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PvP and I have a weird relationship. When it comes to playing games solo or in a cooperative situation I can dance on the keybindings like a piano virtuoso, but put me in a combat situation in front of another live person and suddenly I end up being no better than if I rolled my face up and down the keyboard.

So with that in mind, my recent MMORPG curiosities seem to be going against type. I continue to be intrigued by developing games like Crowfall and Ashes of Creation and kind of leapt at the opportunity to give Rend’s alpha build a peek when I had the chance to. And though my time during said tests was a bit on the short side, it really did help build a small bridge between my brain and PvP.

rend-ultra-tree

Or to reference the game itself, let the PvP tree grow.

I think what has been missing overall for me has been factions. Not the nebulous sort like you see in WoW where you’re either Horde or Alliance, but the kind where the scale is a bit more compact but not so small as to feel like you’re in a team-based shooter. Suddenly, I felt that my meager wandering around in the wild collecting errant plants and rocks meant something to a greater effort.

It was a subtle sort of magic, this factional association. At first I felt like I did in every other PvP situation, soaked in sweat and mouse-looking in every direction for threats. Eventually, though, I came to associate the starting base as home and its inhabitants a tribe that would at least be around to maybe help. And while I did try to grow myself, I started to slowly realize that things I would have considered vendor trash in other MMOs could be of use to others in their own efforts.

This interdependence began to steer my habits entirely from self-preservation to exploratory envelope pushing in the interest of helping my faction out. I would get or make a few supplies and press out into the wilds away from the safe and comforting view of my home base’s walls, striking into deep territory for greater resources to bring back home. It wasn’t about me anymore, but about everyone else. And man did that feel good.

rend-wood-base

Basically, I felt like I was in a real community for once.

Granted, none of those activities really tie into PvP directly, but the way Rend works is that shared resources build up a faction’s overall technological strength, allowing those faction’s members to build better weapons. So my puttering about, drop in the bucket it may have been, did really feel like I was contributing to a building war effort.

This not only changed my play habits in terms of pastoral pursuits, but also my attitude to those around me. Someone reported that a member of one of the enemy factions was nearing the base and immediately myself and a couple of others dropped what we were doing and tried to dash out to intercept. It didn’t come to blows, but it’s noteworthy here because I was actively seeking a fight with another in-game player – something I’ve never done previously.

Rend, and by extension factional PvP mechanics, seem to make things far more personal without making it personal. What I mean by that is you’re actually working towards some larger goal and anyone who’s actively trying to stop that goal from happening must be dealt with. By contrast, smaller form PvP leaves me feeling alone in a crowd.

I never got into a situation where I could test my combat resolve and I suspect if an engagement did go down I’d be awful, but I had resolve nonetheless. In battleground-style PvP, I’m the only person to worry about and I’m swept up into a maelstrom of terror until I’m run over by someone with a cooler head. leaving me to blame myself, log off and quit. PvP feels different when it’s a self-inflicted wound versus when you fall as part of a greater, long-form plan of attack.

rend-down-sights

Even if I got taken out, perhaps my faction would still win. And I could help after the fact.

And again, my desire to do more pastoral activities to fuel a war effort by those more skilled than me feels really good. And if those systems are interesting, I could see myself getting lost in that factional PvP game.

Rend, in my view, falls rather short here. It’s the usual chestnut of finding materials, standing in the general vicinity of a crafting station and watching items just sort of apparate, but in a game like Crowfall or especially Chronicles of Elyria where crafting is intended to be a more involved process, I definitely think I’d do little else. Even fighting to protect that part of my experience if need be.

To be fair to Rend, though, I still found crafting items fun enough. Mostly because, again, the things I was bringing home and putting into the myriad storage chests scattered about the base was for something bigger than me.

rend-dark-wispies

Even when it’s dark and spooky, striking out is worth it in the end.

I recognize that a lot of these feelings will probably not sound revelatory for those who participate in PvP far more frequently, but you’ve got to understand that I come from a different world of MMO gaming where I look for cooperation and character. And while those are still very important to me, Rend’s little tricks have taught me that there’s more to this PvP thing than meets the eye.

We’ll see how things go in terms of the many sandbox titles I’m eyeballing, but basically this has opened up a lot for me and is primarily why I’m still excited by MMOs overall. It’s nice to have something new to discover once again.

…I really should fire up the Crowfall Live build some time.

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