I’m going to share some of my divination secrets with you guys. Want to know how to spot a stinker in the MMO PVP genre? Look for these ‘selling points’:
And if you want a cherry on top then look for a popular theme they’ve tried to attach themselves to like “base building” (or building anything for that matter), Survival Game mechanics, or MOBA.
Some people will take one of these as a sure sign of failure, but that’s not necessarily the case. As much as I despise early access, there have been plenty of awesome ea games. There are some great building games, survival games, and moba games too. However, I have yet to find a single non-stinker that fits the mold.
Can you think of any upcoming games that check these boxes?
I go back and forth on PvP. Some of the best games (mostly MMOs) I’ve played were all about player-versus-player interaction.
I like there being PvP when it makes sense (to me). I like fighting for my realm. I like fighting for territory and seizing objectives. I don’t like ganking. I don’t like PvP when it’s just about fighting and beating the other player; I want it to be about beating the other side.
Games with ganking draw a type of player that I do not enjoy being around. I don’t want to generalize too far, but for the most part — based on my personal experience — the type of people who thrive on the ganking type of PvP are also the type of people with obnoxious personalities hellbent on ruining my fun.
Going back to my preference for social gameplay, I like playing with a team. I like having an army of players all attacking a castle together. Maybe it’s because a group of players means each player isn’t as accountable. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not an awesome PvPer. I’m not sure that I ever was. But when I play with others I feel like I do a decent job contributing. Maybe that’s an important part: I like filling a role in PvP rather than just being there to kill players 1v1 or in a tiny group.
In fact, let’s take this all a step further. I would rather there be no PvP at all over the open-world gank anyone you want style of play.
What type of gamer am I? I’m a bit of a carebear.
Graev and I played lots of The Division over the weekend. We decided it was time to venture into the Dark Zone for the first time last night to see if the dangerous PvP area was worth spending any amount of time. I have to say… it was pretty awesome.
The Dark Zone is a nice big section in the center of Manhattan. In the Dark Zone you can be attack or be attacked by other players at any time. Attacking someone who has not already attacked another player turns you ‘rogue’ and makes you red and visible on the minimap to other players. When you go rogue, other players can attack you and obtain a bounty for killing you. Going rogue is not without its benefits, though.
The best gear in the game is found within the Dark Zone. In order to take items out of the Dark Zone they must be evacuated via helicopter in special containers. Evacuating can only be done at special locations in the Dark Zone, and requires an event be initiated. Once initiated, after a minute an thirty seconds you can drop clip your bag onto the rope dropped by the helicopter and your gear is safely transported to your base.
Here’s where it gets good. These events announce to everyone that you are trying to evacuate gear you found. As you can imagine, rouge players want nothing more than to relieve you of your goodies.
We spent 2 hours last night hunting NPCs in the Dark Zone to gain Dark Zone rank, Dark Zone currency, and find good items. We did pretty well! Throughout the evening we chased rogue players down and ultimately walked away with a few full containers of goodies. I should mention that the Dark Zone has its own level system and currency outside the scope of the regular single-player/co-op game, so the playing field is much more fair and balanced. You can gain rank and buy lots of nice items.
One incredibly memorable moment last night was when there were maybe 12-15 guys all trying to evacuate gear at once. Everyone was on edge and no one was holding still — you could feel how uncomfortable people were around each other. I had this gut feeling that the guy hanging back was going to go rogue so I kept my shotgun trained on him. Sure enough, he started sniping at people and went red. I put my shotgun to his back and unloaded! I ended up snagging a full bag of goodies and ran in at the last minute to click them onto the evac.
I wish the entire game was like Dark Zone. That feeling of working with other players to stay alive is awesome, and when you see a red player your heart starts to pound and you sometimes have to just go and hide to catch your breath. Evacuating gear is incredibly unnerving and by the end of the night we were both exhausted from the experience of being on high alert. Definitely something to be said for the human interaction that is blatantly missing from the rest of the game.
