The Pros and Cons of MMO Permadeath

By Jeff Francis
Pros and cons of mmo permadeath

Online gaming has evolved over the decades, and some of these changes have been good and some of them not so good. There is one feature on gaming that has increasingly fallen by the wayside as time has gone on, but even the mention of it is sure to spark heated debate across mmo forums everywhere. I've talking about permadeath. Yep, that state where if the player's character dies in the game, that character is gone forever. There have been a number of games that feature permadeath, but the number of current games that do so are few in number. Still, there are both positive and negative aspects to this harsh consequence of dying in a game. Let's look at the pros and cons of mmo permadeath.

Let's start off with the biggest negative for mmo permadeath pros and cons: death itself. When a character dies in an mmorpg that features permadeath, it's over and done with. Everything that the player has struggled for in the game has been lost. Every item of legendary gear, every iota of crafting skill, every minute poured into creating the perfect build - all of that is lost in the electronic aether like the light fog of early dawn that burns away into nothingness. A player spends countless hours questing, gathering resources, and fighting monsters in the course of their online character's life. When the end comes, as it eventually does for everybody, then some people may view all that expended time as wasted. Your Torchlight 2 character may have amassed insane gear and become incredibly powerful by killing countless hordes of creatures, but once they're dead, what do you have to show for your time and effort?

Minecraft permadeath

It's not just the loss of a character that can be mmo permadeath con. The game world that the character inhabited could be wiped out as well. For those who play the ultra hardcore mode in Minecraft could have created a visually stunning world, but that world is erased if the character dies. This circumstance can factor in with the time spent creating that world. For many players, it can be a bitter pill to swallow to see everything that they've labored so long for be wiped totally away. Another consequence is getting banned from the server due to the hardcore option chosen. This can happen in Minecraft as well as the DayZ mod.

Speaking of DayZ, that mmofps brings up another item in the mmo permadeath con tally sheet. It's bad enough that single player games can have permadeath in them. When you die in those games, chances are it was due to bad luck or a poor decision on the part of the player. However, when it comes to mmo games, then other players have to be taken into consideration. As we all know, there are plenty of immature jerks on the internet who derive their amusement from ruining the day of other people. This is true in many online games, but it takes on a more serious aspect in games that feature permadeath. These blowhards don't mind if their characters die as long as they can take other people with them. They don't care that you've spend weeks or months building your character up and making shrewd decisions. They'll just roll up a new character and immediately go looking for mischief. If you manage to fight them off, they'll just create a new character or move on to another server. The point of playing the game isn't to beat the game, it's to ruin it for other players. To counter that, permadeath mmos need to tirelessly work to weed out these problem players.

Now that we've discussed the cons, let us focus on the mmo permadeath pros. The main pro is the major increase of intensity playing the game. When you know that the stakes are incredibly high with every decision that is made in a game, then the tension and anxiety is ramped up exponentially. This is utter nirvana for hardcore players as they feel that there's no true reward if there's no risk of failure. Every decision that is made becomes that much more important if a wrong one can lead to the permanent death of your character.

DayZ bandit

This increase of intensity also leads to another useful consequence of facing mmo permadeath. I'm talking about the feeling of accomplishment when a player beats the odds. Many players feel that online games today are way too easy, and, as such, there's no sense of accomplishment when you beat them. But when the stakes are virtual life and death, then victory tastes that much sweeter when it is attained. I find this to be true as games that really pushed me to my limits were the same ones that have given me lasting memories when I overcame the many obstacles and reached my goals. It's this intensity and feeling of overcoming incredible odds that makes players thrive playing games that feature mmo permadeath.

Overall, there are both mmo permadeath pros and cons. On the con side, a player can lose all the time and effort that they've spend playing a character when it dies forever. Another negative is that they can lose the virtual world that they've created in games such as Minecraft and become banned from a particular server. Lastly, immature jerks who thrive on causing mayhem can wreck the gameplay experience for serious gamers. With all those negatives, there are benefits to courting permadeath in mmos. The intensity felt by the player is increased many times as every decision becomes vitally important. If the player manages to avoid permadeath, the feeling of accomplishment is really impossible to describe to those who haven't experienced it. While the number of permadeath mmos are few today, there are still a number of them that offer it as an option to hardy souls. I definitely recommend giving it a whirl once or twice to experience the pulse-pounding rush of unexpectedly surviving when you surely felt that it was the end of your character.


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