Paeroka’s Ponderings: Gear and level-advantages in PvP

Paeroka's Ponderings featured image for column

Some time ago, I read a topic in the German section of the Black Desert Online forum where a player suggested that the game’s PvP may be better if there were no level-advantages as a higher level gives better stats, for example. He was laughed at by others and called “carebear” for wanting that. Unfortunately, I cannot find the thread anymore – but it would be in German anyway. But this is apparently how PvP should work and it is good this way: If you spend a lot of time in the game, you should have an advantage over those who play less often or are new to the game – other than the already mentioned increased experience and skill in playing your character, of course!

I admit, I am a carebear. I am a huge big carebear! – Why? Because I think that being able to win against somebody who has no chance whatsoever at all, no matter how skilled that player may be, simply because I am higher level and/or have better gear, is a horrible design flaw of PvP in a lot of MMOs. If some new player comes in and has not played the game much but knows how to play so much better than me, then kudos to him! He should be able to win against me. I, on the other hand, should not win simply because I have been playing longer and managed to get my character in better gear. I was just very surprised to see that somebody asking for an even playing field and letting skill and experience decide a battle rather than stronger gear and higher level, is called a carebear. Some people…

Warhammer Online Chicken in Tier 1

Let’s look at other MMOs, though: Warhammer Online, for example, had four different PvP (here called “RvR”, but I’ll continue using PvP to not mix up the terms all the time) tiers and bolstering up. The first tier was for levels 1 to 11. So right from the start, you had your map with PvE zones and PvP zones. If your low level 1 entered the tier 1 PvP zone, it got bolstered up in stats to level 11. It was still weaker than a “real” level 11, but at least, you got much closer to the other player. The best part, however, was when you were too high level for a given tier – in our example, when your character turned level 12 – that you were turned into a chicken which could be one-shot by other players. You regularly had people in chat say: “Okay, that’s it. See you in tier 2” and then you could see the chicken run out of the PvP zone as fast as their little feet could carry them. I do remember some heated discussions about this feature before the game launched but Mark Jacobs stood by that decision. Of course, simply getting downscaled would have been the better option in my opinion, as that would have freed up the whole game to you once you were max. level instead of restricting you only to the highest tier. But I still think the chicken mechanic is better than having high level players repeatedly kill low level players. Especially when you consider that low level players also may be new players which are kind of important to keep in an MMO… ;)

GW2 sPvP with level 2
All specializations are unlocked, even though my character is only level 2. In PvE, you need to work towards unlocking the specializations first

Guild Wars 2’s sPvP (instanced PvP) goes even further: No “artificial” bolstering up, but being at maximum level with exactly the same stats and exactly the same gear as everybody else! When I heard that they were doing it like that, I got pretty excited! Those who have a lot of time (and who are usually the ones with the highest level and the highest gear in other MMOs) are probably also those who get the most practice and as such they will have an advantage over people like me anyway. However, there are also those who do have a lot of time on their hands, who do get a lot of practice and who may turn out to be worse than somebody with less practice but quicker reflexes or whatever the reason. I ask again: Is this bad? Am I a carebear if I say that this is how it should be? That skill should determine the winner of a battle and not the playtime, the level or the gear that a player acquired?

Thankfully, we have so many games around that I think everybody can find a game that does it the way they prefer. So, I know that even though Black Desert Online looks like an interesting game, it is not the game for me. I do prefer Guild Wars 2 where level and gear don’t matter!

 

I regularly have rants and ramblings in my mind, but never really know if I should post them, so “Paeroka’s Ponderings” is where I will try to give these rants a place. Sometimes they will make sense, sometimes they won’t.

Quality of Life changes in Wildstar (Blaugust Post 11)

Carbine made a list of the top 10 Quality of Life changes that they will take a look at. I can see two that stand out for me already:

  1. Account-wide Toy Box
  2. Auction House and Commodities Exchange UI Improvements

In Wildstar, there are toys which are reusable little gimmicks, basically. Sparkling spurs, for example. These toys are definitely not necessary, but nice to look at or play with. The problem with them is that you need to store them somewhere. Some – or all? – are also bound to your character which means that every character has them in their inventory or in their bank. As much as I like having these toys, I do not use them that often that I really like the idea of having them fill my inventory. If they were like the pets or the mounts, it would be perfect: You unlock them with a character and can then click on a drop down menu to choose one. At least, the mounts work that way. For the non-combat pets, you unlock them, too, and then there is a mod that you can install which gives you such a drop down menu. Without the menu, you can still click somewhere in the interface. In any case, neither mounts nor pets clutter your inventory.

And then there is “Auction House and Commodities Exchange UI Improvements” – Those two features could really need a make-over. The functions themselves are pretty nice. For example, it warns you if you want to put something up for sale that’s less than you would get when you sold it directly to an NPC (also calculating in the AH fees and tax). However, every time I put something up for sale in the commodities exchange window, it scrolls back up to the very top again. I usually sell things sporadically, so there’s a lot of different items that I want to put up for sale. Having to find where I was in the list and scrolling to that spot again can be a bit annoying. I usually don’t want to sell just everything and try to keep the things I may need for my own crafting professions. And I skip those items that are only worth the vendor price. So sometimes, there is more scrolling than anything else. I would at least hope that “UI improvements” would cover this and make it all a bit less cluttered while keeping the functionality, because that one is cool.

Wildstar Commodities Exchange UI window

One thing I would really love to see – not just in Wildstar, but also in Guild Wars 2 – would be a little box to tick “only show useable”. Rift has this and it is so convenient when you’re looking for something you have not yet unlocked. For example, armor and weapon skins or dyes in Guild Wars 2. I just really don’t like having to scroll through everything and look at each tooltip or keeping an external list of items I still need.

