Organized PvP

Everyone has heard the phrase “Less is More.” The converse is occasionally true as well.

A few weeks ago, several PlanetSide 2 servers were merged, and mine was amongst them. When it comes to player-generated content, you always need players to be in physical proximity for any of the magic to really occur. So, I should be all for this development, right?

Well…

In games like PlanetSide 2, organized PvP is too often boring PvP. When you look at this picture, what do you see?

Whatever is over there is screwed.

Whatever is over there is screwed.

If you said “a bunch of planes,” you would technically be correct. Each plane is a Galaxy, which is a 16-man troop transport. Dozens and dozens of fiercely-organized players could be spilling out of the sky, with no warning, deftly seizing territory almost behind enemy lines. Cool, right?

Not really. More likely, those dozens of troops will be landing on an empty base, sitting around shooting 1 bullet and reloading to give some free XP to the Engineers resupplying them ammo, until the base is capped and they move on to the next. Capturing anything less than a Bio Lab results in about the same XP as killing 3-5 people. And even if this Outfit lucks out and finds willing defenders, said defenders are likely to give up and respawn elsewhere than throw themselves beneath the tread of an organized zerg. Because… why would they?

When I log into PlanetSide 2, I do so out of a desire to shoot people. Fighting against an organized Outfit does not result in interesting gameplay for me, as I am necessarily foiled at every turn. Unorganized zerg clashes, on the other hand, are fun times – people flock from all around to any given Bio Lab fight – precisely because individual agency exists. It is your individual, focused skill against the seething mass of the average and distracted. Yes, the odds are low that you accomplish anything of consequence given any one of the dozens of enemies can undo your damage. But sometimes they don’t, because, you know, unorganized. And then you feel like the one-eyed man in the land of the blind.

Which brings me back to the Ps2 server merges. Simply put, since the change I have seen a large increase in organized Outfit activity. Which makes sense, of course, given that there are more people in a smaller space. The result is less interesting gameplay to me, however, as I either face an organized resistance or none at all – the unorganized defenders having been squashed or conscripted hours before. There simply isn’t room for a lone ESF pilot flying around, harassing the odd Sunderer. The landscape beneath my wings is either barren or blanketed with vicious Anti-Aircraft units, both scenarios a reaction to a prior sky full of organized terror.

One might imagine that the underlying design goal was for the two organized groups to meet upon the battlefield, fighting tooth and nail, performing novel tactics that can only emerge from such clashing of focused wills. One might also question what the designers were smoking to believe that such things ever occur naturally and spontaneously. Why struggle and possibly fail (!) when you can instead shepherd your Outfit into empty territory after territory, maximizing XP gains for all? Three kills give more XP than a base capture, but its doubtful everyone will have the opportunity to get three kills, assuming you even find that many defenders still sticking around when the dust of 17 tanks looms tall on the horizon.

No, PlanetSide 2′s organized warfare is the WoW random BG premade, seeking easy kills for the easy Honor. To get these Outfits to clash, SOE is going to have to fashion a similar solution: incentivize Outfit vs Outfit gameplay, ala Rated BGs or Arenas. Changing the hex system to a more linear one is no solution to anything. Scratch that, it’s a great boon to finding a fun, unorganized brawl. It is not, however, going to change how Outfits follow the natural inclination of organized warfare in the preference of soft targets to hard.

If anything, the meeting of strength to strength is the most unnatural result of all.

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Posted on March 18, 2013, in PlanetSide 2 and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Maybe they could use XP bonuses for sticking around instead? The longer hex is in your control, the better is XP multiplier? And then the longer you fight for control, the better are same XP bonuses for attacker.

    At least that would make zerg vs zerg preferable strategy for both sides, rather then taking undefended hexes.

    • Fundamentally, there is no reason for two opposing Outfits to fight each other. Even with your suggestion, it is going to be better to control all of the available hexes + zerg the high XP hex than it would be simply to zerg the high XP hex. It might very well be that there is no possible solution, since many people in organized Outfits like taking over continents simply because they can.

      I am hoping that the “mission system” (whatever that entails) will provide some relief. Perhaps they could even do something like giving people grouped in Outfits a specific objective like holding a particular Tech Plant (etc), while anyone not in an Outfit would have a different objective entirely like holding a specific Bio Lab. This sort of thing could be defeated by people with a Vent/TeamSpeak server, but maybe they wouldn’t bother.

  2. I think your view of outfit play might be a tad cynical.

    I don’t claim to know what the bigger outfits get up to, but in the smaller group I play with, WOLV, we’re always looking for fights. Even a losing fight is so much more fun than capping shit unopposed. We only cap empty bases when we’re trying to provoke a fight or prepare for a fight. We spent most of yesterday on Amerish or Esamir fighting the NC with a significant population disadvantage .

    I like playing solo too, hell I spent 4 hours at Allatum yesterday soaking up the xp, but there’s a sort of satisfaction in coordinated group play too. Stuff you can’t do while solo in the zerg. Like hot dropping into a previously undefended Biolab when all the gens and SCU are down and successfully defending and pushing the invading force out.

    We all tend to hate things we don’t participate in (I could rant about rocket pods at length for instance). Have you thought about looking for a VS outfit that fits your needs? Maybe some pilot group or something? Maybe that would help alleviate some of your annoyance.

    • I did actually join an Outfit for a time – and it appears today’s post is just an inadvertent rewrite of one I did back in February. It was amusing for a time, until the weariness for actually coordinating several Galaxies only to take over abandoned bases on depopulated continents sunk in. That, plus weariness over obnoxious 40-year olds roleplaying military commanders via voice chat. “Clear the channel, this is for squad leaders only!” Followed up by the same guy later detailing his $20,000 man-cave setup like anyone actually cared for his verbal masturbation.

      Smaller Outfits though… you might be on to something. Small enough to be effective against a larger unorganized zerg, but too small to be tempted to go capping empty bases. Maybe something like that is a solution for the larger gameplay issue. Not in PlanetSide 2 of course, but in future games.

      In the meantime, I might actually look around for small Outfits with no delusions of granduer. Assuming any exist on VS Matterson.

      • Yeah that sounds painful.

        Thankfully none of the people I’ve ever fallen in with in MMOs have been quite that delusional.

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