In keeping with my tradition of saying whatever the hell is on my mind at the time, let’s talk about world PvP.
I’m not gonna talk about nice, organized, determined armies of players rolling on up to take out the enemy leaders and get Bears to ride. Oh, no.
I’m not even talking about PvP in areas with specific PvP goals and objectives to fight over, such as in Eastern Plaguelands, Silithis, Hellfire Peninsula, Zangarmarsh and Nagrand.
I’m talking simply about a small quest hub in a remote location, far from major trade routes or capital cities, guarded by flagged NPCs of low level… and the single level 80 of the opposite faction that comes in, kills everyone, and then camps the respawns until someone comes along, in which case he runs like a terrified rabbit afraid of being thrown in the stew pot.
PvP is an inherent part of World of Warcraft. Even if you’re on a non-PvP realm/server, there are PvP opportunities everywhere you go. How? The NPCs, including quest givers and Flight Masters, are all flagged.
Since they are flagged, the opposing faction can attack them at will, and kill them.
If you don’t like it, presumably you can get off your duff and mount a counter-offensive of your own, driving off the enemy players and defending the exposed village.
It sounds nice, doesn’t it? It sounds quite reasonable.
But let’s paint a picture for a moment, a picture that somewhat resembles reality.
You are on your happy little low level character, exploring a part of the world you’ve most likely seen 10, 20, 50 times before. Maybe it’s actually your first character and you have no idea what’s waiting around the next corner. Maybe it’s your first character of the opposing faction, and you’ve never seen these starting zones before.
There you are, moving along, questing from point to point, playing the game in the way that you want, rolling along.
You complete several quests, doing a circuit of the zone, and then you move on in to the quest hub to turn these in, and either pick up the next set of follow ups, or, if you’re lucky, level up and fly off to train.
As you make your way to the quest hub, the messages start coming in on the World Defense channel; “XXX is under attack.”
Sure enough, you arrive in time to see one or two level ??? players of the opposing faction finish off the Flight Master. All the quest givers are dead, and the enemy is mostly ignoring the guards, and they’re all a paltry level 14 anyway. The village guards defending the town aren’t even a mid-afternoon snack to a level 80.
So, you’ve got some choices. Do you have max level toons of the same faction as your alt? If so, you can then log out on that character, log in on your other character, and make your way to the remote region your alt was at to defend the village. You can even call your guild to arms, if some are online, to come help.
Have you ever tried that? I have. What happens? 9/10 I’ve found the little cowards have long since run off.
What about that 1 out of 10? In those cases, the guys seem to head into the surrounding foothills, perhaps, because if you hang out for 15 minutes and then log out, sure enough, as soon as you’re back on your alt, boom, NPCs getting killed again. Only this time, when you log back into your high level character that is just waiting there, you find that they called in stealthed reinforcements that are waiting for you.
Once a few other high level characters of your same faction start showing up, though, it all degenerates into a game of “Try and find where the cowards are hiding, waiting for you to get bored so they can go attack the village NPcs again.”
“Anybody see where they went?”
“Alliance Priest and Warlock south of Crossroads”
“Warlock in Crossroads, anybody out there?”
“Coming back in.”
“Warlock heading north.”
You get the idea, and have seen it yourself, I’m sure.
What I have never yet seen is anyone that started killing the NPCs, and then, when equal leveled players come to fight them on an even numbers basis, stand their ground and fight an evenly-matched battle. Ever.
Is the PvP in this situation adventurism as planned by Blizzard? An opportunity for a few players to be the spark that ignites a forest fire of unplanned, out of control PvP?
There was a time when such PvP was frequent. Anybody else remember the insane, awesome battles of Tarren Mill?
I think there were entire months back in the day where, if you were bored, all you had to say in Guild chat was “Tarren Mill?” “Sure, let’s go.”
And when you got there, you were sure to find an out of control battle raging between Horde and Alliance, even on PvE servers.
What’s changed? HAS anything changed?
Are the lone opposing players killing NPCs in remote villages just trying to get some PvP started? Or are they really griefers, looking to feel powerful in their pathetic, powerless real lives by annoying other people too weak to fight back?
I may have phrased that a bit strongly.
I think the point stands. If you want actual player versus player action, real challenges against real opponents that can fight back, your skill versus theirs, there is no end of opportunity, from Battlegrounds, Arena battles, PvP zone objectives in Silithis or Hellfire Peninsula, Wintergrasp for the highest level, etc.
What is the draw, where is the challenge, in seeking out the lowest level yet most remote village possible, and then killing all the NPCs there and running like hell?
I hesitate to label the players who do this asshats, because to be honest, I have no idea if, in my limited understanding of the PvP community, there are real, tangible challenges and risks involved in this.
But I hesitate to label such players as adventurous, because if they had any courage, especially in a game where there is no consequence for character death in PvP, they’d stand their ground and fight instead of running like a scared bunny.
What is your take on this? What have been your experiences with this kind of thing, and do you know any of the players who do this? Are you one of them? What is their objective? Is there one, beyond pissing off lower level players who can’t fight back?
I think it’s clear that, as far as Blizzard is concerned, the system is intended as it is. But are we using it right?
Once, it cost you Honor to kill an NPC even by accident, if that NPC wasn’t an honorable conbatant. Further, if Blizzard felt there was truly anything wrong with it, they could make the NPCs be Neutral instead of flagged, in keeping with the current sort-of neutrality that the Argent Tournament was supposed to represent.
Obviously the one thing they can’t do is make all NPCs, regardless of location, be max level AND flagged. In some areas, opposing faction players have no choice but to ride perilously close to enemy villages to get to other areas. Intentional enemy choke points are built in, and it’s mighty smart of the factions (and designers responsible for it) to do so. Why command the remote passes out of the way, when you can fortify a position in the middle of the trade routes?
But make those NPCs max level and flagged, and as you run by hoping to resume questing on the other side… squish!
I really am curious what your experiences with this are. I’m trying like heck to not pass judgment on players that do this without having a much better understanding of why.
Just the other day, I was on my Belf Hawt Biker Chick, in Ghostlands, and running into Tranquillien with a billion quests to turn in, and just like I described, all the NPCs are being killed, every single one, by a single level 80 Retribution Paladin.
As soon as they were all dead… he rode briskly away.
All I could think at the moment, as I waited for respawns, was, “Damn, he went to a lot of work to get all the way up here to kill these NPCs. Even flying to the Troll raiding area FP Alliance have available, that’s a lot of effort to go through, flying through the long zones in between Ironforge and there. What is the payoff? What am I missing? What could he possibly get out of that?”
“Am I supposed to be upset? Time for a Mountain Dew!”