Saturday, 31 July 2010

Producer's letter reviewy thing

The latest Producer’s letter didn’t really tell us much that wasn’t common knowledge, however this is completely to be expected. In 3 weeks time we are going to get some big news, make that BIG news, so there wasn’t ever going to be much that Carrie could say in this letter beforehand. As such, fair enough, says I.

There were a couple of little things that were news. The Wild Hunt will be back on sometime soon as a full on live event, not just a weekend warfront. I thought that was a good event before, so while not OMFGBBQ news, it’s still good to hear. Also it turns out that for the 2 free weeks our new EU servers had three times the normal number of players… Yup, it was more than a little noticeable! I know a fair few that have resubbed too, so that’s all good. The ball is with Mythic now to try and retain these resubbed players.

I’ve not much else to say about the letter, to be honest we’re all just waiting for the mid August news to start appearing. Oh there was one thing from the developer Q&A I wanted to mention. I asked how many 1.3.X patches there are before 1.4, the answer to which was 1.3.6 is the last one before 1.4 arrives. Though Carrie said using that knowledge to calculate the release date of 1.4 wouldn’t work as things in 1.4 need to mature and it could be a little longer. Though a little birdie told me a while back that 1.4 is scheduled for October, which now sounds about right.

Oh and on the PTS right now they've removed friendly collision detection, word is its working out really well and improved performance. Note collision detection still applies against enemy players.

If you’re interested in hearing more about the Q&A session: Gaarawar has a transcript and Bruglir has a recording.

For now my friends, put aside this Producer letter not having much in it, I don’t think Mythic had much of a choice. In a few weeks we will all know why.

Friday, 30 July 2010

WAR Producer's letter is out

You can find it here.

Reading... will do the usual prod letter comment post later.

What is Destruction's most fun career for a new player?

I wasn’t sure what to post about today, I left my list of potential topics at work and unfortunately I’m sat at home with my face on fire… don’t ask. Thankfully I’ve been saved by an email request from a chap by the name of Ulli, so Ulli thanks for the mail and this one’s for you sweetie.

Ulli is thinking about starting WAR and asked if I, as a self confessed alt whore, would post about what I think is the most fun Destruction career to play. That’s actually one hell of a tricky question to answer and is immensely influenced by personal taste, but none the less I shall attempt to answer.

First off I can’t claim to be an expert on every career and as the word fun was included, I think to make a judgement I have to have played them plenty at 40. So I will only consider the ones I personally have at level 40. Those being:

Squig Herder
Witch Elf

Which means I’m not thinking about:
Black Orc
Disciple of Khaine

Though it is worth mentioning, the Disciple of Khaine and Sorcerer are without any doubt the two most powerful careers on Destruction. So if fun for you means being a nigh unkillable healing machine of death or having nukes that make the Sun look a bit wet, those two might be your thing. How fun they are to play I can’t really say.

So what makes a class (or career as we call them in WAR) fun?

For me I think it’s these 4 things:
  • Looking cool.
  • Based around an interesting, but not overly restrictive mechanic or system.
  • Having clear purpose and roles.
  • Being effective at the role/s it plays.
  • Comfortable in both groups and when solo.
And this is where I hit a bit of a problem… I started scoring them to see what would win, but all of the careers that I play score highly in each area. Each has a very different playstyles and I enjoy playing ALL of them, but I don’t know which I like best. However there is one I think that is worth ruling out for a new player; The Magus. It’s almost great, but it trips over in a big way as it lacks direction, burst damage and utility compared with the Sorcerer. Unless you take the rift bot bomb route (rift is a spell that pulls enemy plays towards you, the bomb is you and your groups AOE attacks), which is a restrictive gamestyle, it’s a bit like Mythic don’t quite know what the Magus is there for. Not that it’s as bad as many make out, but really I think the other options are just plain better and certainly more forgiving for a new player.

Anyway, with the other careers different play styles and abilities balancing themselves out in the fun stakes, I think the best thing for any new player is to take advantage of the free trial. Make one of everything, level it up to 11 and get a feel for each career, it won’t give you the level 40 lowdown, but at least you’ll get a flavour for it.

Bah I can’t bottle it like this. I need to choose…ok ok…

It’s the Choppa.

They look awesome, like totally brutal... Their rage system is simple, effective and well balanced, and they also have lots of abilities that are worth using, if played correctly this is no single ability spamming career. Choppa also have a very wide range of viable ways to spec their mastery points (talent lines, specs, whatever you want to call them), with each of the 3 mastery lines working perfectly well. You can AoE bomb with them, be a single target damage dealing monster, buff friends and debuff enemies. If you spec for it you can even self heal! They have a bit of everything, but with the ability through mastery points to be more than a jack of all trades. Also as a later addition to the game, it seems to me that Mythic had learnt a few lessons about itemisation when the Choppa was introduced, so gear wise you have a lot of options. There is nothing about the Choppa that I don’t like.

So there you have it. If like Ulli you’re considering starting WAR, but are unsure what to play and want something that will be good old fashioned fun, I would recommend the Choppa.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

What to do with 2 weeks of double influence, renown and XP?

That was the question inadvertently put to every player on the EU servers recently, myself included. At the beginning of the 2 weeks I was all set on doing the sensible thing; getting my Chosen main (who was at RR68) as close to 80 as possible. Within just a few days I was up to RR72 and the renown was still flying up, but then with a resounding thud, I fell off the pixel painted wagon.

My name is Bootae and I’m addicted to alts.

That’s the reason why my Chosen was only renown rank 68 after 2 years of playing WAR. I’m just so easily distracted. It’s learning how other careers work, revelling in their different appearances, styles and themes. It’s being able to really understand other player’s career concerns and issues, finding out if the allegedly gimped is really gimped or just grass is greener syndrome. Plus it’s always a nice challenge seeing if I can be competitive with low renown alt versus all the 80s.

So over the last 2 weeks I got my Squig Herder to 40 and discovered what a fun class it is to play at 40, even in annihilator/devestator armour. One of WAR’s most atmospheric and entertaining careers to play for sure, I highly recommend. Having got the Squiggy to 40 and with my Black Orc building up rest XP, I figured I might as well finish my Witch Elf off. I levelled her to 33 a looooooong time ago, then for a reason I don’t remember I stopped playing her. She was then pretty much forgotten as I was distracted by the (at that point) newly released Choppa. With these 2 weeks of boosted XP I figured “what the hell” and levelled my Witch Elf from 33 to 40.

It was then that the unexpected happened. I discovered that I bloody love playing my Witch Elf. It’s awesome fun, not because of it being over powered, it’s actually pretty well balanced (versus other careers, though debatably underpowered versus its own mirror). The Witch Elf is fun because it is squishier than the squishiest squishy squish, hittier than the hittiest stick of hittydom and all wrapped up in a bundle of sneaky pie. The career really suits my play style too, since I do quite a lot of solo roaming. Not only is solo roaming fun and challenging generally, but it’s also a great way to learn a career. If you want to be able to consistently win 1v1s and stand a chance in 1v2+, the only way is to get out there and fight on your own, lots. Having said all that, on a bad day solo roaming can be very frustrating. You just have to learn to roll with the punches.

My little WE with one of KF's well known roamers Biggsie (For Norn people; yeah he's been grabbed by the green).

