A long-standing problem in most of our mmo’s has been the ever-increasing treadmill development gets trapped in. Constantly increasing stats on gear that end up making huge differences in a players combat potential. Now for PvE this doesn’t seem to create too much of a problem, it’s just part of the progression curve and new encounters are designed to match. For pvp though this cycle has huge, negative effects.
Because PvP is often an addendum to the game it must fit into this increasing gear approach. For the separate modes, where it ends up creating some rather large gaps between those with gear and those without and then a long grind while mostly being unable to compete. PvP players kind of demand progression too and the simplest way was to transfer over the same gear grind just in a different skin, we’re moving away from it now but it still seems the dominant form.
For Open World PvP this gear approach creates incredible imbalances between the players. Now to be honest I do think, in mmo’s at least, that there should be a certain amount of vertical progression, a way of seeing yourself becoming stronger, more powerful or more accustomed to doing certain activities. But, the level with which this happens now leaves those lower level, even by a little unable to contribute and at the mercy of those more geared. There should always be a chance for another to get away or even similar people to band together in order to defeat the threat. I’ve played games were a single item upgrade skewed the fights dramatically and such a thing is no fun to me; it’s no fun to lose like that and it’s no fun to win.
This is more of an issue for the game that focuses on PvE though and with a lack of inspiration it keeps continuing. For those that focus on PvP, and the balance and economy of players within it is far less of an issue. Such a thing is where power matters but then it is not the sole determining factor. There are slight power differences that can help but then the power of a more geared or experienced players isn’t equivalent to being a god. It thus encourages a more active approach within PvP to overcome and manage and encourages grouping to provide safety. In this scenario there is also a defined end to power gains that leaves players able to catch up eventually as well rather than perpetually being behind the power curve.
The other part is of encouraging an economy. It is where items are far more transient, easy to gain but also easy to lose too. There is no grinding out a dungeon dozens of times for one simple drop but acquiring more easily from many different avenues. drops, player looting, gifts and the market which can be bartered for with currency gained form many ways or even a service. You can even be gifted such things, even end game items with the ability to use such things immediately or in a reasonable amount of time. This approach creates far more balance with gear as hugely important gear pieces aren’t a prerequisite and acquisition is more even. It creates a community and importance of various professions around it and, even though there can be loss is far less punishing towards new players whom can rely on others for help.
With this the FFA looting or destruction gear means less, yet there is an element of risk vs reward to your actions. With any simple activity you engage in there is an element of tension; something could happen at any time and this lends itself to the experience well… once you get used to it. Activities also become more important in regards to your decision-making as it is up to you to determine whether the gain from the activity is worth losing what you do have. Activities that revolve around a certain amount of risk are often worth it, with a price that matches which makes for a more interesting economy that’s not just based on time.
It is a change that creates a paradigm shift in the way gear functions and how people think about it, and in turn, how people think about more hardcore versions of PvP. Trying to think about FFA with the same PvE concepts is bound to cause conflict, they are diametrically opposed concepts that share little in common and even less when it comes to other mechanics around it. When designed for PvP adds another interesting element and is a key to creating a world.. in my mind anyway.