“War is merely the continuation of policy by other means.”
Carl Von Clausewitz On War
According to the Creative Director for Ashes for Creation, the game is meant to be a “theme box.” What this means is inside of the game there is going to be crafting, questing, raids, dungeons, character development, religion, politics, housing, and a host of other systems.
One key theme of Ashes is that what you build, others can destroy. Player vs Player conflict is not just an inevitable result of player actions; it has been intentionally integrated into the core systems. Certain features of the game only emerge when Nodes are in certain configurations. To change the face of the world, to get Nodes into the configuration you want, you are going to have to employ a wide range of tools. One of those tools will be violence, in the form of meaningful PvP.
Meaningful PvP is structured or organized activities developed by Intrepid Studios. These activities are:
- Bounty Hunting
- Castle Sieges
- Enemy of the State
- Guild Wars
- Node Sieges
- Node Wars
The Siege Events (Castles and Nodes) and the objectives for War Events (Node Wars, Guild Wars) take place during the prime-time range for the specific server, so no need to worry about an alarm clock operation to protect your home or guild.
Given the different various PvP systems, I am going to break each one out onto its own page, to ensure there is room for growth without long scrolling page. You can access those pages in the left navigation panel from any PvP page.
While Intrepid Studios is aiming to keep the PvP in Ashes of Creation inside the meaningful PvP themes, they do not want to remove player choice. Players are free to engage in PvP at almost any time in the world, the only exception being if their target is inside of their housing. To ensure the game does not become a murder/gank box, they have introduced the Corruption Mechanic. To understand corruption, we must first look at the flagging chart, which the team at Ashes of Creation Community Wiki put together to help explain the flagging system.
As you can see attacking a non-combatant is not what gives corruption, it is the actual killing of a non-combatant that gives corruption. If the person chooses to not fight back, you can always stop and not gain corruption. If you attack a combatant or another corrupted you are fine, no corruption gain. For the confines of this discussion I am going to use the word Murder to describe the art of killing a non-combatant and gaining corruption to not have to type out a lot of words every time.
NOTE: I want to make sure to note that the idea that a Non-Combatant can attack a corrupted and remain a non-combatant is a hotly contested aspect of the system in the community and is something that has been earmarked for extensive testing by the player base come Alpha 1 and 2.
What is the corruption system exactly? From a lore perspective, it is what causes the exodus from Verra and causes men to go mad during the Battle Royale chapter of Apocalypse. It is also partially responsible for the creation of the Tulnar. More on the lore behind corruption in a different section.
When it comes to the mechanics behind corruption, players must first understand the three flagging states for PvP. Players are categorized as Greens (Non-Combatants), Purples (Combatants) and Red (Corrupted).
Just like war in the real world, these titles come with designations and repercussions. When it comes to who you can attack, you can attack Combatants and Corrupted, as these are legal targets and will not cause you to incur corruption. Non-Combatants are illegal targets and while nothing prevents you from attacking them, killing a non-combatant will incur the corruption penalty.
What does corruption do?
First, corruption lowers your PvP effectiveness. The more corruption you accumulate the harder it becomes to PvP. Eventually you will die to someone, even someone you vastly out level or out gear, simply because your combat effectiveness will have been degraded. It is important to note, some people believe this combat efficiency decrease is due to the negative experience mechanic. It is not. It is a separate mechanic that applies while you are corrupted.
UPDATE (21 JULY): There are special rules for combat between corrupted and bounty hunters. To ensure those rules are understood separately, Bounty Hunters have their own page with their own mechanics breakdowns. Next, while everyone who dies drops a percentage of their gatherables/raw materials, individuals who are suffering from corruption also have a percentage chance to drop their gear. The higher the corruption score, the greater the chance of dropping weapons and gear.
Finally, upon death all players will earn negative experience. This is important because players do not lose experience and as such, they cannot delevel. Instead, as they go deeper into negative experience, they begin to lose effectiveness with stats, skills, lower health, lower mana, lower gear proficiency.
When it comes to negative experience and the gatherable drop rate each flagged stat brings with it a penalty: A non-combatant takes a full death penalty. A combatant takes 50% of a full death penalty The corrupted takes 300% to 400% of a normal death penalty.
