Paeroka’s Ponderings: Gear and level-advantages in PvP

Paeroka's Ponderings featured image for column

Some time ago, I read a topic in the German section of the Black Desert Online forum where a player suggested that the game’s PvP may be better if there were no level-advantages as a higher level gives better stats, for example. He was laughed at by others and called “carebear” for wanting that. Unfortunately, I cannot find the thread anymore – but it would be in German anyway. But this is apparently how PvP should work and it is good this way: If you spend a lot of time in the game, you should have an advantage over those who play less often or are new to the game – other than the already mentioned increased experience and skill in playing your character, of course!

I admit, I am a carebear. I am a huge big carebear! – Why? Because I think that being able to win against somebody who has no chance whatsoever at all, no matter how skilled that player may be, simply because I am higher level and/or have better gear, is a horrible design flaw of PvP in a lot of MMOs. If some new player comes in and has not played the game much but knows how to play so much better than me, then kudos to him! He should be able to win against me. I, on the other hand, should not win simply because I have been playing longer and managed to get my character in better gear. I was just very surprised to see that somebody asking for an even playing field and letting skill and experience decide a battle rather than stronger gear and higher level, is called a carebear. Some people…

Warhammer Online Chicken in Tier 1

Let’s look at other MMOs, though: Warhammer Online, for example, had four different PvP (here called “RvR”, but I’ll continue using PvP to not mix up the terms all the time) tiers and bolstering up. The first tier was for levels 1 to 11. So right from the start, you had your map with PvE zones and PvP zones. If your low level 1 entered the tier 1 PvP zone, it got bolstered up in stats to level 11. It was still weaker than a “real” level 11, but at least, you got much closer to the other player. The best part, however, was when you were too high level for a given tier – in our example, when your character turned level 12 – that you were turned into a chicken which could be one-shot by other players. You regularly had people in chat say: “Okay, that’s it. See you in tier 2” and then you could see the chicken run out of the PvP zone as fast as their little feet could carry them. I do remember some heated discussions about this feature before the game launched but Mark Jacobs stood by that decision. Of course, simply getting downscaled would have been the better option in my opinion, as that would have freed up the whole game to you once you were max. level instead of restricting you only to the highest tier. But I still think the chicken mechanic is better than having high level players repeatedly kill low level players. Especially when you consider that low level players also may be new players which are kind of important to keep in an MMO… ;)

GW2 sPvP with level 2
All specializations are unlocked, even though my character is only level 2. In PvE, you need to work towards unlocking the specializations first

Guild Wars 2’s sPvP (instanced PvP) goes even further: No “artificial” bolstering up, but being at maximum level with exactly the same stats and exactly the same gear as everybody else! When I heard that they were doing it like that, I got pretty excited! Those who have a lot of time (and who are usually the ones with the highest level and the highest gear in other MMOs) are probably also those who get the most practice and as such they will have an advantage over people like me anyway. However, there are also those who do have a lot of time on their hands, who do get a lot of practice and who may turn out to be worse than somebody with less practice but quicker reflexes or whatever the reason. I ask again: Is this bad? Am I a carebear if I say that this is how it should be? That skill should determine the winner of a battle and not the playtime, the level or the gear that a player acquired?

Thankfully, we have so many games around that I think everybody can find a game that does it the way they prefer. So, I know that even though Black Desert Online looks like an interesting game, it is not the game for me. I do prefer Guild Wars 2 where level and gear don’t matter!


I regularly have rants and ramblings in my mind, but never really know if I should post them, so “Paeroka’s Ponderings” is where I will try to give these rants a place. Sometimes they will make sense, sometimes they won’t.

Guild Wars 2: The upside of having a “content drought”

I saw a post on about the potential correlation between content updates and increased earnings for ArenaNet and Guild Wars 2 which got me thinking about my gaming behaviour related to their content updates. In general, I would say that the less new content they release, the less money I spend in Guild Wars 2. I remember giving them at least 5 € a month (remember: I try not to spend more money on online games than I would on a monthly sub), but since the expansion has been released, I did not give them any additional money anymore. I only spent some gold to trade for gems. However, I actually did not want to focus on how much money I spend on this game. I would just say that my spending behaviour is related to the amount of time I give to one specific game over others more than how much content a game actually releases, although those two factors are related, of course!

