Monday, December 21, 2009

10 Days of WAR: Day Four

Day four of my return to Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning was spent in Tier 1 scenarios.  As I stated on Day Three, tier 1 is my favorite part of WAR.  Also, I commented that the limitless trial was one of the best things going for WAR. Unfortunately, after last night, my mind has been slightly changed.

I've never had a problem with instanced content and it fits well in WAR.  Instanced scenarios offer quick and easy action and offer varied challenges. However, I was not having much fun playing last night.

My problems with scenarios in WAR are two fold: teams are rarely balanced and some scenarios aren't worth playing.  Unfortunately, both of these are worsened by the limitless trial.  This came as an unwelcome shock to my plans to play the limitless trial in the future.

The first side effect of the limitless trial is evident in the tier 1 scenario of Nordenwatch.  It is the only scenario that limitless trial  players are allowed to join which means there is almost always a Nordenwatch match active.  Update: All tier 1 scenarios are available to trial players, but my point still stands.  For the casual player looking for a quick skirmish, Nordenwatch will probably be it.  Patience and luck are needed to get into a match for any of the other tier 1 scenarios.

This highlights my first issue with scenarios.  It's almost pointless to queue up for the other tier 1 scenarios as they are unlikely to open compared to the trial stuffed Nordenwatch.  This problem follows in later tiers as the majority of scenarios that are not rewarding enough are NEVER played compared to the few over-popular scenarios that are ALWAYS played.  This can be fixed, easily, by simply standardizing the reward gained across all scenarios.  Players can then choose the scenarios that are fun to play, not just the ones that will give the quick and easy rewards.

Secondly, since trial players are limited to 10, there is an abundance of level 10 twinks.  A normal player quickly levels out of tier 1 because they gain experience rapidly from completing content.  At most, a normal low level twink will only be around for a few dominant scenario or open RvR performances.   This limits the effect of traditional twinks.

However, level 10 trial players are the opposite.  They are hard capped allowing them to stick around without fear of leveling out of the tier. Essentially, the WAR trial has its own end game.  This is great for the trial players, but I can see why veterans and paying players are upset by this.

That brings me to my second beef with scenarios: team balance.  I hate loading up a scenario only to find my side camped into their spawn point because the system put a team full of level 10s against a team with a highest level member of 5.  This non-balance is true in ALL tiers.  Mythic does NOT have a match-making system ala World of Warcraft arenas or similiar ELO rating systems.  Its frustrating when a dominant team is allowed to steam roll the fast spawning scenarios, exasperated by the fact its impossible to get the other scenarios to open due to lack of players.

The limitless trial is still the best thing WAR has going on, but I can see how it alienates paying players.  WAR has a lot of scenarios and Mythic needs to do something to make sure all of them reward equally.  Scenarios are fun when the sides are balanced, but it happens too rarely to make the system shine.

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