WAR: Solid core with pieces of suck, but is there any hope?

Out of all the recent MMOs I’ve played or been playing, by far the most frustrating one is Warhammer Online. Not because of anything related to bugs, crashes, or features/ui stuff, but because of how much the game changes from the early levels to end-game. Simply put, the game is amazingly fun in tier one and two, stalls somewhat in three, and just offers very little in tier four in terms of long-term, sustainable fun.

You would think that for RvR, tier one would be the one you want to leave asap, since your character is limited in terms of skills and abilities, and the entire mastery tree system has yet to start. Yet it’s this simplicity that really makes the game enjoyable, as the difference between winning and losing comes down to good communication among group members, rather than who gets the most CC/AoE off on the opponent. In a strange way, tier one in WAR is somewhat similar to PvP in DarkFall (which from a pure PvP standpoint, DF is far superior to WAR IMO), in that what you do is more important than what weapons/tools you bring to the fight. By the time you enter tier four, the winner/loser is often times pre-determined thanks to disparities in class/gear/mastery/RR/etc. That’s how the game works, you know that going into it, but it’s just strange how MUCH those factors affect the game in T4.

The only explanation that I can come up with is that once you reach T4, a lot of little factors add up to one big problem; it’s just not that fun. I don’t think its one major problem that Mythic can fix to turn T4 around (although population, both server and order vs destroy is a big issue), and while making changes to CC and such helps, it’s not like once CC is under control the lights come on and bam, T4 is awesome. It will be better, yes, but I still don’t think it will be great. It will still be zerg vs zerg thanks to players being able to travel quickly to any area at will (which is why anyone arguing AGAINST travel times in games like this is crazy). It still won’t really ‘matter’, as even a city siege at this point is somewhat meh in terms of impact, and the gear can now be gained through other means (a good change btw). And unless further changes to keeps are made, those battles will still be more about bashing a door than bashing other players (an issue Mythic really needs to address soon, as I believe the basic idea of fighting in/around a keep is solid in WAR).

LotD, which was the much-hyped major addition set to spice up T4, is IMO an utter failure, one that I’m okay with comparing to Trials of Atlantis in DAoC. Much like ToA, LotD more or less killed T4 RvR activity thanks to its lockout system of fail. If you want people to fight each other, why in gods name are you keeping one side OUT of the area for an extended amount of time, and the method for which that side gets back in is tied to fight whose inside in the standard T4 areas. A child could have pointed out why this won’t work, especially when half the servers (or more) are already having population issues in T4. The sad part is lockout method aside, LotD is actually rather decent content, and would be one hell of a zone to fight over if you know, Mythic actually let you fight more than 10 minutes every two hours or so. The ‘fun’ of trying to organize dungeon groups when you don’t know if you can even enter or not is also a rather glaring oversight. Imagine if in WoW, whenever your guild tried to enter a raid the game would randomly assign a wait period of up to two hours, and your entire raid got to sit around and wait to get in. Yea, that would go over REALLY well, and I’m sure plenty of raiders would just love to have that much time wasted…

So does WAR suck and everyone should mass quit? No, because at its core it’s a good, fun RvR game. It’s just that the core gets massively bogged down by little nagging issues that pile on and ultimately, by the time you get to T4, overwhelm the fun with suck. The good news is that removing each piece of suck (like overpowered CC) is very doable, and Mythic at least seems to get it. The bad news is that they have a long list of issues to get to, and Mythic seems to be going at a two steps forward, one step back pace (or one giant leap back when you factor in LotD).

Now, image the game with most of the little issues addressed and the launching of a paid expansion (3rd faction included) being announced. Yea, that might generate some legitimate hype, no Paul B needed.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Dark Age of Camelot, MMO design, Warhammer Online. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to WAR: Solid core with pieces of suck, but is there any hope?

  1. smakendahed says:

    Agreed for the most part. I found T1 and T2 to be the most fun. After that? Meh.

    “It will still be zerg vs zerg thanks to players being able to travel quickly to any area at will (which is why anyone arguing AGAINST travel times in games like this is crazy).”

    Another good point to having travel times even if it is more of a PVP point.

    I hated how easy it was to reinforce a keep if you died. Yeah, it sucks to be killed and taken out of the fight because of something like an assist train but heh.

    The other thing that irritates me is how LOS is determined when the cast begins instead of when the spell is finished. LOS is bad in that game. Cover should be a mechanism people are allowed to use, not something you have to work around in the code.

    I’m pretty sure turrets are still firing through walls and floors for that same reason.

  2. theMonk says:

    Actually I enjoyed T4 until LotD came out. RvR pretty much died immediately on my server and I decided to quit (at least for now).

