Vanguard Correspondent - Examining Vanguard PvP
MMORPG.com Vanguard Correspondent Jei Anderson pens this article about his experiences with the PvP system (or lack thereof) in Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.
In my experience with other games, PvP has always been a valuable asset. It gives a high-level player a fun, engaging, alternative to raiding; it oftentimes offers rewards that are just as good as PvE end-game rewards, but most importantly, in my opinion, is that PvP gives the reason to get end-game gear, weapons, and trinkets, definition. Not everyone likes to PvP and not everyone is good at it, but one thing that can be agreed on about PvP is that it separates the novices of any given class from those that really understand their function.
A player character is very different from an NPC because given time, enough wipes on any boss will reveal the keys to defeating it. This is how boss guides are written. However, a good PvPer can kill you 20 different times and you might never figure out how to beat them because a human can be unpredictable. This fact forces anyone who wishes to succeed in PvP to become unpredictable themselves, which means that they have to understand the strengths, weaknesses, and limitations of their class fully. This in turn makes the player a better *insert class title* when they decide to PvE and when they PvE and get those "phat lewtz", PvP gives them a place to use them. Done correctly, PvE and PvP are an interdependent, happy, couple of any game.
I decided to make a Kojani blood mage because it seems that in PvP, healers usually have the best chance of survival. Having played World of Warcraft for three years, I was expecting for some bored, stealthed, rogue to one-shot back-stab me as soon as I logged on (later I found out this was possibly because you can not kill a player until s/he is at least level 7). To my surprise, not only did I survive my first few seconds of life as a PvPer, but there was not a single other soul in Shang Village. I had not seen an empty starting area in four months. There are always new toons in the starting areas of Seradon, now that the game is getting more positive publicity and players that tried and did not like Age of Conan have computers that can run the game. I continued doing the starting quests until I got in-range of Tanvu, thinking that surely people would be talking in general chat, but alas, there were none.
Seeing that this wasn't really giving me the results that I had hoped for, I went to a reliable source; the Vanguard, Sartok forums. This game has the most mature, helpful, and intelligent community I have ever had the pleasure of playing with, the only community matching being City of Heroes/Villains'. So knowing that my forum frequenters would come through, I posted a topic asking the members of the server to tell me what they think of the PvP system, what they like/dislike; the do's and don'ts; the rewards, etc. To my dismay, I read what I suspected beforehand, but hoped wasn't true… Creeper of Sartok server summed up what everyone else was posting the best, I think, when he wrote, "PvP? What pvp?" The Vanguard PvP system is broken. It seems that since Vanguard is primarily a PvE game, PvP is not really considered when revamping classes and therefore whichever class was the last revamp project is now the new "god" of PvP. In addition to this, there are no rewards for PvPing outside of gaining Infamy (reputation based on number of kills). There are no level caps on player killing, a level 50 character is welcome to camp any questing area and kill every newbie in sight. There are not any organized battlegrounds where one faction or team can fight others…so then why PvP at all in Vanguard?
Well, there is the drama; the politics of it all. Being on a free-for-all, kill or be killed for no particular reason server gives new meaning to the word "guild". On this server, it is of the utmost importance to have people watching your back. Imagine this, you finally find a group to do Trengal Keep after 45 minutes of searching. The quests are getting completed, everything is going well, and then all of the sudden you find yourself kicked out of the group, and dead in 5 seconds, compliments of five other "lol-ing" would-be members. This is a very real possibility, and when that happens it's good to have strong bonds with your guild mates so that you can get some payback. Simply bearing any particular guild's name may cause others to fear you, loathe you, or possibly love you, depending on the guild's reputation on the server. The karma of what you do and who you kill reaches far beyond just having to watch your back for that person's level 50 main or guild seeking retribution.
This issue also extends its reach to the economy of the server, and in here lies the crown jewel of Sartok server. On the PvE servers, if the prices on the market seem high, one might seek the aid of the trade channel to try and find someone to make the desired item for them at a more reasonable price. From what I have seen, the high level crafters in Vanguard tend to all know each other, as they actually do use their crafting channel to talk about their crafts. If you decide on a boring Friday evening when there is not a group in sight to be had, to go to where you know the newbies play, and gank the only one in the area every time s/he reaches their tombstone, you just may find yourself blacklisted in more ways than one.
There are no rewards, there are no structured battlefields, classes are imbalanced due to PvE revamps that do not take PvP into account, and as Rikoorakoo of Voyages of Vanguard stated on the forums, "…the devs have said that there are no immediate plans to do major reconstructive surgery on PvP's face." Is the system broken and in need of help? I would say, wholeheartedly yes. Does the system have potential to be a great system? Once again, I would say yes. Is it going to get better any time soon? Sadly, it would seem the answer to this is no.
If you are a player that is looking for the kind of polished PvP that games like World of Warcraft or Guild Wars offer, then Sartok is not your server. If you, however, are a hardcore pvper that wants a kill or be killed atmosphere with a strong, loyal, community of gamers, where your deeds in the game have meaning, then Sartok is where you belong. I'm sure the citizens will be happy to welcome you and test your mettle.