Archive for Expansion

PvP’s Expansion Limpness

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 21, 2010 by krosuss

There are sooooooo many other things I’d like to be posting about, but it seems the expectations and hope for Patch 1.4 are a resounding clunk. I was reluctant to even post my comments on Thanquol’s Incursion but as I take a gander around the WAR blogs … I am not alone with bad feelings. Many WAR bloggers have been accused of being too happy shiny about the game so they’ve been posting items that are taking a critical look at this MMO.

And the most recent post from Bootae has hit on something I’ve been thinking for quite a bit of time … the lack of actual new content. I feel that’s the biggest problem with a PvP game. How do you give new content to a playerbase that wants to fight other players?

The big dog WoW is easily expanded as we’ve just seen. Forget that they destroyed Azeroth via the Cataclysm, forget that they did a redo and “improved” the graphics … they went in and did this:

  • Two new playable races (Goblins, Worgen).
  • Each race was given their own starting zone to get players to Level 6.
  • Expanded use of flying mounts.
  • Seven — yes 7 — new dungeons.
  • Three new raids.
  • Two previous dungeons revamped.
  • New battlegrounds and PvP zone.
  • And more …

Easy, right? PvE is much easier to add to and those who love PvE are somewhat easier to cater towards. Call them carebears or whatever, serving up new quests and dungeons is what they want, what they need. You can build a quest chain with story, some loot, and lead them all over the map finding things, talking to NPCs, and killing mobs. And if you’re WoW that could entail taxiing mobs from one side of Gobbo Land to the other. Same with new dungeons … add a portal to some underworld cavern with elaborate architecture, increasingly difficult bosses, and epic gear to be won. That particular path really doesn’t seem possible for WAR since RvR and PvP are what keeps us here. So what can be done?

Patch 1.4’s zerg-busting, RvR-stalling intentions haven’t really come to fruition. Every server is different but on the whole, the zerg still rules and getting into your opponent’s city is still a frequent occurrence. Hey, Mythic tried and what looked good on paper didn’t pan out. Where do we go from here?

If us PvPers can’t be satiated in the same way as WoWophiles, what will fit the bill? We need more territory to fight over, more zones to explore, some more scenarios to clash within, and yes … more gear of all kinds to win. That’s the easy stuff that can be added in. The “hard” stuff referenced above therein? How about new classes, races, and pairings?

Forts … Forts … Forts
They aren’t expansionworthy since they currently reside in the game as pretty scenery and they definitely better not charge us for doing something with them. These need some sprucing up to put a little speed bump in our paths to city siegedom. This post isn’t about specifics so I won’t go into ideas for how to bring these back … all I know is they are needed. Get on it.

Change Your Mind … Add Missing Capitals
When asked directly at a Q&A session, Carrie conceded that completing the missing capitals was off the table. There are other things to focus on. Fair enough but those other things better be freaking good. Going along with my theory that we need more places to fight, four new capital cities with different mechanics, Warlords, and Kings would be cool. Throw in a special set of armor only available from each of the cities all with different appearances and stats. A rotating “city to siege” would be in order rather than capturing one pairing to enter. You’d still need to lock two pairings to get in with the second one locked opening up that pairing’s cities. You wouldn’t fight to lock Dwarf/Greenskin second for a chance at the Grudge set?

More Zones, Please
As others have made mention, it is a bit stale to be fighting it out in the same zones over and over and over again. New is good and despite the hardcore who play WAR, even we are getting tired of the same old Dragonwake and the same old Chaos Wastes. Yeah! Praag again! There are four Tier 4 zones just sitting there not being used. What a waste. And I’ll bet there are players who don’t even know they are in the game.

These are West Praag (Empire/Chaos), Isle of the Dead (High Elf/Dark Elf), Cinderfall, and Deathpeak (Dwarf/Greenskin). I posted a Q&A question on the forums that Andy Belford actually answered. I asked if they considered repurposing these existing PvE-only zones for RvR? He said it was a good idea and something they would consider. Okay … do it. It’s as low a hanging fruit as you’ll find with them just sitting there waiting. Give us a reason to fight there.