Anyway, I ended up playing my Witch Elf a lot, getting to the mid 40s in renown rank so far and my plans to hammer up Bootae’s renown rank some more failed. Not that I care to be honest, as I’ve been a bit worried about running out of carrots for my Chosen. I’ve only got one bit of Tyrant and two bits of sovereign left to get, at which point there’s little left to achieve. Other than grinding scenario weapons, but other than with the ladies, I’m not good at grinding. Easily distracted… So all in all the 2 weeks of boosted XP, etc worked out well for me. I now have a slightly bonkers 7 level 40 characters and a new Witch Elf obsession.

Of course I now have a new problem… I’m curious about levelling a Black Guard, but I’d have to delete either my DoK or Marauder. Doh.

Monday, 26 July 2010

New WHFB rule book confirms Order vs Destruction groupings

This month saw the release of the new Warhammer Fantasy Battle rulebook, only its 8th edition in 25 years of Warhammer, so a big deal for gamers. If WAR was your introduction to the Warhammer world and you’re tempted to learn a bit more about the background and lore of Warhammer, the latest book is well worth purchasing.

Whilst perusing the book one thing I spotted of interest for WAR games is a proper confirmation by Gamesworkshop of which races are aligned to Order and Destuction. With Mythic being locked pretty tightly into following the official lore and needing agreement for changes from Gamesworkshop, this new section in the rulebook (which Mythic will be well aware of) sets the boundaries for new races that may one day make an appearance in WAR. Whilst each of these races can fight each other, I suspect this official grouping into Order and Destruction pretty much rules out a third faction in any form.

This is the official breakdown as detailed in the new WHFB book:

High Elves
Wood Elves

Warriors of Chaos
Orcs & Goblins
Dark Elves
Vampire Counts
Daemons of Chaos

Non-aligned forces
Ogre Kingdoms
Tomb Kings

What else is interesting with these groupings is that there are 6 Order and 6 Destruction races that could feasibly be made playable (Daemons of Chaos are quite simply not an option for many reasons). As such this could, in theory at least, mean Mythic have the option of 3 expansions that add a new playable race to each side from the yellow highlighted races above. Lots of possibilities there, should Mythic be in a position to take advantage of them.

And perhaps Ogre Kingdoms for a future Land of the Dead style zone? I hadn’t considered that as an option myself before, but there’s no reason why not.

Anyways, whatever may or may not happen in the future, this official grouping solves a few forum debates about alignments.

How many Mythic devs does it take to make an expansion?

As people talk about WAR’s future, or lack thereof according to some posters, you often read comments about how Mythic couldn’t afford to make an expansion, that the company is too small now. I don’t know about this, it seems to be packed with assumptions and I’ve never seen any real evidence to confirm either way. So the thing I’m wondering about this is this…

Back in the old DAoC days Mythic brought out a lot of expansions, all of these were of considerable size and impact, but one of the earlier ones in particular stands out: New Frontiers. Mythic completely changed the ENTIRE ORvR landscape, the zones had the same names, but the graphics, layouts, structure and how they worked were utterly transformed. Which leads me to the following question:

Was Mythic a smaller company with fewer resources than today when they made the huge "New Frontiers" expansion for DAoC?

I suspect they were smaller then, but I don’t know for sure. Certainly this was before WoW launched and MMOs truly exploded and if Wikipedia is to be believed (don’t laugh :P) subscription numbers were around 250,000. Mythic now have UO, DAoC and WAR, but subscription numbers are not available. Not that sub numbers alone would indicate if a company has more or less money to throw around. Of course in the past they also didn’t have EA’s backing, nor Bioware’s involvement, which I presume puts them in a better place today. Of course those comments are just based on my own more positive assumptions...

So I wonder, have the naysayers assumed too much or is Mythic really in a worse place than in its regular expansion making past? Could Mythic surprise a lot of people and deliver what many consider impossible? I've heard a lot of interesting stuff recently, stuff I can't confirm and as such don't want to post, but if rumours and "stuff" are to be believed, Mythic have got something up their sleeve and it smells of warpstone…

Unless its all bollocks and we're doooooomed! DOOOOOOOOOOMED! Need more rats for the doom wheel!

Friday, 23 July 2010

1.3.6 patch chatty posty post

Right then, as I posted yesterday the 1.3.6 notes are out and I’m guessing most everyone has had a good look. As ever this means its time for me to have a little rambling chat about the potential impact of the patch.
Lets get the character stuff out of the way first… 1.3.6 has a fair bit of character balancing, so in that respect it’s going to be controversial patch for those with characters that get hit in a negative fashion, though I have to say that in general it looks pretty solid to me.  I’m not going to go into every career’s changes, just a few I feel like commenting on.
The biggest changes are to Zealots and Runepriests, changes that I think maybe fairly positive. Prior to the patch I had a steadily increasing sense of doubt about them, I was worried about being toggled for damage gimping the self-presevation abilities of DPS Zealots, but I’m intrigued by the potential of the new transference tactic. With every single damaging spell healing you (or your defensive target) for 50% of the damage done, this might work out ok. However, whilst I have a level 40 Zealot, I’m not that experienced with him for DPS, so I can’t say with total certainty. It will be interesting to see how this works out.
The change to close quarters will do nothing to prevent the dominance of mass stacking PBAoE. A 25% damage reduction is of no relevance when you regularly face such large numbers of Bright Wizards or Sorcerers, it will still be instant death stacked AoE. As such while I think it’s a step in the right direction, unfortunately on it’s own it’s a pointless change and will achieve nothing. PBAoE should not hit harder than most people’s primary single target attacks, end of story. Though I do think examining the potency of both team heals and the guard abilities should be included in any real solution to AOEhammer.
Magus changes are interesting and pretty good, but I’m not sure they are enough. The class needs more damage or something to give them more influence on the battlefield, without becoming rift-bots. And what on earth is the point of buffing Strengthen Thrall??? Unless the Daemonic Fire debuff is truly monumental, Magus pets will still be used primarily as land mines. In particular I’m disappointed to see the Havoc tree not getting buffed, but at least Mythic are making some headway into sorting out the Magus.
Stealth fixed? At present more often than not stealth is utterly useless, so making it harder to spot stealthers is good, but have they also addressed stealth breaking for a vast range of stupid reasons like being buffed, having guard put on, etc, etc. It’s not mentioned in the patch notes, but I’m hoping for a stealth fix to uhm stealth… Other than this there’s nothing for Witch Elves or Witch Hunters… Which is odd when I’m told that Witch Elves have a tactic that only works if you are SOUTH of your target, I’ve forgotten the name and can’t log in to check right now, I think its called baneful touch or something?. Whatever, that’s just LOL. Fix it please ;)
Shadow Warriors… I’m really pleased they’ve been buffed. Of everything in the game I think they needed it most. The changes look great. I’m not complaining about the knock on effect to Squig Herders either!
Marauder. Ok seriously? The brutality tree is still ignored and completely useless. I do not understand why this is not being addressed.
Moving on from characters…
The new armour appearance system rocks. I tried it on the PTS and it’s spot on, I’m very pleased with this. Though I’m told that the graphic updates for armour that we were meant to also be getting have not been included. Which would mean for my Chosen that actually I don’t have much to choose from, since many of our armour sets use the same graphics… Still, a fairly minor gripe, it’s a great system and exactly what I had hoped for.
Sovereign armour changes. Good move, nuff said.
ORvR changes. Against all Odds, no more mailbox guarding and no more prior tier or PvE contribution to the campaign. Love it, great stuff and a big step in the right direction. I’m not going in to great detail about these now, but these changes are potentially the biggest changes in the entire patch and these alone make 1.3.6 a good patch for WAR.
I fully support the changes for Land of the Dead access. While summoning being turned off will make it a bit more awkward when sorting out Vulture Lord groups, on the other hand not having to piss about with the Public Quest will save time. And regardless, the overall benefit for Tier 2 and 3 when combined with the new increased XP/renown from the Skaven stuff in the RvR lakes, more than makes up for a little inconvenience for my occasional dungeon runs. If it results in busier T2-3 then it is good for the game in general.
There are loads of other things in the patch, but I’ll be writing all day if I cover them all. There’s one interesting little thing though… “The /assist command is no longer accessible by 3rd party add-ons.” Wow, a big nerf for people relying on auto focus and other such mods. Great move! People will use macros instead of course, but at least it removes some of the brainless gameplay.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

1.3.6 Patch notes are out

Check them here!

