Thursday, December 16, 2010

Guild Warshammer Online? Sounds Catchy.

As I made my blog rounds this morning I was particularly interested in Bootaes post and the discussion that followed. You will excuse me if I ignore the other hot topic, the melee healer debate/nerf/re-balance. I’m just not that invested as I don’t have a high ranking WP or DoK. I freely admit that my DoK (14) was a fotm roll because my RP (43) was insanely jealous of the massive healing numbers these classes posted in scenarios. I also like healing and it’s the only Destro healer I haven’t tried.

I especially like his point about portions of the game world which look very nice but are completely unused. I remember the ‘fotm’ complaint ‘aways back was that there wasn’t enough people in the RVR lakes! If you’ll remember (or not if you’re new) it is why they doubled the amount of RR and experience awarded for kills in the lakes. Now there are too many. Will we ever be happy? Will I ever stay on topic?

Its no secret (especially to me as I am privy to most of my secrets) that I miss the defunct ORVR servers. I realize why they failed- no one likes to get ganked- but I think that Mythic missed an opportunity to keep them going. The level cap in the RVR lakes ensures that there is some balance, and competitiveness and that could have easily been extended to cover the entire area of any given tier. I admit that I was likely a contributor to the frustration of players tired of getting ganked in the lower tiers (was that my rank 25 Witch Hunter at Thane’s Defence) but I always bought into the concept that Order and Destro were bitter enemies and that they should naturally want to fight wherever they may find each other. Even when I was the gankee.

I don’t really miss the frenzied massacre of lower-level toons so much as I miss the opportunity to find some fun wherever you may be. I hate grinding. I can’t say that enough. When I was at a PQ and a group of Destro would roll in all of a sudden and spoil our chance to complete, it was, I have to say, fun! It made playing in the pve area simply seem like an extension of the PVP game because the enemy could appear at any time. It was true rvr and it would have worked if it had been just a little more competitive and renown-rewarding.

As it stands we have the game separated in to two distinct areas and neither of them seem to be making any of the long-term players overly happy. The PVE area is, we can all agree, a sad sideshow. I will give credit where it is due and say that the PQ idea is Warhammer’s greatest contribution to the MMO world. The ability to jump in, participate, and get a bag is great. I find most PVE futile and dull (what’s the point, I think, as I know I will eventually outwit this oh-so-clever lair boss who stays in the same spot always and never has anyone else to help him out), but I don’t think any PVE lover would say Warhammer has anything to offer them they can’t find in elsewhere either now (fishing anyone) or in the future (Rift anyone).

Warhammer is about PVP and since release the developers have struggled to keep its player base alive and happy. Not an easy task in any MMO I don’t imagine (but yet one game seems to succeed...archaeology anyone?). Think of how massively disappointing a game has to be to lose 800,000 subscribers after the first few months. I base this on the reported sale of 1 million copies of WAR and reports of only 200k subs after 3 months. I can’t remember where I read that so it may be crap but it's my blog so I can make stuff up if I like :) (Edit: See here, I'm not crazy after all). I believe the developers tried to make a game with universal appeal only to find it universally unappealing to the two ‘factions’ in the MMO world.

Who plays Warhammer for the PVE? Seriously. I know there are a lot players who ‘grind’ their levels to reach the end-game quicker but does anyone enjoy it, honestly? Would rvr enabling the PQ’s make the game better? I don’t know but I think it would give us a bit more variety and choice in game-play and since it has already been done it shouldn’t be a programming nightmare.

WAR will ultimately have to make more changes if it wants to grow (or perhaps survive) and as quickly as possible. As Bootae pointed out there are a host of MMO games free-to-play, and some much-anticipated MMO’s soon to come. Its frustrating that the developers have obviously borrowed elements from The Game That Shall Not Be Mentioned but have ignored great PVP features from others. The orvr servers failed, as I stated above, because no one likes to get facreolled. The game as it stands, however, will always ensure that someone is massively overpowered compared to someone else. 60rr toons vs. 40 rr toons? No chance. 100rr toons vs. 40rr toons? Red mist.

So, do I have to say it, here in a Warhammer blog of all places? Do I? I’d rather not, but in case it isn’t painfully obvious to everyone, here it is: The PVP in Guild Wars kicks this games ass. Really. Honest.

Not in looks, not in art, not in the coolness of the game world, but in its simple and effective regulation of its competitiveness. Everyone is on an equal playing field because you can roll a top-ranked PVP-only toon of any class and try them out instantly. No grinding, no gearing up. Just play. I’m not suggesting WAR become GW (or am I.......?) but they could borrow a few elements to make things a lot more fun:

1. Cross-server scenarios (already suggested in numerous blogs and forum posts). I liked playing with the Germans (no, not really, but the Swedes were cool) in Guild Wars’ Alliance Battles. It would ensure pops happen quick and give some relief to those population-starved servers (cough-Iron Rock-cough) stuck queuing.

2. Dedicated arena-style (scenario) combat area which could accommodate pugs (GW’s random arenas) and a separate one for pre-mades (GW’s team arenas) which has already been wished for here).

3. Micro-transaction gear and/or toon store (ZOMG, they’ll kill you for saying that! How dare you sir!). Yes, I said it. I have more money than time and I hate grinding...did I mention that yet?

If you read this blog long enough you will eventually realize that I am, indeed, Guild Wars biassed and it’s because of its simplistic complexity (and the fact it was my first MMO ever). Would I love to roll a 80rr sorc right now and go melt some faces in a scenario? You bet! How about a 40rr BO just to see what my beloved Tankosauruss will be capable of one day (should he ever reach that lofty goal)? Absolutely! Would I buy a pvp-only pack to gain access to this wondrous land of competitive equaility. Huzzah! Do I want to grind rats, sc’s, and zone flips for 6 months to reach a high enough level just to be worthy of being 3-shotted by a 100rr toon? No, thank you, I do not.

My solution: mimic Guild Wars’ option of instantly accessible 40/40 toons in an arena only area. Those who want to rank up to 100rr and do keeps, zone flips, or PVE are more than welcome. Those of us who want to instantly PVP with a variety of toons (and are, quite frankly, willing to pay for it) would be happy. Not everyone wants or needs the carrot of rank-progression to enjoy gaming. Killing my enemies (or crappy allies even) is enough for me.

At the moment I see WAR as a fun, visually rewarding, and oft-engrossing game that I’d quite happily drop like a dirty sack of rotting rats for a grind-free game which rewards skill, tactics, and teamwork. Oh, and it has to be pretty because I’m shallow that way. And it needs a flashy name. And all the cool kids have to be there. Oh, and there has to be free cake. I like cake. Now pass the cookies.

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