I’ve been working hard at leveling my Ironbreaker on Phoenix Throne lately.Â He’s almost level 35 now and most of my time online has been allocated to the PvE quest grind and the occasional PQ group.Â While I was questing in Praag this afternoon it donned on me, as it has before, that this PvE is truly a means to an end.Â I stop and think about what I am doing, here and now, and I think “Why?”.Â Â I immediately think, “Because I want to hit rank 40 and RvR/city dungeon/Lost Vale/etc”.Â Aside from the occasional item that I want from chapter influence, my only goal while doing these PvE quests is to level and move to the next one as quickly as possible so that I can do what I would rather be doing; experiencing the type of gameplay that I would rather be experiencing; seeing a side of the game I can not see until it’s done.Â That is, at the core, the definition of a means to an end.
In World of Warcraft this feeling is present, I won’t deny that, but it’s different.Â In WoW (especially WotLK questing/leveling) there was a story and a diverse form of gameplay and content to experience while leveling up.Â When I am questing in WoW and I ask myself the “Why?” question, the answer is always because “this is what you do in WoW” and even though many quest to be able to do dungeons and raids at 80, that type of content is actually available throughout the leveling process.Â So while it may be a means to an end in WoW, there is no clear distinction like there is in WAR’s means to an end where the content changes drastically.Â “The game begins at level 40” in WAR, vs. “The game ends at level 80” in WoW.
The way that leveling is done in WAR, there is only one dungeon that you can really hit ‘on the way’ to level 40 – okay, 2 if you count the sewers at level 17 but really… it’s not even worth taking the time spent to zone into the place.Â So with one dungeon, there’s really only one mindset that the player is tossed into in order to level and the gameplay does not veer far off course at all from 1-39 in PvE leveling.
This can all be fixed.Â Land of the Dead or the deserts of Nehekhara (whatever they’ll be called) can completely revitalize the PvE experience in Warhammer Online if it’s designed correctly.Â Right now, the only form of PvE leveling content that the game has rests solely in going chapter to chapter down a straight line completing quests.Â Â You can stop along the way and grind some PQ’s that run like little events but I’m beginning to have a really big falling out with this mechanic and wouldn’t shed a single tear if it were to disappear from the game completely.Â LotD has the potential of bringing back DAOC’s “camp” system where mobs congregate together in areas where groups can park themselves nearby or establish a roaming path, to pull these mobs and kill them for the sake of killing them.Â This is what we did in Darkness Falls in DAOC – we entered and killed mobs because they gave us great experience – but also because they could drop seals(tokens) that could be turned in for gear.Â The dungeon was laid out where near the entrance players could find lower level mobs and as they went in deeper the mobs gradually raised in level until the level cap and then increased in difficulty until they were group mobs and eventually raid mobs.
This type of content, a zone where players can form groups and wander deep into the deserts where they will find groups of mobs and encounters to really challenge them regardless of their level, is exactly what WAR needs.Â If this type of content were in the game right now then I could log into my level 34 Ironbreaker and say “okay, do I want to quest and do PQ’s today or do I want to form/join a group for some good oldstyle camp killing?”.Â I would have the option to work on my gear through PQ’s, or Questing, or RvR, or I could get them with tokens from LotD.Â Just the idea of that gets me excited!
Dissolving the means to an end in WAR’s PvE would come naturally as players as low as level 10 (ideally) could enter LotD and begin to experience content that they’ll be able to continually unravel and explore as they get higher level.Â I’m envisioning several dungeons spread out throughout the desert – one for level 12-20, one for 21-25, 25-30, 31-35, 35-39, and then raid content for level 40 (like Legion and the prince, etc. from Darkness Falls).Â Spread throughout the desert there could be PQ’s offering various influence rewards but the one thing that must be left out of this zone are the chapter hubs with quests because they will destroy the concept completely and turn it into just another run-of-the-mill WAR zone that drops tokens – DO NOT DO THAT MYTHIC!Â Make this content unique.
When players reach level 40, which they could have done solely in LotD, then they will be able to continue hunting in this zone because the reason for PvE’ing won’t have ended because they reached the level cap.Â They’ll be able to continue collecting tokens for their own personal use (for armor) or they’ll be able to sell them (grey mobs won’t drop tokens so no farming lowbie ones).Â This content won’t be a means to an end because it WON’T END!
On top of the already amazing prospects of LotD’s PvE potential, for those worrying about “too much PvE in WAR”, if you never played DAOC to see the RvR that went on in Darkness Falls then you truly must wait to experience in WAR.Â RvR in Darkness Falls was the only reason -some- people liked the place.Â It had amazing fights and various ways that one could enjoy RvR.Â When the zone changes hands and there are hundreds of players inside doing their thing, you can only imagine the chaos that ensues when your door closes and the enemy’s opens allowing them to come in.Â You’ll be forced to either hide or defend the zone from the inside for however long you can hold out.Â You’ll be able to form groups and seek out the other realm as they are perhaps grouped for a boss or grinding tokens.Â Â It can be a total blast.
So.Â That’s my ideal vision of how Land of the Dead will turn out if and only if it’s done right.Â PvE content that isn’t a means to an end would revive the game for a lot of people that I know (aside from myself, obviously).Â People could make alts without worrying about “experiencing the exact same thing all over again” like many dread when they consider having to do all the quests over again that they struggled through once already.Â The avenues of dynamic exploration and group content are wide open when it comes to PvE content like this.Â Cross your fingers and hope it’s done right.
Note: I’ve included a map to the right that I quickly threw together to show how the zone progression could go.Â It’s not to scale and one dot isn’t one mob, but you’ll see that players starting from level 10 can work through way up to level 40.Â There would be solo, small group, group, and raid content available.Â Â There would be dungeons, lairs, and areas of the map that players, groups, and raids could explore and work through.
Note #2:Â In a way, I want this zone to be a ‘sandbox’ (no pun intended) style.