Tobold's Blog
Monday, April 14, 2008
Will WAR have good PvE?

Syncaine of Hardcore Casual has a good post with excellent discussion on the subject of whether you can have a game with good PvE AND good PvP. Syncaine has a long list of games which either had good PvE and bad PvP, or the other way round. The only exception being games that are bad at both. :) But can we have a game in which both PvE and PvP are good? For the sake of the PvP-fans I would sure hope so, because games with bad PvE will be very limited in how many subscribers they can attract. If your first month in Warhammer Online, where you level up in PvE, is not fun, there won't be many people left in the second month to actually try the presumably great PvP part. The only alternative to having good PvE would be to give people the possibility to skip PvE altogether, like Guild Wars does, or the new WoW e-sports arena servers. Forcing people through bad PvE to reach the good PvP endgame isn't going to work.

As myself I'm not the biggest fan of PvP, I very much hope that WAR has good PvE, at least for the leveling part. I can live without a PvE raid endgame. But I certainly would want that leveling up various races and classes in WAR should be fun, and offer lots of different ways to play and different quests.

Of course there are dangers. If you want to have both fun PvE and fun PvP with the same character, the characters need to be balanced well for both activities. I certainly don't want to see a repeat of the WoW problem that for one activity you need a different class or build than for another activity. You just don't want a class in the game which is a must-have for PvP, but which is gimped for PvE. Or a class like the WoW tank with tons of abilities for PvE aggro management, which then do absolutely nothing in PvP. Apparently in WAR a warriors taunt will actually have an effect in PvP, great!

I think it isn't impossible to have both good PvE and good PvP. But it might be impossible to have both a PvE and a PvP endgame. I see a big divide between games which have the PvE leveling game end in a PvE raid endgame, and those where the PvE leveling leads to a PvP endgame. If you try to have both, you get DAoC's Trials of Atlantis disaster: People forced to play endless repetitive endgame PvE content to remain competitive in PvP. DAoC had to introduce ToA-free extra servers to keep people in the game, because everyone hated that system so much.

So I'm looking forward to the dark world of Warhammer Online, with a very different type of story. I'm looking forward to level up various classes and races. I'm looking forward to PvE innovations like the tome of knowledge or public quests. I might try a bit of PvP, but that won't be why I'll be playing. So if PvE in WAR is bad, I'll be back to WoW pretty fast. And I'll take my millions of casual carebear friends with me. (Not that I have any influence on them, I just tend to think along similar lines as they do). And I think EA, being the maker of The Sims, has enough internal knowledge as to where the money is, and enough influence over EA Mythic as to force them to go after that money to make sure that WAR will at least *try* to have great PvE. Anything else would be financial suicide.
The problem is that people see too much of a divide between PvE and PvP. Why can't they be the same? It makes no sense that a human, as a player, gets a set of abilities, while mobs of the same race and class get nerf swords and nameless abilities.

With a more player-like NPC population, you would see the divide between PvP and PvE start to melt away, leaving us with a more homogeneous content that can presumably be enjoyed by a wider range of players; but I don't think WAR, or any of the games currently announced, will have any of that. We can only hope that such a game will see the light of day before the great MMO crash...
I think the report of War was to continue to improve PVE.

A game good at PVE ans PVP have to give both at every level. Not just twinks at level 19 and at level 70 in my opinion.

War have to face so a lot of hope that it will probably make some desapointed people.

LOTRO for exemple was not so bad but i've seen so much people leaving because they cannot have their addons...

Wow is what it is after several years and i fear that now it will be hard for a new game to give such a result at the launch.

And most of the people who says wow is so bad are still in it so...
The Sims is the ultimate Carebear environment. From what I understand, a large proportion of its player are female.
Can the developers successfully translate this into a male dominated environment that also has PvP at its heart?
I wonder.
As a beta tester for WAR, I can say, with conviction, that I am massively looking forward to PvE endgame in the game. Right now, I feel as if the character development via the many paths available will lead to a game in which the WoW-grind of either raiding or doing dailies and farming is avoided, and a true job description of max-level players is being fleshed out. In other words - yepp, even Carebears will have mucho fun in WAR.
The strength of WAR's PvE will have a big impact on whether I stay there long term. The RvR/PvP aspects do sound great, but we haven't heard a great deal about the PvE dungeon style content, except that it exists.

If WAR ends up only appealing to dedicated PvPers, then Blizzard can probably not worry too much about their profit margin.
I think unwise nailed it. I'll try it out but I"m looking for the next wow not a forced PVP grind.
First off, I think an MMO that's trying to compete with WoW or take any of it's playerbase knows that they need "linear PvE", the WoW-PvE if you will. Let's face it, most of WoW's playerbase didn't play MMOs before WoW came to be, they don't know of the "good ole days" when you didn't have a map or waypoints or even a quest journal. You have to accept that and crap on the "founding players".

