Friday, May 22, 2009

How To Fix It Part 2: PvP

I’m not sure if a game company can make a compelling world PvP MMO. I think one main reason Blizzard decided to add the Wintergrasp zone was because Mythic was working on Warhammer and they were going to have world PvP zones everywhere with cool keeps that you could attack with siege engines. So, we get Wintergrasp. I think the gameplay design of Wintergrasp is fine. Destructible walls everywhere, ways to upgrade which siege engine you get, fast and furious action. That is until the lag monster shows up and eats the entire zone. This brings me back to the statement that I don’t think any game company can make a compelling MMO based on World PvP. Once you reach a certain threshold of players per square unit of territory, the lag makes whatever you are doing unplayable. It’s exactly the same thing that happened when I was playing Warhammer and there was a 50+ on 50+ keep siege.

How do we make it work? Well, Blizzard has just implemented their “hotfix” for the lag by making the daily quests weekly quests to drive down demand. It seems to have worked so far. My wife and I did Wintergrasp on Wednesday night afer 8pm and there was little to no lag because there wasn’t a ton of players in the zone. It’s not an elegant solution, but I suppose it works in the short term. The only way to really make it work long term is to have the zone instanced. Alterac Valley works very well and it’s 40 on 40. Since it’s instanced and the objectives are spread all over the map, you rarely have more than 40 players in the same area on the map. That keeps network traffic lower and thus less lag. Plus, you can have all the dailies you want. So, Wintergrasp should be instanced and have quest objectives spread all over the map to keep people from all clumping on the keep’s front door.

The other major issue I have with PvP is that in order to get a great weapon, shield or offhand item, you pretty much have to raid. Forcing players (aka customers) to play the game a way they don’t want to isn’t a good idea. Sure, you can get to 1850 and get the first tier of Furious weapon, but by the very nature of the rating system , that is out of reach for the vast majority of players. There should be a middle grade of epic weapon somewhere between the crafted epics and the weapons that drop in 25 man Naxx that a pure PvP player can buy. It should be very expensive in whatever currency is used to buy it, but it should be attainable by non-raiders.

I’m generally happy with the battleground system. Sure, most of the games I play are completely dominated by the Horde, but Alliance on Bleeding Hollow have long accepted that fact. Strand of the Ancients is a pretty cool concept and one of it’s best features is that it will NEVER run longer than 20 minutes. Just thinking of hour long Warsong matches makes me want to cry. It would be a nice added bonus if there was an updated reputation system with battleground factions as another source of gear. It doesn’t have to be great stuff, maybe a supplemental way to get new 80’s in some blues that will keep them alive for longer than 3 seconds. Some new mounts, pets and fluff items would be cool too.

Lastly, the Vault of Archavon needs to be addressed. The Vault now has a second boss, Emalon, who is significantly harder to beat than Archavon. He is not the loot piñata that Archavon is. The two bosses need to be separated out into two separate instances. Getting a group together for the old Vault was hard enough and a lot of players are in their PvP spec, so healing and dps is lower than normal. That makes getting a successful group together for both bosses much harder. Separating the two would make the raids run more smoothly and recruitment for raids much easier and more targeted.

So, while all these issues may not be contributing directly to the “meh” I think it would help to excite players and keep them engaged in the game. What say you?

No comments:

Post a Comment