On PvE

September 23, 2008

It seems that some people get an allergic reaction — the kind where you swell up and cough in a highly unpleasant way — whenever PvE is mentioned in Warhammer Online. Beyond that, some folks get incredibly riled up against the PvE content, as if it was a personal insult to their southern honor that requires a gentleman’s duel. In many of the journalistic and fan reviews I’ve read, PvE is cited as a weak spot in WAR, something to be tolerated at best and a whipping boy for a reason why to knock off a full number point from the final review score.

But is this true? Is PvE content so abysmal and forgettable in WAR that we should declare it a heresy and burn it at the stake? Or is this a kneejerk reaction that starts with an assumption and is unclouded by facts and unbiased gameplay?

Listen, there’s just no getting around the point that WAR was built with a gooey PvP core, and most all of the systems in place are there to support that. Most MMOs are a blend of PvE and PvP content, of varying ratios: 90/10, 75/25, 50/50. It’s a little tougher to sort out WAR’s ratio, since in many places the PvE content blends with the PvP and vice versa. Take competitive PQs, for instance — PvE content that, at the same time, has you competing against enemy players in a neck-and-neck race, and can often degenerate into actual PvP combat if people get flagged or in the mood for it. Or PvE objectives falling inside the RvR zones.

And while we can’t blame Mythic for promoting their title’s superior strength — it’s RvR focus — in contrast to other games, PvE got the punt to the back seat of the bus whenever the game was shown off (with the major exception of Public Quests). Still, Mythic assured PvE-types that there would be plenty of PvE content in for their enjoyment, and it would be completely possible to play the game from rank 1 to 40 without touching a lick of PvP, if so desired… they just weren’t going to spend a lot of time talking about it.

So we see that well before WAR launched, the public perception was slanted against WAR’s PvE — if Mythic wasn’t talking about it, it must not be that special. If Mythic is so proud of the option of being able to level to the cap solely through PvP, PvE must be an afterthought. Plus, many players heading into Warhammer were refugees from past MMOs where a stigma of PvE grinds turned them off to the whole “E” part of the equation together. It almost didn’t matter if it was the best PvE in the industry, it was tainted by association and they wanted no part of it.

Personally, I think this angle is unfair and unwarranted. I’m finding WAR’s PvE content satisfying, at least, with true bursts of gaming joy. It might not be the adrenaline thrillride that PvP can become, but there’s a lot of meat on this bone and it’s a shame for it to be thrown out entirely. Let’s take a quick look at what PvE WAR offers:

