Archive for August 2009
Geee..what a long title..
Thanks to Keen for pointing me to the STOR walkthrough.. videos from GC 2009…
So my thoughts on the videos..
I want to start with something positive. I really like the graphics of the game. The world looks really good. The animations are not so good, but I think this might change. I don’t want to judge on animations too much, though I believe that Bioware always struggles with animations…
The dialog sequences look nice, but then I start to think that this is a single-player game..not multiplayer (I don’t count two as multiplayer like shown in the videos). That’s a real design problem if you ask me. You can’t combine both elements… The solution Bioware chose is the only way to tell a story, but imo it just doesn’t fit to a MMORPG. I don’t think that this will a “game-breaker” as it might be an important element of the game, but not the whole game.. So it’s a nice teaser for this part of gameplay and we have to wait until more of the game is presented.
Two things bother me when I look at the videos..
Those heroic fights.. aren’t heroic at all. If you look at the hp-bar of your sith warrior he stays above 90% all over the fight with the.. hard.. enemy. No fight..just a slaughter of a NPC. Where do you have to fear for your live?
The gun fights aren’t heroic too. It’s quiet static imo. I hope that the AI will improve as imo it doesn’t act too smart. Running around a corner to take cover was the only presented form of AI.. Otherwise they just stood there got slaughtered. The cover-mechanism of the smuggler seems.. strange to me. You can’t have everywhere possibilities to cover.. Naming just Hoth or Tatooine as two examples with rare cover-possibilities. It just feels strange and unnatural, that there is always a cover-possibility there..
The fights themselves don’t look fluent.. But that goes for several MMOs. KotoR didn’t feel fluent too..So I think that this will be final hit, wait and watch, hit.. rhythm we might see in the final version of TOR.
The things shown are good.. if you consider a single-player game. Much instancing was shown.. this might be due to the nature of the walkthrough just being an exhibition of certain parts of the game or that the shown elements just require heavy instancing; flashpoint stuff.
I’m still interested to see where this game gets the first to MM’s of MMORPG.. So where is STOR getting massive and multiplayer-like?
I just read a post from Werit and the comment from Keen made me think about a new scenario layout for Warhammer..
Well..it’s not really new, but it’s not in the game. Let me first explain the current situation in scenarios.
There is always one or more objectives to get you additional point, capture the flag, king of the hill, etc.. plus points earned from killing enemy players. In some scenarios people just ignore the objectives and go “brain afk”..Happens way too often *sighs*. They ignore the objectives and lose by a big amount..
What about the well known team death-match. No objectives, just maps for fighting against an equal sized force? WAR has not such a scenario and I start to ask me why this is so?
Would it draw people away from ORvR? Is it too much of e-sport type? I have no idea.. Just a well layout map (like Reikland Factory) and only points for killing players.. Sounds like fun to me. In terms of imbalance and domination(*) in a scenario this would be no change to the current situation. The entrance has to be guarded well and the fall-damage should be taken away… which I suggest anyways. It’s plain stupid that you enter the scenario, fall and lose 80% of your hitpoints.
The one thing I want from the maps is a good layout, with possibilities to hide, to make an ambush, to retreat and reform.. just to use the terrain in tactical and not only cosmetic way.
(*)You could do ridiculous stuff to prevent domination.. something like the good old “wrath of the god”-card from Magic the Gathering: Every 100 or 200 points every character on the map will be killed or there is a button near the enemy camp, so that everyone will be killed. A wipe-out/small scenario-reset.. could be fun and frustration ;) Especially the player-driven scenario wipe could make things interesting as there has to be some sort of guard at that button…
Well..that was just some rambling before weekend.. Have a nice weekend everyone ;)
In a comment I saw a request to write something about PvE in Warhammer..especially Lost Vale.
Well.. PvE in WAR seems like a not loved stepchild, but I have fun in it.
I will talk about my experiences in the Altdorf Instances (Warblade Tunnels and Sigmar Crypts) and Lost Vale. The other dungeons changed in the last weeks or I had trouble to find a group for them.
In general I like PvE stuff, but I am not and never was something like a “hardcore” raider… I can enjoy a dungeon because of the people who are in my group or because I like the layout of the dungeon.
Let’s take a look at the dungeons in WAR.. The layout is quiet straight forward. I like the art of the dungeons, though the Warblade Tunnels seem like a little bit too much of a cave than something under a city. It’s a nice atmosphere in it. Especially Lost Vale is nice.. even though this is an elf dungeon ;) So the art team gets some plus points..
Looking at the technical side things get really ugly. The path-ing of NPC’s in WAR is since release in a bad shape and I wonder why it’s so ugly in the dungeons. In the Sigmar Crypts some mobs lately started to stand behind the walls and weren’t attackable. That really disturbs the dungeon experience..
So a plus on art and a minus because of technical issues.. But art is not all the design.. What really makes the dungeons feel mediocre and only loosely attached to the game is the layout of trash-mobs and bosses.