When I looked at the charts of that post, I remembered what Guild Wars 2 was like within the first year: New content every two weeks, content that would leave permanently after two or four weeks again. It was… stressful, actually. I found myself playing more because I had the feeling that I have to or I would miss out on something instead of playing because I was in the mood to play this specific game.

If I could choose, I would definitely want to have new content every two months or so that would stay permanently! But this is not a wishing well here. So, I’ll instead look at what we had back then and what we have right now. Back then, we had new content every two weeks. Now, we don’t have much new content. In my personal and subjective case, there is even no new content, because I don’t raid (you can thank World of Warcraft for making me swear never to get into raiding again). Which of the two do I prefer then? As I already said, I found the constant temporary content stressful. So for that alone, I choose the “content drought”. I kind of embrace the slow content releases. I work full-time, I work on my dissertation, I exercise regularly, I have a social life away from the PC (well, sometimes, at least), I like getting variety by playing more than just one game when I do decide to play and last but not least, I have this little blog here. In other words: I am not a hardcore gamer at all.

Having no new content means that whenever I feel like playing Guild Wars 2, I start it up and play. I enjoy myself in the game, because I never feel as if I am in the game only because I have to. There is nothing to catch up with and no feeling to play in order to not fall behind – and that’s refreshing!

Mind you, I say that only because there is still lots for me to do in the first place. :p At the moment, I am playing in Edge of the Mists whenever I find a bit of time to gather Proof of Heroics, so that my engineer can get his scrapper specialization unlocked. Yes, I am lazy. Or rather, I don’t really want to do all those hero challenges again. I much prefer battling in the Mists. I guess I would actually prefer “real” WvW over Edge of the Mists, but when you only have half an hour or so to play, this game mode is perfect. It’s fast with good rewards for your time.

GW2 Edge of the Mists

In the long run, I do of course hope that we will get to see a lot of new content and my hopes are for season 3 of the living world to be really good and exciting!

And if we pretend that there is a wishing well for a moment, then I would definitely wish for more content like the marionette fight, but with a longer time frame to participate and learn the encounter. I just really enjoyed the open world content and that is one thing I definitely miss from the content releases of season 1.

But hey, there will be an update tomorrow. Maybe we will get something new after all. :p

Why the rush? – Blaugust Day 16

I was so close to level 18 with my spellslinger, that I headed off to a nearby quest hub, grabbed all the quests I saw, killed whatever had the quest-icon next to its head and ran back as fast as my Aurin’s legs could take her, just so I could finally get this new level. Then, immediately afterwards, I wondered: What for? What will I do when I’m max level? Why did I even start playing Wildstar?

It is quite silly to rush through the game. The main reason I play it is because I find the world intriguing. I love the game’s humour. But if I rush through quests, then this is exactly what I’m going to miss. I will not stop to sniff at the flowers (which then swiftly grow to three times its size and attacks me as the so-called flower was rather the whisker of some alien creature) and I will not get to know anything about the world because I don’t even know why I’m killing those mobs… except for the Dominion. I know very well why I’m killing these guys by now. Sadie will be revenged!

Wildstar Level up graphic

But seriously, my focus is not on the traditional “endgame” anymore in MMOs. I do not raid, I don’t even do many – if at all – dungeons anymore. I mainly roam the world and explore it. I focus on crafting, building and decorating my houses, chatting with friends and all that stuff. So instead of rushing through the levels, I should enjoy the way to maximum level as much as I can and try to do that slowly. If I remember correctly, Wildstar also has some pretty fun quests or at least, neat corners in the world that you wouldn’t necessarily find if you didn’t get off the (quest) path to explore what’s around the corner. Or maybe that was just because I was too inexperienced in the beta and just missed the quests leading to said corners. :p

This post is part of Blaugust 2015.