Refresh the Weekend Warfronts
We have yet to cycle through all of the retired scenarios that were to be repurposed for the Weekend Warfronts. Some of these gaps can be explained with resources working on other things. But I’m also guessing some of it is a lack of knowing just what to do to make some of them better. To make my point, here are the retired scenarios that have yet to make a reappearance:

  • Gromril Crossing
  • Grovod Caverns
  • Maw of Madness
  • Reikland Hills
  • Thunder Valley

All but one of those are bottom-of-the-barrel in the fun department. Grovod’s is a Phoenix Gate clone only underground. Gromril and Thunder Valley are near clones of one another with multi-flag captures and ranked near the bottom of players’ fave scenario lists. Reikland Hills is similar with multi-cap BO’s for players to run between. The Maw of Madness really doesn’t need any rejiggering. It’s a death match that’s actually a lot of fun. Let’s bring these back some weekend, spruce up the rewards (a longstanding issue for all WWs), and perhaps surprise us with some new scenarios (War Quarters, Undercroft, Bright Wizard College, The Monolith).

Beyond the Warfronts the issue of pops also needs to be addressed. Many have thought that with scenarios removed from the campaign that cross-server matchups would soon follow. Let’s hope they do.

Easy Said …
Those are the easy things that could pump some new life into WAR. I say “easy” from my armchair but some of them are easier than creating a ton of new content from scratch. Much of what I’ve listed is there already either in game or hidden code currently hidden.

The hard stuff? Yeah, now that would take some effort but I feel that’s where the path must go despite the limited resources. You could probably hold back the dogs by simply adding in missing mirrors for the races. Mr. Meh actually listed some intriguing options. Wouldn’t it be cool if every race had a glass cannon? What about a melee-healer for all?

New races with a whole new pairing is definitely pie-in-the-sky but it’s what’s truly needed. The Skaven implementation of 1.4 has been lackluster at best. Thanquol’s Incursion is not widely embraced nor is it much fun. Talking with those who’ve actively played the new Skaven “classes” say other than the Gutter Runner and Warlock Engineer … they really are only so-so. I don’t see too many people using them.

Suck it up and finally — FINALLY — load that silver bullet into your gun and pull the trigger. I know the RvR Packs have sold pretty well by all the players I see running around with their trinkets. There’s a lot of new people playing (or some say). Take that momentum and capitalize on it. Bring Skaven to the game for real with actual classes and zones. Match them with the Lizardmen for double the win. That’s your silver bullet, trump card, sure thing. I wrote about a possible pairing before and Ekalime wrote an epic post on both of these races (and a ton more … shame on you if you don’t read his blog!). It’s right there! Go head down and do it!

Closing Thoughts
It’s a tough road ahead to say the least. Are we coming to the end of the line or is there something worthwhile on the horizon? A patch that on paper sounded fairly solid has landed on its face. Instead of slowing the campaign it’s been accelerated more than ever. The anticipated addition of Skaven has been a dud. We’re tardy on a Producer’s Letter by nearly a month. Guess there’s either nothing to say or is Carrie at a loss for words? I don’t buy that … she’s always got something useful to write. What’s going on?

I know a ton of work went into the RvR Packs and Patch 1.4. And there is some good stuff there just not as substantial to truly enthrall subscribers for longer term. Taking a step back to recover on Mythic’s part is warranted. However, with some of these glaring issues at a time of year when a good chunk of WAR’s playerbase is off from work and school, all ears are open awaiting some word on what is planned to resolve these problems and any hint of what the horizon holds.

The conspiracist in me sees the quickening of the game and the raining of gear on the playerbase as a precursor to no good. Have we been kidding ourselves the past year thinking that if we turn the corner all will be well? I don’t see WAR closing down but can it grow beyond the meager subscriber base it currently has? Where are we … 100,000 – 200,000? More? Less? Who really knows? Is it possible to take the EVE route and grow this thing slowly to where you can gain momentum or are we staring at the eventuality of a F2P model?

