Is there any issue in the genre that is MMORPGs which is more divisive than that of PvP vs. PvE? Maybe the issue of Addons, but that is one I have already tackled, twice. Lately I have been posting my thoughts on the topic to different venues but haven’t done so here. The whole point of this blog is to be a repository of things I post repeatedly. So here’s my take on PvP vs. PvE and which makes a better MMO.
Let’s start at the end. Here’s the answer. Both. Both make great MMOs. Really, they do. But what chaps by hide and gets me to clamber up upon my soapbox are the PvP-über-alles crowd that drown out all other voices on most MMO forums. You know the type. They come to the forums with the same, rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth posts which reiterate the same points over-and-ver.
- PvP is the be-all-end-all of gaming.
- Playing against another human is the ultimate challenge.
- Nothing compares to the edge-of-the-seat, adrenaline rush of PvP action!
The problem is none of those statements are true. The first is an opinion, nothing more. The second is highly debatable as there are many exceptionally challenging single-player games out there. The third, well, the adrenaline rush could come from the games mentioned in the previous sentence but it pre-supposes that what all gamers want from their games, all the time, is an adrenaline rush.
For a large segment of the population PvP is not the ultimate experience they seek from games. That playing against other humans, instead of playing with other humans against the computer is what they want. That they are seeking an adrenaline rush instead, ohhhh, relaxation?
It is this division in player wants and desires which causes the rift in PvP vs. PvE in the MMO genre. MMOs are, by-and-large, social games in which the players are playing against the computer, Player versus Environment, PvE. They are there to play with other humans against a common, non-human, foe. They do so not for an adrenaline rush but for relaxation and social interaction. The experience they are seeking is far from what PvP is designed to deliver.
As such the bulk of the game is designed to cater to this experience. So how, then, does it follow that in a game where 90-99% of the time the player is going to be playing with other humans against the environment that the end-game should naturally be player versus player? To me it doesn’t. It makes as much sense as a game in which the players are fighting other players 90% of the time should have the ultimate endgame be those players fighting the environment.
I said my beef was with the PvP-über-alles crowd. It isn’t against PvP itself. I play PvP games. Rather, I play games designed for PvP from the beginning. Games which eschew any pretense of PvE. In my experience there is no rabid segment of the PvE playing population which rears its ugly head on PvP game forums demanding to know what the PvE experience is going to be. Yet it is common for the rabid PvP players to jump into the forums of games which are majority PvE and demand, yes demand, to know what the PvP is going to be like. To poo-poo all the “carebears” who want to focus on the PvE experience, the portion of the game the majority of the people are going to spend the majority of their time, and deem their concerns unworthy of consideration because it has nothing to do with that be-all, end-all of gaming experiences (in their mind).
My take on PvP and PvE in MMOs is (I believe) far more rational. I prefer both provided the games in which they are implemented focus almost exclusively on one or the other. Planetside, World War II Online and EVE Online are excellent examples of PvP MMOs. None of those make any pretense of providing anything for the player looking for a PvE experience. Along the same line I feel that MMOs like LotRO and WoW should give the middle-finger to the rabid PvP playing segment and focus on what the majority of their players are looking for; PvE. Tell those people the same thing the PvP games tell PvE players; that is not what we’re catering to, if you want that look elsewhere. Focus on making a rich PvE experience just as those games which focus on PvP make a rich PvP experience. The two should not mix for to do so only cheapens both in the final product.