Warhammer Online: The oRvR/Scenario tug-of-war

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.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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15 Responses to Warhammer Online: The oRvR/Scenario tug-of-war

  1. Bonedead says:

    Take scenarios out of T4 imo, there wasn’t a BG for 50s in DAoC, because BGs are for little girls still leveling.

  2. Thallian says:

    What more needs to be said? They are both good things but mixing them is a mess.

  3. ravious says:

    While the analysis remains the same, this is something to consider and a topic of debate for Guild Wars 2, where there will be “world pvp” and “competitive pvp” with nearly similar styles of play. Good post.

  4. Sleepysam says:

    Doesn’t this mishmash go all the way back to original design? IIRC the story goes that the early alpha/beta testers qq’d mightily when they realized that there was no open rvr (no DAOC 2.0), but rather scenarios only, and then Mythic did a 180 and added the keeps. They didn’t have the game optimized for large scale battles. I remember reading about predictions of 500 v 500 etc and wondering how they could possibly pull that off. They didn’t (in my experience in the first 3 months live) even get 50 v 50 to really work initially. Maybe that has changed, I haven’t played in months.

    And they’ve been trying to recover from those design decisions ever since. Long-winded way of saying…

    I agree.

    • syncaine says:

      While in early beta WAR did not have keeps, it still had the RvR zones (which if you think about it, is even more head-scratching as to how they expected people to RvR just to RvR), so big battles were always in the plans. The move to DAoC 2.0 is about making keeps the center piece of conflict. They also need to figure out how to make the end-game of the campaign more worthwhile.

      Currently on my hardware I can run 100v100+ without the game becoming unplayable, but even a game like DarkFall handles massive PvP better, which is saying nothing about what EVE can do.

  5. Bhagpuss says:

    Taking keeps is the most tedious activity ever to pass for “entertainment”. It was mindnumbingly dull in DAOC and it is barely any better (or different) in WAR.

    Open-field skirmishing in WAR can be excellent, but in the couple of months I lasted, it only really happened regularly in T1 and during the lead-up events to Land of the Dead. Mostly, oRvR consisted of huge gangs scrupulously avoiding ech other as they cruised around taking undefended keeps. (I only got as far as T3 before I lost the will to live and cancelled my sub, so maybe T4 was better, but not from what I was hearing…)

    Scenarios, on the other hand, were generally fast and furious fun. The problem there was that, like eating a bag of marshmallows, the first few were great but after a dozen you really wished you’d never started in the first place.

    I generally liked WAR, and may play it again sometime, but it does have some serious design flaws. There is no way in this lifetime that I will ever regularly play a game that has Keep-taking as its main “attraction”, for a start.

    I think a cheap (maybe F2P/Microtransaction) scenario-based mini-edition might work quite nicely, though. I’d give that a shot.

    • syncaine says:

      Problem here is that 300k+ DAoC players loved taking keeps or other RvR objectives in the lakes, so that dislike might be more ‘you’ than game design.

      That said, keep takes in WAR currently rely on an almost impossible balance of player population. Too many attackers, and the keep gets rolled and its boring. Too many defenders and taking a keep is impossible and not worth even attempting. When the two sides are close to that perfect balance though, keep takes are (IMO) great fun at any tier (especially now with upgrades and the ram actually making a difference). That said, perfect balance is not just getting 100v100 on both sides. Perfect might be 20 skilled defenders all on vent vs 50+ PUGs running around like chickens, or a ninja team of 24 players fighting to get the Lord down while 3-4 defenders do their best to harass and delay them.

      Totally agree with you on scenarios, they are great fun (especially when our CoW premade is running them) but only in short bursts. I can’t exactly plan a weekend of gaming around chain-running scenarios in WAR, although I can play them for an hour or so 3-4 nights a week and justify my WAR sub.

  6. To be honest, I think WAR would benefit from removing scenarios. They’re trying to appeal to too many means of play. They want open RVR like DAOC and yet closed PVP like WoW. Personally scenarios killed WAR for me because it become the mainstay of leveling and thus no one PVE’d or RVR’d. Shame.

