Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Update on WAR: 1.06

The PvE still slightly bites. However the PvP has become even more fun. And WAR had pretty damn good PvP to begin with. The new system for forcing all three scenarios in a tier to pop seems to be working really well. Running all three tier I scenarios is a lot more fun than doing Nordenwatch over and over again.

Tons of Order players are also rolling the new tank class. Speaking from a pure Destruction viewpoint, scenarios are much more balanced and fun than I am used to. I'm used to handing Order their asses practically as if they were AFK. They are putting up a good fight now. Scenarios were roughly 50/50 in the tier ones I joined tonight. And two of them ended in stalemates because players were actively defending objectives. Boggling!! 1.06 has improved the game more than I was willing to hope for, I'm very impressed.

WAR on it's last legs for me

My WAR subscription is on it's last legs. I will very likely cancel at the end of the month. There are two main issues that I'm having with it.

1. Order sucks on most servers.

My favorite toon so far is easilly my Order Engineer. And he isn't any fun to play in PvP because Destruction is simply kicking our asses on his server. If you look at the top ten realm point earners per week on most servers, apart from the odd Runekeeper or Bright Wizard the top ten spots are nearly always destruction players. On the two servers I'm active on the top ten was 70% and 90% destruction the last time I checked. In scenarios I have yet to play on a server where Order wins more than maybe 1/3 of the time, regardless of which side I'm playing. And on the server that my Engineer is on, Order very rarely has even a single teir II keep.

Unfortunately, the server that he is on isn't low pop, so I can't transfer him off of it. I got up to level 17 near launch, got very frustrated and re-rolled destruction on a different server. That was fun for a while, but I have yet to find a class I enjoy as much as the Engineer (and yes, I've tried a Magus). I suppose I could find a server where Alliance is doing better and start over again, from scratch. However, at this point I'm pretty burned out on the teir I content. I've been through it at least six times on each side trying different classes.

I'm hoping that the introduction of the new tank classes will help out a bit with this. If things get even enough that I can start playing my engineer again without have my ass handed to me constantly, I'll likely keep playing regardless of the next issue. However if the real problem is that skilled players are more often attracted to Destruction than Order (this ceretainly seemed to be true of the Horde in WoW based on my experiences both in PuGs and Battle Grounds), I don't think it will help much.

2. PvE in WAR slightly bites.

There are several problems with the PvE in WAR that I don't think will ever be fixed. The mob density is too high in most zones, and the respawn rates are too high. This means that any character that can't handle mutiple mobs in melee range has a very tough time soloing. Good luck solo questing on a Sorceress, for example. It also means that to get anywhere you will have to kill dozens of mobs on the way, which gets to be very tedious. It makes the zones feel "crowded" and somewhat spoils the sense of immersion. What the hell sense does it make for a tiny forest patch that's jammed up with 100 hostiles to be 30 feet away from a quest hub?

This is compounded by the fact that the zones themsleves are somewhat small, and tend to be laid out linearly. I always feel like I'm in a ravine with invisible walls. More than any MMO I've ever played, the PvE zones in WAR are very obviously laid out with function in mind rather than to evoke a sense of being in a real place. The PVE in WAR is something you tolerate in betwen bouts of PvP, rather than something that is fun in it's own right.

WAR does have some of the most fun PvP around, but among the popular fantasy MMOs (EQ II, LoTRO, WoW, ect.) I'd also argue that it has the least engaging PvE. Public Quests are great fun if you can get a party together to do them. However, my experienc has been that no-one is running the PQs any more in most teirs. Even at launch, some off the beaten path PQs pretty much never got done. Now, even the ones that used to be popular are ghost towns. What we are left with is a system that lets a solo player grind through the first stage three or four times for an item. And it's tedious as hell. I'd rather just suit up in the PvP gear I earn in scenarious than mess around with that, even if some of the items you can earn are better than the PvP gear.

I'll be watching WAR until the end of the month. I'm hoping that things will change for the better with the X.06 and X.1 patches. However, I don't see how anything that's been talked about will make Order players suck less (in general) or the PvE improve drastically.