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PvE not attractive to players?

Discussion in 'PVE Discussion' started by Skarbrand, Oct 20, 2016.

  1. Speaking as a long-term WAR player, and someone who thought its PvE was actually rather good in the round despite WAR being an unashmedly PvP focused game, I feel I can say that the developer in question, like most of his Mythic colleagues, was almost onto something and yet also completely wrong. ;)

    WAR's instanced PvE was great. The earlier dungeons were a little janky in terms of difficulty scaling, but they were all well-designed. The later-stage dungeons that both sides had in common were enjoyable (albeit the drops system, as in every MMOs, spent more time inducing rage than delight) and the late-added early-stage instanced dungeon, Hunters Vale, was fantastic.

    The drops were better than their PvP equivalents for PvE, but worse (although not hideously worse) for PvP. Perhaps not what I would personally have done, but it walked a fairly good line between not annoying PvPrs who felt strongly that PvE gear should always be worse in PvP at equivalent levels because its "easier to get" (although if you were on the winning side of a population dominated server, that argument was a steaming pile of horse dung) and not making PvErs feel they were wasting their time getting drops that would only be useful if you felt like getting more drops.

    But there weren't all that many people who played the instances regularly. Why? Partly because the game was so heavily world-PvP focused that the PvE content was dwarfed in comparison, so no real culture of PvE play established itself in WAR as it did in, say, WoW. The servers were also populated with a lot of players who jeeringly looked down on anyone who spent any time in PvE as a carebear who must clearly do no PvP at all (despite the vast majority of PvErs being PvPrs as well), and that jeering got increasingly spiky when world battles were lost due to population imbalance - which was clearly the fault of anyone with a scheduled PvE run that evening as opposed to, say, the world campaign progression being almost wholly reliant on population imbalance, leaving the mechanics around controlling for it woeful at best.

    Detouring briefly, I should mention that the open-world PvE was pretty terrible. Mythic piloted the 'public quest' (PQs), where a group of people would get together to trigger a world event and then beat the heck out of a group of mobs and a minor boss for pathetically useless loot. They were shocked, shocked I tell you, when people got bored of these within a few weeks, with the developers having bet the farm on those being a major part of the game. Out of fear of how hardcore PvPrs would react to a reward increase in PQs encouraging farming, the rewards were left pathetic and much of the PvE portions of the map remained desolate for the duration of the game's lifetime. There was simply no good reason to go there except for sheer boredom, completionism, or hunting down rare tome unlocks and titles.

    And the less said about the decision to close the initial PvP campaign with three high level PvE instances the better. Fun though it was to lead a PUG to victory in one of those once upon a time, Mythic did, eventually, see sense and replace the endstage with a PvP "protect the PvE king" battle.

    So where I think the developer is right is that, in principle, if WAR had ratcheted up its PvE content then it could have more successfully gone after a larger PvE-focused playerbase, which would have help kept subscriptions and lifeblood in the game - and that might have given them the time and money they needed to turn themselves around. In practice, given that would have meant not focusing on the PvP side so much, I suspect it would have given them an even more serious headache.

    Where I think the developer is wrong is that it misses the point. Lack of PvE wasn't the reason for the severe population drops, it was that the game could all-too-easily cease to be fun. It lacked the sense of territorial ownership that DAOC did so well. The endgame PvP was ludicrously repetitive. The campaign system, whilst actually a good idea on many levels, made it incredibly difficult to add new areas for content - something that really should have been considered from the outset of designing it. The decision to allow every character to physically block every other character was great in terms of making positioning important, but placed hideous strain on the servers to the point where they'd crumble into slideshows during major battles - so being on a healthy, thriving, high population server was actually punished quite severely at the climactic points in combat. To the point where, in the early days, people who progressed the campaign did so by co-ordinating 3am attacks by groups of high level guilds who told no-one else about their plans.

