PvP Stats: Not Necessary Before, Not Necessary Now

Why can’t items be universal?  Why do I have to obtain a set of gear for PvP and a set for PvE?

Having to gather gear with a PvP stat has never made much sense to me.

The problem started with players who only wanted to PvP.  These PvP-only types bemoaned the idea of having to go PvE to obtain their gear.  The solution?  Make a set of gear obtainable through PvP!  Several iterations of this idea have been implemented throughout the years.

At first, the PvP gear was inferior to PvE and it was worthless.  Then the PvP gear was just as good but easier to get so no one did PvE.   I guess no one cared to actually solve the problem, because the most recent version is the PvP Stat, and it’s been with us for a while now.

The PvP stat, whether it’s resilience, expertise, toughness, or whatever your particular game calls it, gives you an edge in PvP by lowering the damage enemies do to you, and increasing the damage you do to enemies.  It becomes a must-have in order to compete.   I think the original problem still exists: Players can’t play the way they want.

Read on for my thoughts on the problems caused by PvP stats and why past games have done fine without them.


What are some other problems caused by the PvP stat?

Inflated Stats – What is WoW up to now? 3,400 resilience?  The stats are super inflated because new gear has to continually release to justify players continually PvPing.  That’s the problem with a system that turns the purpose of PvPing into gathering gear with the best stats.

PvP gear has become disposable – The methods for obtaining PvP gear are simplified to cramming half a dozen vendors in a room where players redeem points like you would tickets at the arcade.  Old gear is then thrown away and forgotten because it comes as easy as it goes.

Stats, not Skills – Skill used to be the most important factor with teamwork coming in a real close second.  While those two are still important, PvP stats matter a whole lot more.  Take two equally skilled teams, in a vacuum, but have one team with PvP gear and the other team not.  The team with PvP gear -will- win.

SWTOR’s Bolster System – It almost worked.  A level 10 can actually do well against a level 49, and even a fresh level 50.  I killed plenty of 50’s on my level 12 Gunslinger.  That was before level 50 players started gathering PvP gear with PvP stats.  Now that same Gunslinger is killed in seconds and barely scratches the same opponents.  Bioware’s own system made pointless by PvP stats.


Universal items have worked in the past and can work today!

Dark Age of Camelot, my example of choice for many great PvP topics (Pre-ToA…), did not have PvP gear and PvE gear.  It was just gear.  The sword you used to slay dragons was the same sword you stuck in an Elf’s back.  You need to know WHY it worked.

  1. Crafted gear was TRULY on-par or  in some cases better than loot dropped from monsters.  (So many companies are lying to us about this lately.)
  2. PvE and PvP were not separate games.   Unlike WoW/SWTOR/etc., where the PvP community (if you can call it that) is entirely detached from the PvE side of the game, DAOC worked because the PvP was a function of the PvE, and vice versa.  Rarely did you ever find someone in DAOC that was there just to PvE or just to PvP, since the two went hand in hand.
  3. Players were not focused on their gear.  Gear broke.  Gear was easily replaced.  Focus was on territory ownership and advancing your PvP rank to obtain new skills.  This led to relationship building which led to community building.

A sword is a tool, not a golden calf.


Bottom line solution

If players are so adamant about earning gear from PvPing, let them.  I don’t see any reason why we can’t have the gear from PvE and PvP be identical and usable in both activities.  Crafted gear can still be better than both and everyone wins.

  • I agree with pretty much all of that. The one part I don’t agree with is the crafted vs dropped argument. Even though I love to craft I’m wholly opposed to having crafting gear that’s as good as, let alone better than equivalent level dropped gear. All that does is turn adventurers into shoppers, only they shop from other players rather than from NPCs.

    Crafted gear should be a very good alternative to dropped but but it should never be *quite* as good. Crafters get their edge from the much greater convenience they offer. They don’t also need to match quality exactly.

    Other than that, though, yes. PvP should be about skill, tactics, flair, luck and grit. Gear should be way down the list.

  • The only reason to have a separate type of gear is to force players to grind a separate set. It’s just one in an endless ways to increase the grind and keep players playing/paying. I argued for years on the TOR forums against it, but I guess they implemented it anyway (don’t know for sure as I don’t play).

    It’s simply lazy game design designed to make players spend that extra time gathering a set rather than enjoying the experience. Which is what carrot mmos are all about.

    GW2 cannot come soon enough. =cP

  • I think people are rightfully upset about this problem. I am.