  3. Centuri says:

    Overall I greatly dislike the rock-paper-scissors style that seems to develop in RvR at tier 4 and a lesser extent in tier 3 as well. In tier one and two I often come out ahead as I can outplay my opponents, whereas at the high end I find that certain classes are an uphill battle and others are easy prey. It felt like the fights were decided before either of us landed a blow. The CC feels mismatched and too widely distributed amongst the classes.

    Class A destroying Class B which can destroy Class C which can destroy Class A does not a good game make. WAR also has a class D (WP/DoK) that can take any of the other three 1v1. I think this is what creates the zerg mentality. You can’t teach players that they need to play in groups for support to be effective then complain when they just run around in large groups.

    Lack of RvR progression is really what did it in for me at the end. Higher renown ranks just giving gear and no new content or abilities seems off base in a game that was not supposed to be about the gear.

  4. Yeebo says:

    I’ve been enjoying WAR since I fired it up again. However I started over so I’m still in tier I. I’m not really looking forward to the higher tiers from all I’ve read. I’ll probably stall out somewhere in tier III.

    As for the design of LoTD, it’s very similar DF in DAoC. It was extremely popular in it’s heyday. However the reason that it worked so well was (it seems like it keeps coming back to this)…three factions. It didn’t matter if one faction disappeared into DF, there were still two left to fight it out.

  5. ravious says:

    Well I was slowly gathering up the nerve to reinstall the game… but now. /sad

    I would love to hear a breakdown from someone that played DAoC of the differences…how DAoC solved problem X, and so on.

    • syncaine says:

      If you don’t have anything else that you REALLY want to play, I would sitll reinstall and sign up, T1 and T2 alone are worth the month or two. We have a very nice CoW group playing right now with characters all across T1 and T2 on Ironrock (or Ironfist… I think it’s Ironrock, whatever the high pop one is), join up and you will have a good time.

      As for the DAoC vs WAR breakdown, I’ll get that up sometime next week. It is a bit deeper than just missing the 3rd side.

  6. coppertopper says:

    I don’t know if you read it Syncaine but someone had had a thread on the official forums (I never read it, but it was mention on vent in guild couple weeks back) that all of LOTD except the Tomb of the Vulture Lord be made open to both sides all the time. The only function the resource collection would have is to open Tomb access.

    Given DAOC had PvE within the RvR areas, this would really make a nice positive change, instead of what T4 is now since LOTD launched.

    Now i would in no way compare LOTD to TOA. TOA introduced weapons and armor that were crazy overpowered compared to anything else in the game. LOTD drops do not put this kind of power into any single guild or persons hands, so RvR balance hasnt been completely borked. Its just reduced the rvR population in T4, which makes endgame even more of an RvE game then before.

    And Ravious – it took DAOC 2 years to straighten out DAOC after the ruin that was TOA (which was otherwise a genuinely epic and masterful expansion), and they did that by making all the high level (artifact) weap/armor encounters doable with a single group. All i can say is, if you reup (and I encourage it), try join CoW on iron rock – we have a new guild there now and were all T1-T2, and its a 24/7 RvR good time!

    • syncaine says:

      Yea Ironrock, that’s the name, and it is indeed great fun. (which was a side point of the post, as unfun as T4 is, T1-2 are GREAT fun right now, not just ‘yea kinda decent’, so highly recommended)

      LotD and ToA both share the distinction that they, in one single swoop, borked the endgame RvR into a clusterfuck, ToA with items/power, LotD with how it separates players and turns T4 into a standstill. And as you said, just like ToA itself, LotD content is actually well done, it’s just the MASSIVE side-effect it brings that is the major error.

      • coppertopper says:

        hmmm…when I reread your thread I see i just restated everything you said :p

        So yeah, agreed.

  7. Snafzg says:

    Right words in your title, but wrong order imho. It should read “WAR: Sucky core with pieces of solid, but is there any hope?”

    I don’t see how the core is solid in any way:

    — Two realms, making RvR difficult to balance and undynamic
    — Lack of server population control enforcement
    — Yet, perfect balance yields a total stalemate
    — It’s all about rewarding individuals creating a ME-based economy/attitude
    — Encounters are designed for zergs yet the infrastructure can barely handle it
    — The game was designed for a casual audience yet the campaign requires monstrous investments of time and organization
    — BOs? Boring. Keeps? Boring. Fortresses? Boring. Cities? Boring.
    — The RvR lakes are empty and lifeless meaning there’s no purpose to be in them unless there’s fighting going on

    Do you want me to keep going? :P

    • syncaine says:

      When I say core, I mean the engine and basic functionality of RvR. The engine handles RvR well (compare it to WoW in terms of abilities, options, skill vs gear), the graphics to lag ratio is solid (you don’t need an Alienware to run WAR maxed, and 100v100 on screen is possible without crippling the engine), and while a few skills/abilities need balance, overall combat more or less ‘works’ compared to many other games. Compare basic combat in WAR vs in WoW, where not only is it inferior, Blizzard has had to create separate skills/stats just to attempt to reach some balance.

