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In a world increasingly connected by the internet, it might sound redundant to point out the popularity of online gaming. After all, few games are completely devoid of multiplayer in one form or another. That said, PC gamers have always been streets ahead in their online gaming habits, and depending on your tastes and budgets there are a number of options available to you if you’re looking for something new or just starting out on the online circuit.
Of course one of the most appealing aspects of online play is gaming against your friends, in which case it is essential to find out which are the best PvP (Player versus Player for the unschooled) games out there. In comparison to PvE games where you compete against computer controlled environments, PvP play offers gamers the chance to play against real-world opponents, which is understandably appealing.
Although the term PvP originated in the world of Multi-User Dungeons (or MUDs), in today’s gaming market it’s more commonly found in MMORPGs, which is the aspect we’ll be focusing on here, and there’s something to suit everyone’s budget in this case, from Free-to-Play to subscription-based MMOs that incorporate PvP.
While not everything on this list is new and glossy, some of them are tried and tested, and gamers continue returning to them for a reason.
Lord of the Rings Online
Although the original game was released as far back as 2007, expansions and updates have continued to flourish, as recently as the late 2013 release of the Helm’s Deep expansion. The PvP aspect of this game takes its form in Monster Play or Player versus Monster Player. Monster Play is unlocked when a player reaches level 10, after which players can play as a level 85 monster. These monsters or “creeps” have their own set of quests and fight the Heroes for control of the Ettenmoors. Monsters receive infamy for killing Heroes and Heroes receive renown for killing monsters, and the best way to achieve this is through a raid. The free-to-play model of the game combined with its continuous support and expansion is likely one of the reasons this remains such a popular PvP title.
Based in the fictional Forgotten Realms universe, Neverwinter is a D&D style MMORPG that draws on lore from the city of Neverwinter (Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights 2 among others), but which is not related to the original Bioware/Obsidian games. Released in June 2013, it’s relatively new on the market and has received favourable reviews so far. The only type of PvP that was available on launch was Domination, a skirmish arena type battlefield where you play 5-on-5 fighting over three control points. Although more PvP variations are set to be added to this increasingly popular MMORPG, complaints have arisen about unbalanced gameplay, but don’t let that stop you from trying out what is fast becoming one of the rising stars of the MMO world.
Star Trek Online
With awesome graphics, great content and extensive customisation options, Star Trek Online is still popular since its launch in 2010. A variety of different races are available and when you decide to explore the multiplayer aspect in the form of teaming, it’s possible to join together with other players in order to accomplish missions issued from Starfleet Command or the Klingon Defence Force. A neutral zone allows PvP combat between factions, and players fight the opposing faction to meet an objective such as capture the flag. On the plus side this game certainly looks quite pretty, but on the downside it’s likely you’ll find it a bit ho-hum after an extended period of time.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Although I’m not personally a Final Fantasy fan, I would be remiss in leaving out a game such as this. The original version was released in 2010 to decidedly poor reviews, and so a remake was launched in 2013 which made such strides forward that reviews became incredibly favourable. A Realm Reborn features not only a new story and engine but improved gameplay and a revamped interface. The first major patch A Realm Awoken (2013), introduced (among other things) PvP, which features a 4-on-4 arena type battle as well as Frontlines, designated areas where combat is allowed. If you’re into JRPGs, then you should add this to your “must play” list right away.
Guild Wars 2
Another game that was released a few years ago, Guild Wars 2 came out in 2012, but it received new content updates every two weeks. Every. Two. Weeks. That’s pretty damn amazing, and it’s no wonder the game stays as fresh and popular as it does. Of course there are additional expansions as well, the most recent being Bazaar of the Four Winds in July 2013. GW2 offers a variety of different PvP modes – Structured, where players have access to top level equipment as well as all available skills, and which includes Conquest (Capture the Flag); World versus World where players are adjusted to a maximum equivalent level; and Activities, a more lighthearted mode that includes Costume Brawl, Crab Toss and Keg Brawl.
While we’ve handed you a selection of what we think are the best and most consistently updated, they’re certainly not the only fish in the sea. There’s really not much more to say other than, “Why are you still reading?” Go on – pick a game and grab a friend that you know shares your competitive nature.