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The staff of MMORPG.com gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

Author: staffblog

Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Community Spotlight: Is PvP Balance Really Needed?

Posted by MikeB Thursday June 2 2011 at 3:15PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Does PvP have to equal Everything can beat everything?" by Swollen_Beef. In the thread, Swollen_Beef observes that developers have trended towards allowing all classes to be on even footing with each other in the PvP found in today's MMOs and polls the MMORPG.com community on their thoughts on the matter:

Should a cloth wearing healing class be afforded the same chance to beat a chain wearing DPS class?

Or should a developer flat out refuse to allow the everyone can beat everyone mentality?

in EVE you wont see a logistics ship roll up on a HAC and stand toe to toe with one. 

But in WoW.....

Slapshot1188 is equally disturbed at the trend towards balanced PvP play:

The quest for PvP "balance" has ruined the vast majority of PvP games.  PvP has turned into an E-Sport.. with scoreboards and timers.  I don't want to play CTF or deathmatch or king of the hill.. if I did I'd do it in a FPS.   I just want any PvP to be a natural part of the world in which I am playing.  With real repercushions.

Balance between classes is not only something that I don't feel has to exist... but it shouldn't even be a development goal.  I don't care if Johnny Fireball can kick my ass one on one.  That just means I should bring a friend.  It adds variety to the game and an element of the unknown instead of everything being cookie-cutter.

Edit to add: If we want balance in a game we shuld just remove levels and skills.. and equipment.  Everyone is even...   doesn't sound like I game that I would personally want to play though.

Reizla feels quite strongly about the ability for support classes to play an offensive role in PvP:

Short answer: NO

Seen it happen in Aion too where a healer (me)  kicked a tank, only because of the healing... Lame IMO. healer = support and certainly no PvP class.

Look at Lineage II (odly enough same developer as Aion). I think there they've graped the concept of healers & buffers as they should be - 100% support class. No main PvP but keep the actual PvPers alive.

Cernan appears to be the lone voice of dissent in the discussion so far:

Short answer:  Yes.

As another poster said, the question isn't always that simple.  The cloth wearing healer shouldn't be able to beat the chain wearing melee in melee combat.  The healer should also be forced to heal more than damage making the combat long and drawn out.  The melee should ideally just give up because of the length of combat.  Oh how I miss thee DAoC.

To use DAoC references, I believe they did a lot of things right in this regard.

Wardens - awesome support class.  They could cast "bubbles" to negate one source of damage every few seconds.  They also had some minor healing.  However, their own damage was extremely weak.  You could literally fight a warden for 3 to 5 minutes.  Do they run out of mana or do you eventually die a slow death to them.  Solution - bring a second person.  The bubble only negates one damage source.  Bring two and the warden goes down.

Bolt casters - The longest range magic in the game.  Most bolt casters had 2 bolts on long recast timers with some weak DDs.  The bolts could be blocked by shield wearers.  They were extremely damaging.  Most classes would die if hit by both.  However, if you could block the bolts or get into melee range then the caster was dead.

I also miss how DAoC had crowd control classes.  Everyone didn't have stuns, silences, fears, or mezzes.  You had classes that specialized in crowd control.  They weren't much good at anything else, but they were great at controlling entire groups of other people.  Now you have games like in Rift were melee plate wearers have AE fear.  You also have plate wearers with leaps and rogues with teleports to close the distance to casters.  The point is supposed to be that the caster is strong from far away.  You shouldn't be able to instantly close the distance.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not just blaming Rift.  I still play it.  Other games do this as well.

I'm definitely a bit more "progressive" on this front. I don't like the rigidity of class roles in PvP, I'm definitely a fan of the way the lines have been blurred over time. For example, I loved the Archmage revamp in Warhammer Online as it allowed me to drain heal, damaging enemy players while supporting my team with heals. I was still healing, but I was also contributing offensively. I'm not a fan of the idea that "healers" should just sit in the back and play whack-a-mole with healthbars and never get any action themselves. However, that doesn't mean I want to see developers strive to put everyone on equal footing without a conscious effort being made in a character's build and/or equipment and a resultant trade-off for doing so. My Archmage could heal well as a hybrid offensive/support spec, but probably not as well as an Archmage specialized purely for healing, and that trade-off was fine to me.