That said, I think EA Mythic (well, Mythic) knows this. The question is, will they bring anything new to the PvE game? What is there to even bring? As it is now we just do quest after quest and we know those only come in 3 or 4 flavors. One of the few things I can think of is an increase in AI capability, which is what hexedian hinted at in the comment above mine. Aside from that, I don't think there's much else they could do without risking spending too much time figuring something else out, which would then hurt their PvP "end game".

I think that if you can stomach WoW PvE (read: leveling in WoW PvE, excluding end game raid content) then I think you will be happy with what WAR will have to offer.

Mythic has always stood out to me as a group that actually loves MMOs, plays them, eats, breathes, and sleeps MMO. They are players themselves and they know our collective gripes. I think they know what they're doing, they know that their design will isolate a few certain groups of players. They know their demographic and I think they've put something together that could throw a nice twist in the MMO community. I can't wait to see WoW subs dip, which they will, there's no doubt in my mind that people from WoW who are fed up with the world, the game, everything (just like anyone who played MMOs before WoW came out) will at least try out WAR. If it's user friendly enough and comparable to WoW combat (as most MMOs have been before and after WoW, fluid combat) then I think it's inevitable that people migrate. The only question is, how many?
My major concern with WAR is ganking.

And why are you looking past Age of Conan? Unlike WAR, AoC is right around the corner.
You can't really Gank in WAR - If you're a high level running in a newbie zone and try to gank someone that has no chance you get turned into a chicken (as you "Go pick on someone your own size you chicken!")
There should be no PvE vs. PvP fight. To help fix this a game should only have abilities/classes/specs that can be used in both PvE and PvP. Will class spec X be as good as class spec Y in PvE and PvP? No, I don't think so.

To illustrate my point lets take a warrior. Warriors have taunt, this does nothing in PvP. BAD!!! Taunt shouldn't work as well in PvP as it does in PvE, but it should do something atleast. Think of a rogues distract? Lets have taunt just cause your selected mob/opponent to change to the tauntee? Protection warrior in PvP? GOOD! Although I'm sure some wouldn't admit it. I think the whole prot warrior debate shouldn't exsist.

By assuming the role of a protection warrior you are sacrificing your DPS for tons of stamina, armor, survival. There is more then that, since this is a social game. Protection warriors are needed to raid(with the exception of the rare prot pally/bear drood). A well played, well equiped protection warrior can have his pick of almost any guild run. YOU ARE IN DEMAND! On a side note, I personally think Prot warriors do rather well in PvP. They are great flag carriers, and they can rip apart cloth with a good one hander.

Crying about protection warriors sucking in PvP is like crying about there being a small demand for Ret Pallys in PvE. Gaining a huge social relevance makes up lack of DPS. IMHO. Same goes for holy pally,preist,resto druid,shaman..etc...
I'm not 100% sure but can't you level up by PvPing in Warhammer. I thought I heard something about zones with a required level range where the different factions can fight each other for experience.
he's probably looking past AOC because about 3 to 5 percent of the WOW populace have computers that will play AOC acceptably.

That alone takes AOC out of contention as a major competitor.
Problem is....
If to access real PvP part you need to get thru PvE game.....
And if the game is good only at PvP...

What the sense to start play a game you don't like much for the sake of a possibility (nothing certain until you try) of enjoyment with PvP months later?

At least if a game is PvE at first and is done well, you can enjoy it. And if end game is PvP and isn't well done... you can always quit forever (but you had fun) or quit for a while until next content update and keeping to have fun later like an episodic game.... and if PvP end game is fun.. the better while waiting for new content if is what you were looking for.
@hexedian that kind of approach requires love and dedication in development for the mere sake of it, not something I've seen since Black Isle became Obsidian or whatever its called. In Icewind dale and baldur's gate 2 a lvl 17 wizard(just picking something arbitrary here) had all the same spells and abilities and sometimes even more than a player of the same level. Those games also had collision detection and strategy and so on. Granted the AI wasn't totally ingenious, but those games came out a while ago. Part of the problem is what we call Artificial Intelligence is actually artificial stupidity and predictability.

@sam yes you are right but some people will upgrade, its just a question of how many.
@hexedian: I made a similar comment a few Tobold blog posts ago when I suggested that bosses should attack the weakest part of the group, instead of acting purely according to an artificial threat value. Of course this would require healers to be not so squishy, which actually helps PvP balance (in fact, every clothie in WoW now has the tree that buffs their damage absorbtion as their primary PvP spec).

