Tag Archives: Dark Age of Camelot

Best PvP Systems for MMORPGs

PvE (Player vs. Environment) systems in MMORPGs are systematically all very similar. Obviously some games deliver more enjoyable challenges from artificial intelligence than others. Yet the core gameplay boils down to the same objective: kill bad guys and take their loot. On the other hand, PvP (Player vs. Player) in MMORPGs vary widely by objective, scope, and type. Which PvP system is the best for MMORPGs? To some extent, this depends on the game. Arena combat is a better fit for World of Warcraft than Eve Online. That doesn’t mean arena combat is better than Eve Online’s free-for-all PvP combat. People seeking a PvP MMO typically come to the table with a vision in mind. To me, the best PvP systems for MMORPGs coincide with the experiences people see in those visions.

In the spirit of competition that draws many to a seek an MMORPG with a good player vs player system, I’ll be eliminating one system at a time. By the end of this post, there will be only one. Highlander style is the best style, after all. This we learn at a young age.

baby knows only one pvp system can win

5. Duels

First on the chopping block is duels. It’s a fun time waster challenging friends to fight mano a mano, but that’s all it’s really good for. MMORPGs where duels are the highest form of player fighting are typically placed there as an afterthought. Blade and Soul is the only MMORPG where high end PvP is built around dueling. While it’s an improvement over dueling random folks in town, matches still tend to get repetitive. The problem with duels is that there’s not enough dynamic play for a strong PvP system. Strategies change depending on the class but not dramatically so. The player skill element arises from playing one’s class well, assuming gear is even and class balance on point. There’s not as much to react to compared to stronger 1v1 venues such as RTS games and CCGs.

4. Battlegrounds

Next has to be PvP battlegrounds. This PvP type caters to players looking for a quick, instanced PvP experience. Usually fighting in battlegrounds is incentivized with unique gear rewards. The problem is that battlegrounds are inherently casual experiences. People hop in by themselves or with small groups and just run around like headless chickens. There’s no sense of community here because the battlegrounds’ instanced nature changes who plays from match to match. There’s nothing really on the line and the lack of any pressure from a loss diminishes the PvP experience. The mentality going into battlegrounds then becomes grouping with the few people that care about teamwork and hoping for the best. There’s just too random many people in a battlegrounds fight to communicate effectively. Big PvP battles require coordination to get the most out of them, and that’s not something battlegrounds handle very well.

3. Arenas

Battlegrounds and duels are weak PvP experiences so cutting them felt good. Arena PvP though can be pretty awesome, and it’s next on the list. In 3v3 and 5v5 matches (or even larger like the original Guild Wars), class dynamics really start to matter. Even 2v2 displays expertise greater than the sum of its parts. Teamwork is huge in the arena and World of Warcraft’s arena competition has shown how important player skill and class knowledge are on the big stage. What makes arena combat great is also what keeps it from rising to the heights of greatest PvP system.

wow's pvp arena system

WoW’s PvP arena as an e-sport

The small group on small group battles requires everyone to be on their ‘A’ game to succeed. Not only can that be overly stressful at times, but it also significantly limits the audience that can participate. The people that play an MMORPG and can enjoy arena combat day in and day out are relatively few. Arena players instead typically gravitate towards MOBAs or arena shooters. So while arena type combat is enjoyable, it doesn’t mesh with the virtual worlds that are MMORPGs.

2. Open PvP

Open PvP systems allow players to kill each other with little to no restrictions. It creates a dangerous world, which fits in well with the games built around that concept. Open PvP can be full of lame griefing, but it can also create a unique atmosphere. To ensure that players can still enjoy the game, good developers will incentivize and discourage particular activities. This may include huge penalties for indiscriminate killing or major bonuses to joining a guild that necessitate ‘choosing a side’. What’s enjoyable about open PvP systems is simply the freedom that the game gives to the players. This creates wild stories, such as the ones that Eve Online is known for. The price of admission isn’t always worth it though, and that’s why it’s hard to rate as the best player fighting system.

I considered creating another heading for guild wars or territory wars but felt those played equal parts to the highest ranking forms of player vs. player combat. In a good open PvP system, players are encouraged to band together to survive and/or thrive. This isn’t just because there is safety in numbers, but because resources and territories can be controlled by large groups. Open systems without these type of objectives to fight over might even be a worse experience than only offering duels.

