wars enough to know about it's PVP system. That being said, I was very careful while I formed that paragraph, and I will bold where I was careful:

"Look around at your most popular MMO's (Everquest II, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, Warhammer, Lord of the Rings, etc.) and analyze their PvP system. Most of these games have separate PvP servers for those who want to take the extra risk and be in a dangerous environment constantly. However, it does appear as if these games were not made for PvP."

After the results of my first blog post, I have been very careful to avoid generalizing games I have not played and have little experience with. In the paragraph above, I did not specifically say that all of the mentioned games above have a PVP system slapped into the game, I said that most of them do, which is mostly true. When I mentioned Guild Wars, I mentioned it because of it's popularity, not because I believe that it has a poorly-structured PVP system.

Mon Feb 09 2009 4:12PM Report
Spirituality writes:

2 words fellows... Darkfall Online! They're finally in Beta and their game is centered around PvP EVERY STAGE.. I am a die hard care bear, born and bred, and just for this game's awesome immersive ... everything, I went out and forced myself to go play FPS's just so I wouldn't be somebody's sword sharpening cloth for my entire game career (or the rest of my natural life, whichever comes first). To me this game is like UO and Vanguard's illegitimate, genetically altered, and digitally enhanced child, on NOS (super "go faster" fuel additive for race cars!) Not lame quest centered, though there will be quests available, their is so many other things to do to occupy your game life. I am happy to say I doubt I will ever experience it all (because, well... I have a real life as well, and there are only so many hours to spend in game left over.) I only wish they would stop torturing me and select me for their final wave of beta testers, before I expire in the crush of people waiting for their doors to open!

Tue Feb 10 2009 7:01AM Report
Azmaria writes:

Decently written article and on a whole, I agree with you.  But as a few people have pointed out, it's not correct on a few points. 

WAR is sort of PvP-centric;  I say sort of because Mythic does not seem to have a handle on the class balancing aspect. 

Guild Wars is very PvP-centric; it features organized, even numbered fights between two opposing teams that are typically constructed before the match with strategy in mind.  It also features a restricted skill bar and attribute setup that forces players to enter matches or PvE with only 8 skills and an optimal attribute spread over multiple paths that directly affect skill performance.  It is, to my knowledge, the most skill based PvP MMORPG on the market at this time (and likely to continue to be so).  It also features a ladder for Guild vsGuild and a reward system for the Hall of Heroes pvp types.

Tue Feb 10 2009 9:29AM Report
Teala writes:

See you're preaching stuff we've been talking about on forums boards since the creation of this genre.   For years we've bickered back and forth about whether or not PvP belongs in an MMORPG.  i for one think it does, as long as you use theright kind of combat mechanics that is geared toward PvP.   The current gaming systems just are not condusive to PvP.  It is all just haphazzardly slapped together as a second thought and not very well thought out at all.   AoC actually does have a nice system, but it to fails with it's many flaws that have slowly crept in since the games release.

For me...I think the ony real PvP game mechanics that will work in an MMORPG are FPS - twitch based combat.   Your best PvP games such as Planetside and Battlefield series and such all use twitch FPS combat...why?  Because it is best suited for PvP.

Wed Feb 11 2009 4:12AM Report writes:
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