    But I think you are overlooking the problem that lies at the heart, the thing that is causing all of this.

    Hard Stat Caps.

    In my personal and long-internally debated opinion, THIS is the main problem with any MMO that has PvP these days.

    With Hard Stat Caps, you create a wonderful environment both for CRAFTED gear, and for dropped gear. DAoC had this, and they had it DOWN. You don’t want gear to be the end-all be-all. Sure, you want it to matter*, but you don’t want it to take over!

    For DAoC, there was a peak you could hit with gear. And everyone could hit this with a little dedication and time. If you wanted the most in one specific stat, you needed to lower one elsewhere. You want some neat/helpful stats that are only on dropped gear? You are going to need to fill in your more basic stats with that crafted gear!

    Sure, a person COULD outfit themselves in totally dropped gear, but when you looked at their actual stats you would see that there were huge holes. It was best to mix crafted and dropped gear. Period.

    Hard caps on stats promote player economy, prevent character inflation (What did WoW start with, like 300hp as the max? And now its like 50,000?), maintain the importance of PvE, and level the *basic* playing field for PvP. This ties into the current topic because a Hardcap on a PvP stat would still be beneficial. And the MMO companies can maintain the “grind” that gets them money by putting degradation into items.

    I can’t think of a single thing that Hard Caps do that is BAD, for players or their enjoyment.

    Can any of you?

  • I totally agree with you Keen and think that one of the major changes we’ll see with mmorpg mechanics is the elimination of gear progression as gamers get fed up with it.

    I am seriously exhausted by progression mechanics…could you imagine a game where you just equipped a lvl 80 sword and that was it? Zero stats. Maybe if you killed 1,000,000 players you could go to a vendor and get a sword that glowed and everybody would go “oh shit” and it would actually mean something again.

    Or let’s say you raided. Same thing. The mechanics just got harder for each fight. And if you killed Bowser or whatever you got a glowy crown or something. “ooooooh” everyone would say.

    Progression/PvP gear is a crutch for poor gameplay mechanics designed to keep us playing longer than we normally would to complete end game content.

  • The solution is simply, nerf the classes who is one shotting you. I mean.. for developers, making expertise gear for PvP is an easier way to go, than having to balance the classes, i get that. But either way, it makes PvP a grind, it makes PvP gear-dependant like hell, and it makes PvP a whole lot less fun because your 11k crit is now a 5k crit because of expertise.

    The way i see it is. There are 2 groups of people.. one enjoys PvP and hates PvE. And the other enjoys PvE and hates PvP. Instead of making PvP gear to pvp, why not just make PvE gear obtainable by doing PvP? instead of making PvP gear. Just make the PvE gear gained with PvP different looking than the one gotten through PvE. And just dump the shitty expertise stat that ruins PvP, because developers are lazy when it comes to balancing classes. Am talking all MMOs in general, why go the lazy way? why?

  • Gear for PvE and PvP have always been different in two basic categories. My experience has come mostly from DAOC, Diablo 2, WoW and now SWTOR. In PvE you are mostly concerned with the most rudimentary amount of defensive stats, stacking offensive or healing power to the upper limit(unless of course your a tank). PvP has always been more defensive minded. The longer you can last in a fight, the more a chance you have to outplay your opponent. (There have been exceptions though)

    -In DAOC PvP 8 mans stacks their resistances and hit points as high as possible against the most common sources of magic and then boosted their damage stats with what points were left.

    -In Diablo 2 HC, duelers would stack stam, damage reduction and any defensive stat they could find on gear. Damage to players was already reduced to players, yet it still seemed optimal to stack survival stats for dueling

    -Even in WoW before resilience and in the early Twink levels, Stamina stacking is king.

    A seperate PvP stat is really just a developer tool that they can use to effectively balance the two sides of the game without much conflict. If current gear does too much damage in PvP, increase survival stat. If it doesnt do enough in PvE you can increase PvE damage values and then compensate by also increasing PvP defensive stat values.

    It sucks when you 25 trying to kill a geared 50 but I think in the long run, for the 50s, it makes for a better quality game.

  • Dark Age of Camp-a-lot didn’t have a PvE game worth discussing. PvE was something you suffered through in order to level up enough to be relevant in RvR, nothing more. I logged in one day and realized that I didn’t enjoy the RvR enough to warrant suffering through even one more minute of the PvE chore; I think my Armsman was level … 46? Said goodbye to my guild, logged out, uninstalled, never looked back.