Will digest and comment asap.

Change is as good as a rest (XP?)

Bit slow posting today due to dubious head making me a bit wobbly, so you've probably already heard, but anyway here's today's scoop.

Link to Mythic post about T2-3 RvR changes. And because I'm helpful, here's the info:

We'd like to announce some additional upcoming changes for RvR in v1.3.6. These changes are aimed to improve the ORvR gameplay within Tiers 2 & 3.

"Land of the Dead
Players may no longer be summoned to this zone.
Players must be Rank 32 in order to use the flightmaster to this zone.

Due to the above adjustments, players may now enter the Tomb of the Vulture Lord by interacting with a Window of Perpetuity within the Temple of Ualatp PQ area and are no longer required to progress the PQ to the final Stage. A Window of Perpetuity is only available to those who have previously entered the Tomb of the Vulture Lord.

Tier 2
Plague Rat sightings have been reported within the RvR lakes of Troll Country and Ostland. (Developer Note(s): there have been two encampments added within the RvR lake of fast-spawning Core-con monsters. These encampments are available at all times and grant increased experience.)

Tier 3
Plague Rat sightings have been reported within the RvR lakes of High Pass and Talabecland. (Developer Note(s): there have been three encampments added within the RvR lake. Two of these are filled with fast-spawning Core-con Plague Rats with an occassional Packmaster. Another is filled with Champion-con Plague Rats with an occassional Packmaster. These encampments are available at all times and grant increased experience. There is also a Gutter Runner scout who traverses throughout the entirety of the RvR lake. This Gutter Runner is stealthed but will break upon entering combat. Broadcast messages will be sent to all players within the RvR lake as to where this Gutter Runner has been spotted. The Realm who performs the killing blow (it's important to reiterate that it is just the killing blow) will have all active participants rewarded with Experience, Renown, and Influence equivalent of fully capturing all four Battlefield Objectives from the enemy Realm. The Gutter Runner will respawn somewhere between 30-60 minutes but will not do so if a Keep is currently under attack."

These changes sound good to me. Land of the Dead had made Tier 3 in particular totally pointless, which was a shame, but at the same time it was far too slow to level in. This should address that. It sounds like it will also speed up Tier 2-3 leveling, which is no bad thing obviously.

My only concern is that some folks are seeing this as a sign of Skaven being added as a 3rd NPC controlled faction. That would be a massive mistake and huge missed opportunity. Since launch people have been screaming out for playable Skaven and complaining about RvR being too much RvE. With the city sieges taking us away from their hideous previous RvE style, I really wouldn't want the game to take a step back towards RvE and on an even larger scale than ever before. I play WAR more to fight players, than NPCs.

That said, this could just be teases towards Skaven being introduced as playable, certainly wasting all those career options and buckets of character would seem incredibly stupid. Plus if DAoC expansions are any clue, Mythic have a history of adding lots of new careers and races. But who knows...

So I view this news with both an approving smile and a buttock clenching grimace of concern. I don't want to play PVEhammer.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Oooh you tease

From Andy's twitter: OooOOooo...possibly exciting news to share soon.

What is it precious???

Monday, 19 July 2010

Best guild EU/US is?

That’s not a question that can actually have a genuine answer. Even once you put ego and epeen aside... any attempt at answering will still automatically fail, because the definition of “best guild” is totally subjective. As soon as you start thinking about an answer, your mind is subconsciously formulating a biased answer. Some of the guilds other people would consider the best, I would think of as an absolute nightmare to be part of. Likewise, they may consider a guild like mine in the same way. You can’t just judge the best guild by how powerful they are at large or small scale fighting, how chatty their community is or anything else for that matter. Everyone prioritises each of these elements differently and to make a fair judgement call on the quality of each area requires you to be in that guild, but not be in that guild, be on the same faction AND be on the opposing faction all at the same time… So we can never really say, yes that guild is the best; it just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny by anyone with differing desires. This then leads me to wondering; can we actually make a judgement on what guilds count as good or bad?

I think so yes, but again it’s a very subjective question and requires a certain amount of objectivity to get an answer that isn’t just biased troll bait. The first thing you have to accept is that there are differing components that contribute to a guild being good and missing some of those things doesn’t automatically make it bad. For example my guild is pretty good at 1-2 group warbands, scenario premades (when not slacking, grrr!) and has some excellent very small scale solo roaming, but we’re not that great at full warband combat. In an even numbered full warband fight against the enemy guilds that excel at warband fighting, we will more than likely lose. However, when we go up against people from those guilds in smaller scale combat, we have a much better chance of winning. Now, some people will deem a nightly uber warband of doom as essential, which we don’t have, but actually we don’t want it either and at times may even be accused of looking down on people that don’t do small scale. It’s all just perspective… So in that slightly over wordy example, neither our opponents nor us are bad guilds, we’re just good at different things. Very similar things can be said about the community, guild chat and atmosphere on ventrilo (or whatever voice coms you use). Chatty or more regimented guild communications both have their place, it just depends on what you want out of your guild.

On Karak Norn I can think of a lot of guilds that can meet different criteria towards being good. From small scale heroes, or warbands of doom, to role playing legends. I can’t think of any guilds that have everything for everyone all at once, but that would be impossible anyway.

However there are things that if present in a guild would probably lead to that guild being considered as “bad” by everybody. Obviously guilds that due to a lack of decent management are packed with racists, thieves and exploiters, are utter turd and firmly in the bad category. Unless of course, you’re a racist, thieving exploiter, in which case you’re obviously a morally deficient wanker and are in no position to make a judgement call on good or bad, in any context. Likewise the guild whose leader has 1 rule for him and 5 others for everyone else, or uses his members like his personal banking fund, that’s just not a great place to be spending your time. Guilds like this don’t tend to last long, bad reputation’s stick, but good players and people won’t stick with it.

So when moving to a new server or starting up the game for the first time, don’t ask what’s the best guild on your new server. In fact don’t even ask who the good guilds are. You will only get biased and subjective answers. Instead, you should be more specific. Think about and then explain what YOU want from a guild and only then ask who would be good for you. Will save a lot of headaches in the long run.

Epic fights on Norn

That’s been my weekend really, in between real life stuff of course. There were some truly epic fights in Chaos Wastes, Eataine and Caledor. Some of the fighting in Caledor was just brilliant, the bridges providing the choke points, but as the zone has plenty of alternate routes it was never a simple single choke point fight.
We ran with a mixture of very different set ups over this weekend, from Witch Elf+pimp groups to the occasional bombing set up. Numbers wise we were normally about 1-2 groups, peaking at 3 briefly, but we tried to fight around the HUGE zergs from both factions where possible. And it was just plain bloody awesome. We kicked much arse and we also had a few proper slappings in return, but regardless it was all fun.

