Ok, I’ve spent a couple posts talking about RvR, what’s good about WAR, why we (the internet community) is mostly focused on the negatives, and why I think Mythic’s error in pushing RvR over PvE isn’t the worst mistake in the world.
That said, I’ll offer up my opinions on PvE. As much as I think WAR can survive and prosper despite the perceived PvE imbalances, I do think there are lessons to be learned from the launch.
First, splitting the community into 3 separate pairings seems a mistake in a game that offered tools like Open Grouping and PvE events like Public Quests, and in a game that offers greater rewards for Scenario RvR. I think both Open Groups and PQ’s are great advancements in MMO design, but only with enough players around to participate in ‘em. Most MMO’s start you out in different areas, and then funnel you together as you advance in level. I think WAR would have benefitted from this model, maybe pushing everyone into the same zones around level 20 or 25.
I think it’s safe to say that Mythic thought Open Groups and Public Quests would solve PvE issues that have plagued every MMO. They thought it would lower the barrier to entry for grouping. They thought they could encourage players to get out of the single-player mindset, and team up on challenges larger than a solo player can accomplish by themselves. I think they suspect, like many of us, that instanced WoW content (and EQ and EQ2 content) is only enjoyed by a relatively small percentage of subscribers. The rest of us prefer to figure out how to solo our way through, and WoW was the consummate solo MMORPG. To a large extent, Mythic succeeded in overcoming the solo mindset and obstacles to grouping on more difficult objectives, or just finding group mates for companionship…but, they succeeded in beta, and in the first couple weeks of the game, when everyone was concentrated in certain play areas.
That leads to the second problem with WAR PvE, which is the perception that the “best” way to level is through Scenarios, and the main contributor to the emptying of PvE areas. If you just look at the numbers, it’s probably correct that you advance fastest through Scenarios, and as I’ve argued before, I think Mythic did that because they thought it would be more difficult to coax players out of PvE and into RvR. Still, the situation exists that players who want a more social PvE experience are really having to work to pull together a group for PvE. I should say “some players”, because I personally find it pretty easy to start an Open Group, ask in guild chat if anyone wants to work on Chapter PQ’s, ask in Region chat, and get a couple people that want to participate. That said, it’s nowhere nearly as easy to do that now as it was in beta, but it’s also just as much work as you have to do for PvE in every other MMO out there.
I think the second problem, incentive for PvE, can be addressed. I’m not sure there’s much that Mythic can do to address the first problem, the way they split their factions into three separate pairings. In hindsight, this is probably a detriment only because Scenario RvR is so rewarding. Every other MMO survived just fine with different starting areas for different races, but that’s partially because there’s no other option for advancement in those MMO’s.
There’s a pretty decent PvE experience to be had in WAR. I’m playing WAR PvE the same way I played WoW, EQ, LoTRO, etc. I mostly solo, I sometimes have to search out a group at tougher objectives, I skip things that are either too tough for the group I can assemble, and I’ve found plenty of content to fuel my advancement. The questing system isn’t revolutionary, but it’s thoughtful, introducing me to the Warhammer world, giving me plenty to do in each zone, and I’m advancing just fine. If Mythic can offer enough incentive to get more people out in the PvE areas, I think we’ll start to see an even better experience emerge, due to Open Groups and PQ’s. The question is, can Mythic offer enough incentive to get people out of Scenarios? Time will tell.
The one caveat I’ll add to my WAR PvE observations is dungeon crawling. As I’ve been writing this, I was thinking about Wilhelm’s post at the Ancient Gaming Noob about trying to port his static group into WAR. He was disappointed in the dungeon content, feeling like it was too short, and either not challenging enough or too challenging. I do think WoW and EQ do dungeon crawling a lot better than WAR, at least as far as I’ve gotten in WAR. For a static group who’s battle-tested in PvE encounters, WAR seems to be fairly thin. Their challenge would be taking their PvE skills and trying to succeed in PvP…but the unpredictable nature of RvR sometimes leads to nights of no action, or little success when you do find action, and I suspect the static groups who are used to predictability from their PvE content are going to be frustrated by RvR’s sometimes cyclical nature.
For the vast majority of MMO players, though (people who largely solo…we know from WoW that the majority of players didn’t raid at endgame or run instances regularly), I don’t think WAR’s PvE is levels of magnitude worse than any other game at launch. If it wasn’t for the scenario reward discrepancy, and if more people were around for grouping, it’d actually be a pretty damn good PvE setup, even with the three pairing setup. It’s a problem that Mythic needs to solve, but I think they have good tools in place to make PvE more enjoyable once people feel the incentive is there to advance via PvE.