It’s a … nicely said.. well-know layout. Nothing special. The bosses themselves are so and so.. There are some nice boss fights, e.g. Zakarai and Verimus in the Crypts, the spider-boss in Lost Vale.. and some quiet boring ones, were it’s just tank-and-spank..
Lost Vale and the Tombs in the land of the dead as end-game dungeons are too easy.. City dungeons too far away and not planable.. This is what frustrates the PvE-faction in WAR. Most of the PvE-“raiders” I know do the dungeon crawling for items. So they reach this “end” in PvE quiet fast in WAR. On Drakenwald the cities are rarely contested (maybe once a month or even less frequent..and that means just stage1. Stage2 was never reached in the past four months), so the PvE dungeons in the enemy city are just not existent.
I really like the Sigil System..It gives you character more freedom, as you can change and mix gear and are not forced to wear that one set you have.
In terms of gear progression PvE is not the best way in WAR. It’s easy to get some good gear via sentinel stuff, but the really good gear is obtained in ORvR and there is no way around it. I don’t think that this is bad, as the people who focus on ORvR would otherwise complain that the PvE’ers go the easy way, because they only fight scripted fights and not real enemies. Sentinel and Darkpromise gear is not too shabby anyways.
Coming to scripts…There are some PvE’ers who complain(ed) about the difficulty of the boss fights in WAR. I don’t see the fights as subpar compared to my time in WoW (pre-WotLK).. You have to face the fact.. Boss fights are easy in a way as you can understand the tactics (if they are already known and told to you) in ..let’s say.. three tries at most. In that time you will get the general feeling for the fight. Everything else in boss fights boils down to dps/hps comparison. I don’t see a difficulty factor there as it just depends on gear or on luck, e.g. Nkhari hitting the tank twice for 7.5k. Beating a boss, just because of better gear is no real accomplishment or challenge. My respect goes to those who figure out the tactics.
Long story shortly told.. PvE in WAR is to me not as bad as some people think, but it’s definitely not near a jewel-status of the game. Nothing I would focus my advertising on ;) It doesn’t stand out in any aspect to other games (I can even agree with those who say that it’s not as demanding and difficult as in other games) and could need some attention..At least some scary bugs could be squished ;)
Nevertheless I have fun running those dungeons in WAR with my guildmates.. No matter if I need anything. It’s a nice change of pace when I’m are not in mood for the big zergs in ORvR.
The fun is to me an important factor for dungeons at level cap. Are they fun to you so that you can enjoy them even though there is nothing to get for you? That is something everyone has to answer for himself… I did it and you see me in that dungeons ;)
Lately Order on Drakenwald used some tactics which are claimed to be exploits.. if you listen to Destruction.
There is a warband which waits on the back-entrance of a fortress and fights against the incoming reinforcement for the defenders. This makes life of the invading forces much easier and the fortress lord dies quiet easily.
So .. is this an exploit or just clever?
Looking at the map of the fortress zones (e.g. map of Fell Landing, though I’m not sure how the height is there. Afaik all fortresses are accessible from the rear), it’s looks like there is a way around planned by Mythic. Why else should they put the path in the north-eastern part of the map which screams “this is bypass!”? Afaik Order didn’t use any tricks to bypass the terrain (lag-teleporting, weird jumping patterns), but instead went a normal walkable path. So I just can’t see an exploit here.
If it’s a design fault and not intended, Mythic should put in barriers, but actually there is no response from GOA or Mythic to this problem.
If not.. Destruction should organize better (atm. I see them just zerg and be happy with outnumbering order), stop whining and fight against that warband or at least organize in a better way, so that the defenders are prior to the attack in a fortress. The fortress attack doesn’t come by surprise.. So adapt to the tactics of the enemy. If the enemy has a warband in the zone that doesn’t participate in the actual attack, defending should be even easier..
I just can’t see a reason to complain here. Oh wait.. it’s off the usual pattern.. and that is bad. ;)
I know that I would be pissed off, if I’m running alone to the fortress and get beaten by a warband.. but next time I will be prepared..
Order on Drakenwald has to invade the Inevitable City more often..
During the last city siege there, I had far less fps-issues than in Altdorf ;)
In Altdorf there are some places where my screen just freezes for 2-5s, without anyone being near or action going on. In IC everything went smooth..even if all the players were on one spot and fighting the boss from the PQ..
hum..I don’t know, but the taste is not too bad…
Yesterday I respecced my Runepriest to this. Well…that’s actually not 100% correct.. I spend another point in Grungni, but WARDB doesn’t let me set the appropriate renown rank.
Grungni first and Valaya second is the second option, but Grungni just doesn’t appeal to me. If Valaya doesn’t work out I will check it.
With respec I bought some conquerer stuff and put some intelligence talismans into it. So less willpower, but more int. Still trying to find the best weapon for me.. atm. my favorite is a staff with willpower, int, wounds and healing-bonus. No healing crit as I think that this healing bonus works better with all the small healing I throw around.