Unfortunately, just like WoW, Warhammer will have tank/dps/heal, and bosses that are supposed to be the most powerful and cruel beings in the universe, yet mindlessly bash on the tank for full ten minutes. Until they die.
@thallian: It might be true that all game AI is somewhat predictable, but that's like arguing we shouldn't construct airplanes because we can't fly to Mars with them. MMO AI is supposed to be absolutely predictable for tank/dps/heal to work. In contrast, look at the AI of RTS games like Warcraft III: they vary build orders, units, and try to look for weaknesses in the base layout and unit setup of their opponent. Only if you play for a while you'll notice that they select from a limited number of build orders. But (if bosses worked like this in WoW) at that point, you'd move on to the next dungeon anyway, where the boss uses completely different spells and tactics.
But what if we WANT unpredictability? Unpredictable opponents may be harder, but at least they can offer somewhat of a challenge; just increase the reward as well, if you need to. Besides, it doesn't make any sense that the orc you just killed, who had a full set of plate armor and two weapons should only have CHANCES to drop something at all. With unpredictable and realistic opponents, and assuming a half-decent AI, you get PvE which starts to look like PvP, which takes us back to the post.
"But can we have a game in which both PvE and PvP are good?"

I mentioned this over at Syncaine's, but Guild Wars Nightfall has some of the best PvE I've ever played in an MMO. It's very story driven, and persistent - when you invade a city that city stays invaded.

It's also probably got the most balanced PvP currently on the market.

Unfortunately, it's heavily instance-based, which some people can't stand. But they have done a good job avoiding the"good pvp/bad pve" dichotomy(or it's reverse).
I'm pretty sure I've read that you can level by PvPing in WAR, perhaps all the way to the level cap. The same goes for PvE. You can choose one or the other, or a mixture of both. Can anyone confirm?

Due to the nature of the WAR beta testing (and the NDA of course), it's pretty difficult to tell at this stage just how good the PvE game is, or has the potential to be.

I get the impression that the current focus is all on finishing and balancing the PvP aspects, and I'm concerned that the PvE side will suffer. I guess time will tell.

AoC does sound pretty interesting. If it plays as well as it looks, it has the potential to generate some positive waves and be quite a success. I suspect quite a large percentage of the target demographic within the WoW playerbase have rigs that can handle the game, and indeed, the graphics in AoC could actually turn out to be one of its strongest assets.
I don't want to make this into an AoC thread, since it is meant for WAR. However, AoC is not the system hog people seem to think.

Check out this recent youtube video:

From the poster:

"My pc specs are:

AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 Dual Core Processor
ATI X1900 Crossfire 512
2GB of Ram
Sound Blaster X-Fi

Its a 3 year old machine but still runs the game well.

I didnt feel like messing around with grapics settings too much so I just clicked on the medium setting and the game looks almost as great as high. but high was laggy with fraps running, I was only getting 10-25 on high, and on medium I was getting around 30-50, but this is a stress test after all with a new 4 gig patch we had to test for the first time so its still getting worked on for preformance."

The min. system requirements for AoC are:

OS: Windows Vista/XP
Processor: 3GHz Pentium IV
Video Card: Shader Model 2.0 and 128MB RAM: NVIDIA GeForce 5800 or ATI 9800

With those specs, the game runs fine on low settings, and still looks better than most. I have 2 PCs at home, and I tried the beta on both.

**sorry for all the AoC info on a WAR post. However, I hate it when people post mis-informed comments. Maybe weneed an AoC topic to discuss Tobold? (hint, hint)

Yes, you can level up in WAR through either PvE or PvP. The developers have stated openly that a good mix of both, however, will result in the fasted leveling.

The other thing that's great about WAR and they way it's set up with RVR is that everything you do (PvE Quests, Scenarios, RvR quests, Public quests, etc etc) all helps your side earn realm points and push the battlefront closer and closer to your enemies capital cites.
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I don't see that there automatically has to be a conflict between good PvE and good PvP. To use a familiar example, imagine a version of WOW without the instances, where the equivalent was going to defeat those same bosses deep in enemy territory. For example, if the Scarlet Monestary was an official Alliance quest hub for characters of the same level as those attacking it, you would get a hard to achieve objective that would deserve the good rewards. As with WOW instances, there would be non-PvP quests available as alternatives for those who don't enjoy this.

For me, the ideal game blurs the line between PvE and PvP, with no instances, arenas or battlegrounds. Keep the conflict in the same world as the questing.
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