In both MMOs and FPS PvP there are certain game modes which have become standard. The terms differ between the games so I’ll include a reference to which terms mean which game modes at the end of this post.
To me any PvP game which implements conquest as its primary game mode is really, really, shallow. Or rather the game in that game play mode is very shallow. This goes for both PvP games I enjoy (BF2142, BC2) and those I don’t (WoW, GA).
The reason is simple, the basic premise of conquest is to avoid conflict. Here’s why. The most common setup is with 3 points. Let’s call them A, B, C. The enemy has A and B, you have C and you need to take another point to gain ground in whatever game mechanic the developers have implemented. A is strongly defended, B is lightly defended. Which do you go for? B, of course! Why go against their main force when you can just mop up a few stragglers?
A is solely defended. B, of course! Why fight when you can have it for free.
At no time in a conquest style map, when you know how the points are defended, will anyone say “Guy, guys, they’re at A, let’s hit them there!“
So the end result is a whole bunch of running around hoping you never see the enemy!
If that weren’t bad enough there’s companion problem on defense. Summed up as, “Well, someone’s gotta guard B.” Say the points are fairly linear but there’s no point lockout on what you can take. Someone’s gotta stay back in case there is an unexpected breakthrough. This is especially pernicious in the BF series today with the spawn-on-a-person mechanic. A lone person can quickly become 4-6. So the smart defensive play is to have people hang back from the main action. If there’s no breakout guess what they do? A whole lot of nothing.
This is why most modern games w/PvP include modes other than conquest. Modes which are normally more popular than conquest.
You can’t avoid the enemy. You can’t just use the default conquest strategy of “Let’s not go there as that’s where the enemy is.” Nope. When your objective is behind those enemies, you must engage them and you must defeat them.
CTF, Payload, CP all have objectives which concentrate the action into fronts. Makes the teams face one another instead of dance around one another. Ensures that even defensive action is going to see action because you can’t just “Cap B and C and hold.”
To win you must fight. Any game mode that discourages that conflict is flawed.
Game types and their terms:
Conquest – A map with 3 (or more) points which are open to capture with no restriction on which ones can be captured at any given time. In MMO spheres the most recognizable example would be WoW’s Arathi Basin. In FPS it’s pretty much the default mode, so pick a game and it’ll be there.
Capture the Flat (CTF) – Each team has an object which the other team has to capture. Sometimes their own object needs to be in base for them to capture the other team’s item (as in WoW’s Warsong Gulch) but sometimes it isn’t (as inTF2′s CTF).
Capture Point (CP) – Similar to conquest above except the the points in question cannot be captured in a completely open sequence. Certain points must be captured before others are open to capture. The best example of this is TF’2 CP game mode or Planetside’s Lattice for MMOs.
Payload – One team has an objective they can move along a static route by being close to the objective. The defending team has to prevent the item from making it to the end of that route. TF2′s Payload or Global Agenda’s Breach serve as good examples of this game play.