What was very cool was how the new server coped with the large fights. They really can deal with far larger numbers of combatants in a zone than the GOA servers did. However it’s still not all sweetness. We are occasionally getting the crashes when zoning and I’ve had 2 random crashes to desktop this weekend, which I think is 2 more than I’d had earlier this year… Also a few people are complaining of regular lag, I’m guessing this is something to do with the route between their PC, ISP and the new servers, but I’m only guessing. Certainly when they complain of lag most of us are not getting any at all, which suggests it may not be the fault of the server per se.

Still, overall it’s been a great weekend of WAR, after a pretty good week too. Hopefully as Mythic continue to improve our new servers, this will only get better.

Of course now we are all looking forward to seeing the patch notes… I wonder how much drama they will provide ;)

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Another day another ding

Witch Elf hit 40 today. I wasn't planning on finishing it anytime soon, but then the other day I logged it in and realised I had 450% levels worth of rest XP... Combining that with our 100% XP bonus at the moment and a war tract, meant 5 levels done in no time at all! Which takes me to a slightly insane seven level 40 characters on Karak Norn...

Squig Herder
Witch Elf

Black Orc is in the mid 30s and building up rest XP as we speak. I really should get out more.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Me and Red Guard sitting in a tree, K I S.... actually just killing me ;)

Sometimes Altdorf is just a plain bizarre. So there I was, having just cleared one Altdorf with a couple of KF groups, I got out with 7 mins to go and most of the guys were gonna head off elsewhere, but I figured I’d do one more and go in solo, see what manner of PUG I get. We get inside, take the first 2 objectives, get to Emperors Circle and Red Guard are there. It was a sloppy attack by us and no surprise, we all get butchered. Of course everyone starts leaving, but I was feeling stubborn (stupid?) and decided to stay and fight. It ended up with just me and 4 others left inside with each of us doing our own thing against a load more Order.

It was strangely entertaining… I tried a few times to ninja myself a kill but kept ending up fighting multiple Red Guard at once, which obviously wasn’t going to be easy. Still I think I at least gave them a bit of a fight, before supplying my renown. When it became apparent that I was on my tod all the time some of the guys were good sports and we larked about for a bit, emoting, jumping around, you know… the usual sociable nonsense when you can’t directly speak to each other (sometimes I think WAR needs more emotes). I thought for a moment I might even get some duels, but alas a few others were not quite so friendly and jumped in each time, but hey no complaints from me, if it’s red its dead and all that.

I dunno if the guys intended lining up for a screenie, but it worked out nicely for this post...

Anyways, /wave to everyone in there, it was odd, yet amusing.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

More class changes posted, close quarters changed

Very interesting post by Mythic, I wonder how much of an impact this is going to have on AoE?

"Ranged Archetype

Close Quarters has been redesigned. It will now cause your abilities to build up 50% faster when your enemy target is within feet 20 of you, and no longer has a penalty.
Expert Skirmisher has been redesigned. It will now cause your abilities to build up 50% faster when your enemy target is within 20 feet of you, and no longer has a penalty."

Still like to see PBAoE stacking removed/limited mind you, but will this mean Sorcs/BWs now spam single target abilities instead of the constant AoE?

Oh and Shadow Warriors, gratz guys, about time.

Looking like a good patch for Magus with this and the other changes too.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Melee DPS Sovereign update details

Melee DPS Sovereign set details posted here.

(Primary) Offensive Set
Str - 232
WS - 134
Wou - 116
Tou - 106
Spi - 294
Cor - 289
Ele - 289
6% melee crit chance
40 melee power
20% auto attack speed
3 AP/s
2% parry strikethrough

3 piece - 85 Str
4 piece - 85 WS
5 piece - 5% DPS
6 piece - On Hit: 10% chance to increase melee power by 130 for 10s.
7 piece - On Hit: 10% chance to increase parry/block strikethrough by 10% for 10s.
8 piece - 2m cooldown - Increases movement speed by 40%, auto attack speed by 25% and you will gain 60 AP over 10s.

(Secondary) Survivability Set
Wou - 232
Tou - 134
Ini - 116
Str - 106
Spi - 294
Cor - 289
Ele - 289
6% reduced chance to be crit
4% parry
60 HP/4s
3 AP/s
2% melee crit

3 piece - 85 Tou
4 piece - 85 Wou
5 piece - 5% Parry
6 piece - On Being Hit: 10% chance to form a barrier that will absorb up to 933 damage over 5s.
7 piece - On Hit: 10% chance to deal 409 damage to your attacker, healing you for 612 health.
8 piece - 2m cooldown - Immune to knockdown, stagger, root and knockback for 10s.

Monday, 12 July 2010

New servers are great! Oh wait... What? No! Noooooo!

I had a post planned; a nice, happy and congratulatory post for Mythic after what had been a very smooth and successful transfer from GOA to the Mythic servers. And then this weekend happened…
It started with ever-increasing mailbox and auction house lag, with some people reporting having to wait minutes for their mail to load. And then with a resounding DOH the crashing started. When changing zones, be it from using a flightmaster or a scenario, the game started crashing. Sometimes crashing to server select, sometimes to character select and on occasion right back to desktop. And I’m not talking about the occasional crash, oh no sir, this was consistent and constant crashing. It got to the point where most of us just gave up, as WAR was simply unplayable.
It’s real shame, not because of a bit of lost game time, but because this is yet another opportunity to further WAR’s resurgence utterly squished. You see this coincides with Mythic reactivating every EU player’s account for 2 weeks free and by the looks of things this was taken advantage of in a huge way. Over the last few days I’ve seen entire guilds return to see how WAR is doing, seriously loads of old faces popping up everywhere. These are people that when they saw all the improvements to WAR would quite probably subscribe and enjoy the game, at least for a while and Mythic’s next patch could well have kept them here longer. We’d told them the lag was so much better, that the new servers were so much more stable and at first they really were, but then BOOM! Server meltdown, with crashing eventually became so constant and epic that WAR no longer functioned at all.
Prior to this I’d maintained a comfortable FPS in fights that were on a scale our old GOA servers could not have dreamed of running. I remember at one point looking at the map of Chaos Wastes and seeing the entire RvR lakes covered in fight symbols, WAR was indeed everywhere. It was brilliant, the new servers a joy.
Now I’m sure Mythic will get this sorted out. It’s just a crying shame that all those returning players return to WAR was met by such massive server problems. Perhaps all those returning players cramming onto our servers were the cause of the problem? I don’t know, I can only guess. I know a lot of those people quit because of a combination of the dominance of AoE and poor game performance, they come back and discover AoE is still dominant (albeit point blank) and it would appear to them, the game performance is actually worse.
Yet it isn’t. WAR is soooooo much better now; the game normally does run extremely well, in fact in the moments when the server stopped dicking about, I had some great fights this weekend. For me Sunday night ended on a real high with brilliant scrapping in Black Crag with 2 groups of KF and about the same from Tainted working together to fight an Order zerg, really tremendous fun and drama. And Mythic genuinely are finally starting to make and talk about the right kind of changes for WAR. It’s just such a crying shame that all the improvements and future potential has been utterly overshadowed by a weekend of epic server failure.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Saturday night's for fighting... and running away it seems

Unusually for me on a Saturday, real life (or in other words “the wife”) left me fairly unmolested and conspired to give me a load of WAR game time today. This turned into very mixed day of WAR, going back and forth between the sublime to the ridiculous.