Critics of the corruption system believe it is going to completely kill open world PvP. The only way this statement becomes true is if you discount all the events and do not include them in open world PvP. It is a fair and valid point to say the spirit of “open world” PvP is killed by the corruption system because there is a harsh penalty for it. It is important to remember, however, that corruption only comes into play if the other person does not fight back, there is no corruption if the other person fights back as they become a legal target.
Critics of the system also say all the time that people will not fight back and always stick the aggressors with corruption. This view of the system is flawed, due to a lack of clear understanding about the system, and why in some instances it is well worth fighting back.
We do not have any concrete examples of negative XP on death nor consumables drop rate. So, these are all my conceptual examples and should not be taken as anything official from Intrepid Studios.
For our example we are going to say that the normal death penalty is 10,000 negative experience and a 50% drop rate for any gatherables you have on you. That is the penalty upon death for a non-combatant. For a combatant this would be 5,000 negative experience and a 25% drop rate.
When you are in non-combatant status, anyone who attacks you runs the risk of corruption. The decision of if they get corruption or not is completely up to you as the defender.
In our first situation, you are out gathering wild Corn and you get attacked by someone who clearly outmatched you. It is easy to tell they are going to beat you as they out gear you out level you, or are playing a hard counter to your class. Since the only gatherable you have in your back is Corn, then it is highly likely in this scenario you will choose to not defend yourself and remain a non-combatant, thus sticking your attacker with Corruption. The defender’s goal in this situation is that the attacker will get corruption, be a legal target for everyone, get killed down the road by a bounty hunter and lose all the Corn they just stole.
What if we keep all the parameters of the scenario the same, but instead of having Corn in your bag, what if you had just finished mining out a Diamond node and you have 100 diamonds. The same guy attacks you; he still out gears or out levels you. You still have the choice to stand there and take it as a non-combatant and you still have the option to stick your attacker with corruption. If you do that, you will lose your gatherables at a 50% drop rate, which means you will lose 50 diamonds. If, however, you decide to defend yourself, you now become a combatant and you take 50% of a normal death penalty, which means when you die you are only going to drop 25 diamonds.
Remember this was a conceptual example. We have no hard figures from Intrepid yet on Negative Experience or death penalty.
The argument by people who are fans of Open World PvP saying everyone is just going to always hide behind the corruption system is a fallacy. As demonstrated by the example there are reasons to flag up and defend yourself. Besides, if you are 10,000 Gear Score and you are attacking a 5,000-gear score and they stick you with corruption, you are a griefer anyway and you deserve all that tasty corruption.
Getting rid of corruption
There has been a design change in the corruption system, and a fairly significant one as of 20 July 2020.
Previously the only two ways to work off corruption was to either
2. do a quest
Now they have changed it so that you can work off corruption by
2. grinding out mobs
However, they have also changed the corruption system so that the more people you have killed, the more corruption you get on each future kill. You basically have a kill count running on you which increases the penalty you get with each murder.
The way you reduce your kill count is by doing special quests.
Steven has made this design change in order to increase the games of cat and mouse between the Bounty Hunters and the Corrupted. In a sense, they have created a quasi-faction war between these two groups.
Healers and Flagging
During my July Interview with Steven we found out there will be checks for healers to ensure healers do not become flagged for combat when they do not want to be. Healers will be able to flag for PvP normally; however, they will also be able to set their PvP settings so that they choose to heal only non-combatants. If a healer were to be in the middle of a cast and a party member changed their combat status from non-combatant to combatant, unless the healer had their settings set to heal combatants, the now flagged combatant would not get the benefit of the heal. Likewise, if a HOT (heal over time) is on the target and they change their combat status, the heal would not flag the healer and most likely the HOT would fall off at the next status check or simply be useless. Intrepid Studios is putting the flagging check at the beginning of the cast instead of at the end of the cast to prevent accidental flagging.
Steven has recently mentioned that there will six-month PvP seasons that basically measure your performance in PvP Events (Arenas, Caravan Defense/Attack, Guild Wars). At the end of the season your score may unlock rewards. Some of these rewards are: Gear Enhancements, Achievements, Currency.
People were initially concerned about the Gear Enhancements and making the best PvPers even more powerful. The gear enhancement system is not always about vertical progression, sometimes it is about horizontal options, such as a rune that changes the physical damage output of a weapon and turns it into magic damage output. Additionally, the items earned from one PvP season are not a one-and-done system. PvP enchantments are rewarded for one season will come with a time limit. If you want to continue having that level of power, you will have to continue engaging in PvP events and maintaining (or improving) your score.