The topic of whether scenarios in Warhammer Online do more to harm the game than help/enhance it has been debated a few times already, but with the recent server mergers and overall increase in server population, I think it might be worthwhile to bring it up again. As time goes on and WAR continues to improve in all areas, both oRvR and scenarios benefit from these improvements, yet no degree of changes will ever really change the fact that both oRvR and scenarios basically server the same purpose (PvP), just in different settings.
Open RvR is the key selling point of WAR, it’s the main feature the separates the game from every other hotbar mashing fantasy MMO. While it continues to have issues surrounding it, it’s overall much improved since WAR’s release, and if you are in the mood for some casual PvP, it’s great fun. Scenarios on the other hand were originally designed to compliment oRvR, influence the overall campaign in their own way, and also provide a quick burst of PvP in manageable 15 minute or less chunks of time. To Mythic’s credit, scenarios are so well done that they at one point dominated the game, and even today are often featured in live events. Rather than being the side distraction or ‘time filler’ they were designed to be, for many players scenarios ARE the game.
If not for the mutual reliance on player population, scenarios and oRvR could co-exist without issue and be viewed as equal options for a player looking for some PvP. However, due exclusively to the population issue, scenarios and oRvR basically pull players from opposite ends of a rope. If you jump into a scenario, you are ‘abandoning’ the oRvR field and not helping your side. If you focus too much on scenarios, you quickly outrank the lower tiers and miss out on keep raids, oRvR influence rewards, and basically seeing the different details Mythic has placed in all the varied oRvR lakes, of which there are many.
In an odd way, WAR with just scenarios would basically be a working version of Fury (Google is your friend), while WAR without scenarios would be far closer to DAoC. Together they cause some issues, especially on lower population servers or at off-peak hours. The other question is would you pay X amount per month for a scenario-based WAR? Perhaps not $15, but $10 or $5, especially if development from Mythic focused on providing even more scenarios, more races (remember in a scenario-based game, you don’t need to develop PvE areas), and a bigger focus on balance based on scenarios? Even for an ‘end-game’, you could rework the whole city capture stuff to be some kind of scenario championship (weekly, monthly) based on some kind of ranking system.
WAR without scenarios would of course place a much higher focus on improving oRvR areas, starting at T1 and going all the way up to city captures. Yet with everyone out of scenarios, zone control no longer affected by them, oRvR would become the ONLY way to gain renown. It would make for a more focused game, both in terms of player expectations and developer focus.
Perhaps by combining the two, Mythic may have actually done more harm than good (which can also be said about the effort put into PvE), or at least kept WAR’s true identity somewhat muddled.