Earlier in the day I was roaming about or getting my solo queuing face bombed to crap by Crimson premades (the theme of the entire day was lava based), when lo and behold an Altdorf siege started. I was solo queuing because I had to play without sound for a bit and as such couldn’t go on vent, which in turn means at times like this I don’t do guild or alliance groups. So I also went in solo and PUGed Altdorf… Quite often this has worked out ok, but today not so much. Order had 1 or 2 recognisable premade bombing guild groups, backed up by solo joiners and a fairly well balanced warband. Uunfortunately on the Destro side it appeared to be full PUGs and we only had 3 healers in the entire instance. Predictably as soon as the first mass AoE of doom kicked in during stage 1, pretty much everyone quit the instance. Myself and others tried to put up a fight, but after a few attempts it ended up with me and about 5 other people left, most of whom I saw moving to the instance exit. I’m quite confident at facing multiples solo, but I decided against sticking around to see if I it would end up as 1v24.

Instead I went to Land of the Dead with my Squig Herder and blatted insects to get his last couple of levels to 40. Fairly uneventful, other than being on the receiving end of a few gankers and this was actually quite entertaining. I like the whole looking over your shoulder and sudden fights when grinding levels in Land of the Dead. End result was my sixth level 40, Gashmonkey the Squig Herder. Not sure how much I will play him, but I do like the career, it’s got a lot of character.

In the evening we had a Kill Frenzy warband consisting of a mere one and a half group and we did our best to get away from the zergs to find some decent fighting around the edges. Unfortunately it seemed like all the Destro were moving in one monstrous zerg, while Order had a few smaller zergs going, all of which were at least warband strength and mostly seemed to be organised alliance bomb zergs. Obviously with our 1.5 groups being constantly outnumbered in such a big way we didn’t have much joy against the wall of stacked AoE instant death smothering pretty much everywhere… And surfing our Destro zerg isn’t exactly the most fun thing to do, so after an only moderately entertaining hour or two we went our separate ways. Though before it all ended I had a classic fight with Steveo and an ever increasing number of his mates under a bridge :P /wave Steveo

Zognob, Julanta and I formed a half group and did scenarios. It was all going rather well, with a mixture of solid wins and losses where at least we played well, but then a couple of stupid moments soured the latter stages of my day of much WAAAGHing. First there was stupidity on my part (I blame being tired…) when in Howling Gorge I picked up the bomb and ran the wrong way and tried to plant it in Order’s target, DOH! Oh the shame, the SHAME!!! Particularly as an enemy slayer targeted me to /lol :P

And then in Serpents Passage it was other Destro being silly that got right up my nose. We’re facing one Red Guard premade and I think PuGs, our side was PuGs but not badly balanced. In case you don’t know of Red Guard, once you get past the trolling and usual hatred smothering our MMO community, they’re considered the top Order guild on Karak Norn, so obviously it was going to a tougher fight. It started off with a reasonable fight that we lost, but it wasn’t instant death and we spotted some chinks in the enemy’s armour (the PUGs were the weak link) to be exploited. Alas it was not to be, as tough changed to impossible when most of the other Destro in our scenario realised it was Red Guard and pretty much shat themselves and ran away. On numerous occasions the 3 of us tried to take the fight to the Order guys, but found ourselves alone while the other Destro stayed to guard the spawn er… guards... At one point I’m standing there with my back to order /beckoning Destro on, but no, they couldn’t risk it. I mean come on, your pixels may die!

Soured the evening really. I’ve no problems with losing fights, it happens and particularly if its good opposition like this there is no shame in it, but to not even try? Meh. Reputation crits you for 90000000.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

My evening's RvR through the medium of song

This also works...

Can you imagine the fun?

Friday, 9 July 2010

Blorc update and a quick word (or several) on maintenace messages

OK so you may have noticed I haven’t posted about my Black Orc for a little while. You may have thought I’d given up, that the pony plan system had finally driven me to despair. But no! Thanks to some Land of the Dead power levelling on champ groups I hit level 31 the other day and am now in the heady heights of Tier 4. Which of course means I’ll be continuing to power level all the way to 40 and probably won’t be bothering with scenarios or RvR for a bit. Well, not much anyway.

I still loathe the plan system, it is truly terrible when compared with playing my Chosen in that respect, yet the class continues to ooze character despite this and I’ve not even considered quitting. I’m levelling with a Brawler spec, but have had to go sword and board for tanking the champs, I think I’ll be sticking with this spec tree and swinging a great weapon when I properly start tier 4 pvp.

On the armour front, I’ve taken quite a big step towards the end game look, with huge chunks of metal everywhere. Except for my feet, which are some random RvR vendor crap, I’m wearing full Explorer gear from Land of the Dead in this screenshot. Not exactly a proper armour set stat wise, but it’s not too bad for my level and has a decent look.

Sorry it’s quite a dark screenshot btw, I had to rush as the server was being taken down for maintenance out of the blue at 11pm on a Friday night. An emergency is an emergency, I just hope it really is and isn’t someone just not giving a toss… because that’s how it looks when no real reason is given for something like this.

A tip Mythic, instead of some apparently flippant message, if you say “emergency maintenance to resolve serious issue X Y and Z”, then you’ll find people much more receptive to these things. not that I mean to teach you to suck eggs or whatever ;)

As it was people were literally fuming mad in region chat and it’s certainly not a great impression for the large number of returning players we’ve got right (due to 2 weeks free).

Still 1 emergency downtime over the whole transfer, aint too shabby.

Sovereign Healer set details revealed

Once again you can find the original post by Mythic over here.

And because I'm such a bootaefull person here's a copy and paste of the stat ridden goodness...

Coming with the 1.3.6 patch are some exciting (and by no means small) changes to the Sovereign armor set. Sovereign is being split into 2 sets for each archetype, each with its own focus. You will now be able to choose how you want to itemize yourself depending on your playstyle without sacrificing item levels.

The system works as follows:

  • The existing Sovereign set (the pieces that already drop, and more importantly the pieces you may already have) will turn into the "Primary" set below. This requires nothing from you as the player and the first time you log in you'll notice that your Sovereign set has different stats and set bonuses.
  • If your personal preference is to use the "Secondary" set, you'll be able to head to an NPC in the cities where you would trade a piece of the "Primary" set in for the equivalent slot of the "Secondary" set. This transaction is only a 1-way transaction.
  • There are no restrictions on mixing and matching between the 2 versions of the sets, however their set bonuses are mutually exclusive (e.g. if you want the 5pc from the "Secondary" set, you need to be wearing 5 pieces from that set).

We will slowly be rolling out in development posts for each of the archetypes as soon as possible. Here is the new layout of the 2 Sovereign sets for Healers.

Magic Healer (Rune Priest, Shaman, Archmage, Zealot)

(Primary) Healing Set
Wil - 232
Tou - 134
Wou - 116
Ini - 106
Spi - 294
Cor - 289
Ele - 289
6% heal crit chance
40 heal power
4 AP/s
4% reduced chance to be crit
2% reduced armor penetration

Set Bonus
3 piece - 85 Wil
4 piece - 85 Wou
5 piece - 5% Heal Crit
6 piece - On Heal: 10% chance to increase heal power by 130 for 10s.
7 piece - On Heal: 10% chance to reduce target's chance to be critically hit by 10% for 10s.
8 piece - 2m cooldown - Increases your critical heal amount by 75% for 10s.

(Secondary) Offensive Set
Int - 232
Tou - 134
Wou - 116
Ini - 106
Spi - 294
Cor - 289
Ele - 289
6% magic crit chance
40 magic power
4 AP/s
4% disrupt strikethrough
2% reduced armor penetration

Set Bonus
3 piece - 85 Int
4 piece - 85 Wou
5 piece - 5% Magic Crit
6 piece - On Hit: 10% chance to increase magic power by 130 for 10s.
7 piece - On Hit: 10% chance to increase target's chance to be critically hit by 10% for 10s.
8 piece - 2m cooldown - Increases your critical damage amount by 50% for 10s.

