PvP and Me: An Abusive RelationshipMarch 24, 2008
(Deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Belch. Inhale.)
Here we go. Full disclosure time, baby. To be honest, I might be the very worst person in the world to be blogging about Warhammer Online, particularly when you consider how hardcore and X-treme (the X is for “get the lore wrong and we’ll cut your head off”) many Warhammer fans are. Not to say they aren’t great, friendly and lawfully abiding by their various restraining orders, but I had a feeling the first time I uttered “I’m not a huge proponent of PvP” and “I don’t know much about the Warhammer universe”, I was going to get a cold shoulder from a chunk of the internet community no matter how many flowers I bought it.
I’m sorry, baby. Please, take me back? C’mon, don’t be that way.
However, in the interest of full disclosure, I want to be up front with where I’m coming from. Because in another way, I might be a great example of a majority of future Warhammer Online players: a person who is only passingly familiar with what is, to be honest, a lesser-known IP in the mainstream world, and a gamer who’s spent a vast majority of his time killing computer-controlled kobolds instead of player-controlled ones. If WAR is to succeed, it has to appeal to both the die-hard Warhammer base and the relatively ignorant rest of us. So I don’t feel unqualified to write about WAR, especially since I’m thrilled about how it’s shaping up as a game, but I am in the beginning stages of being educated about it all.
We’ll talk about lore some other day, perhaps when I’ve had a lot of sugar- and caffeine-filled drinks and I spend a good half hour perched on top of my desk with my shirt off, screaming “WAAAGH!” to random passer-bys outside my office, but today I wanted to examine one of my initial obstacles to warming up to WAR – and why I won’t be the only one with this hesitation.
Without dividing people up into two strict categories, let it suffice to say that some people are more than content to enjoy the bounties of a PvE system, and some have taken a bloodthirsty, immoral liking to the seedy underbelly of PvP. While I’ve done my fair share of PvP – in WoW, Battlefield 1942, Unreal Tournament, TF2, my brothers’ bedrooms – there are some large red flags in the PvP world when it comes to my likings. If I had to make up a list, and look at that, I did, I’d have to say that PvP turns me off when it comes to:
- Players who are so overly competitive as to become mean, vulgar and rude, and the game’s designers didn’t program a way for you to physically slap them upside the head when they get that way
- Ganking, and more specifically, the art of being ganked
- The disparity between gear and skill often present
- How little it allows you to *think*, instead chucking you into a swirling garbage disposal of chaos and pain – and rewards twitch-based reflexes over strategic thinking
- Rogues and any stealth classes, who are the worst cowards ever seen by humanity and should be shipped off to a gulag where they only feed you Brussel sprouts, I kid you not, and
- The general lack of teamwork and clear objectives.
Notice that none of these have to do with rock-paper-scissors class weaknesses and strengths, nor do any of those have to do with anger or frustration at having my character die. I can accept a good death, as long as it feels fair in the long run; being ganked twenty times by an eleven-year-old kid who has yet to discover deodorant does something damaging to my psyche, and then my eye starts to twitch.
Granted, there are many positive aspects of PvP that I acknowledge, such as potentially unlimited user-created content, but just because there’s a yummy crème Twinkie under a puddle of mold doesn’t mean I’m going to scrunch up my nose and chow down. As a PvP-hesitant player, I am willing to take a step out and say that I’ll give it a try. All I ask is that the game steps toward me as well and says, “So let’s see what we can do about the things that are holding you back from really enjoying a little virtual slaughter of your fellow netziens.”
WAR’s first step toward me was to say, “You don’t have to PvP all the time. In fact, you can PvE when you want to, and PvP only when you choose to.” I like that. I like choice. I also like bananas.
As for Satan’s little helpers, aka “rogues”, Mythic came to my door and personally delivered the news that there will be no stealth classes and I should just unclench my buttocks for the time being over the issue. The bitter tears of rogue wanna-be’s are only the icing to this announcement.
As for objectives, it looks as if WAR is seeded with dozens of types of PvP goals, from the public quests to capturing keeps to varieties of scenarios. Again, the more choices that are present, the more likely it is that I’ll find something that fits me (and you will too).
And while Mythic promises to be working hard on preventing griefing (such as turning high level characters into chickens if they enter a lowbie PvP zone), there are few guarantees when it comes to the Honorable:Jerk ratio present in your opponents, and the ability of your own team to fashion tools from wood and stone and work together instead of running in every direction screaming “HEAL PLZ!” as if they were advertising for a medieval Abercrombie & Fitch label. Mythic also needs to do the best possible job in balancing classes lest they repeat their reported flubs in DAoC where certain classes ran rampant over the rest.
Some things will remain to be seen about PvP in WAR, but the game has at least gone halfway to meet me in getting me to sample the fruits of its sanguinary tree. There’s variety, there are tanks who can actually physically tank for a weaker player, there’s fun objectives and rewards, and there’s a PvP system that’s created and integrated into the game from the ground-up instead of tacked on later.
I’ll try it, to be sure. And you know what? This might be the game that finally gets me to not only like PvP, but prefer it.