One other note: open PvP is generally exclusionary to other PvP types. You’ll notice that World of Warcraft, for example, uses all PvP systems on this list except for the open variety. That doesn’t necessarily mean WoW does all of these well. As noted earlier, Blade and Soul is built around duels. World of Warcraft includes dueling because it’s simple to do so, but it doesn’t add anything to the game. More on this in the next section.

1. Faction Wars

What separates faction wars from the rest of the bunch is its perfect mix of approachability, coordination, teamwork, scale, and variety. Faction wars can cater to both big guilds and individuals, admittedly with different levels of success. Still, there’s a lot to be said about an involved faction war system. The best example of how to integrate this system into an MMORPG is Dark Age of Camelot. The Realm vs. Realm play in that game is legendary, bringing together thousands of players to assault other realms while defending their own.

DAoC Pvp system rewards

This castle could be yours!

The greatness of a factional PvP war system is that it essentially combines the best components of all of the above systems without any of the flaws. Like duels, individual skill matters, but there’s no shortage of variance. Unlike casual battlegrounds, faction players will see the same people assisting the realm. This camaraderie leads to trust which leads to coordination. Arena combat might be great for small groups, but it’s really only for the best of the best. On the flip side, any competent human can contribute positively to their faction. And finally, against open PvP, faction warfare still gives the thrill of big battles and potent enemies but with a safe zone to protect against uneven ganking/griefing. In factional PvP systems, help is almost always just around the corner.

As I alluded to in the open PvP section, listing factions and war as bullet point descriptions doesn’t make a true faction war MMORPG. Games like World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic might meet the technical definition of a factional MMORPG. Yet, I would in no way consider these faction war MMOs. A proper faction PvP system is more than just telling players to pick a side and fight the other side when seen. Proper rewards and incentives must be given, which can be as simple as the World vs. World server ladder in Guild Wars 2 or as complex as the aforementioned Camelot. So don’t be fooled by fancy terms when seeking a new MMORPG. Look into the details of what that MMORPG experience offers to see if it truly is what it says it is.

If you’re not sure which of these suit you best, try looking at individual MMORPGs. This list of PvP MMOs should help out.


MMO Retrospective: Shadowbane

Shadowbane MMO Retrospective

Back in 2003 I thought that Shadowbane was going to do for free for all PvP MMOs what Dark Age of Camelot did for faction PvP. Other than nasty bugs, poorly optimized code, and some serious server issues Shadowbane delivered exactly what I wanted at the time. That may seem like I’m being sarcastic, but I was honestly able to look past the technical issues for such a unique experience. I wasn’t alone with that sentiment either. A not-insignificant number of players with similar interests joined me in heralding Shadowbane’s launch. This was finally an MMORPG where players could shape the world.

True Freedom

The vast majority of cities were in fact owned by guilds, which were in turn run by players. It was they who decided the layouts and buildings of their settlement, not game developers. Sure, there was PvE in the form of generic monsters to kill, but that content only served as a appetizer to the main course. Maxing your characters level wasn’t the goal in Shadowbane, maxing your nation’s territory was. In fact, maxing your characters was actually pretty difficult. Shadowbane used a soft cap system where players’ powers would plateau well before the actual hard cap level. It allows players to continue progressing without developing insurmountable advantages over more casual players.

The combat itself was nothing particularly revolutionary. Standard hotbar combat, really. What was cool was that instead of designing abilities around PVE encounters with taunts, and heals, and damage aggro, the classes in Shadowbane were designed around player warfare. Some classes preferred open battlegrounds, some preferred sieges. To exemplify how specialized roles were in Shadowbane there was a even a class focused around destroying walls. No catapult? No problem. Just send in “Frank the Wall Killer”!

For the most part, playing Shadowbane felt like you were constantly stockpiling arms for an upcoming historic war. And really war was exactly what the playerbase wanted. We were players who read epic fantasy novels, imagined battles with hundreds or thousands of participants, and wanted nothing more and then to take part in it. The thing is, when the wars actually came, everything seemed to fall apart.

