Thursday, January 29, 2009

PvE, PvP, and Me

WAR does strange things to a man. It changes him. Twists his nature. Turns him from a harmless story junkie into some ravening monster that craves the taste of his enemy's blood. 

Okay, so I'm being melodramatic, but it is rather funny for me to think about what it is that makes WAR my MMO of choice. See I've got a long history of really getting into games based on how well they tell the story. KotOR is my classic example. My first time through I played over eighty hours becoming the best, and most well traveled, light-side Jedi I could be. And the deep, rich storytelling was a big reason for why I considered every one of those hours well spent. I'm such a sucker for a story that I will go hunt down cheat codes to finish a game I wouldn't otherwise, just to see how it ends. So naturally, when I started looking into MMORPGs, story was the number one priority for me.

First, I checked out the behemoth from Blizzard, World of Warcraft. I had several friends from school who were enjoying it. So one borrowed set of CDs and an invite-a-friend key later, I was on too. And I have a confession to make. For someone with a level cap of twenty, the story stunk. There wasn't anything there. PvE quests were boring and repetitive. I was given no sense of what was going on or how it fit into the broader campaign. My proudest moment was when I got the killing blow on an upper thirties undead priest that decided to invade the night elf coastal zone. Now, I'll allow that given my limited exposure and lack of opportunity to get to the high-level content, I don't have a full picture of the WoW experience. But nothing in those first twenty levels made me want to slap down my cash to find out what was past the pay-to-play ceiling. All it was promising was forty more levels of killing 5 widgets so I can kill 10 whatzits so I can kill 15 doo-dads so I can get more XP and loot. Sorry, but I've got better things to do with my time.

Next, I tried the free trial on Star Wars Galaxies. Twenty minutes and one quick uninstall later, and I was back on the market.

Finally, I found what I thought I was looking for. A friends pointed me in the direction of a different kind of MMO. Instead of requiring a subscription, Guild Wars was sold like any single-player computer game. You bought that campaign and that was it. When new campaigns came out you could buy them too, or stay with what you had. They also had a hard level cap at twenty, and a limited skill bar with only eight slots, which helped to focus players on skill in combat rather than just grinding out levels. But the best part was that the game told the story well. From start to finish of each campaign, you knew exactly what you where doing and why. And you were an important hero, one of just a few who could save the day. Here was the vaunted PvE that I was looking for...

... until the campaigns ran out. That's the problem with a story-based game for me. There is only so many times I can save the world before it starts to feel a little ridiculous. Sure, with the low level cap, I could max a character in a couple of days and try out a new concept. But the story was already told before and it no longer held my attention. Don't get me wrong, it was a great game. I highly recommend it for a short (and now, cheap) PvE fix. But the publisher's business model is premised on selling a new campaign on a regular basis, which they stopped doing to focus on Guild Wars 2. Without new content, my interest stagnated.

And that's where WAR found me. When I first heard about the game, it was the buzzwords of "open parties" and "public quests" that caught my attention. Once I started playing, the standard quests grabbed my attention right away. Now, I'm not sure what some people are talking about when they say WAR's PvE falls flat, but what I've seen has been interesting, well rounded, and fun. Beyond just killing a bunch of critters, I've helped find cures for battle wounds, fought off Chaos landing parties, tracked down family heirlooms, and rescued damsels in distress. And that was just in Tier 1!

For a little while, all that PvP stuff sounded kinda interesting, but not really a big deal to me. Until I tried it. And on that day I went from the story-driven carebear to bloodthirsty killer. Here I found the ultimate story, and the ultimate in replay value. No matter how many times I attack or defend, it's always different. My enemies aren't scripted automations, but real thinking players. Changing classes provides me with both new abilites and a new area to explore. That's why I love to play this MMO in particular, and why I don't see myself stopping anytime soon. I've got the best of all worlds, with top-notch PvE and PvP. New and exciting features will come, as they should. New content will be released. But I am loving the fact that I am already loving this game where it is.

Originally posted at


  1. This is pretty much exactly what happened to me too. My character PvE'd while reading the quest text and tome unlock texts the whole time. Then I RvRed and I just couldn't stop. But I will always have that my first toon, who almost exclusively PvEs

  2. So I'm not the only one who likes WAR's PvE content..(and RvR)! ;)