Nate Combs over at Terra Nova has another piece up in his PvP series, this time about EVE Online and the "asymmetry of PvP." In a game like World of Warcraft, the devs have said that they're aiming to keep players as equal-- if you take on another player at your level with your level of gear, you've each got a pretty good chance of winning, and the game is designed to set it up so that you can both show up on a level playing field. But in a game like EVE Online, that plan goes out the window-- players can attack each other anywhere and anytime. There are consequences and advantages to attacking at certain times, and it's up to players to decide when and where PvP works for them-- it's an asymmetric system that leaves it up to players to find balance.

I've just recently starting playing EVE Online, and I can tell you that the system has its drawbacks-- yesterday I had to log off because I had a wartarget camping my station, and if I left, I would have gotten blasted to pieces. Later in the day, I was mining and had another enemy warp in on my location with a much more powerful ship than mine-- I had to hightail it out of there, losing my ore completely. But on the other hand, a complex system like this leaves a lot of options open, too-- if I wanted to, I could buy my own powerful ship, and go and hunt that guy down when he least expected it.

Combs points out that EVE has gone into PvP in ways other games don't even dream of-- instead of blowing up ships, you can undermine other player economies and even throw propaganda out there designed to break apart player alliances. And a system this complex leads to generals and troops-- players might be involved in a war they don't even understand the cause of, all in the name of competitive gameplay.

It is definitely fascinating stuff-- I've started thinking of EVE as "the MMO of the future" because the kinds of gameplay it invites are just scratching the surface of what MMO makers will be able to do when the figure out how to harness it. Charging into the fray in WoW's battlegrounds is fun, because you're taking on people basically your own size, and everyone in the field has at least a fighting chance. But entering the asymmetric PvP universe of EVE is a different experience entirely-- you're out there in the deep end by yourself, and it's either hide in your station, or eat or be eaten.

This article was originally published on Massively.
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