  • @Vatec

    I personally preferred needing to group with people and killing camps of mobs, over every person in an MMO playing “Solo” because every single class can do everything every other one can, and talking to an npc every few minutes that tells me to “Go kill this x times”.

    I mean really, how is that any more fun? You are complaining about having to farm mobs in pve in an MMO, and that is exactly what the WoW model is. You just need to talk to an NPC every few minutes as well.

    Who wouldn’t rather sit in a group of friends over voicechat, discussing whatever you want, while each member of the party performs their task?

    You are mindlessly grinding either way, I’d rather do it with a group of friends.

  • The problem is that multiple different reward systems (PvE, PvP, crafting) are competing for a limited amount of reward slots. This probably isn’t solvable in designs such as WoW/Rift/Swtor; whilst enhanced gear is considered to be the major incentive to keep subscribers hooked, it would be too risky to alter such a key game mechanic. So it will interesting to see how gear works out in new designs, such as GW2. The seeds of a solution already exist in GW1 where rewards, after a certain stage, are mainly either horizontal (new skills) or cosmetic. In any case items wearing out is pretty much deprecated, and I think that’s because it devalues the status side of gear, which is a major part of the incentive for seeking the reward in the first place.

  • Keen, the problem is all the tiered pve sets of gear. It worked in DAoC up until a point. For the first year and a half it was fine, then they released ToA and you see DAoC’s first issue with Gear Inflation. Before in DAoC you could have a crafted set or a mix of crafted and pve items and be fine in PvP. There were only a few items in game better than the 100% quality gear crafters could make. When ToA hit though, that flew out the door and you absolutely had to have ToA gear and your ToA levels to get all the abilities.

    WoW and all other games have just followed suit and in my opinion, a stat like Expertise is needed. If you don’t then you just have the same problem. Good example for you. When I played Wow before coming to this community, I played a Dwarf Hunter on Lightning Hoof back around 2005-2006. My guild actually all met from doing BG’s. I remember getting into a pre-made with 14 others because they had one guy that wasn’t able to get in. They liked how I pvp’d and I was invited to join this bunch of people who got together nightly to PvP even thought heyw ere all from different guilds.

    Eventually we all decided to form our own guild. This was very early on in the server life and most of us were just hitting 60. So at 60 we all got together and formed our own guild to PvE.

    Well, we still PvP’d while raiding and there was only one other guild on Horde side that could beat us and why was that? Because they were farther ahead of us in the PvE race. By the time we finally were killing Ragnaros, they were in BWL. Eventually though when our gear was equal, we started winning more matches than losing.

    I can still remember though, playing in a BG with mostly Giant Slayer items (T1 raid gear), I was able to fend off two people attacking me fairly easily as they were in only blues. This is the problem with Tiered gear in PvP.

    The only way a game like SWTOR cannot use a stat like Expertise is if the game doesn’t have a raiding tiered gear style. DAoC didn’t have it until they launched ToA and it worked fine. The problem is all MMO’s since WoW have this type of tiered raid gear were the gear can just inflate your stats insanely.

    Oh and by the way, you also need to remember that DAoC has stat limits. Gear cannot push stats beyond a certain number and most people were hitting that number with crafted gear. The problem with ToA was that it increased the stat limit, ala our first gear inflation.

  • DAoC was still the best in this.

    I agree with everything you said Keen. I will also re-iterate: gear that breaks.

    DAoC was the only game where I saw this function well. Your gear wore down just like any other game, but every time you repaired it, it’s overall durability would go down and eventually you could not repair it anymore and needed to get a new piece.

    This is why crafted items being as good if not better in some cases than dropped gear worked. People needed new gear often enough. Especially twinks! giving your twink a higher level weapon meant it degraded faster. This, combined with trinketing made the crafter market thrive. I was not a crafter, I truly don’t like crafting but many of my guild and friends truly thrived in that game.

  • I agree that the current system isn’t working as it should. It’s an annoyance. Gear that breaks or wears down is a good way to do things, as long as that wear down isn’t caused by things like getting stuck and having to use /stuck to get free. Or falling down an elevator shaft because no one believes in warning signs.

    But a better system is needed, and I absolutely hate having to have separate gear for PvP vs PvE. Just make one system.

    Same with builds. I hate having a skill tree that has skills that are strictly for PvP. It’s just as annoying, especially when the game only has one or two builds that you are allowed to use.

