(for those interested, this post took me a full three days of spare time to write, fill with content, edit, and eventually decide to say fuck it, give up, and post anyway.)
Big things coming along on Thursday. Somehow, through sheer poor luck and perhaps some subconscious refusal, I’ve managed to miss every single PTS event after the Tier Three night. As such, I really don’t have a whole lot to talk about with any sort of objective opinion backed by actual experience like many of the other bloggers. I will however argue that the PTS hardly constitutes objective experience in the first place which in part allows me some room to speak since no one has actually had experience on how these changes are going to play out. As such, I would recommend those of you who still have their 2008 Rose Colored WAR glasses (in whatever state of disrepair) to go ahead and throw them on.
The things I’m seeing are WAR being pulled in a couple different directions at the same time. You know, expanding it’s base of influence a bit. RvR, being the biggest and most obvious change coming, is getting more complicated. This might seem like a contraction at first, making things more difficult that only the hardcore will really enjoy, but it’s actually the other way around I think. As with any organized group in the game they’re still going to have it pretty easy, but with the objectives being spread out, and resource carriers needing to be protected, it’s going to cause a lot of chaos. At first, and probably for a good while, there will still be the blob to manuever around. As time goes by however, they’ll realize blobbing is just not as effective as it used to be.
Less coordination as a whole means more targets to potentially get into a fight over. Something huge for me is the ability to claim BO’s at any time, no more 15m lockout means the BO’s are always up for grabs. As an Engineer this means I can effectively camp out at one of the two closer BO’s to either warcamp and pretty much be guaranteed some action eventually. I think this is going to open up a lot of smaller group play across the objectives while the blobbers who refuse to unclog the pipes will be standing at the door of the keep staring at the grain of the wood. For those who want to spill some blood, I think, blood will be available for the spilling. That’s not to imply that there aren’t loads of people to kill now, but with the new system you’re either going to learn to play or you’ll just be another random useless member of the blob that is running around impotently. The simplification of RvR comes from learning your role and performing it, as you’re probably never going to be equally effective at multiple roles at the same time.
I really think this will split out the different archtypes into seperate functions across the battlefield. At very least you’ll be able to assign specialized units to different functions. Defense oriented classes guarding BO’s, being your shield tanks and stationary DPS (engi/magus or ST casters) mostly, with a few defensively specced MDPS for good measure. High mobility skirmishers would be escorting the resource carriers, any MDPS with charge and dot-specced/instant cast ranged classes like the RP/Zealot. Assault teams would be your high powered offensive classes (Slayer/Choppa BW/Sorc) along with DPS tanks and eventually melee healers when they get fixed. The Keep sieges are going to be a more typical blob affair where one would imagine all the puggers would end up doing most of the work. Considering the door can only be hit by a ram/rat ogre in 1.4 they’re not going to change tactics much by staring at the walls and drooling.
By giving specialized units a focus in RvR it really starts to touch on the spirit of the tabletop game a lot more. Assembling a solid 6/12/24-man group that’s dedicated to a specific function, be it defense, assault, escort, or siege; sure as hell isn’t going to be easy but hopefully it forces guilds and alliances to condense in order to fill these things out. My biggest issue with current RvR is the lack of focus on tactics and strategy. You run around and whoever has the bigger blob typically wins out the day. Specialized units work, and you can tell when you have that 12-man group bust head first into a 3 warband zerg taking out dozens of players and shattering morale before getting buried under a pile of thrashing red names. I’m really hoping (through my broke ass rose colored glasses) that these changes bring back solid 12-man groups in RvR.
That’s the rub there, I can’t hardly see through these damn things anymore. They were crushed after falling from the dizzying heights that closed out 2008 in Warhammer. Everything else since then has been disappointing blow after disappointing blow for the population at large before finally dwindling down to the hardcore playerbase that we have now. Don’t get me wrong either, I LIKE this playerbase. The people that still, endlessly, enjoy WAR for what it is and stand behind it’s direction unflinchingly are the same die hard fans that I’ve been playing with for just over two years now. I just get pissed at times that the rest of the MMO universe looks at WAR like a failed red-headed stepchild of DAoC when it really was supposed to be a new version of RvR instead of a carbon copy.
I offer this fair warning. Don’t get your hopes up that somehow 1.4 is the return of WAR to the limelight. It may draw back a meager chunk of population that were waiting for the RR limit to be raised, but the general populace is probably going to continue to sit on the sidelines. 1.4 is going to be huge in it’s own way, as a patch/xpac for the existing hardcore users. How the details of things are going to play out however are anyones guess. You can do all the PTS testing you want, but you’ll never get the results you’d need from Live. That being said, it’s better to expect a little and be surprised than expect a mountain and get a molehill.