I had just not much time yesterday and there did some ORvR in an alliance warband. Fights were huge as Destruction announced that they will push every day with 16 warbands until our king is dead. We faced yesterday around 160 so not the 16 warbands they got the day before, but still an impressive number. Order slowly formed their forces so there were heavy fights going on and I had the chance to test some stuff.
A little side note here.. Performance was ok, which somewhat surprised me. Of course there was some lag, but it’s not unplayable even with many folks on your screen.
Well.. ORvR, especially large scale fights, means that the group is scattered around a large area. The advantage of Valaya and Grungi is the range of the heals. As we fought in Eataine the problem occurred that the group was in 150ft range, but there was no los.. that’s a big problem, but I think that the healing went ok. With this spec you are able to cast many small heals and create some sort of cache for the big heals that come from the other healers.
So this spec works good in warbands when you have other healers around. The loss of willpower didn’t affect me that much.
Actually I did not test out so much the damage capabilities.. I threw a dot there.. a Rune of Burning there.. a Rune of Fate there. So no idle-time if no one’s need a heal, but not heavy dps-oriented.
I think this spec works also in PvE as I lately didn’t use group heals so much and relied more on hots. I will check this and maybe report here how it works.
I’ve not playing at a regular schedule lately, but from time to time I play my Runepriest. I think it’s atm the weakest of all healer archetypes, but I will stick to it.
Ok..what happened? Archemages, Shamans got a boost in the past couple of month and Warrior Priests/Disciples of Khaine are still insane. Let me explain that a bit.
All of the four mentioned carreers can now deal either really high damage (e.g. I regularly see Archmages, Shamans and Disciples in the top3 of dealt damage in scenarios and the Warrior Priests don’t do that bad either) or heal quiet good. Sometimes they do both at the same time..
Now Runepriests and Zelots suffer a bit. They were pushed in the healbot-role because their damage-capabilities were from release on…erm..let’s say restricted. Did they get some love? Well not really.. I see Zelots topping sometimes the healing charts (but that are two special ones..rr65+ if I remember right). Runepriests (at least on Drakenwald) are most of the time now at the lower end of the healing charts.
I know that those charts aren’t a good indicator for actual value of a class, but they give some hint. Runepriests still deal some pathetic damage and the AE-Reduction and general Career changes gimped somehow their healing capabilities.
The problem lies in balancing small scale combats balance with large scale combat balance. In a 1vs1 Runepriests, as every healing career, are really strong. In large scale fights they are quiet obsolete, because the other healers heal for bigger numbers or are more robust. The last thing did count for Runepriests for some time, but is now “dealt” with by Mythic by silently changing the Rune of Preservation. It used to be an AE-Detaunt which helped Runepriests alot to survive when things got ugly.. Now it’s the same as for the other healers, a single target detaunt. I checked the patch notes back to patch 1.2.0 (were the ability was still an AE-Detaunt) and there was no mention about that change.
You could argue, that it’s now in line with the other healing careers, but I find it quiet disturbing that it wasn’t even mentioned in the patch notes. That’s imo a big change to the career and has to be noted. It’s a big nerf to the career if you ask me.
I find this really irritating as this detaunt was one of the most important spells in RvR and some PvE situations. So you might think “yeah..keep whining” and yes I will keep on a bit ;) I think Runepriests did get some hard hits during the past couple of weeks as they weren’t getting the attention other careers got and slowly got weaker and weaker as the others got improved and Runepriests not.
What does this all mean for the fotm?
Well.. Grimnir is out. It’s only viable in PvE content as you can easily keep the distance to your group and it’s not so widespread as e.g. in ORvR. What options do you have?
I have currently a build with full spec in Valaya (leaving out some tactics) and some Grimnir. That’s a mix of RvR stuff and PvE. PvE is the only reason why I specced into Grimnir. This spec forces you to forsee where to heal as it’s heavily dependent on hots. It’s hard to heal against a focus fire, but I think no career can easily do that nowadays.
The real fotm is something different… This is my theorycrafting to that. I will check it out in the next couple of days, but I agree on that point with another Runepriest from my guild. So it’s seems a valid theory.
It’s either Grungi/Valaya or Valaya/Grungni, both with an emphasize on damage. Forget healing. Mythic is trying everything to prevent people from healing. You can’t defend yourself as the defensive skills are silently nerfed or made obsolete (CC-immunity anyone?! ;) ), so I can only quote myself saying:
Dead enemies don’t deal damage, so there is nothing to heal.
Spec into that trees, use some damage/RvR-oriented gear, kill people and forget about willpower. Willpower is needed for large heals with long casting times. In Grungni there is one skill that needs that, everything else doesn’t have such a high willpower-bonus. It’s now better to kill stuff and heal by using skills that heal while dealing damage. Search for intelligence talismans to improve your damage … Yes, I said that the damage capabilities are restricted, but that may come from the willpower/healing-specs and talisman-socketing Runepriests tend to have. It’s worthless anyways to focus purely on healing, so try to have fun and kill something…
I think this is the general aim from Mythic. All the changes in the last couple of weeks imo just point to, deal more damage and don’t fight for so long.