Monday, October 24, 2011

Wrath of Heroes is wrong, how I would do WAR Free 2 Play

I’ve tried my hand at thinking up a Free 2 Play (F2P) model for Warhammer Online (WAR) before, but I fell into the trap of making a model that was too confusing.  WAR COINS was a bad idea.  Bioware Mythic also has an idea for F2P WAR in the case of Wrath of Heroes (WoH).  Unfortunately, WoH heads in the wrong direction by making an entirely seperate game, so I'd like to take a few minutes to propose a new F2P model for WAR that would still be the same game we all wanted to love so dearly before having our dreams crushed.
One of my biggest problems with WAR has been the lack of content and action within the tier four RvR lakes (aka zones).  The lakes are more like deserts, devoid of content and people except for the oasis of an undefended keep.  The lack of content can't be fixed over night, but the lack of people certainly can.
Instead of building WoH, Bioware Mythic needs to be bringing the tier four Realm vs Realm (RvR) action to F2P.  Over night, populations in the RvR zones and scenarios would double (if not triple).  Undefended keeps would turn into knock out, drag out fights.  People would be interested and focused on RvR again.
And why would they be so locked onto RvR?  Because the F2P model would gate them from the PvE content. RvR zones and scenarios would be 100% F2P.  Players would start off with a rank 31 character that was restricted to travel only within the tier four RvR zones.  Through RvR they could level up to 40 and gain up to Realm Rank (RR) 20 (adjustable through testing).
That would not be the only change.  As it is, WAR's best gear lies within RvR gameplay.  In my model, the best gear would be pushed towards the PvE aspects of WAR.  Tier four Public Quests and the Land of the Dead would be where the good loot was to be had.  Access to the PvE zones would be available to subscribers willing to pay a monthly fee.  The gear would only be useable by those that are active subscribers or active within the last month (aka players get a one month grace period to use their gear after going strict F2P).
Other benefits of subscribing, which I am calling "becoming a Citizen of the Realm" include the ability to exceed realm rank 20, capital city access, increased experience and RP rates, and prestigous battlefield titles (basically, the F2P zergs will recognize who is a paying player when on the RvR battlefield).  All except the titles would be retainable when switching back to F2P (yes, thats basically a month subscription price to access the capital cities, including sieges).
Which seguays into the downsides of being a "member of the Free Companies", one of which is being able to help push zones towards a capital city siege, but not being able to participate in it.  Those within the Free Companies would also be restricted to to only one character slot, prevented from using PvE gear, recieve lower priority for scenario queuing, and gain experience and RP at the standard rate.
This approach achieves almost exactly what Wrath of Heroes is attempting, but with the benefit of still supporting the main WAR and providing a little flavor differentiation.  Also there is strong evidence that this is exactly what freeloaders would want out of a F2P WAR.  We only have to look at the current limitless trial for WAR where anyone can play up to the top of Empire's tier one for free for as long as they want.  WAR's Empire tier 1 is always bustling and the RvR zones and scenarios filled.  Why Mythic then abandons any of those poor souls who decide to subscribe to the barren wasteland that is tier two and three is anyone's guess, but after playing Wrath of Heroes a few hours, I'm not at all surprised.
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