GW2: Which specialization to play? – Blaugust Day 6

GW2 Heart of ThornsThe first beta weekend event is fast approaching and I can’t seem to make up my mind. I know I want to try the new specializations, but I don’t know which one. On my live account, I mainly played my warrior and my thief in PvE and my Mesmer in PvP. However, I am not sure I really want to get into learning the Chronomancer on a weekend. Mesmers are tricky to play and the Chronomancer specialization doesn’t sound any easier. I get quite uncomfortable not knowing 100 % what I am doing, so there is that. Additionally, since I plan on changing back to my Mesmer as my main, I don’t want to “spoil” that moment of playing the specialization with my asura once the expansion has launched (same reason I do not want to play the Revenant during beta). So, I will leave the Chronomancer until HoT’s release and will then take my time learning how to play it properly. But the other revealed specializations aren’t helping much either with my decision.

I have all professions at level 80 by now and I played most of them all the way through to 80. The necromancer and the elementalist got a boost with Tomes of Knowledge, mostly because I didn’t really like playing them much. So did my guardian on my main account, but only because I already have one on my second account at level 80 and I did not enjoy playing her at all. Can you see my issue here? My three least favourite professions have their specializations revealed…

Maybe I could use this beta event to give those three professions – or one of them, at least – another try, now that they have their specialization as that could maybe result in a bit of a different play style. After all, this is what ArenaNet is aiming for, right? That the specializations make the professions feel fresh and “new” without changing everything about them. I always thought that in theory, I should love the guardian. The problem here was that I found the guardian very boring to play. The virtues were mostly left untouched or all activated at once right before activating the elite skill that reset the virtues again. Quite boring. Okay, maybe also not an efficient way to play Guardian, I admit that. ;) Still, I never felt the urge to really get into Guardian builds in the first place. Dragonhunter (let’s ignore the name, shall we?) sounds interesting as they get access to longbows and can finally be played as a ranged profession. And traps sound fun. I loved playing with traps on my hunter in World of Warcraft – but that was in PvP situations and not so much in PvE. Altogether, it still does not sound like changes that will make me fall in love with the Guardian.

The elementalist was actually fun to play, but I never liked the spirit weapons and I only played with the earth and air attunements. This always made me feel as if I was wasting that profession’s potential by limiting myself to only two attunements. As I said above, I don’t like playing when I don’t really know what I’m doing. The Tempest seems to play with the attunements with the “Overload” function. Other than that, there is still attunement-swapping, I assume. It is still more interesting than the Dragonhunter, so I will consider trying that one out… maybe.

GW2 Necromancer Staff Necrotic Grasp

And then there is the Necromancer… my main class in WoW was warlock for quite some time. I like that style… you know, demons and all that – or minions, same thing, right? There certainly was something about the Necromancer when I did play her that I liked. It just never really clicked and I can’t even really put my finger on what it is that I don’t enjoy about playing her for a bit longer. Another problem is that the specialization, the Reaper, gets access to the Greatsword and this is the one weapon that I hardly ever use with any of my characters. But even so, out of all the revealed specializations, this one certainly had the most style! And then there is the “changed Death Shroud”, the “Reaper’s Shroud“, which changes the look of your weapon to a scythe! My inner dervish is very pleased to see that.

So, looking at all of this, it would still be so much better if only we had the thief’s specialization or the engineer’s or the ranger’s. I would love to try those, whatever they will be! But alas, Necromancer it will be this time then and maybe it will finally hit me and I will end up loving that profession! :)

So, am I the only one who has trouble deciding for a specialization to try out?

This post is part of Blaugust 2015.

The Seven Gaming Sins – NBI 2015 Talkback Challenge #4

nbimediumThe 4th “Newbie Blogger Initiative” topic has been released this weekend: “The Seven Gaming Sins“. This one is not a single topic that you can write about, but seven questions instead. What they focus on is probably rather obvious… ;) So, here you go. My answers to Joseph Skyrim‘s seven gaming sin questions.

Lust – Do you enjoy games more if they have scantily clad and “interestingly proportioned” avatars? Do you like playing as one of these avatars? Why or why not?

My favourite races are dwarves, gnomes (in World of Warcraft) and asura. Does this answer the question already? :p I do like characters (I mainly play female ones, so I’ll concentrate on those now) that are aesthetically pleasing to me. But this is a very subjective term and far from the tiiiiny waist and huge breasts that game designers like to put on some of their characters. I do like my characters wearing clothes that show their body, but I can do without the skin. So, I would say I am in between. I like “sexy clothes” as long as they are not over the top or look silly on my character (like a dress showing off breasts that asura just don’t have).

