Is it time for PvP and PvE to separate?

It seems no matter what the game is, both PvP and PvE players always have something to complain about when it comes to the side of the game they aren’t interested in.

PvPers like to complain about how grindy the PvE is, why PvP zones are empty and how come PvP isn’t really available until the endgame. Even with a game like Warhammer Online, that offers more PvP elements, it’s still not ¬†enough to quench the thirst of most PvP players as they are still forced to participate in PvE to progress.

On the other hand PvEers complain at the mere fact that the game even offers any PvP at all. Even on PvE servers, there is still a PvP element to it, whether it be arena matches, duels or a dedicated zone for PvP, many PvE players want nothing to do with it. However if there are achievements or unique rewards for participating, some PvE players will reluctantly step forward.

So is it possible for a developer to create a game to satisfy both player types, with each one wanting opposite things? The short answer is no, they can’t. That is unless they create two separate games.

Enter Guild Wars 2. There must of been a light-bulb moment at the ArenaNet offices, as this is exactly what they did with Guild Wars 2. ArenaNet basically created two separate games and bridged them together to allow players to use the same character in both parts of the game.

PvP and PvE players never have to touch the other side of the game and can progress all the way to the level cap in their element of choice.

This makes one wonder if we’ve finally hit that “ah-ha” moment where we’ve now realized creating a integrated PvP and PvE game will never work; that the players are just too different. It’s like taking a FPS and strategy game and combining them. It might seem like a good idea, but in the end it fails. FPSers want fast constant action, while strategy gamers want more build up and slower paced action. Combining the two makes no one happy and I think developers need to start realizing that combining PvP and PvE is not the solution. You just get more complaining.


  1. While I’m tend to play both PvE and PvP, I think the biggest issue for both sides was that skills and things would get balanced for the branch that you don’t play and it would wreck havoc on your preferred method of play. And Gw2 will still have this issue to a certain degree.

    I think it was more of an expansion of what they ANet did with GW1, than a light bulb moment. In GW1 you could create a max level char for the intent of PvP only (though you still had to find most all of the skills in the PvE portion to make your PvP builds with – or just buy them). Also GW2’s WvWvW uses your PvE characters in it’s form of PvP. Though they do go a long way to try to bridge the level difference while you’re there at least.

  2. Someone once suggested to me that they should stop balancing them as two separate things, and treat them as the same. Balance PvP like normal, then design and balance PvE around the current class balances.

    Was food for thought for me
    *is in a video game design class, future game programmer/designer, future game studio CEO*

  3. @Mordil
    what you get in that instance is PvE players complaining “My class/ability was nerfed because of god-damned PvP”

  4. The thing is, is that PvE content, the boss or encounter would get the buff/nerf, not the player for PvE content.

    If I got nerfed for PvP, the boss / PvE content would receive the appropriate nerf as well, with mine in mind. I wouldn’t be affected at all, because I’m doing what I did before.

    It’d be hard on the PvE team, but hey. That’s the life of a developer.

  5. lol They’ve needed to separate PvP and PvE for many years. Its ridiculous how badly WoW destroyed itself all for PvP “balance” ever since the games been out. Other games too but ive experienced it the most in WoW so far.

    Diablo didnt have some insane amount of PvP “balancing” done and it was incredible.

    The way things are going now they really need to make separate rules for the same abilities depending on if youre in a PvE instance or PvP one and if its open world just leave it the f*** alone.

    For example one single ability could have its cooldown and duration and effect (whatever) changed depending on if youre in a PvP instance or PvE one.
    I hate seeing PvE be completely changed around due to PvP balance issues, its just ridiculous.

  6. Another issue with PvE and PvP existing in the same game is gear.

    There IS still gear you get and equip in GW2 afterall. There is also no PvP stat like resilience to separate the two.

    If the awesome weapon of uberness only drops from the giant dragon (distinctly a PvE encounter) then PvPers will feel the need to kill said dragon so they are at their best in WvW PvP.

    The instanced BGs in GW2 however are completely distinct as this post suggests, the gear and unlocked skills are different then your normal character.

  7. The problem lies with the AI in PvE …. In PvP play is unpredictable, challenging, opponents do not stand still, and do not ignore you if you attack one of their own who is a little out of normal range.

    How often in PvE do we draw an opponent away from its group – the group, even though in plain site of you killing one their own ignore you and carry on regardless. – Its bollocks!

    Make the AI better, make them act as teams, make them act more lifelike, make PvE players have to think more, stop rotations and make PvE ers have to vary the way they use their skills in the tool bars. If developers do this PvE and PvP mechanics become more in sync & you do not have to worry about nerfing PvE players to balance PvP. As they become more in sync balancing PvP should balance PvE.

    PvE gear will become more relevant to PvP styles encouraging PvPers to take more active roles in PvE.