    But perhaps above all that, was the two faction system. It could have worked, there's no reason on paper that it couldn't. But a two faction system will always be prone to a risk of population and/or power imbalance between the sides, so developers need to deeply and thoroughly consider how to counter this during the design phase and watch it like hawks when the game is live.

    Did they? Did they hell. The campaign stacked the rewards in favour of the population dominant realm which, ha ha ha, gave the dominant realm better PvP gear to use to further establish dominance even in smaller engagements. And on top of that, a dominant realm had more opportunities to get rewards in the first place. So the dominant winners were getting the game in 'easy mode', while the underdogs faced a 'hard mode' where difficulty kept ratcheting up. After a while, underdog players started to say "**** this" and switched servers or left the game, placing even more pressure on the remaining underdogs.

    After a tipping point was reached where the number of end-game underdogs quitting exceeded the number of newcomer endgame underdogs, the server fell into an unrecoverable death spiral. Eventually the underdogs morale would simply shatter (often if a key war-leader quit) and PvP would go onto farm mode fo the dominant faction. Eventually the population dominant faction started getting bored with the lack of opposition, and their players started openly calling for developers to intervene (or they left to do something with more challenging PvP).

    Once servers hit this point, the inevitable outcome was a server merge - often months later, with a huge number of players having exited the game in the process.

    Mythic's initial solution was to offer xp rewards to new players rolling onto underdog servers. And it sort-of worked. Except that you only have *so* many new players, and they had to enter the lower levels. Where they had an AMAZING time, being part of a population-dominant faction ripping seven hells out of the other side as they moved up between the tiers. Upon arrival in the endgame tier, they suddenly faced a total role reversal into hard mode with entry-level endgame gear against a larger, dominant, better-geared enemy and reacted with horror when the grizzled veterans amongst their fellow underdogs said "Yeah, it's like this most nights". We were accustomed to it, and had decent enough gear that it wasn't completely intolerable. They weren't, and didn't. I was a guild leader on one of those servers, and we saw a depressingly large number of our lower level players tail off in activity and then quit the game shortly after hitting the endgame stage.

    The first round of server merges was the next solution - effectively, "if we blow it all up and start again, it'll work better this time". Did it? Of course not. In our case, it just switched over which realm was in the dominant position. Any solution needed to be much more radical, but it was difficult to introduce a radical solution without also blowing up the entire campaign system - because the only way to reach the endgame was to capture and hold the world PvP objectives all the way back to the enemy's fortress (until they removed these due to lag issues), take it down, then do the same on another branch of the world and take down another fortress before the timer on the first one expired. Then you got to hit the enemy city.

    The odds of just happening to win that many engagements in a row with evenly matched sides were incredibly small. In the early days, Mark Jacobs said that city sieges would be rare, incredible events that the servers would talk about for weeks afterwards. What it actually meant was that you needed population imbalance to progress the campaign, and if you had a lack of population then over the long-run you were shafted. That was the root cause of the population death spirals. The game set the incentives, and the players lacked the tools to address it themselves, or the alternative content to keep them interested while a fix was put in place.

    On death-spiral servers, city sieges weren't rare events. They could very easily happen on an almost daily basis, all going just the one way. Mark Jacobs was fired.

    While I've no doubt the other leads at Mythic genuinely did care about WAR as much as Mark had, the overwhelming feeling as a player was that they were watching horrified from the sidelines, eyes wide and fingers jammed in their mouths, as the servers tore themselves apart, player population plummeted, and EA wstarted hoovered up their developers to work on SW:TOR instead.

    Mythic watched competitor MMOs adopt free to play models which allowed them to turn around and failed to introduce their own (allegedly they were working on something right up until the plug was pulled). They watched WoW steamroller them with major content expansions. They watched newcomers stealing some of their better ideas for their own games, then tempting players away. EA starved them of funding. Their most talented people saw the writing on the wall and found jobs elsewhere. And they never really found a way out of the hole.

    Which is a shame, because for all that I can dissect and rant about Warhammer Online...I absolutely loved it to bits as well.