If you’re profitable as stated earlier this year … if you have all these “cool expansions” planned … we better see a roadmap or are you guys moonlighting on Star Wars The Old Republic. All I do know is we’re coming to a real crossroads with this game and the directions aren’t looking too rosy. I want Doomflayer and Warpforged gear but am staring at 10 tough renown ranks for each with nothing truly new in between to keep me happy or engaged. It’s just an extension of the grind that isn’t that appealing for me at this moment.

Two years in and we have no new zones … no new races … no new classes … and all the hard work and effort put in to fix the game is quickly forgotten with this recent patch. The work put into WAR to fix its innumerable wrongs does not go unnoticed but for how long can that be the excuse that holds us back? What do you think should be done?

My Xmas wish is for clarity.

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Where Will You Be … ?

Posted in Warhammer Online with tags , , , , on November 14, 2010 by krosuss

Just where, exactly, will you be this Thursday? I’ll be at work … but rest assured as soon as I get home I’ll be logging in to purchase both RvR Packs!

I’m looking forward to the renown boost as that should be just what I’ve been needing to finally get my sorry butt to RR80. And just in time to stare straight up the hill at RR100. I’m curbing my enthusiasm as getting through to buy the Verminous Horde might be backed up. I might have to wait, or one can hope. I think many longtime WAR faithful are hoping the packs will breathe a whole new life into the game we enjoy. I do expect many old-timers to return. I also hope to see a bunch of new folks who have been sitting back waiting to dive in. WAR will truly be a new experience and it’s a shame the game wasn’t what 1.4 will bring back when it first launched. Would’a, should’a, could’a.

As Bootae mentions, players should not be overly surprised if we find some glitches here and there that interrupt our fun. The last few patches have been fairly smooth but this one is crammed full of all sorts of goodness. And having just gone through a nightmarish upgrade to a software application I’m in charge of at work I can say there is usually nothing routine about such things.

That said, let’s hope for a smooth rollout and good times a plenty. I’m guessing there will be more than a little RvR going on.

The Verminous Horde (Pack Your Poison)

Posted in Warhammer Online with tags , , , , , , , on November 5, 2010 by krosuss

Alright … so … more info. Or you can skip straight to the Verminous Horde page.

I wanted to know what, exactly, we’ll be seeing in the packs and most importantly what they will cost. The Letter has shed some light on both of these questions.

There’s been much discussion concerning the EA Store and the pricing we see for the new Entitlements being offered to WAR players. Some of the prices seem fair while others are kind of steep for what you get. I like the proposed pricing for these RvR Packs.

Choosing to buy one of the Packs will cost $10 or $15 for both. Everyone’s financial situation is different so each player will need to determine if that is fair for what you get. For me, that’s easily lunch during the week … I can pack a sandwich one day and be good to go. But again, that’s my situation.

The Packs shake out like so …

Progression
Access to Renown Ranks 81 – 100.
– Access to the Doomflayer and Warpforged RR81+ armor sets.
– Access to the RR81+ scenario weapons.
– Renown acceleration from RR1 – 80 for all characters on account.

Personality
– Barber Surgeon tokens (4) to change character appearance.
– Vanity Pets (4).
– Heavy Mount for RR60+ characters granting 70% speed boost.
– Expanded dye options.

Is that enough to earn your $10 or $15? I can’t answer that. I hope that opening up progression for the RR80’s will bring back a lot of players. The new campaign mechanic should improve the core of the game and again, bring back the fun.

I feel it’s what happens after these packs that will truly give us a glimpse of what to expect. I am all for this approach to add new things to the game in a quicker fashion. If they add worthwhile things to make the game better then it’s a good thing. However, adding ranks and armor will only go so far. We’ll need more substance … new classes, races, zones, dungeons … real expansion stuff.

So … about the Red Plague … no mention.