Gluttony Do you have a game backlog of unfinished games but still buy new games regardless? Why or why not?

Oh dear yes. I recently told myself to at least try to play some more games and finish them and I have been kind of successful. Tropico 4, Torchlight I and Shadowrun Returns have been played through. I am currently giving Skyrim another try (no promises here) and have also picked up “The Book of Unwritten Tales”. I strongly predict I will finish the latter in a bit as it’s very entertaining to play. As I just said, I picked up the latter. I have not stopped buying new games, I just try to slow down and finish some I did buy some time ago. At the same time, especially with games like Civilization or Warlock 2: The Exiled, there is the open question: When is such a game finished? With those games, I instead look at how much time I have spent in the game and if it’s a couple of hours (depending on how much money I spent to buy the game), I am satisfied. I always like to compare it to the price/hour for a cinema ticket.

Do you enjoy hand outs in a game? Have you ever opted to NOT do an action / in game activity because the rewards were lacking? Why or why not?

I have refused to do something in game that was not fun and the rewards were lacking, yes. But as long as something is fun – or an activity leads to something that will be fun later on – then I’ll do it regardless of the rewards. Rewards are a nice bonus, though. :)

Sloth – Do you ever leech or AFK in a party? Do you discourage others from attempting things that you feel are difficult? Have you ever seen someone that needed help, but decided not to help them? Why or why not?

No, I don’t ever leech or go AFK unless there’s a need for a bio break – which I would inform people about in a dungeon run, for example, so they know I’ll be gone for a minute. I don’t discourage people from playing the game, no. I do discourage them from trying to make me come, too. ^^ In MMOs, when I see somebody needs help, then I usually do help. Unless it’s a person that passed me before without helping me. In this case, I deliberately choose not to help either (though this would not be “sloth” but “wrath”, I guess).

Wrath – Ever get angry at other players and yell (or TYPE IN CAPS) at them? Have you ever been so angry to stalk a person around in game and / or in the forums? Why or why not?

I have gotten angry with others countless times. Most of the time, those are random players who were rude, impolite or just generally offensive. I tend to rage and rant in front of my PC, but not in public chat and not in direct messages either. Blocking them is much easier and faster and more satisfying because they can’t talk back to you. ;)

Stalking people has never even occurred to me. I only remember one person that annoyed me very much – unfortunately even a fellow guild member until we finally decided to flee from that server – that popped up wherever I was. So, it was the other way around. But I don’t think he stalked me. He just happened to be a very active player (and yet, still a very bad one who insisted on knowing everything better…). That one player did get me close to yelling at him, but instead, I opted for laughing in front of my PC instead. Oh, the stories I could tell (well, if you’re a WoW player, at least…).

Envy – Ever felt jealous of players who seem to be able to complete content you can’t? Do you ever suspect they are hacking or otherwise cheating? Why or why not?

Of course! Who doesn’t know the feeling of trying over and over and over and over again just to see somebody pass by, hop around a bit and get to the end of that jumping puzzle to reach into the chest and pull out a precursor item? Grmpf. ;) I usually don’t think they are cheating. I just think they are there to make me feel especially incompetent. :p No, seriously, unless they appear and disappear randomly at various spots in the world (teleport hacks – I’ve seen them often enough in Warhammer Online), then I don’t think they are cheating.

Pride – Are you one of those people that demands grouping with other “elite” players? Do you kick players out of your team who you feel are under-performing? Why or why not?

I demand grouping with sensible people! People who know that others make mistakes, but who try their best to help each other and have fun. I admit, I get frustrated when there is another player who is severely underperforming even after telling them how to do something (e.g.: Do not stand in the red puddle on the ground. It’ll kill you instantly!). But I haven’t kicked them out yet or asked to have them removed from the raid, because this would also make me feel bad. I usually just hope that one day, they will finally understand what that red puddle looks like and get out of there quickly enough – or get a better PC or a faster internet connection which could also always be the reason for why they are performing the way they are.