    TL;DR

    WAR didn't die because of a lack of PvE.

    The root cause of its death was mind-numbingly stupid strategic development decisions on the PvP side that encouraged and rewarded population imbalance, which had the potential to go too far and make the servers effectively unenjoyable or unplayable, depending on your faction. It was difficult to add new content, couldn't cope with large numbers of simultaneous players, struggled to ease the transition of newer players into endgame content, was a nightmare to balance on just about every count imaginable.

    Having enough PvE content to make PvE play a viable alternative, or at least a better stopgap, might have helped slow down those server death spirals and kept some people from jumping ship, but it wouldn't have solved the problem.
    Cath, Wulf and Aetheling like this.
  2. -WCA-Vola Talron Moderator

    I havent read every post in this thread so sorry if im reposting something already said. But to be honest it seems that the pve is currently lacking depth. It could be something absolutely great. It should feel like you just plugged yourself into a dark and infested area that is crawling with the nids coming at you from all sides. Strategy and team play need to be a big factor in the mode if you want to survive but instead you just deal with slow waves of enemies and have to somewhat watch each other's backs while walking through a oddly well light room with some strange goo here and there. I understand that its just a rough start and that in time the pve will get better, but to be going against such fearsome and deadly enemies the atmosphere just doesnt feel right currently. Also adding in some better rewards and unique looking items would greatly help the pve element along with adding a quick way on the main menu to get to it. All of this is of course personal opinion.
  3. Call me when you get Deathwatch armor appearance as rewards for completing Hives.
  4. Don't forget the nice high ceilings as well, so the jump assaults can be used.
  5. I have many things to say about Warhammer Online.

    The PvE gear at times was better for specific builds for characters, until they raised the RR to 100 and do not bother to do anything else with the PvE. Still some items were better than their PvP counter parts, such as the Land of the Dead (Zandri) weapons.

    If you are interested there is Warhammer online Return of Reckoning, it is a per 1.3.6 server, so before they crapped on the keeps and guilds. They have released up to tier 4 content now, and are still working on more stuff.

    TOVL.
    @Kanthric
  6. The current state of PvE in this game is bad. I've beta tested game that thought more of PvE for levels 1-5 than is here.

    There is just a general lack of depth to it, also very little actual PvE content.
  7. Nanako Recruit

    Not enough xp or rewards.

    Since the devs removed the individual rewards for killing gaunts, and REPLACED IT WITH NOTHING, the amount of XP you get from a hive run has dropped by about 80%, no joke. Most of the experience, and hhence most of the point of playing it, has gone out of the window
  8. Turidas Steam Early Access

    Maybe they could try to add in some elements into the PvE that happens depending on what roles people are playing? For example the Assault Marines (with jump packs) just don't feel that useful to me. But if a team has one of them, maybe they will add in some objective that CAN be done by everyone (in case the Assault marine is dead), but would be MUCH easier with an assault. Perhaps having to get high up and then jump across something to make it fast (whereas without the assault, they'd have to run down and then run up from elsewhere), or some tyranids that takes cover (which they never do) and the assault marine is the best one to ambush them.

    And of course if you have the Devastator, in a previous example I brought up, there could be more attacks in hallways that they can mow down.

    This way, while not everyone can do everything best, everyone should get a role to make them perform better than the rest - and not feel like they were a burden.
  9. Kalenath Kalenath Subordinate

    Jump Assault units work well to kill Termagaunts that are sniping you from behind pillars, railings. That said, FEW of them can resist staying in melee there and get swarmed/eaten far from the rest.

    An objective that is easier with a specific class but still possible for anyone would be good.
  10. Aetheling Aetheling Steam Early Access

    I cannot thank you enough for wrighting this. I was a hardcore AoR player and PvE lover. Even when i got my warpforged, i still did PvE, tombs and things becasue they were fun, not to mention that the PvE areas and PQs were downright gorgeus and had good story.Thanks for pointing things out and, You absolutely have my support!

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