  • @Scythenoire if I remember correctly, gear in DAoC wore down mostly if not all from use. The more your used it, the more you would repair it, the more you repaired it, the faster it “broke”.

  • PvP gear is and always will be stupid. I dont care what anyone says, at its core MMO’s are and always will be a PvE focused game and as such if you want to do well then you should get the gear in PvE.

    With that being said I still enjoy SWTOR “for now” I am a fresh level 50 (3 days ago) and it sucks in PvP compared to the twinked out 50’s already wearing max gear but it still is fun for the most part.

  • I don’t believe that they are as concerned with balance as they are with getting the rat to hit the little reward bar. I have gotten to the point where as a Champion geared Sorcerer I can just stay in one place and do a FL/DoT rotation 1v1 on a new 50. Does it feel good, well it is nice to be part of the geared up club, but skill doesn’t have that much to do with it…

  • @ Bhagpuss: “I agree with pretty much all of that. The one part I don’t agree with is the crafted vs dropped argument. Even though I love to craft I’m wholly opposed to having crafting gear that’s as good as, let alone better than equivalent level dropped gear. All that does is turn adventurers into shoppers, only they shop from other players rather than from NPCs.”

    I think the concern Bhagpuss is talking about cuts to the heart of the whole issue, though I disagree with him on how to approach it in practice.

    The problem is that if adventurers aren’t shoppers buying gear from master artisans (i.e. crafting players), then they’re… Well, grave robbers. Thieves. Murderers, pillagers, and scavengers. In short, I’d much rather play an economic sub-game and buy gear (that gets old and breaks!) from fellow luminaries of the world, rather than have every facet of my character revolve around murder and combat.

    Now sure, in keeping with the myths and stories these games draw from, you want to give players a chance to liberate the occasional holy artifact from the clutches of evil. But when this is the norm it becomes mundane and silly, as well as introducing all sorts of irksome gameyness – such as killing the black knight but somehow not being able to take his ebony great hammer, because it didn’t drop this time – even when it’s there, in his hand, laying on the ground right in front of you(!).

    I do agree that it’s crucial gear gets old and breaks, or is otherwise prone to loss or destruction. I love this about Minecraft (in contrast to Terraria especially, though there are many other things I prefer about the latter), EvE, Stalker, and any other game it’s in. I think it adds a certain bittersweet lump to the joy of getting a new item, knowing it will be great to use but is also temporary and precious. It makes things feel more real, more rounded, and also makes for a better game with more choice and consequences.

    On the other hand, do I think any designers will have the guts to take away the toys they dangle in front of their players to keep them invested? I’m not holding my breath…

  • @Rawblin – No, actually I’m complaining about having to waste hours of my life getting a group together, “discussing” the most efficient place to go, traveling via an incredibly slow horse to the vicinity, waiting for the last person to show up, “discussing” again exactly where to go, fighting our way there, and then having to bail because our healer suddenly decides it’s A. time to go to bed, B. time to make dinner, or C. they really wanted to go RvR instead. And this is assuming that everything went smoothly, there were no group wipes, etc.

    This is what Dark Age of Camp-a-lot “gameplay” ended up being just about every single evening. And I was an officer in a relatively large, “cutting edge” guild; I’d hate to imagine what it must have been like for anyone trying to get by with even less grouping support.

    Honestly, I’d rather go grind enemies solo than put up with that. Even better, I’d rather have efficient grouping mechanics (LFG tools, LFD queues, instant teleportation to the entrance to dungeons or to groupmates, etc.) and well-designed instanced content.

  • Amen, and I’ve said it for a couple of years now, PvP should not be about stats!
    I’m not a awesome player, neither am I a terribad player, but while I can take loosing to someone who is clearly more skilled than me I get infuriated when I get killed by someone with no skill whatsoever who just happens to outgear me.

    Gamedevs needs to look more towards FPS (and DaoC judging by what I’ve heard about it) when designing their PvP, luckily ArenaNet is doing both with GW2. 🙂

  • Proximo has the right idea… the core issue is really with the COMBAT… when combat is as simplistic as it is in most MMOs today, then there is no room for PLAYER skill to really make much of a difference, instead of player skill making a difference, stats become the main difference maker.

    SWTOR’s combat is just bland… because of this blandness stats begin to take precedent over actually being a skilled player.