    • syncaine says:

      The whole “run scenarios to power level” is somewhat diminished now because oRvR gives craploads of XP along with influence for some really nice items. They are still popular, but not at the total expense of oRvR not happening (at least on the high pop servers Mythic created with the recent mergers). Gone are the days of people sitting in a warcamp around the scenario quest giver chain queuing at least.

  7. Eyeball says:

    My biggest gripe is once you are working on your Warlord, or Sovereign set (yes on DC most order are) you have to spend hours and hours on keep takes, and bo’s that give you basically no reward except a little renown.

    After you get to the city you have to push the stages, and get the 18 hour lockout to farm any of your warlord, or sovereign gear. After you do your hour or so of work finishing the warlord PQ’s you have 16 more hours of twiddling your thumbs because Orvr is locked down along with scenarios. So not only do the losers get punished, but so do the winners.

    I partly blame the ease of getting gear. I know alot of people QQ’ed about it, but if you get your gear so fast, than it makes all the content a mind numbing bore. I know on DC everyone gets their gear sets about 10-15 renown levels before they can wear it, and knowing you have full warlord, and you are RR 55 its months away even if you play 8 hours a day because the population is so huge on DC that most kills are worth 1 renown when you split it with 5 warbands.

    Right now I am big on Scenarios. I can fight, and possibly get royal crests, and other higher end gear drops alot easier rolling against 15 people instead of 500. Also the renown fountain actually flows in there, and I personally feel like a sense of accomplishment when I kill people in there. The only downfall of scenarios is everyone on DC rolls with the zerg so they don’t know how to play in small scale battles, or prefer not to because they may have to actually think, and work instead of spamming one button. I rarely can get a premade together, and healers on order side are MIA in scenarios.

    I would prefer cross server scenarios, and remove them completely from the campaign.

  8. Coppertopper says:

    Although you bring up a good point, the balance of rewards is almost perfect right now regarding levelling via a combination of scenarios and ORvR. The issue is that tier 2 & 3 ORvR zones are too spread out to make it an effective way to level on it’s own. Give us one RvR zone in each of T1-T3 and everyone who chooses to RvR are at least guaranteed to see each other instead of chasing each other between 3 disconnected RvR areas.

    Personally I wouldn’t bother with a scenario/pve only acct. They just need to improve the current experience so players will feel the $15/mo and more importantly their gaming time is worth spending on WAR.

  9. sid67 says:

    Back in June, I went back and played WAR again with some friends who were new to the game. I rerolled a Tier 1 character and had a blast. We did a pretty even mix of Scenarios and oRvR. The game was fun and whatever things had driven me from the game in the first place didn’t seem to exist.

    Then I went back and played my Tier 4 characters and very rapidly started to dislike the game again. For me, it wasn’t a Scenario vs. oRvR issue — it was that this game simply sucks in Tier 4.

    So while I see your points about Scenarios, I think most of that is just symptamatic of the other parts of the game sucking. I mean, for me at least, the oRvR/Scenario mix was working in Tiers 1 & 2. It wasn’t until I reached the lameness that is Tier 4 that I started to hate the game again.

    It’s pretty sad that re-rolling is more fun than getting attached to a character/guild/war effort/whatever in the endgame.

  10. Saidin says:

    Warhammer with just scenarios will actually compete head on with something like GuildWars…which is free mind you. Guildwars might not call their “Arenas” the same name, and there is also the side PvE campaign, but the real comparison is HOW and WHEN you would play a Warhammer version containing only scenarios.

    As you mentioned you’d probably not plan an entire weekend chaining one scenario after another, but would play it in short bursts, few hours of “instant jump in” action…guess what, that’s how you’d typically play Guildwars too [granted you’re done with the PvE side] .

    • syncaine says:

      Which is why, in make believe land, scen-only WAR would need to do more in terms of content/updates than GW to justify it’s monthly fee (even if that fee is lower than $15 a month). One of the big ‘GW is not an MMO’ arguments is that since you don’t pay monthly for it, you can’t expect constant updates as well. If I’m paying $15 a month, its not debatable whether the devs need to give me an update at least once a month, and over the course of 4-5 months those updates better add up to something significant.

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