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Drastic changes needed for Warhammer Online

I promise this won’t be a depressing entry.    I want to start off though by setting the tone for why some of these changes need to come to the game and why action taken sooner, rather than later, is mandatory.  Today was another rotten day for me because I was notified that yet another person I know is quitting WAR.  All around me my friends, brother (yep, Graev quit a little while ago), and guildmates are calling it quits and either hanging up their mmorpg hats until the next ‘next best thing’ or closing the door on mmorpgs altogether.  WAR -has- lost a decent number of people to WotLK, although the game is holding up remarkably well I must admit, and it’s really caused me to stop and look at the game as a whole.  Drastic changes are needed in WAR if the game will survive.

It’s time to pick up the hatchet; the time for using a scalpal has come and gone.  I think the following fixes, changes, and additions need to be made.  Some of these will come off as drastic and over the top, which they very well may be, but I want you (those of you playing WAR right now) to visualize in your minds what the game would be like if the game were this way.  Also, do not interpret my tone as “bitchy” or “angry”.  Read this as constructive criticism from someone who loves the game’s potential from what he saw in beta and feels that the game is moving into dire times.

Remove the zone control/locking from the game. The system was neat on paper and it worked in beta, however it is not working right now.  Flipping zones is entirely too messy and the process is strenuous and devoid of strategy and fun.  Having a zone sit stalemated for a week, with no major action going on at all to keep it contested, can not possibly be working as intended.  What we need is a far more simple and streamlined process for moving from one zone to the next after capturing the keeps and battle objectives.  If there is a large force of players moving on enemy keeps and taking them one after another then the army should not be stopped by a little lock symbol on the interface saying “sorry, you can’t go any further”.  Alternately, if you leave zone control/locking in the game then it should involve Keeps and Battle Objectives ONLY!  None of this scenarios, PQ’s and PvE counting rubbish.

If the enemy chooses not to defend then the fight should make it to their capital city.  A city siege has never once happened on Wolfenburg or Phoenix Throne (two “very populated” servers with supposedly active RvR).  If players are going to stay then they need to experience city sieges and be faced with a truly imminent realm war.  This is a realm war and players need to feel the pressure of losing territory to feel motivated.  Mr. Jacobs, tear down this wall!

Make keep taking meaningful by adding a Darkness Falls type dungeon. Warhammer Online, back in November 2007, was delayed in order to transform the game to align closer with DAOC’s RvR but it forgot that one crucial element… the PURPOSE.  Sure, city sieges are a purpose but let’s be realistic – a keep is under attack in Praag… why would I go defend if it poses no threat to our city?  It’s going to take like 8 keeps, 2 fortreses, and a TON of RvR to make our capital city vulnerable.  As of right now a city siege is not going to happen.  So, we come back to the PURPOSE.  I strongly feel that Darkness Falls provides that purpose.  Find out more about Darkness Falls here.

Remove renown and victory gain from T4 scenarios. Scenarios should not be a means for progressing your realm rank when scenarios can hardly be considered RvR.  They are unbalanced mini-games that have been abused by the players (whether intentionally or not) to level up and race to the end.  I don’t think the solution is to remove them altogether, but removing or curtailing the ability to advance in what is considerably the “end-game” player progression (realm ranks) in these arcade-like mini-games is necessary.  Removing victory gain from scenarios is also necessary because these should not influence the realm war.

Merge the servers and merge them now. Let’s face it, WAR was designed in such a way that a lot of players participating in the realm war is mandatory.  Right now, especially in light of recent mmorpg competitions’ releases, we’re seeing the populations dwindle.  Merge the freaking servers and you will improve the enjoyment of the game globally for all players.

Revamp the PvE in the game. This one has multiple levels.  It’s already apparent that the PvE itemization in the game is becoming arguably more trouble than it is worth.  The ward system has gone from being nonexistent to moderately important in RvR to WoW-treadmill and back to moderately important again.  Just remove wards and do an itemization pass on all gear to improve stats.  Additionally, move to a token system for gear.  Also, the PvE gameplay in the game needs to be revamped.  Right now I feel like I’m playing a single player game when I go out to PvE 90% because of how shallow and dumbed down it feels.

Additionally, the PvE in the game is not at all what was promised.  I’m talking mostly about questing.  It was hyped up to be different from the average mmorpg but I can find absolutely no different in the quests here from WoW or LOTRO or pas iterations of the questing system.  The idea of having already killed bears to satisfy a quest giver’s desire to have you go kill bears before you’ve met him never made it into the game.  I feel somewhat lied to here.

The Tome of Knowledge is great but we need substance. This isn’t to be taken as a slight to the ToK because I feel that it was really well designed.  However, I feel like too much emphasis has been placed on the ToK as the end-all-be-all of accomplishment.  Going to Chucky Cheeses or the carnival and walking away with a few knicknacks is fun and all… but it doesn’t beat a trip to Toys R Us for that awesome GI Joe action figure.  Know what I’m saying?  Expand the substance of the game.  Bring the player in deeper.

Add content to the game! This one is simple and many of you will probably go “wtf does he mean?! WAR has tons to do!”.  For those of you who would say that, can you answer me the following?  What dungeons have you done or can you do?  What, other than scenarios, does your average day involve?  I’m willing to bet that for most of you it’s PQ’s, quests, and scenarios.  Some of you may experience open-rvr but for most of you it’ll be those three things (the holy trinity of WAR?).  I think it’s time to stop looking at PQ’s and quests as content but as concepts for methods of delivering content.  There needs to be much, much more content.

Find some way – any way – to make the world have more ‘place’ and less ‘utility’. Discussion on this topic occured in the comments of this post.  The game lacks the immersion that DAOC had.  What exactly happened here to cause this problem is probably rooted in the core design of the game.  However, I think a lot of this can be fixed from changes recommended above.   The game being truncated into all these tiers and pairings and flight paths has done a lot of harm to make the world feel incongruous.  One way to perhaps give players the ability to magically forget this problem would be to develop the gameworld to be more immersive.  Expand it somehow and help the players to feel lost in the world.  Yes, I actually like getting lost in a world.  I remember one time when I was playing Midgard that I wandered too far off the path and ended up getting lost in the forest.   I was turned around and couldn’t find my way back to the road and wandered in a random direction.  It was then that I first found Spindelheim (a dungeon).  I’ll never forget that.

If you thought I was joking when I said that a hatchet, rather than a scalpal, was needed… perhaps you see that I was serious now.  These changes wouldn’t be the end-all-be-all fix and maybe they aren’t even the right way to go at all.  However, I think that something like this is needed if WAR is going to survive long-term for a lot of people.  Big change is needed for WAR one way or another.

The people I talk to, my friends, etc, all mirror the same sentiments towards WAR right now:  The game has fun parts that are extremely well done, however getting to that fun requires that I spend the majority of my time online doing stuff that I find completely boring and horrible.

WAR is in an odd place right now.  It’s a game that is really unlike any other out there even though it’s obviously trying to be several games at once.  It needs to find itsself right now because, more than anything, I think the game doesn’t even know what its supposed to be at heart.   It has hit a few bumps… or boulders… on the road right now but it still has the potential to keep moving.  The best thing that Mythic can do is acknowledge that its time to rethink a few things and set the game back on the path that it was on during beta.

I’m not ready to surrender and lose this ‘war’ just yet.

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