Melee Healers (Warrior Priest, Disciple)
(Primary) Healing Set
Wil - 232
Tou - 134
Wou - 116
Ini - 106
Spi - 294
Cor - 289
Ele - 289
6% heal crit chance
40 heal power
4% reduced armor penetration
3% reduced chance to be crit
3 AP/s

Set bonus
3 piece - 85 Wil
4 piece - 85 Wou
5 piece - 5% Heal Crit
6 piece - On Heal: 10% chance to increase heal power by 130 for 10s.
7 piece - On Heal: 10% chance to recover 20 Soul Essence/Righteous Fury.
8 piece - 2m cooldown - Increases your critical heal amount by 75% for 10s.


(Secondary) Melee Set
Str - 232
WS - 134
Wou - 116
Tou - 106
Spi - 294
Cor - 289
Ele - 289
6% melee crit chance
40 melee power
20% auto attack speed
3 AP/s
2% parry strikethrough

Set Bonus
3 piece - 85 Str
4 piece - 85 WS
5 piece - 5% Melee Crit
6 piece - On Hit: 10% chance to increase melee power by 130 for 10s.
7 piece - On Hit: 10% chance to recover 20 AP.
8 piece - 2m cooldown - Increases your critical damage amount by 50% for 10s.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

A speculative summer for WAR

As we saw in the last producer’s letter, Mythic has big news that they want to be shouting from the rooftops, but for whatever reasons they can’t and we’ve got to wait until the end of summer to hear it. So the obvious question and something there will be much speculation about, is what could it be?
WAR goes Free to play? No chance whatsoever. I will be absolutely bloody gob-smacked if it was this, shortly before I quit the game. I don’t consider this as an even vaguely realistic option for WAR; this is not some PvE grind fest where we would actually want to buy vanity items from some pony cash shop.
Expansion? My money is firmly and without doubt on this as the big news. Anything else would be lame and a let down of epic proportions, so the real question is what would an expansion bring to WAR? I think there are a few options, varying in likelihood and split into two major groupings.
It could be either a free “Live” expansion like Land of the Dead, or a full on paid expansion. We may even get both, it just depends how much and what Mythic has in the pipeline. It’s worth making some distinctions here, as there are some things that it would be a bit cheeky to add as a paid expansion and should instead come as free live expansions or in patches. I think these are the options:
Live expansion/patch
Revamped Fortresses.
The four missing cities.
A new Land of the Dead style zone.
Paid expansion
Playable third faction.
NPC controlled third faction.
New races for the existing factions.
Lets look at these individually…
Live Expansions/patches
Revamped Fortresses
We already know this is coming. I’m expecting this to be patched in sometime over the next few months, probably as part of the 1.4 patch. As such this being the big announcement, while possible, would make no sense. We already know its coming for certain.
The four missing cities
I’ve gone blank on where, but I’m sure I saw an interview recently where Carrie was asked about the cities and she responded very briefly but with a glint in here eye, if such a thing is possible in text form… Perhaps it was just my imagination? Regardless, this for me is a no brainer and is a live expansion just waiting to happen. The gameworld was built with 6 cities in mind and work was done on them so it’s not like totally starting from scratch. Also they could easily slot into the campaign in a number of ways, could help spread people around the world more and would add major and dramatic new content. I’ve seen footage of the Dwarf city from early beta and whilst it was in a fairly basic stage visually, you can see how awesome it would have been.
A new Land of the Dead style zone
It could happen, there’s a wealth of options in the Warhammer world, but I think this shouldn’t be done yet. As the series of posts Biggsie and I are releasing demonstrates, there is so much wasted landscape already; surely it would make more sense to use that better? As a thought, the side zones like West Praag, Cinderfall, etc, perhaps they could be turned into Land of the Dead type areas? The main problem with this alone is it just wouldn’t be enough.
Paid Expansions/patches
Playable third faction
Probably the best, yet by far the biggest and most difficult thing that Mythic could do. My head tells me this is not going to happen, I think it will be the new playable races for existing factions. Everything sensible tells me that that is what we will get. It’s just I’ve got this strange little inkling that a playable third faction is on the cards, a little nagging sensation, like my spider sense tingling. It’s probably just foolish and overly optimistic hope taunting me, but hmmm, no! No it just can’t be. Despite it’s potential awesomeness and with the right moves it being perfectly possible, it’s simply too big, too complicated and probably seen as far too risky.
NPC controlled third faction
If Skaven are introduced and they are not playable then in gaming terms this would be the biggest self-own since, well… actually quite recently, as this year people in the UK voted in the conservative party and we’re now governed by smarmy bastards who don’t give a toss if you don’t speak posh. Oh well done everyone, well bloody done, epic sodding fail on a national scale. Despite everything they said, we are getting cutbacks on pensions, care for the elderly/disabled, hospital and police and you’re surprised? Ahh but rich people are getting richer by default while David “never worked a day in his life” Cameron knocks one out over a picture of Margaret Thatcher. Oh shock horror. Learn from history for crying out loud… well I suppose you can’t, what with the libraries closing and all.
Uhm sorry non UK readers, bit of a rant tangent… I’ll stop myself getting further distracted. As you’ve probably guessed, with me being of sound mind and body, I really don’t like my new government or this PvE faction as an option for WAR. People have been asking for playable Skaven since before launch, so to introduce them as unplayable would be incredibly stupid. Undead however… that’s got some potential, but the PvE would still be a concern, WAR doesn’t need a return to the infamous RvE days.
New races for the existing factions
This is what I think will happen. Skaven for Destruction and Wood Elves for Order. Or possibly a Bretonnian/Wood Elf combination... Hmmm that could work really well you know. Questing Knight, Wardancer, Waywatcher and Damsel. Hadn’t thought of that before, interesting, not perfect lore wise, but workable. Skaven are a doddle to make, they’ve actually got so many viable options for careers that the only tough bit is deciding which not to use.
So…. Skaven join the forces of Destruction and unleash the Red Plague, which threatens everything. With their lands under threat the Bretonnians and/or Wood Elves join the war alongside the existing forces of Order. A new racial pairing is introduced that goes from Bretonnia/Loren to one of the major Skaven cities (but not Skavenblight). Underground zones and tunnel systems like in Dark Age of Camelot? Yes please!
So there you have what I think the options are and what I think will happen. What do you think? Anything I’ve not thought of?

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

New Sovereign Armour details for Tanks

The original post can be found here.

Coming with the 1.3.6 patch are some exciting (and by no means small) changes to the Sovereign armor set. Sovereign is being split into 2 sets for each archetype, each with its own focus. You will now be able to choose how you want to itemize yourself depending on your playstyle without sacrificing item levels.

The system works as follows:
  • The existing Sovereign set (the pieces that already drop, and more importantly the pieces you may already have) will turn into the "Primary" set below. This requires nothing from you as the player and the first time you log in you'll notice that your Sovereign set has different stats and set bonuses.
  • If your personal preference is to use the "Secondary" set, you'll be able to head to an NPC in the cities where you would trade a piece of the "Primary" set in for the equivalent slot of the "Secondary" set. This transaction is only a 1-way transaction.
  • There are no restrictions on mixing and matching between the 2 versions of the sets, however their set bonuses are mutually exclusive (e.g. if you want the 5pc from the "Secondary" set, you need to be wearing 5 pieces from that set).
We will slowly be rolling out in development posts for each of the archetypes as soon as possible. To start with, here is the new layout of the 2 Sovereign sets for Tanks.

