Saturday, December 19, 2009

10 Days of WAR: Day Two

Day two of my journey back into Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning landed me in the Land of the Dead.

After checking out the map of the zone I noticed that the Public Quest (PQ) markers showed how many players were present and participating. The PQ nearest the starting area was one short of the recommended group size, so I joined in the fun. The first monster I attacked, a giant condor, didn't fall over dead as I had expected. Instead it took flight with me in it's claws and headed up to the mountainside to deposit me in it's nest! I was shocked: MMOG monsters are supposed to die and give me loot, not try and feed me to their children!

Completing this PQ reminded me why I had such high hopes for WAR. PQs are brilliant and fun when enough players are present. Unfortunately since Order just unlocked access to the LotD zone, only the PQ nearest the warcamp had any players participating.

Referencing back to Day One, there are no PQs in any of the tier 4 RvR lakes, which is a damn shame considering that is where Mythic encourages players to spend their time.  Again, it frustrates me that NOTHING has been done to the RvR lakes to encourage players to visit outside of a zerg keep or objective fight.  Also, to highlight the poor design decisions, keeps and battlefield objectives reward increased experience/influence gain in zones where there is NO FUCKING CONTENT! 

I refuse to use the term zone for the RvR areas, as they are one-dimensional lakes.  Players returning to WAR to jump into the tier 4 RvR action are going to find the same sub-par game they left in the first place.  Anyways, back to LotD.

After a few runs of the PQ, I decided to see the rest of the zone. What I found next, blew my fucking mind:

Its fairly obvious that I am not a fan of zerg vs zerg PvP.  I enjoy smaller conflicts where each and every player matters and the action lasts minutes, not seconds.  Larger conflicts are welcome, but not when they are the majority.  There needs to be incentives for players to spread out.  WAR could accomplish this by  filling out the tier 4 RvR lakes with PQs, quests, and other PvE content.   A keep siege should be a significant event, not an hourly occurrence and certainly not the ONLY attraction to the RvR lakes.

That is why the above situation blew my mind.  The content in LotD spreads the players out across the multiple PQs, lairs, and instances.  There is no single point with a flashing timer or a zone-wide broadcast that signals every player in the area to come rushing over.  Players form small groups and head out to their content destination of choice which can lead to...

...dare I say it...

small-scale RvR!  I spent the next 30 minutes chasing down Destruction players with a couple random Order players.  I even succeeded in finding and winning a 1vs1 fight with a Shaman, something I only dreamed of originally. 

I spent about an hour in LotD and I'm convinced it is a model for the rest of the game.  It features a well designed zone that combines all aspects of WAR: RvR, PQs, PvE quests, instances, and lairs.  Outside of the gating mechanic, which I don't fully understand, LotD gave me hope that WAR might make it as a niche game.  Mythic needs to transplant the combination of features that LotD offers to the rest of the tier 4 RvR lakes.

For day three, I am going to look at the tier 1 situation and the effect the limitless free trial has had.

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