How Player vs Player Pvp Combat has Affected Mmorpg Communities

When World of Warcraft launched, a friend of mine got the game and started playing on a role-playing server. In the next few weeks, the rest of us got the game and followed his lead in joining a role-playing server. PVP, at the time, had a stigma to it. It was dirty, unfair, and juvenile.

This attitude developed with some of the first multiplayer role-playing games. Diablo was notorious for allowing players to hack their accounts, achieve near god status, and then slay unsuspecting players on a whim. Ultima Online allowed players also allowed players to kill each other. Although hacking wasn’t a problem, higher level characters could easily destroy lower level ones. Perhaps the final straw, though, was that when you died the other players could loot your body.

Allowing PVP combat seemed like a logical choice in these early days, but there were several key flaws. It was involuntary. If you went out in public, you were under constant threat of assassination. It was unfair. There were no disincentives or restrictions to prevent overpowered characters from killing weaker ones. Finally, it cost you precious loot. Your gold and/or items could be lost when killed by another player.

The next round of online role-playing games, like Everquest and World of Warcraft, swung in the opposite direction. They practically eliminated PVP. The problem with this is, of course, that players want to kill each other. It’s fun; it’s exhilarating. So, with past mistakes in mind, online role playing games began to integrate new forms of PVP.

World of Warcraft is one example of a successful re-introduction of PVP. If you are playing on a role-playing or PVE (Player Versus Environment) server, you always have the choice to “flag” up so that you can attack other players that have put their flag up. You can also enter special battlegrounds which pit teams of players against each other with various objectives, such as capturing the flag. You can also create small teams of 2 to 5 players that compete against other teams in a ranked ladder tournament. Most importantly, though, dying to another player costs you no money or experience. At the same time, killing other players, gives you resources that you can use to buy new and better gear.

The system that Blizzard established in World of Warcraft effectively remedies the early problems with PVP combat. It is also optional; no player is made susceptible to assassination if he doesn’t want to be. It is fairer. Low level characters can remain unflagged, while there is only an incentive for players to kill other players of a similar level. Engaging in PVP also does not force you to risk your gear or your loot. All that you lose when you die is time.

This new, more controlled form of PVP is a great boon to MMORPGs. It enhances the staying power of the game, giving people things to do other than raiding the same dungeons over and over again. It also widens the appeal of the game. There is a place here for those who only want to PVP, those who only want to PVE, and those who want to do a bit of both. Whereas earlier versions of PVP caused people anxiety and forced them to be paranoid, the new system has strengthened the MMORPG community and brought more varied types of players into the fold.