TERA: Profiling Outlaws in PvP Paradise
By Darren Henderson (DizzyPW), OnRPG Editor-in-Chief
DizzyPW’s TERA Popori Lancer split between his love of MOBAs and TERA’s Open World PvP
Original Artwork Commissioned by OnRPG, produced by Ajka Bodika. Feel free to support her work on her deviant art page here!
As many members of the OnRPG community are aware, these days I’m a die-hard MOBA fan. MOBAs provide that element of suspense and constant PvP interaction that I believe the online gaming industry was originally created for before it became side-tracked and lost its way down the PvE and “content update” sinkhole that summarizes over 90% of the online gaming market today. As such I fell into MOBA’s as the last bastion of the online gaming community where PvP was prioritized and competitive play promoted as the primary means of enjoyment, and have played them almost exclusively for the past year.
The Ingredients to Make PvP Paradise
However, MOBAs lack a key element of MMORPG’s that has almost completely disappeared over the years. Titles like Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot, though before my time, offered a rare combination of balanced open world PvP and the ability to build a legacy through your actions that could be widely known throughout your server if you dedicated enough time and effort to it. Of course what I’m referring to was the ability to be an outlaw, kill who you wanted to, and take responsibility for your actions as you build up a reputation as a ‘bad guy.’ The rise in popularity of the F2P model and WoW’s style of 2-sided faction based PvP have combined to create an endless series of titles that either restrict your actions through harsh PK penalties, the inability to kill who you want due to hard-coded faction restrictions, broken balance through overpowered and overpriced cash shop refining tools, or a combination of all of the above.
I had given up on ever seeing a title that would meet my expectations on what a Pker’s MMO should be until E3 2011 when En Masse Entertainment displayed a shining beacon within an oddly designed tree booth. The marketing team at TERA initially believed touting the game as a true action combat title was what would draw the masses in, but soon found they had created an environment for the large and unsatisfied niche of griefers and MMO PvP fanatics like myself that had found themselves without a real home in the genre for so many years. As TERA enters open beta this weekend I decided it was an opportune time to write an article introducing a few of the typical stereotypes you may come across on the PvP servers as well as discuss how the game experience is different for those who choose to live outside the boundaries of the law.
Completely open world PvP without factions ensured that the actions of PvP enthusiasts would not be restricted by arbitrary developer laws. A subscription-based system and the promise of non-RNG based gear upgrading ensured that we would not fall victim to the F2P cash shop model that has destroyed so many Asian developed open world titles that came before it. A publisher philosophy that the community should govern itself protected players from harsh penalties that would put Pkers at an unfair disadvantage against their PvE focused prey. Instead you merely are marked as what you are, an outlaw, for hunting those too weak to put up a fair fight against you in 1 on 1 combat. The final catalyst needed to make TERA the perfect open world PvP game was the highly advertised action combat that allows players the ability to utilize skill to escape from overpowered players that would be able to ensure certain death in most other titles with a simple push of the 1, 2 and 3 hotkeys. My heart was won over by this very feature in the second TERA CB test when I came within meters of a Berseker 12 levels higher than me and escaped by using a few well timed charges from my Lancer.
Knowing Your Griefer Stereotypes
While TERA has made the environment for PvP paradise, they have also attracted the larger casual audience in mass (pun intended). Many of these players likely have never played a factionless open world PvP title before and will be in for a rude awakening when they roll a PvP server and realize what is in store for them. Just like when dealing with racism, I believe the first step towards learning to cope with each other is getting to know your enemy and understanding them as a fellow human and not just a digital anomaly that brings nothing but grief. To do this I’ve broken down the various types of griefers you will likely run into while playing TERA and what motivates them to step outside the boundaries of society and live the life of an outlaw or vigilante.
The Hitman typically is where the path of the Griefer starts for most PvE focused players, including myself, that decide to take a walk on the wild side. It’s the easiest transition in terms of motivation because it follows the same MMORPG logic players are used to: kill target A, receive reward B. Hitmen are motivated by server politics and only hunt a select list of targets deemed unfavorable by their faction leader, often under the guise of a KOS (Kill on Sight) list designed to eliminate potential threats to their faction’s superiority.
Most Hitmen have zero emotion tied to their assault and merely do it as a means to gain respect and political power within their organization. A screenshot of your dead corpse with their avatar dancing over it posted on their faction forum is often a valuable currency that can quickly lead to attaining officer positions and server-wide respect…or infamy as the case may be. Though these types are also the most predictable griefers and often telegraph their intention to kill you long before actually going in for the kill itself. The organized nature of their attacks though often means that they will travel in packs to maximize their chances of success. so be careful of getting zerged. If you are a casual player that doesn’t get involved in server politics, you will likely never have to deal with Hitmen and can party freely with them with no worries of attack.
The Grudge is an oddball among the griefer population. They usually begin a game as a typical PvE focused player with no intention of becoming a part of the open world PvP scene. This changes drastically when someone connected to you or your faction, in most cases The Troll (see below) does something to set them off on a deep emotional level.
