So I figured it’s about time I wrote down some thoughts on how I’m finding WAR since 1.4 went live. Regular readers will be expecting this, but for those new to my special strain of bollocks… I warn you now I may ramble a little bit and I doubt it will be my shortest post ever… Oh and in this post I am just going to talk a little bit about the RvR pack and then concentrate on the campaign changes. Career balance, Skaven and the new dungeon/scenario/instance thing I’ll save for another time.
If I was to sum up the impact of the 1.4 patch quickly it would be to say: It has in many ways been a big improvement, has shown massive potential, but has introduced new problems and is far from the finished article. Overall though it’s a positive step and if Mythic play it right, it bodes well for the future.
The RvR Packs
Increased renown gain rate below 81 and more renown ranks are great. New mounts, dyes, cosmetic items and so on are also all great. The lack of content compared with traditional expansions is a disappointment and I think anyone denying that is fooling themselves. It’s not something to be hugely negative about, but it’s most certainly not ideal. However the cost was low and doesn’t offend me.
One thing that needs stressing mind you is that I don’t for a second consider the RvR Packs as optional. Technically they are, but practically they are 100% not optional. As such I can totally understand why some of my friends are very annoyed about it, particularly those who have been long time MMO gamers. If you look at DAoC for example, you never paid just for more renown ranks, you paid for very large amounts of content being added. WAR hasn’t done that, instead it’s made you pay purely to remain competitive in the future (as people hit 90-100), but has given you a small amount of new content and a campaign system revamp free.
Do I find myself annoyed by it? No. Am I happy with it? I think “Pleasantly ambivalent” would describe my feelings on the matter. I like WAR and still enjoy playing, I like the people I’ve had the chance to communicate with at Mythic and in general I like the gamer community WAR has. So if paying a few quid extra as a one off helps the game progress, then I really don’t mind.
Do I want a proper full blown expansion to be released? Of course I do, but if Mythic deliver on this new content every 6 months thing properly, then actually maybe I would rather have that. But the key word was “properly”, it needs to be decent chunks of content and not just a new scenario or things that feel lightweight. And don’t be late.
The new system is a vast improvement in a general sense. The keeps, siege weapons and battle objectives have more importance, the campaign feels more dynamic and there is normally more for you to do at any one point in time. Groups and warbands seem to be roaming the zone much more than before and for a lot of the time it does spread people across the zone. Of course it’s not all roses.
I asked at the Q&A if keeps would degrade in rank if people stopped gathering resources, Mythic answered no and I worried my little head about it. Alas, exactly what I thought this would mean has happened. When the keeps both get to rank 4-5 the battle objectives lost ALL meaning and relevance and we were back to 2 huge zergs lagging the shit out of the whole zone. Thankfully Mythic have started to address this with the latest hotfix where if one side has the AAO underdog buff then every time their resource carrier delivers the resources it repairs their keep door.
It’s not a proper zerg fix, but is something Mythic should build on, the resources and battle objectives should be considered as a keeps supply lines and ideally they should keep some purpose at all times. This will encourage people to spread around all time, because if you have both keeps at rank 5 and both sides with even numbers (like last night for example) you just get everyone at keeps and the zerg battle again.
Big keep battles are fun. HUGE keep battles are a trial, test everyone’s patience and give credence to the negative accusations regarding WAR’s performance. Accusations that are unfair in one sense, as 300 vs 300 in one area will lag to hell in almost any game, but because of that most games don’t set us up for 300 vs 300 fights in such a small areas. By encouraging those situations WAR is just asking for trouble. Also my server has been VERY busy, so much so that it has been impossible to avoid zergs almost every night. To many of us this has highlighted that the RvR zones are too small. Once again I would suggest Mythic consider expanding the RvR into the utterly wasted PvE areas and think about utilising them towards those keep supply lines.
Siege Weapons and Keeps
Siege weapons are much improved, but not enough and there’s a related problem for keep takes. Oil is fine, single target cannons are fine, but the AoE cannons(etc) are utter crap and can’t be used in enough numbers for those being targeted to care much about them. Aerial bombers are a good addition and when several of them combine their bombs they can dish out some real hurt. Unfortunately though the changes to sieges has caused a problem for melee careers, particularly tanks; as a Chosen player at keep sieges I have regularly found myself with absolutely nothing to do.
With most keep battles involving hundreds of players, an awful lot of the time you will find the ram is fully manned, all siege weapons are being used, the aerial bombers are taken and Skaven are either not available or are already being used. And it’s all too common when Skaven are available to find no Rat Ogres left for our warband, due to random twats running around in the arse end of no where with them. So if the defenders stay inside the walls, it leaves me with absolutely nothing to do. And I mean quite literally nothing... In fact one night I just started alt tabbing to play Football Manager during keep takes. To sort this out I would suggest that either we need an increase in the numbers of siege weapons and Skaven, or my preferred choice… give us ladders.
Melee DPS careers can (sometimes) sneak through the postern doors, ranged careers can attack people on the walls, healers are obviously busy healing, but tanks are left on a limb. So I would suggest giving tanks a career ability that allows them to construct a ladder to climb the walls. Give it a reasonable cooldown or slow build time and maybe to balance things out for defenders their tanks could use the same ability to destroy ladders. This would mean much more action across the entire walls and the battles would be far more like those classic sieges you see in the films, with warriors guarding the walls. I think it would add a great extra dimension to the battle and most importantly stop tanks (and on occasion all melee) being bored shitless for a lot of keep battles.
Having said all of that about me finding keeps boring when attacking, the thing is when I have had things to do it has been MUCH more fun than the old days of RvDoor. Being thrown onto the walls, dropping bombs on the defenders and so on has added things to do. It’s just a shame those things are only available or viable in small scale sieges.
One of the things about keeps that has caused much debate is the defenders respawning in the keep. Prior to launch there was a concern that this would make well defended keeps impossible to take and we’d never see a city siege again, but as the MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of city sieges since 1.4 has clearly demonstrated that wasn’t true. Though it has certainly made it impossible to stop defenders getting into a keep and taken away the strategic element of preventing reinforcements. Which is a shame, but is another thing that could be replaced by improving the relevance of battle objectives as supply lines regardless of a keeps rank. So instead of assigning a warband to worry about reinforcements, you could have them attacking the enemy supply lines and effectively starving the defenders out. New defenders joining the zone then have to decide whether to reinforce the keep itself or protect those supply lines.
But while respawning in the keep isn’t ideal in some ways, it has been great fun as a defender. We’ve had some great times sallying forth to counter attack, without having to worry about a quick dumping to the warcamp miles away. It has made active and aggressive defences much more viable and enjoyable experiences. With a group of KF the other day I had some awesome fights in Chaos Wastes against Crimson and Champion of the Gods, as we battled around the rear postern door. Great fun. Also sieges where there is an aggressive defending force are much more fun for both attackers and defenders, as it gives everyone something to do. Unfortunately not all fights are like this.
It seems to me that Mythic have gone in the right direction with 1.4, but they need to do a lot of refinement and tweaking for it to reach its potential and be something everyone enjoys all the time. With the other game releases over the next few months it will be very important for Mythic to continue regular hotfixing, updating and tweaking the game, whilst keeping the communication levels up. They’ve picked the ball up, it’s now all about not dropping it.