  • Solo Quests: Ah, the old “Kill Ten Rats” quest. The “Go Find The Dead Guy” quest. The “Click On The Glowy Icon” quest. The dreaded “Escort” quest. The “Collect X Items” quest. The “Breadcrumbs” quest. MMO vets are well familiar with these all, and while they might moan and complain about their inclusion in WAR, the lack of PvE quests at all would be even more cause to complain. Quests, as I see them, are filler. They fill the gaps between PvP matches, between PQ chapters, between busy moments where your friends are all online. They give you something to do, an accomplishment to achieve, and they reward you decently: XP, gold, items, what have you. If you take the time to actually read the quest text (I know, I know), you’d discover some pretty funny and interesting tales to give the game world and your place in it context. I like how accessible WAR’s made its quests, with map indicators (the red rings) showing you the general area of the quest, the detail of the Tome’s quest description, and the 1:1 ratio of kills to drops that you need (no more killing 75 whatevers to get your 5 drops!).
  • Public Quests: We’ve already talked about these at length, so I’ll let it go with this — for people who whine about quests being static and boring, you really have to close a blind eye to the dozens and dozens of PQs that are anything but static or boring. And the influence rewards… holy crap, how I love topping the influence meter for each chapter!
  • Dungeons: Whereas I’d put WAR’s PvE quests on par with WoW’s (seriously), WoW still holds superiority in dungeons. I’ve yet to explore a WAR dungeon, although I hear they’re a different breed of animal: short, nasty and rewarding. Get in, kill to boss, kill boss, loot treasure. WAR needs a better way to hook people up for these and to get people interested in them sooner, if they want to be competitive in this regard.
  • Tome of Knowledge: This encompasses both PvE and PvP, but let’s face it — the Tome is one giant solo quest log for you to hack away at. Between the Tome and Kill Collectors, Mythic aimed to give players more of a sense of accomplishment to their gaming time.  If you’re anything like me, you’re more happy if you’re accomplishing to objectives at the same time, even more happy if it’s three simultaneously, and so on.  Even if I’m a bit bored while doing a particular quest, there’s some part of me that’s happy knowing that I’m contributing to a couple different Tome unlocks and my effort isn’t going to waste.
  • Capital Cities: I agree with Mythic — an online city in a MMORPG has never been done quite as extensively, intricately and life-like as the two in the game.  If you haven’t treated yourself to a tour around these towns as part of your PvE experience, then more’s the pity.
  • As A Funnel: Even if you’re the type like Snafzg who cares not one whit for PvE, there should be a soft spot in your heart for what Mythic’s trying to do with it.  Namely, to funnel formerly solo-only PvErs into a group-based PvP environment.  Everywhere you look, the PvE content nudges, pushes, entices or outright shoves players into trying a bit of RvR, if nothing else than to fulfill a quest requirement or to get a spiffy Tome unlock.  And while it might be too soon to tell for sure, I think it’s working.

I’ve heard reports that higher end (T4) zones are far more noticeably lacking in PvE content, which should be addressed by Mythic as soon as possible.  That aside, I don’t feel as though I’m missing out on any great PvE content that I used to have in CoH, WoW, LOTRO, etc., except for the occasional dungeon run… so if my PvE needs are being filled, that is a pretty good indicator to me that Mythic lived up to their promise to give players like me the gameplay we love.  I guess I just don’t understand the criticism in this regard.  Feel free to enlighten me.


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  2. Spot on good sir.

    I wholeheartedly agree WAR’s PVE is just as good as wow/lotro/etc. If anything I think the quest descriptions are much better written than the current competition, which probably could be attributed to the thousands of hours of writing they poured into the game. I’ve also yet to run through a dungeon as I’m still trying to find a group to scour the Altdorf sewers, but soon I will and make no mistake, those deceptive barrel mongrels will taste my axe!

  3. I’m a Greenskin player, and I have to say, at least from a story standpoint, that the greenskin quests are some of the most fun I’ve ever had!
    Every text snubs it’s nose at typical “heroic” actions to the point where you are bullying goblins, making beer out of crap in order to have an orc forget that he’s owed money, and just generally being a “bad guy” and loving it!
    Granted, I haven’t run through most of the other race’s content, but the PvE experience for me has been excellent.

  4. Have you taken a LOOK at T1,2, and 3 gear? This game is more PvE focused than I’d like. They reward you with great gear for PQ’s and the Teir gear is a JOKE right now. If they want people to play the game as a 50/50 PvP and PvE experience, by all means, MAKE THE REWARDS SIMILAR! RR Gear is a flippin’ joke. They’re smothering their own baby with PvE pigeon-holing.

  5. >> the 1:1 ratio of kills to drops that you need

    Since I’ve been doing mainly PvE content so far, with the exception of the usual scenarios and a couple Open Area RvR tries, quests are my bread and butter.

    And this little detail you said is the main reason I love quests on WAR. No longer will I have to deal with the many mutant creatures Blizzard introduced us to.

    – Go there and bring me 5 tiger teeth.
    – Hum, ok, sounds easy. Let me try it.

    5 tigers later…

    – How can not a single one of those have teeth?! What the hell they were biting me with, their eyelashes?!

    Brave new world, this one we now live in.