Shadowbane’s Demise

This was where Shadowbane’s technical issues really started to ruin the experience. Players would find their town under siege and unable to even log in to defend it. Computers and internet connections would strain to keep up with all of the data being processed from nearby players’ actions. It dampened the entire experience (putting it lightly). In hindsight that shouldn’t have been too surprising. Even with relatively stable code, we’re just now getting to the point where servers can handle the massive load of such large battles. Technical issues weren’t the only thing that spelled doom for Shadowbane though.

In fact it was the very freedom of player rule that would make it so unappetizing. You see, eventually every server got to the point where one nation essentially ruled over all. As was inevitable in a game almost purely about war, the majority of guilds would eventually watch their cities and their allies cities topple to the ground. As much as building a city from scratch with fellow friends motivated players, losing it demoralized with a strength ten times greater.

Those with the will to fight back and reclaim their homeland eventually saw the futility of their ways. Not only would stopping a now even stronger foe be impossible without a major political shift in the rival nation’s members, but there simply wasn’t much else to see when a group “won”. Everything in Shadowbane was built around war, but all wars must come to an end. When the dust settled there wasn’t much of a game left to be had. Having seen basically all there was to do, it was no wonder that players were left without any reason to stick around.


Best MMORPG By Year: Part 1 (1996 – 2005)

Want only the past ten years? Skip to Part 2 (2006 – 2015).

MMORPGs have grown to such heights now that they warrant their own category for year end video game awards. However, MMOs evolve to a much greater extent than games from other genres. An MMORPG’s full potential might not be realized until years after launch. It is with this thought in mind, and the fact that hindsight is 20/20, that we’ll be taking a retroactive look at the best MMORPG by year for the past twenty years. We’ll start in 1996, the first time that multiple graphical MMORPGs would release in the same year.

Best MMORPG of 1996 – The Realm (Online)

Runner-up: Furcadia

the realm online best mmorpg 1996 image

Originally launched as simply The Realm in 1996, this cartoony MMO game graphically resembles old point and click style games like Quest for Glory. The Realm offered a surprising wealth of content in its debut year that included player housing, a 1000 level cap, multiple dungeons to explore, and a decent character creation system. The Realm Online’s most notable feature though is its turn based, tactical combat. Although most mobs aren’t terribly challenging, this style of combat added a layer of depth still not present in any many MMORPGs. It also lead to some tense, tactical PvP battles in The Realm.

Of course, The Realm is pretty flawed too. After seeing all the heavily instanced world has to offer, there isn’t much else to do besides grind. There isn’t a real trading system either (only gifting or dropping items) so players hire middle men to facilitate trades, which has been abused by scammers. Yet it doesn’t compare to the “old days” where a lack of solid protection for players’ houses led to unintended burglaries or the gold duping exploit that massively inflated every item’s price. Despite being fixed, these issues sadly persist as the most notable memories of The Realm.

The Realm Online seems to still be running. It was apparently sold to a group of fans several years ago, who have managed to keep it running but do little else to entice players.

Best MMORPG of 1997 – Ultima Online

Runner-up: Tibia

ultima online 1997 best mmorpg image

I thought for sure that Tibia would win its year, but there’s no way it could stand up to the legacy that is Ultima Online. Not only did Ultima Online bring the term MMORPG to the world (we were calling them graphical MUDs prior), but it also created the basis for sandbox MMORPGs. Players entered Ultima Online with a vision of their character and could match that vision surprisingly well. With skills ranging from magery to musicianship to animal taming, it seemed like the developers had thought of everything. The world itself teemed with life. Hell, you could even own a castle. Pretty sweet.

The truly open nature of Ultima Online did lead to some serious player griefing though. Outside of towns, players were fair game and a lot of stronger players targeted easy prey. Since players would also drop all of their gear and loot on death, player killing could be quite profitable. Less violent players could sneak and steal items out of others’ backpacks. For victims, playing Ultima Online was probably akin to playing a shopkeeper in Skyrim. All the sudden everything was gone and you could barely react.

Eventually, Ultima Online split their servers between the PvP friendly Felucca and the carebear land of Trammel. It’s a decision that in equal parts killed and saved the game. The lack of a strong deterrent for Ultima Online criminals would have wiped out the player base, but the game also lost much of its unique “dangerous real world” feel. The most lasting memory for Ultima Online though is when a player killed the invincible Lord British, controlled by Ultima’s creator Richard Garriott.

Ultima Online has withstood the test of time and to this day is still releasing expansions.

Best MMORPG of 1998 – Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds

Runner-up: Lineage

nexus the kingdom of the winds best mmorpg 1998 image

I’m honestly surprised that Kru Interactive hasn’t made any new games. In the late 90s they gave us Nexus, Dark Ages, and Shattered Galaxy. All were pretty cool games, and all are still running. I guess the age of 3D is scary, but that’s fine. There are plenty of 3D MMOs out there from other guys.

Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds was for many their best offering. It seems to be doing the best too in 2016 with biweekly patches. The combat has never been anything to write home about, but what made Nexus special was its social system. Nexus sported a deep political system alongside a mentor system to encourage veterans to help new players. Not everyone was friendly in Nexus, but everyone felt connected. I feel that the systems in place in Nexus make for some of the best socializing of any MMORPG. If only the actual gameplay was as addictive…

Best MMORPG of 1999 – EverQuest

Runner-up: Asheron’s Call

everquest 1999 best mmorpg image

I was tempted to choose Asheron’s Call for 1999 because I personally enjoyed the game more. Ultimately, EverQuest’s lasting legacy proved too monumental to overlook. While developers were trying to figure out the magic MMORPG formula, it would be EverQuest that would leave the biggest imprint of the first generation MMORPGs.

EverQuest’s success was burgeoned by their dedication to creating an atmosphere that resembled tabletop role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons. The game offered players mostly typical fantasy races and classes with a classic alignment system. Multiple varying server rulesets were enacted to center gameplay on a particular player activities. For example, the Vallon Zek server would go down as the first major factional warfare as one’s race dictated PvP status. Rallos Zek allowed bloodthirsty players to kill anyone, much like Ultima Online.

Most importantly for EverQuest, this MMORPG offered players difficult PvE encounters and started the whole raiding thing. The Sleeper is perhaps the most famous raid encounter of all time since it took three highly geared guilds working together for hours to take him down. Players also regenerated health slowly after combat in EverQuest, which lessened the action but increased the social interaction. I don’t miss resting, but I lament the increasingly anti-social nature of multiplayer gaming since EverQuest’s MMORPG heyday. For many veterans, EverQuest is the best MMORPG of all time.

Best MMORPG of 2000 – Allegiance

Runner-up: Allegiance

allegiance 2000 best mmorpg image

Allegiance is a pretty cool game that was ahead of it’s time. Some might argue that the lack of a massive, persistent world (games are eventually won) disqualifies Allegiance as being an MMO. I don’t agree and perhaps more importantly, there were no other MMOs released in 2000. It sort of wins by default, but that doesn’t make it a bad game. The core gameplay revolves around one member of a faction playing the role of an RTS commander with their allies controlling individual ships. Maps are explored, buildings are built, resources collected, technologies researched, and eventually full on wars are waged. It was pretty complicated then without a great tutorial and no doubt partially caused the disappointing sales numbers for developer/publisher Microsoft.

Although Microsoft pulled the plug on this pseudo-MMORPG long ago due to population, fans still run the game.

Best MMORPG of 2001 – Dark Age of Camelot

Runner-up: Runescape

dark age of camelot 2001 best mmorpg image

EverQuest may have been the first MMORPG to implement faction warfare, but Dark Age of Camelot perfected it. Faction warfare in Dark Age of Camelot is referred to as Realm vs. Realm (RvR), unique from the free for all brawl that was simply PvP. In Dark Age of Camelot, players would enter the MMORPG by choosing one of three mythical races to represent. The combat system resembled EverQuest so players familiar with the venerable MMORPG and looking for more structured PvP could easily jump into Camelot.

The primary focus for Dark Age of Camelot’s RvR has always been a 3-sided factional conflict. This maintains balance despite shifting populations. While one side may grow dominant, two sides can temporarily ally to turn the tides. Camelot, to this day, is simply the best MMORPG when it comes to epic castle sieges and territory defense. The population has waned, but the options for a true alternative simply aren’t there.

I do want to give honorable mentions to RuneScape for showing that browser MMORPGs could be fairly legit and Anarchy Online, specifically for their hype machine. Anarchy’s promised a unique setting, and I loved the idea of a neutral faction. The video below got me hyped beyond measure for the sci-fi MMORPG.

Unfortunately, Anarchy Online disappointed in a huge fashion and clearly released too early. It would eventually became a good MMORPG, but it’s launch would go down as one of the worst in MMORPG history. Luckily, Dark Age of Camelot would come to the rescue in October 2001.

Best MMORPG of 2002 – Final Fantasy XI

Runner-up: Ragnarok Online

final fantasy xi 2002 best mmorpg image

Although not released until the following year in the US (along with Korean competitor, Ragnarok Online), Final Fantasy XI put PvE players to the test. EverQuest required grouping, but players could advance eventually by playing more casually. Final Fantasy XI scoffed at the idea. Not only did Final Fantasy XI require grouping, it required coordination. The game did not shy away from grinding, but did reward players with greater EXP bonuses for chaining mobs in quick succession. Although grinding mobs was all the rage until World of Warcraft’s release, Final Fantasy managed to create a rewarding system for the repetitive activity. The familiar Final Fantasy setting, with chocobos and all, also helped to draw players in.

The raids and end game bosses of Final Fantasy XI required not only high end gear, but high end skills too. Whereas most of EverQuest’s high end encounters were designed to be defeated if properly geared, Final Fantasy XI couldn’t care less. To this day, Final Fantasy XI has yet to be surpassed in the difficulty of it’s PvE encounters. It’s unlikely that it will be as providing content that only a fraction of the population will see isn’t good business.

Best MMORPG of 2003 – EVE Online

Runner-up: Star Wars Galaxies

eve online 2003 best mmorpg image

Eve Online is to PvP what Final Fantasy XI is to PvE. To this day, Eve is still the premiere open ended PvP system. Corporations ran by actual players fight over areas of the galaxy in order to obtain resources to grow further. Fleets of hundreds engage in battles with similarly sized opponents. Politics and espionage are another layer on the complex cake that is Eve Online.

Not only did Eve Online present its players with an MMORPG that boasted sandbox freedom, it also introduced a unique skill progression system. In Eve Online, skills are learned in real time whether online or not. Want to master a particular type of battleship? Just wait a month. This concept allowed players to further engage in the content they wanted without worrying about grinding for levels. Finally, Eve Online also did away with the common practice of multiple, split servers. Upwards of 30,000 players can still be found playing Eve Online simultaneously to this day. Max player counts of individual World of Warcraft servers occupy a fraction of that.

The audience is relatively niche compared to mainstream MMORPGs, but is loyal and dedicated. There’s simply nothing quite like Eve Online to this day. That it’s still running and a better game than ever 13 years later is a testament to that statement.

Best MMORPG of 2004 – World of Warcraft

Runner-up: EverQuest II

world of warcraft 2004 best mmorpg image

I mean. Duh. Of course it’s World of Warcraft.

2004 would go down as the most important year for MMORPGs since 1999. It saw a couple other AAA MMORPGs releasing in EverQuest II and City of Heroes. Interesting titles such as Saga of Ryzom, Vendetta Online, Metin2 and Knight Online also debuted. But everything paled in comparison to Blizzard’s behemoth MMORPG.

World of Warcraft took the popular MMORPG formula and perfected it. Blizzard’s only truly unique contribution to the MMORPG genre was the implementation of quests as the primary method of leveling up. Until 2004, quests were largely an afterthought in MMORPGs. They were either too obfuscated or too few to be used as a form of advancement. World of Warcraft changed that and set a precedent for the importance of questing in MMORPGs. We even did a feature on MMORPGs with the best quests. You might notice that World of Warcraft is the only game listed that released before 2007.

World of Warcraft didn’t simply rely on quests to draw in millions of players though. Blizzard polished their first MMORPG to the nth degree. The art design is fantastic, the classes are interesting, grouping became useful instead of required, and the game truly brought the Warcraft universe to life in a virtual world. Is it the best MMORPG of all time? That’s debatable, but, it is certainly the most influential due to its wild success.

Best MMORPG of 2005 – Guild Wars

Runner-up: Silkroad Online

guild wars 2005 best mmorpg image

The original Guild Wars was built on delivering a near immediate endgame with long term horizontal progression, heavily instanced content, and no subscription fee. All four of these defining features things were brand new to the MMO space and have surprisingly inspired very few similar combinations.

The maximum level in Guild Wars is twenty, which can be reached in one day. From there, the primary method of advancement is learning new skills through completing various missions. Each player in Guild Wars has access to only eight skills at a time so gaining more skills doesn’t necessarily make your character stronger. Players in Guild Wars don’t chase bigger numbers but instead seek more skills to provide adaptability. Players can even create PvP only characters with access to all skills for competitive PvP. These design decisions lead to communities that don’t fracture due to varying commitment levels. It’s one of the best perks about horizontal progression, but can also lead to players feeling like there’s not enough advancement to warrant continued play. Luckily, Guild Wars does not require a subscription fee.

Up until this point, monthly subscription fees were the norm for MMORPGs. Free to Play MMOs wouldn’t become popular for a few more years yet. Thus if you wanted to play an MMORPG you had to pay a monthly fee. Guild Wars did away with that, in part thanks to the heavily instanced gameplay to lower server costs. Instanced content also allows developers to create challenges balanced around a particular number of players, at the cost lessening the massive part of the multiplayer experience. This has its pros and cons but certainly helped to define Guild Wars as one of the most unique offerings in the MMORPG genre.

Continue with the Part 2 (2006 – 2015).


Faction PvP Warfare Failures

Faction warfare has served as the backbone for dozens of MMORPGs’ PvP rule sets. The beauty of such a system is that players have no shortage of human combatants yet are still protected by a large community. Free for all PvP like in Eve Online offers a very different dynamic, one where concern for player safety isn’t a high priority. Faction PvP provides the player base the flexibility to engage enemies on their terms with a worthwhile incentive for doing so (if the developers did their job well).

Faction War MMORPGs

Dark Age of Camelot gave us this potentially amazing system first with an ongoing three way battle between the mythical realms of Hibernia, Albion, and Midgard known as Realm vs. Realm (RvR). Most would agree that Dark Age of Camelot handled this subgenre’s ensemble effort very well. The three way system kept all powers in check and wars were waged on a constant basis. Those envisioning castle sieges, rallying war cries, and armies clashing were pleasantly rewarded for their playtime. Gamers to this day continue to reminisce fondly over the enjoyment they found in DAoC.  Factional PvP remained in a bit of a lull until World of Warcraft’s Alliance vs. Horde hit.

Dark Age of Camelot PvP

Dark Age of Camelot

PvP in vanilla World of Warcraft was light hearted fun but had no meaning until the release of battlegrounds. Even then, the benefit of participating in that PvP benefited only the individual. This allowed for a casual stroll into PvP lane but was a far cry from Camelot’s emphasis on the collective over the individual. Unfortunately for those like myself who enjoy organized PvP in MMOs, the studios and publishers decided to copy the commercially mega successful World of Warcraft over Dark Age of Camelot. Of course, I would argue WoW owed very little of its success to PvP. But when trying to make bank off of copycatting, developers often find it difficult to determine which features should actually be unique. PvP with all of its moving parts apparently didn’t find many champions for change amongst the slew of World of Warcraft knockoffs.

Thus, the vast majority of games eschewed many-faction, collective reward focused PvP in favor of two faction, individual reward PvP. That’s not to say there wasn’t some innovation in PvP systems outside of factional warfare (Eve, Silkroad Online, DarkFall), but again those games simply don’t offer that fine balance of danger and safety. As two faction became the norm, games began to cater more towards instances, quests, and the PvE crowd. Two faction PvP is impossible to balance, with Star Wars: The Old Republic probably proving that better that anyone else. The zerg always triumphs and typically draws the more hardcore players, exacerbating the problem further. Without outside aid, the lesser of two factions has no chance. And thus PvP stagnates and forces developers to focus on PvE or instanced PvP to maintain players. It wasn’t until the announcement and release of Guild Wars 2 that we would again see a game with true focus on multi-faction PvP.

Guild Wars 2 PvP

Guild Wars 2

Unfortunately World vs. World, the name for this system in Guild Wars 2, failed to live up to Dark Age of Camelot’s legacy. For one, guilds oddly mattered very little in World vs World. Two, the developers balanced PvP around small engages and not large ones. Three, the reward system failed to compel players to “fight for their homeland”. Fourth, there is very little continuity between the semi-instancing and resets. Certainly many people enjoyed and still enjoy World vs. World in Guild Wars 2, but it proved to be a far cry from the bar that Camelot set.

Camelot Unchained, the upcoming MMORPG spearheaded by none other than Mark Jacobs who oversaw the creation and development of DAoC, might revitalize factional PvP. It also might not. There are a lot of good ideas, but will they come together in a fun package? Time will tell. But in my opinion there are a few key factors for success to which Camelot Unchained or any faction warfare MMORPG must adhere.

Guilds

Guilds need to play a prominent role in the leadership of their respective factions. It’s easy to think that because everyone already has a “home” with their faction that guilds aren’t critical. After all, competition would be between factions and not guilds. Right? Yes and no. While factions give players a direction to exert their efforts, they don’t inherently do so in an organized fashion. Like any military branch, there is a certain chain of command to keep engagements organized. Guilds are what take us from pick up groups to at least somewhat organized war parties. They also play a critical role in the socialization component.

Camelot Unchained PvP

Camelot Unchained

Engaging in, and especially succeeding in, faction warfare contests will need to provide some level of reward commensurate with the effort. That’s basically the crux of MMOs that effort gives reward. While player rewards are nice, guild rewards create a more community driven environment. Unlike PvE focused MMORPGs, faction war MMORPG guilds care about what others guilds are doing. Progression in these games isn’t just about finding twenty people with the proper gear score, but finding twenty other guilds on which your guild can rely.

Guilds must be rewarded and emphasized for a faction warfare MMORPG to succeed or the gameplay will devolve into a mess of PUGs akin to playing Battlefield on a public server.

3+ Factions

Two faction warfare doesn’t work. One side gets bigger and attracts better players. Then everything just spirals out of control. It’s fine if PvP is centered around non-persistent battlegrounds like World of Warcraft. In that case though the whole faction thing sort of loses its meaning. What does it really matter who your friends and enemies are when everything gets swept away thirty minutes later?

Personally, I think I would most enjoy ~7 factions. This allows developers to add some real character to each faction. Alliances and war targets would be much more dynamic and interesting with a higher number. Unfortunately, it also requires a larger player base to enact effectively which is a risky proposition. Employing something like 3 or 4 factions is a simple balance mechanism that keeps faction warfare competitive. When one side grows too large or powerful, more factions ensure there are adequate numbers to even things out.

Focus on PvP

MMORPGs have evolved a lot in the past fifteen years. One game can not and should not try to do it all. A strong vision is essential to delivering a product worth playing. Creating a game that tries to cater to PvE and PvP blurs the vision, splits resources, imbalances one or both for combat, and brings dispassionate players that contribute to an uninspiring community atmosphere. Of course there is more to MMORPGs than PvE and PvP. Additionally, PvE content does not necessarily hurt PvP content. The trick is unifying all of the features with one concerted goal. In the case of this post, that would be delivering the best MMO factional warfare experience possible.

Delivering that experience requires players to fight each other at all junctions. When I see an MMORPG touting multi-faction warfare, I want the content in the game focused on that. This means that the primary (or only) method of advancement should be PvP. Crafting, balance, quests, and even PvE content should funnel into the grand ole war. If it doesn’t then that’s a sign that it’s either not a factional warfare game (and is just a game with a factions) OR the developers don’t have a clear idea of what they want to deliver. In the first case, that’s not necessarily bad (unless you want faction wars). In the second case, that’s a sign to me that the game is setting up for failure.

Time Will Tell

I really do hope to see factional warfare modernized. It’s an underused player vs. player mechanic that only an MMORPG has the scope to fulfill. There are games on the horizon, but it’s still too early to tell whether they’ll succeed. Time will tell if MMO faction PvP will get the treatment it deserves.


The 10 Best MMO Music Tracks

At some point you will get fed up with repeating the same track of your favorite video game from time to time. It’s why a lot of us switch to outside music sources when playing games. Everyone has a unique taste and preferences when playing MMOs and games after all. But the best MMO music tracks offer a wide range of appeal. And they offer memories of positive experiences from playing said MMO.

Long after cancelling your account and even wiping the game from your computer, several memories of the old MMORPG will remain. One way to relive these memories is through the games’ soundtracks. Compositions and scores cooperate with the visuals in the games to craft the overall atmosphere of the game. Within the scores, individual tunes and tracks which will bring back waves of nostalgia. The following are our top 10 most most memorable MMO music tracks.

10. Runes of Magic – Main Theme

Runes of Magic was released in the year 2009 and since then it has been a strong free alternative to the World of Warcraft. For some people the game was impressive and listening was also not a problem. It is a great game with a stronger score largely due to its theme tune.

9. Cabal Online – Abomination

This is the song which plays in the Forgotten Temple in the Cabal Online and it’s recognized for two main reasons. This is the only best MMO music that plays in a higher level area. If your desire is to listen to Abomination while playing a game you will have to be past level 100. However, you can hear this song after loading up Cabal Online’s Website. The soundtrack is also notable simply because it is a MMORPG song with words. You can play the song easily in your car and no one will suspect that it is a song from a game you dedicated most of your time playing.

8. MapleStory – Lith Harbor

MapleStory was a unique MMORPG immediately after its launch. It offered the players a wonderful game with stunning graphics, action oriented combats, 2D platforming capabilities and lower system specs. The game managed to claim over 90 million players in two years. The first town, Lith Harbor, in the Maplestory has an inviting and a very friendly tune which earns its memorable honors.

7. DAoC (Dark Age of Camelot) – Combat Music 1

The combat music qualifies to be one of the best MMO music. DAoC established nation war combat, pitting three historic and mythical realms against each other in the struggle for relics. The game is about thrilling PvP combat and holds a large space in many hearts of MMO gamers particularly as most feel PvP in DAoC is yet to be topped.

6. Lineage 2- Dion Theme

If you played Lineage 2, possibly you made it to Dion before you got sick of the awful grind. If this is so, the Dion theme will definitely bring back some of the best memories. It completely and perfectly sets a fantasy world’s stage.

5. Anarchy Online – Main Theme

The Anarchy online is one of my favorite games. I like everything that the game offers but during its release it was not the best – but today it is much improved. Its promotional video highly helped in its popularity growth particularly due to the epic primary theme behind it.

4. Eve Online – Below The Asteroids

This is another MMO soundtrack which is among the most popular and there are people who also use it in other games. Just like Dion’s theme captures the fantasy world feel, Below the Asteroids also captures the free roaming space feel. Moreover, Eve Online offers freedom for gamers to play exactly how they want and the songs allows them to achieve exactly that.

3. Ragnarok Online – Prontera Theme

This is another town’s theme song which forms part of this list. Similar to the MapleStory’s Lith Harbor, you will have to visit Prontera for some time. Ragnarok online has established a big player base that allows job advancement, reminiscent of earlier sprite based RPGs, colorful 2D gameplay and killer music which include the happy go lucky music track.

2. World of Warcraft – Vanilla Login

This game reached over 10 million downloads and such a large number of players cannot be wrong. For the hardcore and the casual gamers, the World of Warcraft was a differentiated game that even made MMORPG one of the household terms. Belief it or not, most games fail to craft a masterpiece by forgetting the fundamental components like the musical tune which everyone has to hear even before logging in. World of Warcraft had a special tune that people will remember for a very long time.

1. Ultima Online – Stones

One of the features that made Ultima Online a popular game is the login music whose name was Stones. The game involved many features from nine previous games. The game was an impressive score that it actually allowed the creator of the game Mr. Richard Garriott – character to be killed. When this game was launched almost everything was possible regardless of whether the producer intended to achieve it or not. Stones helped in setting up the stage for this freedom.

Bottom Line

Video games may be described as audiovisual performances. This means that the sound and the visuals come together to make a cohesive, interactive experience. But when the producer ignores one over the other, the experience will be rather jarring. And unlike graphics which are dated within the MMORPG’s release year, the best of music tracks from MMOs can live on eternally. The tunes are an important component in the grand memories of the MMO you’ve been playing. Nostalgia can play a big factor in the enjoyment of any music, video gaming related or otherwise.

In a game, music is necessary in establishing the mood and the tone. When playing the game, the soundtrack plays into your senses and creeps into your mind. Wonderful music in a game will not become boring or irritating after repeated listens. Instead, positive emotions will be associated with these music tracks, which in turn motivate players to play more frequently or after a long hiatus. Even decades later, I’ll be glad to have been a part of these games. In for nothing elese, just because I got to experience the most memorable MMO music tracks the industry has offered thus far.