Almost opposite of the Hitman, the Grudge seeks no personal gain other than revenge from PK. They will often enter combat alone without regard for their odds of victory, driven by hatred of Pkers and disregarding that you personally had no part in what has them so angry. This type of griefer becomes infinitely more dangerous when in a high standing position in your server’s society as they will attempt to unite their followers in a KOS declaration to unleash as much havoc as possible on those they feel wronged them. Avoiding them when possible until time heals their wounds is often the best way to deal with the Grudge, unless of course you are a Troll and seek to rile them up even further.
The Troll is the poster-child that most players think of when imagining a griefer. Though the term become overly mainstream and is often used incorrectly by much of the online community, I’m lucky enough to have an Expert Troll for a roommate and can offer a look into the mind of this category of griefer.
At the core, The Troll is an evolved version of the Hitman that has become disenchanted or flat out bored with killing players for political power. Instead they seek something more from griefing that they have become drunk on from their time as a Hitman; what they really desire is the emotional response from players that take being killed overly serious. As such a true Troll seeks not only to kill you, but to humiliate you in a way that elicits your reaction. Some examples of this from other games involve killing your girlfriend while you’re carrying her between towns, or hitting you with a near kill shot just as a boss monster is powering up for devastating strike, resulting in a ‘mob kill’ that costs you far more than being Pked would.
The Expert Troll, though incredibly rare, is described as a highly intelligent player who does not limit himself to mere Pking. They will use psychological warfare including infiltrating factions, or lying about their position in Private Messages in order to incite full out warfare between two factions. In their mind, forcing PvE focused players to kill each other over nothing is a far greater victory than killing players one at a time. The only real defense against a troll is to identify them as such and make it known throughout your community not to ‘feed the troll.’
The Outlaw Rper
Out of all the griefers you may come across, the Roleplayer is by far the most rare. A common misconception among the Internet community is that Roleplayers are the least likely to go out of their way to grief other players as they are too busy casually enjoying PvE content while spending a good deal of time building a story with their fellow Roleplayers. Yet when that rare outlier does step into the griefing spectrum, they are a force to be feared.
Roleplayers have a far more personal bond with their character than the average player and will often go to extreme lengths to master their class as a means of ensuring they have control over their destiny and the lore behind their character. They will attempt to draw you into their world as a means of building back-story as to why they are attacking you, often involving generic visible traits of your character such as race or the location you currently reside in within the game world. If you’re a smooth linguists you might actually be able to add to their personal tale and even talk yourself out of conflict. This can even lead to making a very reliable friend should you go this route. But if you absolutely refuse to join into their role-playing world, it is sometimes possible to gain an advantage over them by using their personal code of conduct against them. One such example I’ve encountered was using potions in PvP against a roleplayer, who immediately taunted my cowardice and fled from combat while commenting on my lack of ethics.
The challenger is an unusual griefer who actually does very little PK compared to most types on this list. Instead they spend a short period of time gaining massive amounts of red hours before entering into a PvP break. Then they go about playing the game as normal for the sheer thrill of experiencing how various people react to them. The psychological aspect of this is fascinating to see who will shy away from battle, who will attack haphazardly with no chance of winning, and so on.
The challenger loves to have to constantly watch their back for signs of opponents that could strike at any minute. Every quest suddenly becomes far more dangerous and satisfying as a result. The best part of this situation of course is that challengers are often majorly into time management and now they can have combat find them rather than wasting time hunting down player after player which can be tedious and inefficient towards their character progress. They tend to share some of the characteristics of the Troll in that they find standard PvPing boring and will usually try to kill much lower leveled characters in unusual ways. When the Challenger does finally find an opponent that matches their skill level, they will often seek repeated combat with them constantly to hone their skills and for the pure adrenaline rush of finally finding an equal.
These players tend to aim to be the bane of a griefers existence. They come in two varieties, as well as one spin-off type known as the Dark Knight. The first type I describe as players who love PvP but don’t like the stigma of being labeled as an outlaw so they choose to only pk when it won’t impact their reputation. The second is an advanced stage of the Grudge, who has decided to turn their gaze against any red name no matter the circumstances of how they got red. All reds are guilty in their eyes and they will bring them down by any means necessary.
No matter the case, the White Knight always love praise from their fellow players. This motivates them as they will tend to strike down a pker just as they begin to attack another player. This is double effective as they can force a pker into a 2 on 1 situation and also gain respect from the player they rescue.
White Knights advance from a nuisance to a server-wide threat when they become organized under the banner of an expert hitman that can unify their dedication towards PvP under a single banner. These factions tend to act as Server Police and believe they maintain order so that everyone can enjoy the game. However this comes at a price as they will become primary targets of Trolls, Challengers, and Roleplayers alike!
It is of note that a less common variation of this stereotype exists known as the Dark Knight, who more or less follows the same code of conduct except that they carry a vehement hate of White Knights and will go out of their way to specifically hunt them and prevent them from getting in the way of griefers in general.
A short disclaimer before ending this part of the article. This list in no way reflects every PvP enthusiast you will likely meet in the world of TERA, but is meant to be a brief outline of the types I have often come across in my MMO experience. Some players may be a mix of the two or offer their own unique twist on what motivates them to PvP. Feel free to comment below on your thoughts or offer major stereotypes you have come across in your gaming experience!
In part two of this column I will discuss my personal experience as an outlaw of the challenger variety in TERA. It’s a tough life to lead so it’s best to know what you’re getting into prior to stepping into the darker side of the e-community and hopefully my story can help you decide if being an outlaw is right for you.