On PVP – Player Choice or Mandatory

PVP is something that I’ve discussed a little bit before when talking about ArcheAge and that games “always on” PVP. After reading another blog by my friend Ashgar where he mentions PVP I thought that I’d go a little bit more in to the subject.

It is an established fact that I am not the worlds biggest fan of PVP in games, whether it is option or required. One of the most annoying things that can ever happen to me is being killed by another player, in some cases repeatedly. The first MMO that I ever played that had what I’d consider “always on” PVP was Lineage 2. Leading up to the game I thought it looked amazing, the graphics looked great and I thought I’d have a lot of fun playing it. I don’t remember the specifics of their PVP system, but I know that if you attacked another player you were basically red flagged as a player-killer (pk’er). This essentially flagged you for pvp allowing anyone to come and kill you without consequences.

So naturally the first thing that happened when I hit left the starter area? Someone attacked me and immediately disengaged, but I still ended up killing them in self defense. However, since they had disengaged from the fight I got the flag. This lead to them standing there farming me, so every time I would respawn they’d just kill me again. Needless to say I got tired of that very quickly and I stopped playing that game within a day and I haven’t played it since. That’s probably the prime example of why I don’t like a PVP system that doesn’t give me a choice. People are jerks.

As I’ve mentioned the one aspect of ArcheAge that I am not looking forward to is PVP. From my understanding there are areas where you will always have to worry about being killed/farmed by other players, but, you can also be attacked and killed by players of your own faction. That in and of itself is a problem, but where it gets annoying is that the game seems to reward certain types of players for doing this. In ArcheAge players can become pirates by essentially being a-holes. Every time you do something illegal you get crime points, and the justice system allows players to judge you and sentence you to jail. Eventually this will make you a pirate. So what’s the quickest way to be a pirate? Be a jerk.

Now, I don’t have a problem with responsible PVP. If you want to do that it should be up to you. I don’t want it forced on me when that is not something I enjoy. In my opinion games like World Of Warcraft and Elder Scrolls Online have it right because, while they have PVP, they don’t require you to do it. There are certainly benefits to it such as titles and other rewards, but you certainly don’t have to do it. World of Warcraft has specific server types that do allow for “always on” PVP, but you don’t have to play on those servers. Personally I prefer RP servers because the communities are generally more mature, not guaranteed but at least more likely.

Now there are also games that are specifically designed for PVP and they are gaining in popularity. These are games like League Of Legends and the upcoming Heroes of the Storm from Blizzard. These types of games are called MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas). I’m not to familiar with the objectives of these games, but I would consider them PVP based so these types of games will probably never be installed on my computer.

So to summarize, I don’t think PVP should be required in a game. If it has to be there then I think it should be optional either by having non-required areas set aside for it, or servers where you opt in to always being PVP flagged. I can guarantee if I play ArcheAge the minute some jerk starts farming me just so they can become a pirate I will quit the game.

10 thoughts on “On PVP – Player Choice or Mandatory

  1. Not to ruin your day, but I’m guessing they will indeed in Archeage. If what you described is accurate, there is a built in system and incentive for griefing in that they’ll get to be a cool pirate/outlaw/criminal thingmajig. If the system allows it, players will do it.

    Consensual PvP, as you mention, is the way to go, with alternatives for players to opt out if they don’t want to participate. Nonconsensual PvP games generally end up death spiralling when griefers run out of victims and start feeding on each other – Eve Online has been one of the few exceptions, possibly because of large player organizations that took up residence in there plus the popularity of veterans buying and running multiple accounts helped to stabilize some critical mass of population.

    MOBAs and FPSes are a little different in that though they are PvP, it is usually team-based. You’re guaranteed a relatively even number fight (assuming folks don’t quit or log off) with players to cooperate with on your team, and the aim of the game is to defeat the other team via some objective or other, with killing other players more in the service of that objective. It’s also not as personal as a griefer trying to get a reaction as people blow each other up very quickly and respawn just as quickly.

    • That is the main reason I have not paid for a founders pack. I just don’t know if I’d want to drop that much money on a game full of griefers. I would be happier if ArcheAge was a subscription based game as I think that helps deter some of the bigger jerks, or have enough servers that you could hopefully find one with a good community.

  2. My opinions on the topic are influenced by my experience on a PVP server in WoW. I played a druid, and when I hit level 10 for the Bear Form quest, I got killed in Moonglade, which was my first experience in “contested” territory. This was the end of my experience on a WoW PVP server. Maybe some game will come up with a way to keep players from griefing people 60 levels lower, but I don’t think anyone has dealt with this problem in a good way yet, other than “not allowing random PVP”.

    • Im glad you said this, because every time I read posts about PvP this seems to manage to go unsaid (not this article, but defenders of world pvp).

      If this is someones first experience with PvP it will probably also be their last. If devs want players to participate, they have to make it participatory. None of this blanket “if youre here then you want to pvp” nonsense. It has to be consensual or you risk turning the player off to gameplay they would otherwise enjoy.

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