  6. I’m loving the mix of PvE and PvP from Warhammer. Its like all the fun I used to have running BGs in DAoC mixed with the simple to complete (usually) quests from WoW. Im not one for dungeons in general, I feel that they take far too much time for such little reward, Id rather do RvR and get items from RP’s. Only negative I’d say regarding the PVE is that at first it seems pretty linear. I feel like I can only go down path x and complete quests a,b, and c. But it has recently (lvl 12) seemed to open up more and after some thought, I think this formula of game training takes place in all MMOs.

    Overall, I try not to read reviews anymore unless its from someone not being paid to play the game. I’m enjoying the hell out of myself, and thats all that matters.

    As Mark Jacobs said, if you dont like it, you should cancel your subscription.

  7. Agree with Kemwer above. I’m extremely PvE-oriented, and the 1:1 drop ratio is the single best thing they’ve done to make quests more fun. I hate… no, UTTERLY LOATHE quests where I have to kill 50 boars to get 1 Bloody Boar Lung, or kill 75 slimes to find Brunhilda’s Pouch of Richness. Thank goodness there’s none of that in WAR.

  8. I like the questing a lot more than in WoW. Partially because its not the only thing you have to do to level, partially because you can actually use all the quest rewards, and hell, a lot because you don’t have to run forever to get to the new quest spot.

    There are dungeons, people just don’t know where they are… and lairs.

    I think the pve is a lot better than WoW, at least as far as the leveling content goes. But then, I developed a hate for WoW leveling b/c the first time I ever did it I did it in the most assbackwards way possible and it took twice as long as it should have.

    But ultimately, I was getting a fair amount of XP for dropping hot oil on a battering ram last night. I’m hooked.

    They just need to tighten things up all around and they should be good.

  9. To be honest it’s not that the PVE content is not good or that they didnt put enough time into it, but the problem is that most of the quests are very much the same. They have a good story; yes they have a well written story if you READ them. I know alot of people who don’t read the texts cause they are time consuming and I dont have much time after work to play, so if i was going to read all the quests i will never get passed tier 1. If you put the text aside they are all pretty much the same. kill that guy over the hill, find that sowrd and bring it, kill 5 of these and pretty much the loop continues. it might also be becasue i have played pretty much all tiers and done all these quests over a year of closed beta. the quests are better than the WOW ones that’s for sure, but they get boring very quickly. PQs are all the same once you take a closer look at them. kill 40-100 of the normal mobs, kill 10-20 elite ones and kill a hero, done. I and many beta testers pointed this out before in closed betas before. They are something new and nice yes I appreciated them the first time I did them. I really liked them and thought finally no more LFG crap, but it got boring for me very quickly. I told Mythic in beta aswell that the solo grind is giving much more influence than when you group up and this will only encourage solo grinding these PQs and now I see alot of people doing this and moving on to the next PQ. I liked instances of WOW. I hated the LFG and all the crap associated with it, but they were different and they got me more interested in the story than the PQs of WAR did. Although I cant stand the boring and mindless grind of WOW anymore, but it was fun while it lasted. The reknown gear was not crap like it is now in beta. It was actually worth doing PVP and RVR and you would see alot of people doing it for the nice gear you were able to get all at the SAME LEVEL MYTHIC, I dont undrestand why they changed that. I was very disappointed when I saw that changed. It gave people a reason to go out there and pvp so that you could have your set. Yes lower lvl characters were getting owned by the higher lvls, but thats how pvp works. Did you really think you can join a scenario and beat a lvl 11 tank at lvl 1??? Many people, including me, worked their way up and almost everyone COULD get it. It was very easy to get, you had to be a seriously challenged individual not to be able to get it and here we here now with reknown gear not even worth looking at anymore.

