PvP and what it's all about

I was thinking of writing a bit about something that lies close to me heart in gaming: PvP. Non playing characters (NPC) serve a purpose in that they populate worlds and serve as grind material (pigs) for real players. If we explore a world we want the towns to be crowded and full of life, and real players just can't be bothered with standing around there, directing new players to the nearest trader all day long. While killing a NPC can feel rewarding the first hundred times, you will start to lose the sense of pride by defeating them sooner or later. Defeating another player is an entirely different matter.

Real players can do anything; they are not limited by AI options. I can't exactly put my finger on why PvP gives such a rush of adrenaline. Maybe it’s the sense of having outsmarted/outskilled another player. Or it’s the feeling that somewhere, someone is screaming at their screen, cursing your name. Did I mention I love to play healing classes? Nothing gives me such joy than healing up someone's target from almost dead to alive and kicking in front of them. The imagined fury on the opposite players face almost outweighs the imagined thankfulness on the one I saved. Maybe thankfulness is a bit too much, it’s probably more like a nod of appreciation, an acknowledgement that I exist and not doing damage or something other stupid things that healers are forbidden to do.

Random PvP encounters when travelling a world can be fun, but there has to be a meaning behind it. I think anyone who has played in a PvP zone can agree that being killed by an enemy player when battling a NPC is frustrating. If there isn’t any motivation, then the one ganking is just being a jerk by ruining your play. Then there is always the problem with people killing players that are much lower level than themselves. WAR offer the most interesting solution I must say: turning anyone who enters a low level PvP zone into a chicken, too weak to fight anyone. It’s such a stupid, charming way that it just has to work.

It took me a while to recognize that PvP was something I enjoyed the most in World of Warcraft. Some of my fondest memories are not when we defeated Lady Vashj or some other major boss – although they are in the top. It’s when some casual questing in a zone turn into a PvP war. They kill you, you kill them, they bring friends, you bring friends… and it ends with everyone in the zone engaged in conflict over something so trivial that none can remember it.

What I have always felt was missing from my PvP experiences is the sense of being part of a bigger cause. My random victories in the jungle didn’t aid my race/faction at all. I was very excited when I read about the WoW’s Burning Crusade expansion and how there would be a town that could be captured by anyone. That Halaa now lies deserted by all players should be proof enough that Blizzard missed the point completely.

The motivation to get people into PvP is not hard to create. You can either create a system that rewards killing other people, or you can let the player be part of a greater cause, like a faction or race. Or even better: do both.

World of Warcraft didn't have any of those in the beginning, and people – me among them – still gathered on the dangerous grounds between Southshore and Tarren Mill to wage endless war. Later came their Honor system and Battlegrounds, but it became more about points and rewards that turned it into the sport it is today. I mean, people don’t care who they are fighting as long as they get their rewards; in Arena they even fight people of the same faction, and they don’t mind.

Rick from /random tell me what I am really looking for when he explains the gameplay of Dark Age of Camelot. And all the good stuff from that game will be inserted into WAR, together with all the other stuff that Mythic come up with. It can only be better. I can’t wait.

I will kill for a beta spot.

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