Thoughts on PUG in MMO’s

Long time no post! I’ve been lost in the wilderness outside of the Cantina for a while now, caught up in the winds of work and fatherhood, but something has drawn me back, something has prompted me to sit still long enough to write some words here. And that something is Destiny.


Don’t worry, this won’t be another addition to the Internet’s slew of reviews, praises, or criticisms of the game – I’m saving that for another post – this is just some observations on the raids/strikes, and their counterparts in other MMO’s.

So first, a little glossary, for those not familiar with some of these phrases:

  • MMORPG – Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. Think World of Warcraft, Runescape, Star Wars the Old Republic. Basically an online game world shared with thousands (or even millions in some cases) of other players. Commonly referred to as MMO’s.
  • PuG – Pick up group. Basically a group out together for a raid/quest/mission made up of people you don’t know. Can be put together manually, or automatically by an in-game group finder.
  • Raid/Strike/Dungeon/Operation – Self-contained area’s or instances within the game world with tougher, higher-level enemies and usually several big boss fights. These areas are specifically designed to be tackled by a group of players working together as the enemies/puzzles faced generally can’t be overcome by a single player. They range from small 3-5 person groups, up to 25 players. They generally drop better loot, such as rare or powerful equipment, or consumables that can’t be found elsewhere.
  • FPS – First Person Shooter. if you’re reading this blog, then you probably already knew that!

So, Destiny. Bungie’s multi-platform semi-open world FPS MMORPG. After the initial storyline which takes your character to around level 20, it seems to focus pretty heavily on Raids and Strikes. Raids are pretty tough, being aimed at groups of six higher-level players working well together, as teamwork is a must. Strikes are aimed at smaller, three man groups, and are ideal for lower-level players, PuG’s, or quick battles with friends.

Strike - The Summoning Pits

On Wednesday evening my little Guardian took part in his first Strike – The Summoning Pits. I was a tad nervous as I plugged in my headset for the first time. I’m a bit of an antisocial gamer; there are only two or three people that I really feel comfortable gaming with, and none of them have Destiny at the moment. I usually turn the headset microphone off and just listen to the chatter in multiplayer games, since I have little interest in talking to most of the people I share worlds with online! I know, I’m a miserable git.

But I wanted to do this right, and I didn’t want to suck too much first time out on a Strike. But alas, there was no chatter. The three of us moved through the preliminary areas killing everything in sight, and eventually reached the chamber of “Phogoth, the Untamed”, a massive ogre-like creature. Then the real work started. And so did the magic.


Isn’t he a handsome chap?

Though not a word was uttered between us – my Titan and two Warlocks – we seemed to instinctively start working together. If one of us went down, one of the others was there in moments to revive us. Whilst one of us drew Phogoth’s fire, one manoeuvred into position to attack him, whilst the third dealt with the additional, smaller enemies that spawned. We smoothly and automatically shifted roles as required. It was pretty seamless, and afterwards, I was pretty impressed.

After playing numerous different Xbox 360 multiplayers where every team is essentially a PuG and having some truly terrible experiences, this was a welcome relief – to actually be playing with others that grasped the idea of teamwork.

So a little while later (after completing some more storyline quests), I joyfully jumped into another strike. And it was an entirely different matter.

Again it was my Titan, and two Warlocks, but that was where the similarities ended. There was no communication, but unlike the last time, there was no support, no teamwork. Not once was I revived by either of them, despite reviving each of them at least once. Each of them seemed to believe they could go it alone and let the other two get on with things themselves. They failed to grasp that these missions are tailored to be a challenge to three players working together. Three players working as lone wolves was a disaster. We were singled-out and annihilated. After the second wipe (all of us dying and the strike resetting), the other two pulled out, and I followed suite.

So in one night, with two Strikes, I saw the two extremes of PuG’s. One was a masterpiece of teamwork, a prime example of how these things should be done. The other was an utter failure, a prime example of how not to do things!

These two extremes aren’t limited to Destiny by any means. I’ve had similar experiences in World of Warcraft, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Halo, etc. The Tank that goes racing ahead leaving the DPS and Healers behind, then complains when he gets stomped. Team members striking out alone and being mercilessly slaughtered time and again. Or group leaders that know exactly what’s coming and make sure the group knows what to do; what to avoid, when to attack, when to seek cover.

operations group

And whilst I know there will always be bad PuG’s – not everyone can or will be a great team player who knows the ins-and-outs of every boss fight, and knows how to get the best performance from their character – there needn’t be as many. Simply acknowledging that you need to work together makes a tremendous difference. All that “I work alone” bullshit sounds great in a cheesy action film, but will just piss off your team mates and leave you all at a disadvantage in-game.

If you want to be the army of one, then go play Halo’s campaign missions. But if you’re coming to tackle a team objective, then leave that ego at the door!

About Rooney

I'm a struggling writer/musician/producer with an over active imagination and penchant for living beyond my means! I have a love of Sci-Fi, loud music, reading, cosplay, and tattoos. View all posts by Rooney

2 responses to “Thoughts on PUG in MMO’s

  • GirlsGetGaming

    This brings me back to online Diablo II. Most of us didn’t even speak the same language, but we had our ways of comminicating and working together. In Warcraft, I decided long ago that the good PUGs are worth the bad. But sometimes it’s the ones that go comically wrong that stick with you. Like the time I was levelling my healer monk and we went through 5 terrible tanks in one dungeon. We decided to press on without and the hunter’s turtle turned out to be better than any of them 🙂

    • Rooney

      Good lords, I totally forgot about D2! So many hours spent crawling through dungeons with only the little chat window to communicate with people from all over the globe. Good times.

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