    PvEers will have a bit of a better understanding of how to play PvP and be able to hold their own a bit better when they decide to venture into the PvP side of thing.

    On the other side, PvP, stop macro’s & make people play the game properly, many PvEers dont macro they play the game as it is – going from playing the game as is to an arena where macros effectively make the computer play the game for the player and make the game a first hit wins scenario turns PvEers off playing PvP. Make the game fun and about the skill – not about how effectively you can program your avatar into a bot.

    There is no reason the two forms of play cannot live side by side, it just needs someone to program the AI properly. Better AI benefits everyone.

  8. @Xaras I don’t agree, PvE players are just a different type of gamer than PvPers. PvP can be very intense and frustrating, where as PvE they can take their time and play at their own pace, it’s much more casual. Even with great AI, real players will still be much better.

  9. @Xaras
    Not to mention that’s very complex AI. You’re programming them to think dynamicly, and as a human. Most dev studios don’t want to tackle that problem, or have the ability to.

  10. Interesting points and comments. I also thought that it would interesting to explore the idea of building the game by balancing PVP as normal and then balancing PVE around PVP. Though, I’m not entirely sure how that could be done in detail.

    Increasing the AI abilities would be nice, but as the others have pointed, it might not be a good thing for some people. I envision seeing a situation where one could play in an area where the AI NPCs are quite challenging and some areas where that might not be the case; this is where the player can play casually if desired.

    If I remember correctly, I’ve once read somewhere that when developers make “smarter” AIs, some players would point out that the game is cheating. Some people want to have a greater chance of winning.

    There are ways around this, like making the AI “dumber” or automatically adjusting to player skills on the fly. And yes, all can be complex to implement.

  11. @Mike ….. I dont think youve ever agreed with me ….. u sure your not my missus in disguise?

    The problem as I see it is both sets of players are using the same abilities but the opponents they are playing against are so dissimilar.

    If both sets of players are to use the same pool of abilities then the opponents have to be brought into sync to make these abilities properly relevantto both genres otherwise they are never going to balance properly.

    Also as a side note …. We PvEers spend most of our time in combat plying the same old rotation over and over and over —- and our biggest gripe about MMORPGs is this grind. By varying the opponents AI, by making PvEers vary their game, by making us swap and change our abilities to adapt to different situations and break the rotation fixation that is prevelant at the moment it will have the side effect of making the grind seem less grindy and more gamey.

    MMORPG is all about the community playing, the interaction with other people, mixing PVPers and PVEers makes for a much more intersting mix of people, the MMORPG genre would suffer greatly if the community was seperated. MMORPG is all about the community – dont seperate it – bring it closer together by “tackling the problem” of more complex AI.

  12. While a better AI and dynamic encounters would make PvE more interesting, I do not want a bar of PvP. The very presence of PvP in a game is a big negative to my buying into it. The other features of the game have to be pretty compelling to entice me into taking the risk.

    Why? Because as an ‘old’ player I have no interest in proving myself in mock battles. I want an immersive game that will take time to play; cooperation with other players, not competition. I have lots of time to play and ‘grinding’ is not a disadvantage.

    Also aging reflexes and the fact I play on US servers in US peak time from Australia (which adds at least 200 milli-seconds to my reaction time) means I could not compete even if I wanted too.

    While mixing PvP and PvE makes for a larger player base it does not expand my ‘community’ as the personality and age profile of PvP ers makes them incompatible with my play style.

  13. To me, making a PvP game is the easy way out for developers. They don’t worry too much about AI because they rely on the PvP to provide the challenge. Aion is a prime example of this. The big problem with an open PvP game is that there are not many players out there that want to go through the constant griefing that occurs when high levels can freely attack low levels. Not even those who like PvP will put up with this for long. Yet when Aion put in defensive buffs in leveling areas, note the word defensive, the PvPers cried so long and so loud that the buffs were removed. Those buffs did not allow the lower level players to kill higher levels, they simply gave them a possibility of escape when attacked, so long as the attack was not made by a group. As I started to log in last time I wanted to play Aion, I saw that they’d even opened up the two “safe” leveling areas to PvP, so I didn’t even bother to play. I loved the graphics and found the AI acceptable, but the total lack of penalty for griefing has driven out so many players that the game went from 12 servers to 4, and is still losing players rapidly. Guild Wars 2 has the right idea on PvP vs PvE, and other companies should make note of that. In addition to fair AI for at least some of the creatures, GW2 also has other challenges that do not involve combat. Game companies should look at GW2 as a good start in the right direction for a mixed PvP and PvE game. If you are going to eventually do what Aion has done and remove PvE almost completely, you will discover as they are discovering that there is not the vast number of pure PvP players out there that they think there is.

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