Missing World PvP in TESO and FFXIV
When I started out in WoW around the end of Vanilla I first became acquainted with World PvP. In the beginning, my dad and I, who leveled together, did our own ganking of unsuspecting victims in this and that area we were leveling in. As I grew up in levels and it started happening to me, I began taking a self-righteous stance: ‘Why would anybody derive pleasure in pissing off fellow players? Everybody should be friends!’ I was in a low-population PvP server and still I got (sometimes, not often) ganked by rogues when I was wearing my fishing gear (and when I wasn’t wearing it, and I died just the same). I of course never ventured into the farming areas: PvP gear was mandatory. And those places that were rife with conflict I went to with friends. I could hold my own all right with passing questers from the other faction. Sometimes they killed me and I took to cursing (silently), and sometimes I won and I felt exhilarated.
Then I migrated to a more healthy RP server without the PvP flag: Argent Dawn. After a few months I began feeling strangely dissociated from the world and its (real) inhabitants. I realized that I missed looking over my shoulder when I entered Ashenvale from Darkshore, and turning around my camera exercising my situational awareness while doing regular quests. I chiefly missed the opportunities for banding together that were doing quests in Quel’danas, fishing in Wintergrasp, farming motes in the risky spots, etc.
I still sort of stand by my early pronouncement that gankers are evil; but I miss them. Where there are gankers, there are also zone-wide battles and helpful players that drive them out. There is also environmental awareness and use of terrain advantages: interaction with the world as it is, not with the quests laid on top of it. And what I miss the most is planning your game around potential PvP encounters: getting together with guildies in certain hubs, setting up a defense at the summoning stone, etc. In the PvE server I couldn’t care less who was near me, whether friend or foe, because they were neither. I would never feel that the Horde was a threat in Ashenvale because all the orcs I met were just doing their quests. Azeroth became adulterated. I don’t think it was ever meant to be played that way.
So of course I am looking forward to seeing some World PvP in the upcoming MMOs: Wildstar, TESO, and FFXIV. So far, I think only Wildstar will do well in that respect: newbie areas are unflagged for that faction, while level 20+ areas are contested and have each interesting propositions for PvP similar to (but more complex than) the keep flags in Hellfire peninsula. In fact, you don’t need to incentivise World PvP that much: it will happen even if the reward is non-existent; players like to poke each other. And that is good enough for the scenarios I mentioned before. The point is that one should feel that venturing out in the wild does not hold only the expected (PvE) risks: each day is different in Stranglethorn Vale.
The other games, TESO and FFXIV, are featuring some PvP, and partial World PvP in the case of TESO, but that doesn’t quite cut it for me. FFXIV has (or will have, I’m not very familiar with the game) battlegrounds and faction warzones like those of GW2.
TESO will have Cyrodiil as the warzone with PvE content, similarly to what Dark Age of Camelot offered. But the rest of the game is PvE-only, with the quite absurd addition that opposing-faction zones will be instanced and you will only see other players from your faction. So you won’t be seeing any Dunmer (Dark elf) players in Morrowind as an Altmer (High elf), a bit ridiculous. It feels like Zenimax was over there with a megaphone: ‘Please only whack each other in the designated areas.’ I don’t like my MMOs, my virtual worlds, made into compartments of experiences: ‘Join that queue over there to the PvP ride.‘
Quoting from Duke of O:
Traditional PvP appeals to the part of all of us which believes in the chivalric ideal of equal combat, and translates well into e-sports. They appeal to the part of our ego which states that all things being equal, I can take you (regardless of all evidence to the contrary!). World PvP is more like the real world, which can be cruel and unforgiving and where the industrial might of large impersonal alliances can grind down even the most skilled of players through sheer weight of numbers and material. [emphasis mine]
‘More like the real world’ means also ‘more like a virtual world’. After all, these are trying to emulate a sense of inhabiting a world. In such virtual spaces you are not supposed to be in control of everything that happens around you; you are subjected to some hazards: the world changes around you because of an event (upcoming Everquest Next perhaps), or the zone is not safe for a lone adventurer and you have to get a band or leave your task for later.
For a virtual world to work I don’t think it is necessary for it to be entirely PvP-focused like Darkfall or EVE. I’ll admit that they make for better virtual worlds that anything with a strong PvE component that I’ve seen, yes, but I am personally not drawn to the harshness and competitiveness of their environment. I am pleading for World PvP from the standpoint of a PvE player. PvPers make my game lively and different every day, not the usual single-player ride.
Could you accomplish a similar sense of cohabiting with fellow players (that may help or hinder you) without World PvP? Certainly. World PvP is only one of the few interactions left to us. Other interactions are: group quests and dungeons or raids (group PvE play), buffing, trading, engaging in an event with other players, and roleplaying (which is its own out-of-the-gameplay thing). These hold different degrees of impact. For instance, group dungeons have a bigger impact in that they last longer and provide for more opportunities for chatting and socialising. Server-wide events differ in nature, but generally lack conversational exchanges: players herd to the area and act like a zerg. Buffing is a mere courtesy that nowadays has little impact even in the gameplay (but which used to be significant in games like Everquest).
These interactions are essential in breaking the mold of the themepark. They are what constitutes the anecdotes that we tell to our friends. And they are the reason why it is much more entertaining to read about Darkfall or EVE than it is to read about the latest installment of the Guild Wars 2 ‘living story’. Unless I can make it unique in some way via roleplaying, a recounting of my playthrough of Deus Ex: Human Revolution isn’t likely to be very entertaining: everybody has gone through the same game.
But these interactions do not only make for good stories, they are also what makes socialising possible. In the same way that a group quest brings together two or more players, a passing Alliance player will make the Horde warlock aware that there is another Horde mage around that can help if things go awry. And similarly guild members will join to go to Quel’danas and will forge a bond beyond the professionalism required in raiding three times a week.
If I get back on WoW I will move my characters from Argent Dawn to the next best RP-PvP server. Anybody got any leads on that?