(Primary) Defensive Set
Tou - 232
Wou - 134
Ini - 116
WS - 106
Spi - 294
Cor - 289
Ele - 289
6% reduced chance to be crit
4% block
60 hp/4s
4 AP/s
2% reduced armor penetration

Set Bonus
3 piece - 85 Tou
4 piece - 85 Wou
5 piece - 200 HP/4s
6 piece - On Being Hit: 10% chance to reduce attacker's armor penetration against you and chance to critically hit you by 6% for 10s.
7 piece - On Defense: 25% chance to increase parry/block/disrupt/dodge by 5% for 10s.
8 piece - 2m cooldown - Up to 9 targets within a 20 foot radius have their movement speed reduced by 60% for 5s.

(Secondary) Offensive Set
Str - 232
WS - 134
Wou - 116
Tou - 106
Spi - 294
Cor - 289
Ele - 289
6% melee crit chance
40 melee power
4% parry strikethrough
3 AP/s
2% parry

Set Bonus
3 piece - 85 Str
4 piece - 85 WS
5 piece - 5% DPS
6 piece - On Hit: 10% chance to increase melee power by 130 for 10s.
7 piece - On Hit: 10% chance to increase parry/block strikethrough by 10% for 10s.
8 piece - 2m cooldown - Up to 9 allies within a 20 foot radius have their movement speed increased by 60% for 5s.

I'm not using Sovereign yet, but it looks pretty good to me. That 8 piece bonus is an interesting one, I wonder if it works in combat?

If you played on retired WAR EU servers worry not

I'm not sure how long the GOA forums are going to remain open, so thought I best chuck the info from this post by Andy from Mythic here:


To consolidate all of the inquiries to this one thread:

We have received the data for all characters on retired or decommisioned servers from GOA and we anticipate that they will be available for transfer before the end of the two free weeks. Be sure to watch the Herald for updates regarding this.

We apologize that they are not currently available, however our priority has been the successful migration of character data on currently active servers. "

This means if you're a returning player from the early days, worry not, your characters WILL be available soon no matter which EU server you played on.

A lot has been said about Blizzard's latest real name plan, I'll just say...


Seriously... the worst idea in MMO history. If somehow you've missed out on this, check my blog roll for a range of more sensible posts ;)

Monday, 5 July 2010

Dispersing the zerg with... a Fortress???

OK so yesterday I posted about Mythic basically confirming the ORvR lakes will stay small, which while disappointing (for me anyway) is not all bad news because at the same time Mythic also confirmed that they are going to be doing something to disperse the zerg:
We have a lot of plans for the future and dispersing the zerg, in a mindful way, is high on my priority list

Now regardless of if you sign up to any of my previous posts on how this could be done, I think most people would agree that it should be done. Zergs breed lag, emphasize the over dominance of AoE, seriously punish outnumbered realms and generally spoil the game. So what other solutions could Mythic have in mind? Pondering on this got me thinking about something that may hold the answer and is also something we do know is coming; the return of Fortresses.

At present the campaign’s only purpose is to lock zones with the ultimate aim of laying siege to the enemy city. So everyone is zerging the zone closest to lock with no real need to go elsewhere, other than the occasional quick zerg and back if somewhere else gets close to locking. However, if the Fortresses did return, but with Dark Age of Camelot style relic raids, this could provide a set of alternative goals for the campaign.

I know I've posted about relic raids before, but just in case you’re not familiar with them, this is how they work. Each Fortress has a “relic” inside and each relic provides a realm wide buff for the owners of that fortress. Fortresses cannot be captured like keeps, they are always under control of their original realm, but they can be raided and the relic captured... If you manage to successfully raid a Fortress and capture the relic, you then have to escort it all the way back to your fortress and place it there. This then means you get that relic’s realm wide buff in addition to buffs from any other relics you control. It’s pretty much a game of capture the flag, albeit on a monumental scale.

Getting a screenshot of this zerg cost me a "solo WAAAAGH into them looking like an idiot" death.

So if WAR had this, with relics being captured and escorted between the 2 fortresses in each pairing, then each relic would provide an alternative target. If Order are zerging and pushing the campaign in the Elf pairing, what happens if Destruction start pushing for relics in both of the other pairings? If the relic buffs were enough that they can’t be ignored, perhaps this would break things up a bit.

Obviously there are a lot of details that would need to be sorted out and I’ve no idea if this is anything like what Mythic have planned, but it might just work…

Sunday, 4 July 2010

RvR lakes to stay small, boo hiss

Just a quick post to say there's some new info and confirmations about the first wave of ORvR changes we heard about last week in this thread from Michael J. Wyatt.

Including a hugely disappointing statement from Mythic regarding expanding the RvR lakes:

We have talked about this internally from time to time but is far too risky. I read on a player's blog not too long ago and he said it best "you ARE the content". When it comes to RvR, while not 100% accurate, it does hold a lot of truth.

Dispersing the population would have a positive effect when combating a large zerg but in non-primetime/rvr-lull situations, it would result in a perceived lack of "content". We have a lot of plans for the future and dispersing the zerg, in a mindful way, is high on my priority list.
I understand it's risky, but something needs to be done about the "zerg > all" rule of WAR and whilst I acknowledge him saying they have plans and that it is high on the list, the thing is it should have been a high priority for the last 2 years yet nothing at all has been done. Hopefully we'll hear something decent soon.
Regardless of what else they do, if its not opening up the PvE to RvR, then it still leaves two thirds of every tier 4 zone completely and utterly devoid of players. Which can only been seen as a total waste of space.

Putting that aside, I really like the approach being taken here and directly replying to posts in the developer discussion forum. Looks like the forum is actually living up to it's name.

Friday, 2 July 2010

APB review

Having played the beta I was dead set against buying APB, but doh… I’m just so bloody weak when it comes to new MMOs. Just a couple of days ago I was saying no way was I touching it (the game, not whatever you’re thinking, you sicko), but then as everywhere I went some bugger was talking about how they were going to try APB, I changed my mind and decided I’d get it just to reserve my name and see if it had actually improved since beta. Now that I’ve got a fair few hours game time under my belt, I figured I’d post a preliminary review. BTW sorry for the lack of screenies, I’m away from my home PC and can’t sort them out now.

I warn you now; I’m going to be comparing this with GTA 4 a lot. I know this is an MMO and GTA isn’t but APB is basically an attempt at making GTA online, so the comparison is fair. When you play APB you will naturally start comparing it with GTA.

APB has improved hugely from when I played it before. It runs very well at high settings on my sorta medium level PC rig and other than regular crashes (a new MMO frequently crashing? Surely not?), I’ve had no technical problems with it. Lag hasn’t been an issue at all, at least not in any obvious sense, there are some things I’ll talk about later that throw a little doubt on this. The only really poor thing regarding performance is the loading times are incredibly bad.

Visuals, audio and atmosphere
The graphics are not exceptional, but they’re consistently of a decent quality and the graphic/art design is good across the board. The city design is a little uninspired and dry feeling in places, but very cool in others, it’s quite a mixed bag. It does seem a little too clean cut, perhaps a touch robotic and while it’s one of the better MMO cities you’ll find, it still hasn’t quite reached the level of being “alive” that I’d hoped for. I can't actually think of any MMO cities that are better mind you.

The audio is pretty solid, I’m really liking the media player in the cars, particularly after importing my own mp3 collection, but other than the music I feel that the general city sounds are a bit lacking.