      -Only two realms is I guess core, and I’ve long since said is WAR’s major issue, one that would solve almost everything below.
      -Server pop is going to be a problem for any game, you just don’t notice it in PvE ones. No magic fix for this.
      -Perfect balance will never be achieved, and how is this a core issue?
      -I disagree here. Individual rewards are somewhat minor in WAR (especially gear importance), and the game heavily rewards winning over losing. Scoring a flag in a scenario will yield far more xp/renown if you win than going solo and trying to max your dps.
      -What encounter is designed for zergs? Forts maybe, but those are now capped and at the current cap, the engine/server runs smooth. Scens are instanced, the city is instanced, and RvR works until you get over 300ish people in one area (which at that point zerg vs zerg combat sucks anyway, so lag just helps move the suck along)
      -Caters to both? Scens and quick RvR cater to casuals, the hardcore have the campaign and upper-tier dungeons. How exactly is this an issue?
      -Opinion here. I find fighting over BOs in T1-T2 great, same with keeps. T4 overall is boring atm though, yes.
      -On low pop severs, yes, which is a different problem. On higher pop servers, the lakes are packed.

      Regardless, none of that save the 3rd faction are really ‘core’ issues. You don’t need an entire overhaul to fix T4 and make BO/Keeps/Forts/City fun, just a few tweaks will do, and even now when things come together it can be a damn good time. That T1-T2 can be as much fun as it is right now is proof that WAR at the core is solid, but the good design and ideas Mythic started with did not fully flesh out once you put everything together in T4.

  8. skarbd says:

    You can’t share LotD PVE with both sides at the same time.

    Potential for to many people in the same zone at the same time, which is effectively what the fortress mod was all about. So you could end up having to limit access at the Flightmaster.

    All instances are probably run on server separate blade, which is why Tomb of bulture wouldn’t be a problem.

    I have to be honest, the Tier 4 zones I was in last night, had to many destruction in and I wished some of them would bugger off to LotD.

  9. shadowwar says:

    I’m still enjoying T4 PvP in WAR. I roam with a guild premade 6 man. Basically, a bomb group. It’s stupid fun, and we almost always take out more than us, and in SCs, we do very well. The new server transfer has brought SCs back, so that is always available, and ORvR we can always find a fight. The CC is a little rough, but not too bad, and the AoE is a little over the top. People get frustrated because they don’t coordinate and develop strategies to destroy bomb groups. The same people useing the “OP Bomb Tactics” now, are going to be the same people useing the best strategy later.

    The largest problem the game has right now is LotD (read my post from the 30th), Mythic’s obtuse belief that heavy-handed, sweeping changes to classes is the way to bring about balance, and a minor problem of sustaining stability with large numbers (which has been constantly improving).

  10. Pretty much sums up my feelings exactly. I’m kinda tempted to try WAR again but then I also reckon I’d shell out the cash, sign up and then barely play it. I’d like to get a 14 day re-activation to give it a proper shot.

    Much like AoC, I believe WAR has a good core game and could eventually become excellent.

  11. Chris says:

    As an active (order) WAR player on PT, I kind of disagree that LoTD kill T4 RVR, even on the other servers. It was players that did that- no one forces you to go to LoTD, but for every person who says “I don’t want any PvE, I just want to kill people,” 5 more voted with their feet to go PvE for new shinies (particularly since the PvE was better than what WAR launched with). And my experience was that at least on PT, the novelty starting wearing off after a week or so, and T4 started picking up again. I actually now find there’s a rather small pop in LoTD whenever I go, because most everyone’s gone back to zerging T4. But it seems like a lot of people (esp. those who quit previously- LoTD tourists) wanted to make a snap judgement. Anyways, I’m curious to see what the LoTD feeling is in a month or two (an eternity in blogyears), now that we’ve had these server merges.

  12. Henry says:

    WoW actually has a raid of that nature, Vault of Archavon depends on a pvp scenario which occurs for 30 minutes once every 3 hours. Unless your side wins you cannot enter the raid instance, and there are occurances where raids get locked out and disbanded after the effort to form them.

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