NCSoft's Sean Orlikowski on why MOBA Master X Master is going deep on PvE

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Master X Master is doing a lot of things different in the MOBA space, introducing deep social features, and a more action-heavy focus. Perhaps most interestingly however, they’re also looking to add a fully featured player versus enemies (PVE) mode shortly after launch. 

We spoke to Sean Orlikowski, NCSoft’s Master X Master brand manager on why PvE is such a big part of NCSoft’s MOBA. 

”We have an additional PvE mode coming out shortly after launch,” said Orlikowski, when asked about how seriously NCSoft were taking the PvE content. NCSoft are known for their MMO’s at this point as the studio between Guild Wars 2, Wildstar and the dearly departed City of Heroes. PvE would make sense as it’s where their talents lie. Thing is, MOBA’s have never really had PvE content before beyond the ability to trash some AI opponents. 

“There's 20 stages right now that each have story mode, normal, brutal, extreme, nightmare versions of them. So there's progression there. You're trying to get to the next level of the stage, or the next difficulty of the stage so that you can get better loot and all that. There's even a competitive aspect to it, to where on nightmare mode you can see who has gotten through the fastest and who has gotten through with the best score.” 

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So it still seems like a competitive aspect of the game, even if you’re not actually trashing your opponents directly. It’s a confusing thing to prioritise in a competitive genre, but Orlikowski believes people will be drawn in to the game solely by the PvE content, in addition to players who use it to practice for the main event. 

Scratch that, because the introduction of a large PvE chunk of content that’s supported strongly by the developers means that there isn’t a ‘main event’ anymore, 

“We've seen really good crossover with it. We've seen people who really like PvE and like that and just want to get better at it. But there's been crossover, too. For people who are learning new characters, it's a really great situation for them because it's not just playing a game against bots, where, you know, maybe bots get predictable after a while.”

“They're actually trying to go through the stage on a hard difficulty, where there's bullets flying everywhere and there's areas to avoid. You want to see how they react in a real situation, it's a great way to do that. Likewise, that's also been a really good stepping stone for action game players, into the MOBA. Because, like once they get really good at that, they're like, okay now I'm going to try this out against real people. We've seen good crossover there. So both sides of the fence have been trying out the other game modes and having good success with it because of that.”

The PVE content can be played single player, but you can also team up with two other friends and plow through as a trio. Considering the game itself is already more like an ARPG than a more typical MOBA, it could be a compelling distraction, but as to whether it’ll draw players in long term to the multiplayer competitive segment, we’ll have to see. 

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