Seeing as this is part 3 it would seem a sensible moment to look at the whole 3rd realm malarkey. We’ve all talked about 3rd realms a lot in the past and I think everyone agrees that this far in to the game it is probably the most difficult change Mythic could make…
DAoC’s three-realm system provides the campaign with a couple of very important things: paranoia and fragile power.
Whenever you’re fighting in DAoC’s vast oRvR frontiers, you’re always paranoid, always suffering (or rather revelling in) a sense of nagging uncertainty. Any straightforward fight can escalate into utter carnage; you just can’t tell what’s going to happen...
I’m logged in and grouped up with my Midgard hunter and fighting the foul tree hugging Hibernians, when suddenly a large force from Albion appears from the forest to my east. They don’t engage at first, they just stand there, watching… In that brief moment a range of possibilities ran through my mind. Will they charge us, or the Hibs, or both? Will they let us kill each other and just mop up the survivors? Perhaps they will ignore us all, leave us unable to fight and use this as an opportunity to make a strategic move of some form… But then it’s not just down to them, what about us? Perhaps both Hibs and Mids will see the Albs as a greater threat and attack first, yet that is relying on both factions reacting in the same way… What if we break for the Albs, but the Hibs don’t? Bloody hell this could get messy fast!
In that particular fight I’m remembering the Albs charged, but unfortunately for them both Mids and Hibs saw them as the large threat. With almost psychic coordination both realms ceased fighting, swung round to meet the Albion charge and after a protracted fight defeated the new enemy. However it was then our turn for some misfortune as the Hibs finished that fight in a better state than us and kicked our arse immediately. It was epic fun though. When fighting in WAR’s 2 realm system you just can’t get those moments, it’s always going to simply be us and them.
It’s worth noting that above I’m referring to a particular sense of paranoia and tension when fighting the enemy and making strategic moves. However you’ll find a different kind of tension throughout all of your frontier oRvR experiences, but that’s more to do with the way the zones work than the 3rd realm. I guess the easiest way to compare it to WAR is it feels a bit like solo roaming in Land of the Dead, when the enemy has the zone controlled and death means game over.
The 3 realm system means any attempt at being the dominant realm is a fragile thing. If one realm starts to dominate the campaign, they will find themselves under attack from both of the other realms. Not normally in any kind of official alliance, more just an unspoken agreement to deal with the bigger menace. Really it is just like that fight I described above, but scaled up a lot. With the open zone system this means that if one realm gains a lot of territory, they now have to maintain control over a lot of territory and against a lot of enemies. If the only RvR you’ve played is in WAR, it’s hard for me to get across quite how vast a task it is to control a lot of land in DAoC. It would take a lot of effort with just 1 enemy realm to deal with, but with 2 enemies it doesn’t take much for the cracks to appear.
Time once again to ask: what if any of this could WAR introduce?
A third realm IS doable and DAoC’s “New Frontiers” expansion proved Mythic are capable of making changes on the scale required. However, that was a different game in a different time. There’s no escaping it would be a massive undertaking today and I imagine would cost so much money to do that it couldn’t be seriously considered by Mythic. Playing make-believe for a bit though, if they did go for it there are a few obstacles to clear.
Q) In the current oRvR zones, if 2 realms have little room for manoeuvre, how the hell do you squeeze a third in?
A) As per my previous post you make Tier 4 zones full oRvR and give us much larger battlefields. And remember it’s not just the 3rd realm thing adding an extra sense of tension and paranoia to DAoC. The large openRvR zones and more dispersed roaming players create a much larger wilder feeling world. You can see how this could actually work in WAR when playing in Land of the Dead, only 2 realms but a large open zone without funnelling and a constant sense of danger.
Q) Who’s city gets sieged?
A) Again check out that post of mine from before, for more nice pictures with a suggestion for using the current locking zone lark. That said, I'd much prefer it if we also got rid of zone locks, in which case we could have a system linked to keep and territory control. Once your controlled points reaches a certain low, your city is attackable by the realm with the most controlled points.
Q) WAR’s realm’s have 3 races each, so what races for the new realm?
A) Disease. This is one discussed in comments plenty of times on here before, so credit to all involved in those discussions. Skaven, Beastmen and Nurgle Chaos (Nurgle is the rival of the already playable Tzeentch Chaos). This is the ONLY combination of the remaining primary races in the Warhammer lore that doesn’t have a serious lore conflict. Those 3 are made for each other.
However... time to stamp on this dream. :(
Whilst it could work (it really could, honest!), I very much doubt its feasible to do because of the scale of it and the costs I presume it would involve. No matter what we all want it all just boils down to this.
So when WAR gets new playable races I fully expect them to be part of the existing 2 realms, but maybe that's not such a bad thing...
Next: Summing it all up, what should and might actually be done.