Resigned …

Posted in Warhammer Online with tags , , on November 2, 2010 by krosuss

… to the fact that I probably won’t hit RR80 before the RvR Packs come. True, we don’t know exactly when these “expansions” will hit but December has been mentioned. Patch 1.4 testing has been under way for the past few weeks with players being able to see much of the new stuff coming. Dev posts are up gathering feedback on what works well and what does not. Is there really enough time between now and then to make adjustments? More importantly … will there be some form of official announcement about these packs? Somehow I don’t see December as the actual target.

Still some uncertainty on the Skaven RvR zone … still many tweaks coming for the RvR campaign changes … no actual word on a release date … yeah … I could be wrong but it sounds like a delay coming.

Meanwhile … in game there hasn’t been a whole lot of worthwhile action. Reading the plights of other Iron Rockers, it’s true. Some nights you get good times while others not so much. Of late there’s been far too much of the latter than the former.

I’ve been eager to run scenarios vs. RvR as there is a chance for more renown per time played, fun, plus I still need 300 – 400 of those stupid Royal Insignias for my Royal weapon. Damn treadmill.

Also, there’s been a decline in the number of regular guildies on night to night so even getting into a dungeon run is not a given. Where we once had anywhere from 10 – 25 guildies on each and every night … there are only a handful here and there. It’s for many of the same reasons others cite: being RR80 capped, rerolling ALTs on other servers, or trying other games. Another is playing the waiting game for the “expansion” to finally arrive.

All of these are valid reasons, but still they make for logging in to be more often than not a deflating experience. All that and no Producer’s Letter for October … unless I missed it.

Pseudo Playable Skaven

Posted in Warhammer Online with tags , , , , , , , on September 27, 2010 by krosuss

Bigtime thanks to the UK bloggers who went to Games Day UK and have posted a ton of worthwhile info (Bootae, Bruglir, Sarigs). Unlike the U.S. version of Games Day, this time around we have been treated with some concrete details. There’s a lot to process so for this post I will stick to Skaven.

Glowing Red Eyes
Soon enough, we’ll all be able to channel our inner rat. Skaven’s introduction to WAR has been a long time coming. It’s been confirmed that you won’t be able to roll a Skaven, players will be able to transform their existing toons into a rat when the time is right.

Class? Rats Have No Class
How players will transform is unknown, but we do know there will be multiple choices at our disposal. And it sounds like there will be a distinct need for each of these:

  • The Rat Ogre will be the pounding on keep doors and steamrolling the enemy beast. If you don’t have a ram … these guys will be needed.
  • The Packmaster will be close in tow as they are the only toon capable of healing Rat Ogres. Being squishie, they should stay close to their lumbering thrall for protection.
  • Warlock Engineers are integral to keeping your siege weapons operational. They will be the only ones able to repair them.
  • And lastly, Gutter Runners will be running all over the place right under our noses and straight up walls. Stealth at all times they will move at incredible speeds sabotaging enemy siege weapons.

What is not known is what “class” we’ll be able to transform into or will it be dependent upon your archetype. In my case, would I automatically transform into the Warlock Engineer (RDPS) or could I opt to bang on keep doors as a Rat Ogre (Tank)? Will players have access to play any or be restricted to one? (I have a theory discussed below.)

Other items left outstanding are the look, gear, and power level for your Skaven. Upon first creating your rat alter-ego will we be able to select fur color, teeth, eyes, scars, etc.? Will there be gear to acquire? And most importantly, will a RR40 toon who transforms into a rat be equal in power to someone who transforms their RR80?

Rats for You … Rats for Me
No one will be left out — Order and Destruction will both be able to transform into rats and help out with the campaign. In doing so, you are limited to aiding your side. Even though Andy says the Skaven are mercenary … that doesn’t mean we’ll be able to stab allies in the back. So any thoughts you had on killing that annoying guildie under the fists of a Rat Ogre probably aren’t going to be possible.

That leads me to this … it strikes me as odd that in a few months time, Order will be aided by Skaven. Meanwhile, on the other side of the battlefield, Destro will be helped out by them as well. It all just doesn’t seem right and seems very John Smith-like from Last Man Standing.

