One of the early issues to arise in Warhammer Online is the games high reliance on population numbers, and the great importance they play in things like PQs. If you don’t have enough players in the area, they don’t function as planned, and in turn are viewed as wasted content. What I find somewhat surprising is that WAR gets a lot of criticism on this subject, when it reality it is nothing new to MMO games.
Public Quests are in a lot of ways basically re-interfaced group quests. PQs offer higher rewards than normal quests, just like group quests do in other MMOs. PQs require a group, again the same as group quests. The major difference is they are more ‘in your face’, as anytime you walk into a PQ area, the interface instantly tells you about it and shows you the current status and progress being made. Group quests just sit in your quest log, and are far easier to ignore and drop.
This is also true when you compare instanced dungeons to PQs. Both again require a group, and give generally higher rewards while having you face generally more interesting monsters. But like group quests, instanced dungeons don’t yell ‘enter me’ when you are within 100 yards of them, nor do they say ‘hey only 4 more kills and it’s phase 2, finish me!’ If you are a solo-only MMO player, you can skip instances and group quests and never really notice the missed content, while that is next to impossible in WAR.
It’s natural to feel that sense of loss when you can’t get a group for a PQ, especially because they offer a great experience when you DO have a group. But it’s somewhat unfair to hold PQs to some ‘higher standard’ then we do group quests or instanced content, especially because WAR offers such easy to use grouping tools.
Another issue, in my opinion of course, is the shunning of group content until the level cap. Blizzard removed almost all group quests in WoW pre-70, and added solo-friendly methods of acquiring dungeon quality loot pre-70 as well. This teaches many MMO players, especially the WoW-only crowd, that you play 1-69 solo, and then get to the ‘good stuff’ once you ‘grind out’ the level game. In WAR, you are doing the fun stuff right away, and you should not feel the need to grind out 39 Ranks to get to the real stuff. Old habits are tough to break however, and I feel too many players are trying to play WAR is if it’s WoW, and it’s just a completely different setup.
Personally I’ve almost never had an issue with PQs and finding a group, but part of that is due to being in a large guild full of people always looking to help out. Just yesterday we got 10 or so players together and completed all three of the PQs for Chapter 7 of the Dark Elf lands. The design of WAR once again comes through, in that all 10 members were able to quickly fly over to the area, and within a few minutes we were good to go. No quest sharing, no ‘I’m not on that part of the chain’, no race/class/group size barriers. Just join up, fly over, and start earning experience, money, influence, and bag item rewards. We had a great time, and people were able to join us midway through, as well as drop out at any time and still get something for their efforts. Simply put, the ‘barrier of entry’ for group content in WAR is as low as possible, it’s up to the players to adjust now and figure it out.