Last week there was a tweet that came across my feed that jarred something loose in my brain. I am wishing I had thought to save it because I honestly don’t know at this point who tweeted or at least on what specific day. It was one of those things that filtered into my subconscious and stuck there as it scrolled past. The general gist was asking what exactly a game would have to do to make PVP palatable for you personally. I was rushing between meetings when I checked Fenix on my phone, and never actually got around to replying. However it is something that I have been mulling over for days now. Why this was so sticky is the fact that I am a walking paradox it seems. I will claim not to like PVP at all, and will actively go out of my way to avoid it if it is happening in the world. If a game has one of those settings that prevents you from being accidentally flagged… I run with that on all of the time. If it is raid time… and one of our PVP centric members runs into the instance flagged and in doing so gets jumped by the Horde. I will sit there and watch them die, because in my mind they made a poor life choice for coming to a raid flagged in the first place.
All of that said… I also look forward to the Iron Banner in Destiny which is a monthly PVP event, and if I am bored I often times pop into the crucible which is their version of a battleground match making system. What I have never been able to reconcile is why player versus player activity in one game feels good and in others not great at all. All I have been able to sort out in my head is that in Destiny there is no negative side effect, and the rewards for participation are balanced in a way that it feels like no matter what there is a chance that I get something really cool in the process. Now Crucible hardcores in Destiny will tell you that the things that I love about it… are the things that frustrate them. Functionally loot is not tied to performance, but instead participation. Sure if you win a match you get more faction with Lord Shax the Crucible reputation vendor… but regardless of success or failure it feels like my time spent is leading towards the goal of something interesting. I am either going to get a faction package that gives me weapons or armor… or I am going to have the chance of getting interesting gear rewarded to me at random at the end of a match.
The other thing that has stuck out in my head is that in Destiny the total time of the match is relatively short ranging from 6 to 8 minutes… to at the maximum 15 minutes. Even more than that the time to engagement is also short, with the lack of long runs back to where the objective fighting is happening. I spent some time this weekend in World of Warcraft doing battlegrounds, since that system as a whole feels like a reasonable counter point to Destiny. I knew I was in for something when about 5 minutes into an Arathi basin map… I saw a pop up through DBM timers informing me that my team would win in 21 minutes. The length of that match just felt prohibitive to my enjoyment, and the risk of that time spent… had no real payoff waiting for me at the end. Sure there is the chance of random loot, but the loot seems to be based on my current PVP rank… and not relative to my gear level which is a huge positive for the way that Destiny handles things. So since I am late to the game, that means I would have to suffer through a lot of bad experiences in order to maybe have a chance of getting something that is going to be useful to me in the long run. The risk versus reward equation is just not good enough for me to keep throwing myself at the gristmill. So instead after a handful of maps I went back to grinding World Quests because they at least felt like they had tangible rewards associated with them.
Basically my take away is that in order for me to find PVP interesting… there has to be one hell of a lot of carrot waiting on me and very little stick. The truth is that PVP in general be it Crucible or Battlegrounds is the sort of thing that I might do if I have literally nothing else to do. I participate in Iron Banner so often because it is a limited time event… and it also is a loot bonanza. While I was working my way to the current 400 light cap in Destiny, a good chunk of that progress was gained through Iron Banner drops… which tend to be one every third or fourth match. In World of Warcraft I played a half dozen battlegrounds this weekend and got a single piece of gear that was 50 item levels lower than the rest of the gear that I was wearing, so another enchanting shard just doesn’t feel that exciting. I think the shortness of the match also helps my enjoyment, because even if we are losing horribly… it is a short term predicament and one that might be remedied in the next match. Additionally battlegrounds that focus on huge scale siege objectives tend to be soul sucking for me, and each time I have to mount up and run to the opposite end of the map it just feels bad. I guess I prefer quick skirmishes rather than protracted battles, especially for randomly queuing with strangers. The other huge negative about PVP in games like World of Warcraft is the fact that I am lumped into chat with a bunch of horrible people. Simply disabling the chat and making the maps clear enough not to need communication to complete objectives would greatly improve my experience. A good chunk of my joy in Destiny is the fact that no one can spout off racist slurs in global chat.