Adding PvP to a PvE game

Last night, when we recorded episode six of The Multiverse, one of the big topics was battlegrounds being added into Everquest 2. Ferrel is pretty adamantly against it and I don’t blame him. He’s concerned about how PvP balancing will effect the PvE game. As a raider, what to some people is just a change to add a new dynamic to the game, is, to him, a fundamental shift in the scope of the game.

As a WoW player, I think I can safely say that he’s pretty much right. Almost every WoW patch, big and small, features a bunch of class changes, more often than not related to PvP balance. There’s also been more than a handful of times where these changes bork an otherwise fine PvE ability– ala lifebloom of yesteryear.

Then there’s the issue of gear. Rewarding PvP is a tricky situation in a raid-focused game. Every loot reward treads the fine line of devaluing the efforts of dedicated raiders. Thus, the term “welfare epic” was born. The only way to avoid this is to completely separate out the reward system. PvP gear shouldn’t be anything more than a stepping stone and, right now, that’s still up in the air for EQ2. Until the NDA drops, all we know is that players are fighting for pieces of the “chaos armor set.”

WoW handled this by adding PvP specific stats to their gear. But, as many players will tell you, figuring out each stat and how much of it you need, becomes a numbers nightmare. Not to mention, it’s an itemization nightmare.

Is EQ2 going to allow PvP to be a viable playstyle with Sentinel’s Fate or will it just be something extra to do when not raiding? That makes a difference, because if it’s anything other than a pleasant diversion, players will want to be competitive, which means getting them ready earlier than the level cap. Quest rewards become a mix of PvE and PvP gear the closer you get to cap. And, for the player that would like to dabble in both, gearing out your character becomes a series of “this one” or “that one” decisions, sacrificing on the hope that your character goals pan out.

In the end, the fundamental truth I’ve come to from playing WoW is this: character’s will be changed, classes and abilities will ebb and flow in their effectiveness, but, if you can handle that, and are willing to put in some extra time to learn the stats, PvP battlegrounds add a fun new dynamic to an otherwise PvE game. Sometimes, it’s nice to go out and be competitive in a whole different way. I like battlegrounds, I’ve spent a lot of hours in them, and I’d be the first to tell you that PvE is the way I like to play. SOE has a challenging task ahead of them, balancing out their couple dozen classes, but, if it works, it will only enhance an already excellent game.

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