Wednesday 28 October 2009

There and back again

City sieges are quite probably WAR’s weakest point. Which in my humble opinion makes it rather strange for Mythic to use the 1.3.2 patch to put such massive focus on them. Yes, city sieges are MUCH improved from their past (almost) pure PvE incarnation, but they’re still not exactly good.

Limited gameplay
The cities limit your gaming options far too much. Unless you’re there at the start of the siege, you’ll find yourself stuck with either PUGing the 48v48 instance (which is almost always a terrible experience), or having to log off for hours, because there’s simply nothing else to do. I’m sure we’ve all experienced the tedium of joining a guild warband that’s already inside a city and then having to sit outside alone for ages, all with the vain hope that a spot in the instance will become available… That’s not fun in anyway or form and I’m simply never doing it again, instead I’ll just log off and go to a lower tier, or play a different game. We need more things to do. Scenarios perhaps, so that if we do get online a bit too late and can’t get in our guild/alliance warbands, we will at least have a chance to do something.

The 3 BO capture, 48vs48 instance
Actually this first large scenario/PQ is quite good. The scenario’s simple objectives provide an entertaining and at times even tactical challenge. So why am I listing this as a problem? Well, continuing from the issue of limited gameplay, the problem is that it’s a bit shallow when it’s the only thing to do. The simplicity is great when you don’t do it often, since it lets you get straight into the action and it is fun, but as a regular event it lacks longevity. Same 2 cities, same 3 flags, every night… Familiarity plays the field a bit, then breeds with contempt, only to end up marrying boredom.

The stage 2 PvE raid content
It’s buggy and there’s a problem with the whole concept. As every MMO veteran knows; PvE raid bosses that require tactics to beat, also require practice and a united warband working together. On a competitive server like mine neither side gets to stage 2 often (plus the victory points are often bugged anyway), so the practice does not happen. Also because of the whole city instancing experience, by the time you get to stage 2 it’s very likely you will no longer have a full guild/alliance warband left online (if they got in with you at all). Sods law now decides that you end up with some random bastards who are determined to ruin everything.

Now Mythic, if by chance you read this, please do not see this as me saying we should get to the advanced stages of city sieges more often. We shouldn’t. It should be rare and be a big deal (more on that shortly). Likewise I don’t think the raid itself should be dumbed down. It should be challenging, but it needs to be fair, it needs to be something realistic for people that don’t farm the instance every night. Is that careful balance too much to ask for? Regardless, whatever happens it should be completely bug free. Getting to stage 2 and then have bugs ruin everything is utterly unacceptable. Plus any bugs in this part of the game are a sure way to generate bad feeling.

And further more, does it have to be PvE? When you look at all the buggy instances, PvE hasn’t exactly proven to be Mythic’s speciality. Maybe some sort of more interesting PvP based Public Quest would be better?

There and back again, and again, and again, and...
However, the biggest problem of all is not the city itself; it’s the path to getting there. WAR’s campaign system as a whole is the worst thing about cities…

A while back zone locks became much easier, which was both good and bad. Then with this latest patch and the removal of forts, the game has taken a huge step towards all sense of drama being removed. City sieges are now the norm, something you’ll get to do multiple times a day, every single day…. Getting to a city used to be an achievement, a moment that actually meant something. Alas this is no longer the case and now the whole feel of the game has changed. A friend of mine summed it up well the other day when he said, “they’ve turned the campaign into a death match”.

He’s completely right. WAR needed changes and the forts were almost universally hated, but they did add a speed bump, something that gave the campaign at least a bit of longevity. Without them and with no change to the campaign’s core system, there are no stumbling blocks. A dominant faction becomes more so and more balanced servers turn into a game of table tennis. It’s kind of like the campaign isn’t really a campaign anymore. If you think about what you expect from the very word “campaign”, it implies something long term, something that requires planning, thought and effort. Unfortunately that doesn’t quite work when we ping pong back and forth through the ENTIRE campaign structure in an afternoon. All of the “epic” has gone.

Now this post may have seemed very negative, but I’m not trying to be, I’m just trying to be realistic. In their attempts to improve the campaign experience, Mythic have actually weakened the whole concept of it. This is most definitely not what I wanted, nor is it wanted by anybody else I’ve spoken to. Perhaps that’s because of the server we’re on, but seriously, who wants to play WARlite?

Having said all of that, perhaps Mythic aren’t a million miles away from something great. With some tinkering they could slow the pace right back down, add/change a few things to provide more variety and give us the “epic” we're missing (and add a third faction! HAH Got it in there!). The game today feels small and for me this is mainly down to the small RvR enabled areas and how we blast through them so damn quickly. As I’ve said before, I really think Mythic need to expand the size of the oRvR zones and stop wasting so much space. That’s probably quite a lot of work to do, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be done and there are easier to implement short-term solutions in the meantime.

The easiest and most obvious is to make it so you have to lock all 3 pairings to access a city. This can still be quickly zerged through, but it would make it a little bit more difficult at least.

A more entertaining way would be to make all zones active at once. Allowing people to attack in different places and apply some more involved strategies and tactics. Each BO and Keep would be worth a certain amount of “control points”, if you want to lock a pairing you’ll need to capture 75% of those control points in that pairing… Now that’s more like it. In fact, I think I’d be happy with this. It could even lead into a system for reintroducing the other cities, hah!

