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Christopher Coke Posted:
Columns Player Versus Player 0

Welcome back to another edition of Player Versus Player, the column where MMORPG writers collide to debate the issues you care about. Every other week, we take to the podium and represent each side of an issue you're talking about, even if that means playing devil's advocate. This week we're stepping into the flames and bringing you a classic. Let's get to it.

The issue: PVE vs PVP

PVE: PVE is the true way to play an MMORPG. It is the heart and soul of the genre, the core of our experience, and the only way to experience all an MMO has to offer.

PVP: PVP is where the real skill is at. It's more dynamic, more challenging, and more satisfying than any raid boss could ever be. PVP players are the best players.

Representing each side:

Bill “The Noobdozer” Murphy: Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com and believes in the power of PVP. If you're looking for a team leader that won't spam your chat, look no further. This may or may not be Bill stretching his roleplaying legs, because he’s a PVE-fan at heart. Just saying...

Chris “The Friendly Neighborhood Tank” Coke: As the resident Tourist, Chris spends most of his time leveling characters, taking on dungeons, and killing big bads. He also tanks for PUGs because he's a such a nice guy.

Chris: Good to be back with you, Bill. This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I play a lot of different games and I truly believe that PVE is the beating heart of this genre. PVE is where we receive our epic storylines. Since developers can plan for it, they are free to stretch their creative wings. They pull us into their worlds and capture us with their lore. When was the last time you saw an expansion spanning story thread finished off in a battleground? Through PVE we get the best of what this genre has to offer.

Bill: My argument is a simple one for this point - PVE content is costly to develop and to maintain, and can be digested at incredible paces. PVP is dynamic and repeatable to near-infinite proportions.  Look no further than the incredible success of some non-MMOs in the competitive field (LoL, Dota, CS) to see that a truly solid PVP experience in an MMO is more valuable than any raid or story-based content. Some of my best experiences in any MMO with friends have been PVP battles that happen at random and in the world.  My one concession is that instanced PVP in an MMO is lacklustre compared to open-world experiences.

Chris: Unless you're playing a niche MMO, PVE is where you want to be if you want actual content development. That's not a knock against developers – but really, unless your MMO is 100-percent PvP based, you’re probably getting the short end of the stick. PvP players are notorious for keeping themselves occupied with a handful of maps and modes. PvE players, on the other hand, need more bosses, more loot, more raids, more levels, more zones, and more story. Developers cater to that.

Bill: Developers cater to that because they have to. PVE content that a development studio expects players to take months to complete often takes days. If a developer with deep pockets was ballsy enough to craft a PvP MMO with a world that's engaging to fight over, it could be magical. I'm not saying the entire game needs to be PvP-based, but if every aspect of the game was designed around the notion that factions of players would be battling for dominance, well... chances are you'd see happy people across both sides of the debate.

Chris: There’s also something to be said for the quality of PVE versus PVP. We can talk about maps and encounters, which are generally better because developers have more leeway to plan with. But I would also add that PVP is just simply not what MMOs do best. The controls are too gross, the balance is too skewed, and more often than not it feels tacked on to appease the vocal PVPers who will probably leave in three months anyway. I enjoy PVP but unless a game is designed for it, it’s just not as good as PVE.

Bill: The controls may have been imperfect for PvP once, but I dare you to say that to fans of EVE.  Your argument that a game needs to be designed for PvP is something we agree on though. PvP is all too often tacked on by developers who try to follow the Azerothian model of content. Games that focus their energies on PvP mixed into the world would likely be surprised how much the experience resonates with players. Not enough developers are looking at MMOs' true success story in EVE Online, and too many are looking at the WoW model as the only way. This needs to change, and thankfully, it is.

Chris: One of the biggest criticisms PVPers like to throw out is that PVE is “EZmode” because events are scripted. That’s a false argument. Sure, boss fights are scripted, but orchestrating 10-40 people in a complex dance then picking up the slack when some players inevitably slip up is far from easy. PVP players, on the other hand, only need to know their class. We can argue about the upper-end players who will master everything to guide their arena team to success, but let’s be real: 99.9% of PVPers know their own and it’s CC counters. Get that down and PVP is as challenging as the gear your opponent is wearing.

Bill: PVP is the most challenging aspect of any game, because no matter what a developer does they can't make AI too smart of players will wind up pissed. Sure, they'll still wind up pissed that another player beats them, but at least then they can cry hacks or cheating. PVP has far more challenge to offer a gamer, learning curve and more.

Chris: The last thing I’ll say about PVE is that our community is, by and large, much better than that of the average competitive PVP base. We’re not as competitive with one another, plain and simple. Raiders have a reputation for being elitist but in today’s world of accessible raiding, those players are kidding themselves and in the minority. Heck, in a pick up raid, you might even find someone willing to offer help and show new guys the ropes. There are people who drop group at the first sign of trouble, to be sure, but I’ll take that over the ALL CAPS, bile spewing, vessels of rage that are in every single battleground ever.

Bill: I'm not sure what communities you've been a part of... but I'm pretty sure they're the same no matter what type of game you're playing.  Whether it's an asshat in a PUG, your Raid Leader, or a competitive child in a Battleground, anonymity on the Internet makes everyone a douche. It's the same across PVE and PVP. In my opinion, the only real safe haven is finding a good guild and sticking with them.  

That's all from us, folks. Sign in and leave a comment below and tell us where you fall: PVE or PVP!

Christopher Coke / Chris has been a longtime MMO player and has enjoyed everything from full-loot PvP to playing a gentle deer in the woods. True story. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight

Bill Murphy /

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Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight