June 23, 2023
Q: Do you think its possible for an ARPG to have good PvP?
Mike: Absolutely yes, definitely! Now just to clarify, our distinction of good PvP is extremely different I bet. [Mike laughs] But yeah, I think that there’s room for – I don’t know if there’s room for a PvE-first ARPG, like Last Epoch is, and I would argue that all of them are right now. Oh, there’s probably an example that I’m not thinking about right now. Anyways, all of the major ones…we’ll say that. I don’t think anyone has achieved awesome, high quality competitive balance in PvP. Similar to the way that, for example, like WoW, and I am not up-to-date on WoW’s PvP scene at all, but they do strive for a competitive balance and there’s a competitive meta that evolves and all these things that happen around PvP in it. Maybe League of Legends would be a better example. That’s a PvP first, basically PvP-only game and that’s really the focus there. So I think that there’s ways to do PvP well in an ARPG, I think it’s totally possible. There’s certain expectations that people have for making PvP systems that would be required to make it good that those expectations might not be possible to hit.
I think sometimes it comes down to like a banned list, is something it needs to have. I’m going to use Magic cards as an example here. It’s something I know really well and can talk about. There’s different formats for Magic cards. So you’ll have a Magic card that gets printed and it can be played in many different formats, and so we’ll talk about formats in the same way we talk about PvE vs PvP as a different format for playing an ARPG. Let’s say that a skill is analogous to a card. So you have these skills that are designed for one environment that end up getting used in another environment. So you have PvE skills that end up getting used in PvP.
So you see in Magic that Commander is a popular format, Standard is a popular format, and Limited is another popular format. There’s different pools of cards that you can play in each one of those formats, and there’s a lot of other ones too – there’s Pauper and Historic and Alchemy and Legacy and Type 2 and Block Constructed…there’s lots of different formats. I didn’t even hit them all – Penny Dreadful, and if you’ve never heard of it and you like to play Magic I recommend checking out the format DanDan. It is the single weirdest format ever but is super cool. Anyways, and I think that having these different – so Magic gets away with having these different formats, different banned lists, and different card pools because there are, I don’t know how many cards, like a million cards at this point…200,000 cards, I don’t know. It’s some huge amount of cards that you can pick from and so you don’t need to have all them available to make a fun format. There’s enough options to pick from.
So, I think, in order to make a successful PvP mode in an initially PvE developed and focused ARPG – I think the key piece is having a skill ban list. Having certain skills that just aren’t available because there’s not really going to be a fun way to make them functional in PvP as they were designed initially with PvE in mind. I am bringing this back to Last Epoch, don’t worry.
We’ve created a pseudo PvP environment in the arena. The limited arena runs end with you fighting an NPC, an enemy, that is using player abilities. So it’s kind of that PvP environment where you just got an AI controlled PvP character because it’s using PvP abilities, right. There’s a Rogue there, and I talk about this almost all the time because I just love it…the person that made it great job, and one of the abilities that the Rogue casts in the limited arena runs is Decoy…against the player. Wow, what good does Decoy do? It doesn’t actually force you to ever target the Decoy so what’s the point? It doesn’t do anything, right? It just explodes after a little while and you just walk away and don’t take a bunch of damage. Okay, great. But if you kill it quickly enough it drops a bunch of runes and glyphs and stuff so it does draw your attention. It acts as a taunt.
So there’s subtle things you can do like that to change skills – and that probably wouldn’t really work in PvP because you’d just have people agree to not hurt each other and just keep spawning Decoy’s to get infinite glyphs and shards, so we can’t actually do that. However, I think it’s a good example of an out-of-the-box workaround to making a non-PvP functional skill work in PvP. If that’s not possible then I think just banning it is fine. I think there’s things like that that you can do to make PvP fun. I just think you can’t be scared to make big changes and to really shake things up for a PvP situation. Now one of the hard parts about that then – I’m saying, okay, yeah, it’s possible to do it. You got to make a lot of changes. You got to do a lot of stuff. That’s a lot of work. That’s a lot of scope that’s tacked onto the game and so it can’t just come as a small little thing and be fun, I don’t think. I don’t think there’s a way to do PvP in an ARPG that’s initially developed PvE focused quickly, cheaply, and good. [Mike laughs] You know, you got to pick two of those things and drop the third.
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