I appreciate that Andy referenced the lore and specifically called out the Skaven’s alignment with Destruction. They took that into account but presented evidence of their true nature. For a price, they will work for anyone. What exactly would so entice them?

Warpstone
Solidified dark magic, warpstone in its geologic form is much coveted by the Skaven. It is believed to be the source of mutation which brought their race into being. Skaven society uses this mineral for just about everything and they are constantly seeking its power.

After reading Bootae’s Q&A with Andy Belford, it sort of solidifies my thinking around how we’ll access Skaven. I have a feeling we’ll need to farm warpstone in the Skaven zone. If you want to be a Skaven to siege keeps and take BO’s … you’ll need to accumulate warpstone in whatever zone the Skaven call their own. And in similar fashion to LOTD vessel weapons and the souls that go in them … warpstone will eventually fade and you will need to farm more. Perhaps to access each of the archetypes, you’ll need to farm that specific kind of warpstone (tank warpstone for Rat Ogres, RDPS warpstone for Warlock Engineers, etc.).

Final Thoughts
Truly some exciting news out of the UK. There are a lot of changes on the horizon and the Skaven will play a key role. The new RvR siege mechanic make their use integral. Their mechanics sound interesting and should lend fresh new gameplay for those players looking for something a bit different.

I don’t see their addition placating the myriad fans who wanted to really “play” Skaven. Those folks wanted to start at Rank 1, customize their look, level up through the game, acquire gear, and all that other good stuff. This won’t give them that. We’ll have to wait and see the reactions.

That said, I am excited for these changes and feel it will definitely spice up RvR. More Skaven talk later.

RvRat Pack of POWER

Posted in Warhammer Online with tags , , , , , , , on September 20, 2010 by krosuss

The expansion direction of WAR should come as no surprise. Mythic mentioned long ago that they liked the “Live Expansion” and “DLC” methods of delivery — smaller chunks of new content released more frequently. And who wouldn’t want more, faster?

What we know as being concrete is the impending RvR Packs slated for later this year. Of which, we should expect some sort of overall theme name entailing the Red Plague. Have you so soon forgotten the little disease that started all this expansion madness? If things hold true, we’ll be able to enjoy the packs at some point in December … either soon after or coinciding with Patch 1.4 which will totally revamp the RvR campaign. (And if we’re lucky a Live Event to boot.)

What is Power? The first RvR Pack is named “Power” or at least that’s the name of its “theme” … and depending upon who you ask, their impression of what this name might entail will probably vary.

What ‘Power’ Should NOT Mean
Mythic has stated that none of these packs would enable players to buy their way to uberville. Let’s hope they mean it. I can’t imagine granting those who purchase it unlimited power or dramatically reduced cooldowns on their most lethal abilities. Although it would not surprise me if it did unlock a long path towards such goals. Meaning, no instant gratification but a grindy path towards empowering your toon. You’d still have to earn it rather than being handed it … step on the treadmill.

What I feel ‘Power’ Will Be
I feel this pack’s main goal will be granting buyers the ability to play as Skaven. The power of the limitless brood of rats is at your command. The power to derail the RvR campaign. The power to turn the tide of battle using a red-eyed chittering horde. Face it, players have been screaming for Skaven since before the game launched. Rodent fetishes aside, this should be an easy slam dunk on an 8-foot rim. Right? There are so many questions left unanswered and so many possible answers for each one. Would it have been easiest to just add the Skaven as a levelable race from Rank 1 — aligning them to the side of Destruction calling it a day?

Snippets of Fact
Andy and Carrie from Mythic have stated that Skaven:

  • Will not be ‘Monster Play’.
  • Will be available to players from both Order and Destruction.
  • Will not be playable from Rank 1 like other races.
  • Will not be available with the typical archetypes we’re accustomed.
  • Their “zone” will be a part of the Tier 4 campaign only.