    The problem with Mythic is that they are always looking to compete with WOW in every aspect and they change their plans and ideas so that WOW players are attracted to it. Yeah Mark Jacob and all the other guys at Mythic claim that they are not trying to compete with WOW and blah blah blah, but I know it and you know it that it’s just one the surface. We all know that your number 1 enemy is Blizzard and you r trying your best to comepete with them, but where you are failing is that you don’t do the original things you have in your mind and you start to what they did a bit better. I remember Paul saying (This is i think a year or 2 ago) that there will be blood running every where and there will be lots of blood running in the cities after the battles and things like that. That idea got thrown away cause the rating couldnt be M cause WOW has Teen rating and we cant compete. The graphics were lowered so that it will run on any computer, so they can compete with WOW. The classes, UI, and I could gon and on with the similarities, all of that to compete with WOW. Take a stand and do your thing and make sure you do a damn good job and people will ditch WOW like a dirt. Even if you had copied everything from WOW and I mean every single thing and had a high end graphics that look like a 2008-09 game people would have poured in. The first thing that attracts people is the look. your eyes are the primary source of information intake and judgement, so use that to your advantage. It doesnt matter if the game is a M rating or R rating or whatever rating if it has good graphics and is fun people will run for it even if it’s been done before. Look at GTA it’s a M rating game (i know it’s not MMO), but still you see 10 year olds who have played it before. Rating does not keep people out of your game, but bad design and lower end graphics will. The graphics in beta were higher than what iam seeing right now. How do you not have blood in WAR?? It would have added a whole new meaning to RVR and would have been a nice touch. Funny thing is that on the back of the WAR box it says content: Mild blood; LOL could you please tell me where this mild blood is I would really like to see some in “war”. Also, why are the organized groups allowed in scenarios against PUG groups. It is the most annoying thing ever. WOW tried to some extent to fix that although they failed too, but it would have been nice to have organized groups fighting against each other isntead of PUG ones. It is very annoying for people on the other end although it is fun for organized ones. I hope they fix that.( All of these are just my personal opinion about the game. btw i dont see that many people around in my server Azazel or whatever it’s called. where are the players?? did everyone pass Tier 1 already?? can’t find enough people to do PQs )

  10. The PVP is far superior to that of other games. Nothing quite frustrating in a battleground as being twinked by someone almost 10 levels below you!

    I personally find the PVE somewhat lacking in terms of atmosphere. It’s a very gritty tone, the fantasy feel and expansiveness of WOW or even LOTRO just isn’t there for me. I think some more epic music would help somewhat. Music is very lacking in this game IMHO.

    That aside I don’t know anyone who has not reserved enough praise for the public quests. They do provide superior PVE and grouping experiences for casual players like myself. If you compare public quest expereince to standard quests from other MMO’s, there’s just no comparison.

  11. There are a few things I’m having a problem with. At least on my server. What happened to open rvr? Complete ghost towns all 3 zones. People just wait til the other side caps and waits the 15 minutes and cap it themselves. Reminds of Hellfire P same thing. Not enough people for PQ’s very hit or miss. My number one biggest gripe and maybe a game killer for me. I have been in Q for 3 days tier 2 (all 3 zones). I have not even seen it yet. I put bug reports in and everything. Not sure whats going on. I dont mind mixing the pve content up with pvp but come on, I’m here to fight not just do quests if I just wanted to do quests I’ll go back to wow. Maybe it’s my server not sure. Or maybe everyones already into tier 3 who knows. Sorry for the gripes. I had to get it off my chest.

  12. The real problem with PvE so far is that the AI has somehow got even worse thsn regular MMO AI. I have never played another MMO where you could hit a mob who is having a conversation with another and not have both come after you. They’ve somehow removed the basic skill required in pulling a mob away from others. Granted its a limited skill at best, but its pretty much the foundation of all PvE combat in all MMOs.

    Public quests are great and all, but the solo quests contain next to zero challenge in all situations and that is where WAR falls down when it comes to PvE.

    This might change as I move up in ranks, but I’m rank 11 currently and its still like I’m in the rank 1 area as far as AI goes.

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