Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dark Souls: Consensual non consensual PVP

Dark Souls has an interesting take on the consensual / non consensual pvp issue. When you try to play the challenging single player campaign non- consensual pvp happens when another player invades your game world and generally messes up you plans by killing you. On the other hand  you cannot be invaded unless you choose to adopt "human form" (normally you have the appearance of a zombie like corpse) so being human is like a pvp flag that you can turn on if you are willing to risk invasions. On the other other hand human form offers some unique in game advantages. You can only summon the help of friendly players and npc allies to help you (co-op) while in human form for example and human form also allows you to upgrade bonfires (think checkpoints) to effectively double your healing capacity. The net result is that even the most pvp adverse players are likely to risk being human from time to time.

So is pvp consensual or not? Strictly speaking it is entirely consensual because you could play the whole game without ever flagging yourself for pvp with human form. I doubt anybody does.

As a PVE focussed player myself I think that on balance the threat of invasion adds greatly to the game. I generally avoid human form until I need it (typically my first time in a zone to upgrade the bonfire and then again if I need help to tackle the boss). I find being human adds a certain spice to the game with the ever present threat of being invaded by the glowing red spectre of another player. I have indeed been subject to invasions and multiple ignominious deaths to players who actually know how to pvp but dying is a fact of life in dark souls so I am well use to it.

By the way if you haven't tried this game yet I strong recommend it.  It is an outright masterpiece that has thoroughly consumed me. Yes it has flaws and the game is likely to seem incomprehensible at first but once you get sucked in it is hard to resist. With the PC release it now available on every platform but the Wii so you have plenty choice.


Eutheos said...

I've gone to Metacritic to take a look at the reviews. All agree: it's a complete port from a console. All my console port experiences so far have shown that the game is unplayable without a console controller. Even when a middle path is struck, such as in Dragon Age 2 (or Skyrim), the controls end up messed on PCs and make playing a royal pain in the neck.
As such, I probably won't give this game a try. Mods for Skyrim show that with additional time investment - at the scope of what a modder can do - can easily make a proper PC control adaptation. As long as game creators don't make the games PC friendly, why should PC players buy them?

mbp said...

Yes it is a poor pc port but you have got to remember that the developer has no experience with pc games and only ported it over after a huge player led campaign. They were very up front that it is the best they could do in the circumstances. Personally I think we should be glad to be able to play this magnificent game at all. There is a community mod which solves the worst issues and it is tribute to the game that the same reviews which criticise the quality of the port nevertheless award very high scores to the pc version.

If you haven't already done do I strongly recommend getting a wired xbox360 controller for your pc. So many modern games work better with a controller that it will ready broaden your gaming experience. I think the distinctions between gaming platforms have largely been consigned to history. We are not Xbox, Playstation and PC gamers any more. We are all just gamers.

Skyrim is also a magnificent game but Dark souls is a very different experience. I recommend both.

Martin Richard said...

Picked it up for cheap for PS3 a couple of days ago, this makes me looking forward to it even more :P

The PVP aspect - invading players are thrown randomly in someone else's game or can they pick a friend to bug ?

mbp said...

Hi Martin

I hope you enjoy the game as much as I do. I want you though it is hard to get into but once you are hooked it is hard to leave.

I have never invaded anyone myself as I am useless at pvp but It seems to be mostly random. There are various covenants you can join however that seem to give you different ways to pvp and I think some of them give you more choice over who you invade.