The past couple of lunch breaks I've been able go online and take care of some stuff I've been working on, like soloing Sethekk Halls and finishing up the Terror of Terokkar achievement. It's been a bad week at work, so the opportunity to go thwack something has its advantages. Today, while taking a run through Drak'Tharon to finish up the Guru of Drakuru achievement, I had some spare time* to think about the differences between PVE and PVP servers.
When you are out and about questing on a PVP server, the first thing you notice is that the monsters aren't what you need to fear the most, it's the opposing faction. Nothing quite strikes terror into your heart like when you're minding your own business, killing a few bears, and you turn to see the sight of a ?? Level player closing in on your poor 20th Level character. You learn very quickly to keep one eye over your shoulder no matter where or when you are; even when you're an 80 zipping through Thousand Needles you can still get jumped. (Stupid Gnome hunters.)
Such caution serves you well when you reach Outland and Northrend with the inclusion of flying mounts; all you have to do is spend an evening farming ore or herbs and you'll understand what I mean. In Icecrown, the game encourages you to seek and destroy the opposing faction with the inclusion of a Daily for killing a certain number of the enemy. Never mind that the Ebon Blade and Argent Crusade are pulling their hair out over this ("Hello! We're supposed to be fighting Arthas, not helping him!"), you get to go gank some people because the game said so!
Now, take that hard earned wisdom, and turn it on it's head. That's what it's like switching to a PVE server.
When my Mage first ventured into Hillsbrad Foothills as a young lass of 20 (yeah, I live dangerously given the number of monsters aggroing on me) I was shocked -shocked!- to see Alliance players passing me on the road and actually waving from time to time. The last time I saw an Alliance player wave at me was because they were trying to play nice and didn't want me to gank them, as I had the drop on the guy at the time. Once Quint arrived in town, I then discovered that this overall lack of fear toward the opposing faction wasn't limited to the Classic areas. Imagine my surprise at seeing a Draeneii Paladin go running right by me while I'm soloing one of those tunnel worm elites outside of Auchindoun. I know I had to be an ?? Level player to him as he was 65th Level, but there was absolutely no fear of the opposing faction in this guy**.
What do I think of this? Well....
For the quester, this is a godsend. You can go about your business without worrying whether just over the ridge is a Hunter ready to zap you from distance. For the casual player, it's a boon as they can work on those seasonal achievements in relative peace --until you venture into a capital city, that is. If you want to PVP, nobody is stopping you from flipping that switch on your character, but you don't have to join in if you don't want to.
The flip side is that you develop some very bad habits. There's a reason why there are opposing factions, and you don't have quite the same dislike for the other team without the occasional ganking. When Quintalan made 80, I fulfilled my vow to park him on a ridge overlooking Tarren Mill, waiting for the gankers to show. None did on those nights, but when a 77 Level Priest decided to pick on Grom'gol Outpost in Stranglethorn, I gave him a good old fashioned spanking. If the worst an Alliance character can to do you is say "neener-neener" after he got that titanium ore first, well, you don't have quite that same healthy disrespect for him.
Am I going back to a PVP server or flipping that switch to play PVP? For the mage, definitely not; I'm still learning the ropes there, and I know that her progression up to about 40-50 will be a slow road without all the PVP ganking going on. For Quint, I might flip that switch, if for nothing else to remind myself to stop getting into bad habits.
There's a war to be won, after all.
(Edit: Changed the first sentence in the last paragraph to avoid confusion.)
* Our DK tank dumped us after we wiped right before Trollgore, so we were stuck waiting for about 10-15 minutes until we got a new tank. Ah, the joys of a lunchtime run. I'm still not certain what happened there, but when I'm doing the highest DPS of the group, you know we've got a low DPS group. The new tank laughed when she saw our output. "That's all your DPS?" she asked. However, after that initial wipe we didn't have any issues throughout the rest of the run.
Oh, and Drakuru? You suck, man. I'd already kicked your sorry behind in Zul'Drak, but it needed to be said.
** He also had no fear of that elite monster, either, which proved to be fatal as when it tunneled to a short distance to spit at me, it aggroed on him instead. Sorry, dude.