That second bullet is the one that helps keep third realmers alive. How so? Since either side of the current battle can don the matted fur of the rats, this leads me to believe Skaven will be fighting everyone. And just like a rat to do so … they simply can’t be trusted. Could this be the third realm folks have been clamoring for without actually adding a full-blown third realm?

Questions That Need Answering
Still, we basically know squat when it comes to the implementation of Skaven. I could run a series of posts on how I think they will be added but when you see this list of questions I have, you’ll understand the minefield of rabbit holes one could spend time going down.

  • Will players start as a R40/RR40 Skaven?
  • Will Skaven have any rank at all?
  • Will players be able to level-up their rat?
  • Will Skaven accrue renown?
  • Will they have customizable appearances?
  • When “starting” a Skaven, will players get to select a clan (Eshin, Moulder, Pestilens, Skryre)?
  • Will there be gear they can achieve or get?
  • Will they be an option that players can play all the time or only part of the time?
  • Will they be able to lock zones?
  • Will locking zones even be a goal for Skaven?
  • Will they be limited to the RvR lakes?
  • Will they be able to take part in city sieges?
  • If not, would there be anything for Skaven to do while a city siege is taking place?
  • Can they queue for scenarios?
  • Can they be taken into instanced dungeons?
  • Will Skaven have access to Land of the Dead?
  • Will there be a reason to want to play as a Skaven all the time?

All I can say is this better be good. For the longest time I’ve thought that the Skaven were a silver bullet. They are the one trump card to be played that would bring back long lost players and draw in new ones. If put into WAR in the right way … Yatzee! If not, it could wind up being a huge facepalm moment.

In my mind, this has potential to be a hit. I’ve said it before, I don’t care if Skaven are playable … but many players do. For their sakes I hope Skaven’s addition to the game is a homerun.

Changing Direction

Posted in Warhammer Online with tags , , , , , on September 12, 2010 by krosuss

Up to this point I’ve written more than a few posts about ideas to expand WAR. Along the way, much of what I’ve droned on about focused on the typical, boxed expansion ideas that we’re accustomed to for MMO’s. With all the expansion envy we’ve had to endure the past year or so, it’s only natural to speculate on our own game.

Over the past month we’ve learned that WAR won’t be taking that traditional route. The idea of these ‘packs’ sounds good if it means more new content on a more frequent basis. The monolithic concept of the retail boxed expansion usually means a two-year gap between releases. For all the money raked in and resources at hand, even Blizzard doesn’t supply the WOW faithful with expansions quicker than that. Our first helping will be three RvR Packs to choose from (Power, Progression, Personality). Through various interviews and Q&As more info has been pieced together for what we can expect from these three offerings. What stands out is that players need not purchase all three to continue their journey.

I can’t stress enough how big a deal “choice” will be for us. Being able to select one, two, or all three packs gives us players options other gamers aren’t always presented with. Take Wrath of the Lich King for example. I won’t pretend to know all that came within its box but the two big draws were the addition of Death Knights and Northrend which added more content and raid material. What if you could give a shit about playing a Death Knight but wanted more raids? Who cares … you still have to pay full price to get the stuff you do want and accept the stuff you don’t. And maybe that was okay for WOW players. But a mere month later I recall reading how people had already tore through all the new content. Two years of waiting and all it took was a month to beat? This is an MMO we’re talking about, right? Maybe that was just how long it took hardcore players. (shrug)

I see Power being the pack that offers playable Skaven, Progression the one providing bonuses and buffs for quicker leveling, and Personality still sounds like the fluff. If Skaven don’t appeal to you, there are two other packs to choose from where you don’t have to pay “full price”. That’s a good deal. The plan for the future sounds like other content will be released this way. Allowing players to choose which packs we want to buy without totally shutting us out of the game is a dramatic change. We’ve already learned that players will be able to continue playing WAR without buying any of the packs. The only current drawback to that is a cap of RR80. For some, that may be enough.

Definitely some interesting news awaits us leaving ample time to speculate on what contents we’ll find in these packs.