Though I haven’t been commenting and publicly hanging on every announcement made by the team at CSE, I have been following Camelot Unchained rather closely over the past year. My inbox is constantly blowing up with an evening update, an alpha test announcement (which by the way are always so last minute or during horrible times for me… come on Mark!), or a newsletter from the team. I think they’re making what looks to be fine progress on the upcoming PvP-centric MMORPG.
The latest newsletter (#19) discusses one item in particular that I think will hit home for a lot of us MMO vets: Balance. CSE is aiming to balance around rock-vs-paper mechanic rather than an apples to apples one. In other words, one class type can bet another class type — or taking it a step further, one class specialized in a certain mechanic can beat another class specialized into a certain mechanic like magic vs plate being strong and physical vs plate being weak.
This rock-vs-paper idea isn’t original — it’s been around forever. Even Dark Age of Camelot utilized the system. What’s also not unique is how difficult the idea of balance can truly be, and no matter how hard anyone has ever tried to create the perfect scenario, it never works that way. Paper doesn’t always beat rock in MMORPGs… and perhaps it shouldn’t be a hard counter. The idea of a perfect counter doesn’t exist, and that’s honestly part of the fun. I have no doubt CSE is well aware.
Taking things a little bit further out of the nitty-gritty mechanics side of this conversation, I like the concept of filling a role. When I say filling a role, in this context we can consider a role as a counter or a necessity — or both. I’ll dumb it down. I used to really, really like the idea of being the guy who killed archers on the walls of a keep. Those archers were countering melee who would run up to the doors, and to counter them I had to sneak into the keep and take them out.
I like to imagine a PvP world where players will say willing specialize to fill roles. If people are going to carry a battering ram, who is going to hold the shield above them to protect them from arrows? Who is going to repair that door? Who is going to protect the people repairing the door? There are so many complexities when you take a PvP game’s balance outside of “my class heals and your class shoots stuff.”
Balancing ROLES to me is just as important as balancing the mechanics of blunt damage vs. plate armor. Without a balance of roles we are left with a very sterile system where we just worry about what class we’re up against or what weapon they are using rather than how they are playing. Balancing classes around roles becomes even more complicated than simply balancing roles against roles.
The “HOW is my enemy going to defeat me this time” is something I want to see balanced around. It may seem obvious, but that’s where most of these PvP games fail even harder than class balance.
Our community had some great discussion on the topic of PvP tonight and I feel a little inspired to write on our conclusions. We really really, really do not like PvP designed to eff (other words were used) up other people’s experience in the game. Let me elaborate. In Albion Online the guilds that own the black zones own the best zones. Contrast that to UO where the “best” guilds (read: largest) could own areas of the map, but people can still go somewhere else and truly not be locked out entirely from something they need or want to do.
No PvP system should ever allow players to completely lock other players out of content essential to their basic gameplay or enjoyment. No PvP system should ever promote players being trolls. If people are PvPing to be trolls, and they’re being successful at it, then the game lacks the basic design elements which would negate players having control of their ability to be trolled. In UO, if I was being killed in a cave then I could go find another cave. Someone could be a troll all they want and I had the control to go somewhere else. If I kept going back then it’s my fault. But take away the options and give me only one cave and suddenly the PvP exists only to be a troll and I have no control over being trolled other than logging out. Logging out is not an acceptable gameplay feature.
PvP should exist as a wing or an extension, and never a roadblock. PvP should not cut people out of PvE or Crafting if they do not participate in PvP or belong to the big guilds who dominate PvP. I have always been a proponent of the philosophy that the best PvP games have the best PvE, and they can and should be completely separate from each other. For example, Dark Age of Camelot. When done right — and not ruined by imbalance — they can even influence each other, but rarely intersect.
One of my continuing complaints about Albion Online is that I can never be the best crafter — ever — if I am not in the biggest guilds. By not being in the biggest guild, I will be destroyed by the PvP roadblock. I will never have the best resources. I will hit a wall. That wall is unacceptable.