In the end
I’m glad forts are gone, they sucked royally and I have to say that the decision to remove them is not the only factor in the watering down of WAR’s campaign, but it is a big contributing factor. I’m kind of surprised to find myself saying this, but I miss the days where locking a zone took hours and getting to the enemy city would take effort over many days. I don’t miss what we actually had to do to lock them, but I do miss the feeling of zone locking being an achievement. Actually, that’s not correct. I think I’m missing any feeling of achievement in WAR’s campaign. It’s just too damn quick. All too often lately when I log in, if we’re not already in a city, it’s only an hour or so before we are. And then, the moment a city becomes available, people start logging off.

It's a real shame because right now I'm really enjoying the combat in WAR, but the campaign is total meh.


  1. I glad that you made the comment that it kind of depends on your server. I play destro on Phoenix Throne (NA Roleplay) and we have had a blast with the new patch.

    The city has only been pushed around 6 times total (4 for destro, 2 for order I think) and last night was the first time we locked it to stage 2.

    Our population is as balanced as it could be, with each side have an edge during their primetime. City pushes are still special and there is talk in all server vents that we can't wait for a crack at defending IC from a major Order push!

    With the new Warlord and Sovereign lockout timers (one for each warlord pq and lockouts for each king sub-boss), our guild is will use our off days as a break from PvP and do LV or ToVL.

    By DE-emphasising the city a little bit, we don't always feel like we HAVE to defend a zone, or fort, or even the city. Too many nights I have lost sleep defending forts or helping to prevent a zone lock because the city raids were TOO important (if that makes any sense). However, it is accessible enough that a city raid 2-3 times a week isn't the worst thing in the world and adds a little spice to WAR, and by spice I mean a 2 hour, no holds barred PvP action.

  2. Needs.....RELICS...!!!

    Really needs objects worth fighting over that the whole realm benefits from.

    (and a 3rd realm)

  3. Me and my wife have recently hit R40, we thought it would have been awesome but she has gone from loving the game to totally bored.

    It is her first MMO and I was more than happy for her to finally be able to enjoy my hobby with me.
    But Tier 4 just has these things called City Sieges which are boring and confusiing.
    Half time you find ur self running around like a headless chicken capping these flags over and over and over..
    And indivdually it feels you do no diffrence within ti anyway......
    And, if you don't even get a group or a place in the instance well you can not scenario and not much else to do so we either run around bored or just log!

    It's sad, i thought arriving at Tier 4 would up the game, up the excitement and awesomeness... but for us it's really...well, kinda boring!

    On a side note, anyone have some links giving explanations on how the whole rvR in tier 4 works, so many changes I try to explain to my wife but it seems all confusing.
    Whats the process to the city siege and the process of once the city siege starts.....


  4. I honestly don't know why Mythic are actively forcing people into the least appealling part of their game.

    I appreciate that they want people to experience content that they may otherwise have missed, but it's hardly the crown jewels of the game.

    If you compare Tier 1 New Emshranks to City Seiges, then it's painful.

    But I like the new trial options that are about to hit the US. Bring it on GOA. I don't expect this to take long with GOA, if it does then it's going to be a constant verbal lashing from me.

    I need some kind of hook to get my AION guildies back and this may well be the bait ;)

    See Werits place for the juice (Via Spinksville I gather).

  5. Yes, I am pretty much sick and tired of the city siege. Really. Locking pairings is waaaaay too easy now. I understand there is a fine line between it being too difficult: locking zones to a fort where if defended, becomes near impossible to topple, vs. too easy: locking zones to the end. There has got to be a happy medium somewhere.

    I've tried to look at this positively ... I am getting more Invader Crests and there is a chance I'll win a gold bag in the city siege PQs. However, if one gets into an instance where you're getting rolled ... all you really have is a chance at 2 Invader Crests at the end. And how long is that exactly and is it really worth the reward of 2 crests? Nope. Going to the city to defend twice in one night just isn't fun. I enjoy the PvP aspect but in the end it's like one big scenario that never ends. Of course it's more fun when you're winning but even that is wearing thin. I've been on both sides of this and it's really become an endurance event of hoping for a bag and waiting for crests. Even if we were the ones attacking I'd face the same thing only in a different locale.

    Destro pushed to Stage 2 last night on Iron Rock so when I logged in I was in an instance with no Destro. Just us Order playing with ourselves until we hit 1000 points. The we'd avoid Adell and wait to hit 1000 points again. By capping BOs or simply sitting by one, how exactly is contribution determined?

    I am hoping the missing forts make a reappearance as new-and-improved. I've posted on the forums, here and other blogs, and have seen many ideas here and there about how to leverage these zone-like structures that are to be the last line of defense in front of a city. My hope is they become their own zones and with the improvements to performance and the number of players in one area they should be able to accommodate a slew of players. Add various BOs around their massive useless real estate that give advantages to attacking the fort itself and/or killing the ford lord. Make it so defenders would have a vested interest to defend these BOs rather than squirreling up inside the fort. So make it a big advantage for attackers to hold them. Give them a purpose and people we use them. No more old forts where you knock down two doors and face a lord. We need a stop-gap to these rapid city sieges.

    I feel the "underdog" system is a speed bump towards a 3rd faction. Adding another faction is no easy task. Mythic reads blogs and their forums and has to see what this would do to their game. It would be a good thing. I feel they are holding out on a 3rd realm until they absolutely have to implement it. They've fixed much of what players were grumbling about -- and more to come. Get that stuff right and then pounce. Call it their silver bullet.


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