Unfortunately this means the atmosphere is just not to the same standard as GTA 4. It’s not terribly far off and had I not played GTA I would probably be singing it’s praises, but where pretty much anything Rockstar make these days oozes class, this really feels like a slightly cheaper copy without all the bells and whistles.

This is where APB goes all split personality on us and I find myself mourning what could have been. Gameplay is both pure brilliance and utter shite, all at the same time. When you’re in a group, driving like crazy while your mates are hanging out of the car windows exchanging gunfire with the Enforcer (players that are like police) chasing you… It’s very, very cool. Even without it being full PvP (you can only attack people involved in your mission), at any point in APB full on carnage can erupt as a mission starts when you’re reported for a crime or if you’re an enforcer, criminals try to take you down. It can be gloriously chaotic.

However there are serious problems. The missions themselves are incredibly dull, repetitive and lacking any life or sense of drama. This is a lot to do with how poorly they’re presented and how very samey they all are. The fighting players bit is fun, but this also has some big problems and it doesn’t make up for how sterile the missions feel. So what are the aforementioned big problems when fighting players? Levels, gear and possibly(?) lag.

On numerous occasions I’ve had much higher level enforcers hunting me down, which would be fine, if they couldn’t one shot me so easily when I can’t in return. Many times I unloaded half a clip from a Magnum pistol at close range into an enemies head and then he just turns round spraying and praying with his higher level gear and I insta-die. This gets very frustrating, very fast. Yet I’m not entirely sure if the gear or actually something to do with some kind of well hidden lag effecting the targeting system (which is manual FPS style btw), as there were a couple of times where I got nailed in similar fashion by people using crappier gear. Regardless of the root cause, targeting is dodgy and after a while it really starts to irritate.

Character progression is the usual grinding out missions, gaining reputation and then being able to unlock access to new items and weapons. Unfortunately, the grinding is slooooow and the end results have so far been uninspiring.

For me now that the combat is annoying and the missions are really boring, even if the driving and car chases are fun, I’m just not finding myself particularly wanting to play. It feels like the game doesn’t have any purpose or direction, it’s a grind for grinds sake.

I do think that APB has massive potential, but I can’t recommend it as a purchase right now. I'm annoyed with myself for being so weak (again) and buying a MMO just for the sake of it. If you buy this now there is a good chance you’ll get a couple of hours of “OMG this is great”, swiftly followed by “uhm... bored now”. I would instead recommend buying GTA 4, even without MMO style multiplayer, it’s just plain better.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

June Producer's Letter reviewy thingywingy

Yesterday we got to see the latest producer’s letter and as such, today is the day when the Internet starts picking it apart, reading too much into things, being overly critical and all the usual RAGE! HAPPY! RAGE! lark.

In an attempt not to write a monstrous wall of text and considering you’ve probably already read it after I linked yesterday, I won’t quote the whole thing, just bits I feel particularly need it. Which is really only the very first paragraph, it’s an interesting statement dripping with potential joy or disappointment, depending on your general outlook on WAR.

Through these communications I’ve emphasized how we listen to the community and take your feedback seriously while planning the future of WAR. For the most part, the “P-Letter” (as I like to call it) is intended to be a short term look at the next version or two, giving you a look forward at the months to come. However, it’s very clear that there is a lot of desire to hear about long term planning. We hear these requests loud and clear, and it is our desire to give you a better sense of WAR’s long term plan by the end of summer. Our detractors like to make fun of us for “being really excited” and “itching to tell you about” some “really cool things” (yes, we read the snarky posts), and in this case we want to shout it from the rooftops…but not just yet.

Some people have chosen to read this as “we acknowledge what you say, but we’re still not saying anything, so like whatever...”. I think that is more than a little harsh. I’ve been at the forefront of calling for proper and solid news for the future of WAR and it seems to me that the time is ripe to do so. However I understand that there may well be reasons, that I am unaware of, that prevent Mythic from saying anything until a certain point. Actually if you think about what's coming out over the next year from Blizard who love to shaft other MMO news releases, betas, etc (poor FF got it this week), perhaps Mythic are right to be cautious. What the above statement does do is confirm that there are major developments in the pipeline beyond the ORvR campaign improvements we’re starting to see now, certainly “shout it from the rooftops” doesn’t allude to something small and crappy.

Everyone, who isn’t being negative for the sake of it, will have read that as meaning there will be an expansion announcement made at the end of summer. Mythic must know we’ll do this and they’ve dropped clues elsewhere (“its Red, a Plague and probably a portent”, etc), so this latest comment will have been a calculated decision to tease us more. As such my no doubt unsurprising prediction is at the end of summer we will see announcement of the Red Plague expansion. Of course this leads to all manner of questions about what the expansion will be (Skaven obv, but how/what/where?) and the big question of when actually is the end of summer? That last one has a very varied answer depending on what country you live in and which form of measurement you sign up to, ranging from the beginning of August to late September… So we’re waiting a couple of months at least for the big news.

Moving on… There is mention of the EU players transferring from GOA to Mythic, no shock there and it’s not dwelled on too much, which makes sense as plenty has been said already.

As the letter starts to focus on 1.3.6 we get a few interesting bits of news. First there’s word of a dev diary on its way to explain in more detail about the new armour appearance system. Not much to say about this, other than I look forward to hearing the details. Now we start getting to the stuff that will get the speculation going. In the letter it refers to the ORvR changes coming in 1.3.6 as “the less significant portion of the work”, and it’s pretty clear that Mythic have some big changes in the pipeline for ORvR, so what pray tell are the more significant changes going to be? Larger RvR lakes? Missing Cities? Fortresses? A change to the zone locking system? Hopefully we’ll hear more soon.

Defenders of the Mailbox… Ahh bless, so you’ll have to go into the RvR lakes and risk being attacked while you’re busy AFK leeching renown. Of course I’m sure you’ll find somewhere to hide, but now we should at least be able to hunt you down and slice up your AFK buttocks.

Carrie also talks about “Against all Odds”; a new system that gives you bonus XP, renown and influence when you are outnumbered in a RvR area. Having pondered and discussed this a bit, it seems that this is one of those changes that has a lot of potential, but I’m not entirely sure how it will actually play out on live. It doesn’t encourage you to fight away from your faction’s zerg, it encourages you to fight in a different zone to your zerg. That is an important distinction. For example say Destruction outnumber Order and everyone is fighting in the Chaos Wastes, if I chose to lead my group away from the zerg and try to fight Order in different parts of the zone, then Against all Odds does nothing for my small group because we’re in the same zone as the zerg. However if lead us to a different zone, Against all Odds will still do nothing for me as it makes more sense for the outnumbered Order players to stay in Chaos Wastes and fight the zerg for increased renown, so we won’t find Order elsewhere. Therefore whilst this system does have potential and I don’t think it will really cause any harm, I’m not sure that potential will be realised until further campaign changes are made that properly require us to spread out across different zones at once (i.e. the changes I’ve been banging on about for a while!). Of course once Mythic reveal the full extent of their ORvR changes, perhaps this will work out very well.

And finally, the new options for Sovereign armour. There will be alternate versions of Sovereign armour you can trade yours in for that provide different stats and bonuses, so a DPS Shaman can have DPS Sovereign and a Healer a healing version, etc. This is a good thing. A lot people I know that have Sovereign don’t bother with it and this may change that.

All told it’s a decent letter, sure I’d like more concrete future news, but at least we know it IS coming. 1.3.6 is shaping up to be a half decent patch and I’m intrigued to see what else the Summer of WAR brings us.

About Me

My photo
Half man half pixel. Music obsessive, likes a drink, occasional bastard.