    I’m looking forward to GW2 because of the increased complexity in the combat system, but it’s still just an evolutionary step on the back of previous basic MMOs like WoW and EQ… the game i’m really looking forward to is Continent of the Ninth… a totally new action oriented combat system that we haven’t seen before in an MMO, that actually requires some skill to play well… a REVOLUTION in combat instead of just Evolution (and i say this as someone who has actually played the Korean version of the game… it really is as much fun to play as it is to watch in youtube videos).. Even not understanding a bit of korean (so i had no idea what stats did what and probably had an incredibly gimped character because of it) it was still a ton of fun and the game kept me interested because of the combat and exploring new dungeons and seeing new bosses, not the stat grind.

    Such emphasis on stats is just a symptom of a lame and uninteresting combat system… change the combat and stats become less important, people start to play the game because it’s fun to play instead of just to get the next stat boost.

    notice how genuinely good games (mario, God of War, TF2, Portal, Trine, Metroid, etc:…) have hardly any stats… stats are simply a crutch to hold up poor gameplay.

  • I’d be all for the elimination of “gear” as a standard set of items which everyone can get. Maybe it should be possible to quest out a base-set of items which form a baseline, and let most gear be randomized drops (see: Asheron’s call).

    Add in a strong crafting system which can create very powerful items (possibly at great expense ala DAoC 100% quality items), and leave the random drops for the truly best. The only downside was the requirement of “drop-chance spreadsheets” in order to determine where that awesome sword had the best chance of dropping (though I did get the best sword my friends in AC had ever seen (base stats, no magic boosts) from a level 6 monster).

    I do like the crafting in SWTOR, but feel that its basically pointless, everyone is going to be wearing PVP gear or raid PvE gear, crafted gear will only be filler. Except the re-usables (grenades/medkits)

  • SWTOR PvP is broken to a degree that really can’t be fixed to hold my attention for too long, even if they get adequate brackets, and a true randomized PUG queue, the heavily gear-centric approach is a deal breaker. I don’t think that this is unintended on their part; skill is diluted out by the heavy weight of gear stats. I felt badly when I knew I lost against someone who was better geared on the way up, and now I feel bad when I burn someone down that isn’t in Centurion/Battlemaster gear (not as badly in the latter case I suppose).

    I think that this approach was meant to appeal to the casual gamer. Win or lose one gets plenty of commendations and experience. You can suck and eventually get cool gear. The flaw in the plan is that the casuals on the way up are getting decimated in lopsided matches. Right now you have pre-mades destroying PUG’s; the fun factor of getting new gear will be cancelled out the frustration of humiliating defeat. Many learning to PvP will be turned off by the very over-powered guild pre-mades, especially given the small dimensions of the map that allow for unequivocal shifting zerg control; there is no escape, people are farmed straight off of the spawn platforms.

    Why my emphasis on PUG’s? Because the more casual gamer isn’t going to play in a paramilitary organized form. When they do play, they won’t learn the basics of PvP such as good rotations and tactical positioning, they will instead learn how to flinch while their toon, is stunned repeatedly while rapidly dying as a focus fire target of players in Battlemaster gear. What non-pre-made player will pay money for that feeling in the long run? Why acquire gear if one feels miserable in the process?

  • Also Ilum on my PvP server felt more like a PvE zone for daily quests with Imps and Pubs standing in close proximity to each other blowing up each side’s vehicles while completely ignoring one another. One guy (on my side) spent hours in one area on his speeder, obviously afk between respawns even though Pubs were in clear sight; no one attacked him (I would queue warzones and keep coming back to that area). I think one group was likely surprised that I attacked them as they took no action on my approach with slow time to counter attack. The harvesting of objectives seems to be a priority due to quest rewards and not fighting other players as that slows down the objectives respawn time.

  • …and then there is the Error 9000 latency/dc bug during warzones. I just dc’d in 2 winning matches, uggh.

  • *makes gesture with his hand*
    This is not the DAOC2 you are looking for.

    And thankfully, because nobody would play it.

  • Rawblin says:

    Hard Stat Caps.

    This is why DAoC gear worked. Without it, stat inflation causes a power disparity and players will always go the path of least resistance.

    TOR’s expertise tries to play in the middle, as it is a flat stat that translates into percentages. They can increase the power on the gear and leave the stat itself static. Completely made up example – 100 Expertise will always equal 10% incoming damage reduction/outgoing damage increase/healing increase.