PvP vs. PvE

There’s an age old debate that goes on amongst PvPers and PvEers: which is more difficult? For some reason, people think this comparison is pivotal. But, really, it’s not. However, each can affect the other. For example, Archimonde is made easier if everyone in your raid has a Medallion of the Alliance. And rogues are far more potent if they’re using warglaives over s3 weapons. So discussing each in relation to the other is an important point of contention.

However, on a general level, comparing PvP and PvE is like contrasting Zelda and TF2. They have entirely different dynamics. They are almost entirely different games, even. PvE has mechanics you simply don’t see in PvP. And it’s a simple reason why: bosses have abilities players don’t. So when you come up against a boss with an ability you’ve never seen before (which is almost always the case), you’re forced to figure out exactly what it does, when the boss uses it and how to cope with it given the context of your class and raid composition. It’s similar to the approach necessary to beat any boss in a Zelda game, except there’s only one class and one person in the “raid.”

Here’s the thing. If Blizzard wants to go the route of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out or Battletoads, they can make Kil’jaeden nearly impossible and leave him that way. But everyone knows frustrating your PvE playerbase is likely to lose you customers. The playability value of the PvE game in an MMO comes primarily with experiencing new content, rather than its difficulty. So they don’t make them impossible. And thus the difficulty lies primarily in mustering up a force of players built for beating each specific boss, and maintaining this group of players. This is something even Ming understands.

Likewise, the difficulty in PvP is entirely different from that of PvE. Hell, difficulty in various types of PvP are not entirely comparable. For example, with BG’s, you have different tools that add to the dynamic of gameplay. When these tools exist, the degree of difficulty changes based on the complexity of the systems involved. But arenas are the basis for discussing PvP these days, and its difficulty is based entirely on class composition, player skill and what each team matches up against with high frequency. But one thing is certain: you’re not going to waltz into an arena match and suddenly discover that someone on the other team has Doomfire or Flame Wreath. But that has nothing to do with PvP vs PvE. Rather, it’s an example of why they are too different compare.

The dialog should focus on how each affects the other, not whether PvP or PvE is more difficult. And it’s imperative to hold this discussion, because there are players who dislike participating in one or the other. At the same time, however, it’s important for Blizzard to maximize people’s enjoyment of one side of the game without stepping on the toes of others. And I mean this in the sense that there are players who enjoy both sides of the game, myself included. It’s not like you can just disallow warglaives in arena, because it would force these rogues to go out and get a new set of weapons. And good luck to them staying on top of the ladder using some blue or S1 maces! So some of these problems need to be fixed either with the new season or with WotLK. Design concepts need to be adjusted with the addition of new PvE content, new arena seasons, new types of PvP, etc.

That said, however, bickering over whether or not PvP is harder than PvE and vice versa is pointless. And anyone who tries to generalize a specific demographic of players is simply a douchebag. No matter what side of the fence they stand on.