Ashes of Creation's most recent update focused on their caravan system, including PvP, and boy did it impress!
I've beat up on past updates from Ashes for lacking in showing a cohesive game experience. The updates were often lacking UI and failed to show complete game loops. With this update, which was titled "the PvP update", we got to see a lot more than PvP. We saw complete game loops with the back drop of players battling it out.
What impressed me the most was actually the caravan and I'd argue this update was better in regards to caravans than the prior caravan update. We got to see a caravan get ambushed and stolen. The team showed off how caravans can be converted to barges and floated down river. All of it worked with no issues (at least nothing obvious).
My favorite part was watching the caravan convert into a barge. The system seemed well thought out and featured complex visual stages for this early in the game's development. The players had to defend the barge while it was converting and there was a sense of excitement as it pushed off just as the attackers pushed in.
At the end of the event the caravan was back in town and stolen goods were taken care of. I like that towns will have variety based on how they are "leveled up"; in the case of this video with a black market dealer. This should hopefully lead to opportunities to make a niche for a town. Hopefully there is a "if you take this; you can't take that" balance to it so towns don't become "everything".
What I think this developer update lacked the most was the actual PvP. We saw players slinging spells and arrows at each other but we really didn't get into the nuance of PvP. The combat looked smooth and there was a variety of actions being taken, but no details on anything. We saw stealth players ambushing and melee players leaping into the fight. One poor soul was insta-gibbed.
I'd like to have seen more around the nuance of combat; especially with PvP hot topics such as crow control, stealth, and ranged vs melee balance. Also with the system as a whole there is going to be A LOT of questions about how griefing and exploitation will be addressed. It was mentioned that spying on an opposing caravan's plans was a legitimate tactic they expected players to take.
Spying which is likely to occur outside the game... which brings into the question how are developers balancing that? What happens its the result of a hacked account? Or a hacked Discord server? Or if real life money exchanges hands for the info? I forsee this being a huge sticking point for this game with it's desires to have PvP as a countering force in the world against other player's activities.
The video did somewhat show that numbers will be a key aspect as well which is going to upset a lot of the PvP tryhards. Bigger forces (i.e. zergs) will smash smaller forces. I don't see anyway around that yet in a PvP experience that is built around anyone being able to show up at any time. Ashes is going to have to start answering these questions or it's going to be trial by fire and getting screwed over on something like this is 100% something players will quit a game over.
While there are long standing questions on open world PvP that will need answering this update still showed a lot of promise. Its cool to see where the game is at and where it is headed. I did not buy into the Alpha 2 packages but I can see why players would have bought in to get early hands on with this type of gameplay. The game is still a ways out but my interest continues to grow.