Rift livestream: Information about the expansion (Blaugust Post 6)

Rift_Starfall Prophecy_5 new zonesI fell asleep yesterday trying to follow the Rift livestream with information about their expansion “Starfall Prophecy”. So I decided to read up on what was said, but I couldn’t find anything online (if there is, please point me to it!). I’m listening to it now and figured I could also just write down what I hear and share it with you here in this blog. This may not be a complete list as I may have missed something. Additionally, I had trouble understanding them sometimes (not a native speaker, so please keep that in mind – if I got anything wrong, feel free to correct it in the comments! :) ). Basic information about the expansion can be found on the official expansion’s website.

Dungeons and Raids

  • 2 dungeons at launch: One for life and one for fire
  • They said “very very polished dungeons”
  • They do have plans for more future dungeons, but only two at launch
  • Dungeons will be shown on Gamescom and PAX (possibly the fire one?). Personal note: No show booth at Gamescom. They’ll be in the press hall only!
  • Raid: Will probably launch with 4.1, to give the raid team more time to polish. Along with the raid, they will release the “looking for raid” feature.
  • It’s going to be a 10 man raid. Focus will be on 10 man raids from here on. No 20 mans on the schedule
  • Some invite-only alpha tests for players

Maps

  • Alittu as starting point for expansion. First quests will be from here.
  • Not going to replace Tempest Bay. Tempest Bay will remain the city for players where you can find everything you need.
  • Size of the new zones: Will be shown at Gamescom. Personal note: No show booth at Gamescom. They’ll be in the press hall only!

Legendary Abilities

  • One point per character from 66 to 70 (5 points in total per character)
  • How deep you’ve gone into a soul determines how many points you can spend in that soul. 61 points = Unlock up to 3 legendary abilities in that soul
  • Modified upgraded versions of abilities, not completely new ones.
  • Website only shows a couple of examples – All examples are still subject to change!
  • Rogue: 61 points in Bladedancer allows you to have two rhythmic actions going at once with a legendary ability
  • Warrior’s Bull Rush (Champion Soul): Teleports and roots the enemy for 1.5 seconds. The new version can only be cast within 3 metres, but it will knock the enemies back and then you charge to them
  • Not every ability has a legendary ability, but they’re targetting for 5 to 7 per soul.

Rift_Starfall Prophecy Legendary Abilities

Fortress Sieges

  • New zone event mechanic
  • Purely PvE, no PvP. Chat asked a few times whether it could be made into a PvP feature – no reply to that question as far as I could hear
  • For a lot of players at once
  • Event starts with a lot of solo content (“do some stuff with walls, fight some stuff back”). Further through the siege the content becomes group-based, then raid-based (for public groups) with a boss at the end

Planar Assault Mode

  • “Basically rifts 4.0” (Archonix got that wrong and called the Fortress Sieges “rifts 4.0” at first, then Julia came into the room to correct that a few minutes later)
  • You’re not directly going to the other planes in the expansion until you do Planar Assault adventures.
  • Similar to instant adventures: you queue up and you’re dropped into the planes to fight a rift or many rifts. We’re basically doing some invading back
  • There will be a whole livestream dedicated to the Planar Assault Adventures later on

Prepurchasing the expansion

  • If you purchased the expansion, starting on Wednesday you will get 5 extra Starfall Prophecy tickets to make up for the 1 or 2 missed ones on August 4/5
  • 40 slot bag for Starfall Prophecy Tokens is unique
  • Opie is one per character. Opie’s jump ability helps you in reaching artifacts, but there won’t be artifacts that require Opie to reach them!

PvP

  • New bracket for levels 65-70
  • I don’t think anything else was said about PvP at this point.

Items/Gear

  • Planar Fragments: customize your gear, tweak the stats.
  • New way to upgrade equipment: Activities out in the world, similar to a quest. E.g., for a helmet to upgrade you’d need to close 10 rifts or do 10 warfronts.
  • New item rarity: Eternal items. Special but rare items as in there won’t be that many in the world. Colour will be Aqua-blue, new tooltip frame just for this rarity. Not much information what exactly this will be or where/how you can get it.
  • How big is the gear jump? Should players still try to get T3 raid gear? It’ll give you a leg up. Maybe you’ll be able to upgrade these items to get even more of a leg up.
  • Crafted 70s replacing 65 transcended gear? – too early to talk about that yet

Monetization

  • Why the change to “buy to play”? – They need to earn the money, of course, but did not want to monetize on things like earring slots as they did with Nightmare Tide, or charge for pieces of the expansion. Vladd added in the chat: “To be clear, some planar fragment slots will need to be unlocked but it will be through in-game means, not paywalls.”
  • Lockboxes and other monetization will stay.
  • Expansion will not be sold for credits
  • Earring slots unlocked with buying this expansion? – Currently no, but they are discussing it internally!

Miscellaneous

  • Everything you need to know about the lore will be in the expansion. You’re not missing out if you didn’t do the raid “Comet of Ankhet”.
  • Some of the old world heroes will be accompanying you: Shyla, for example
  • They don’t know if the level 65 boost will be tradeable
  • Crafting, dimensions, stuff for guild – not talked about, but they will talk about these later
  • Players without the expansion: If it’s e.g., a new crafting recipe to craft a dimension key, then they will be able to get that dimension (and the recipe, too, if it’s tradeable)
  • New Sparkle quest for 70s, but not directly at launch. You need to be level 70 to be using the rewards from the 70 sparkle quest.
  • Fishing: New 70 version of a fishing pole – no promise, but it’d be cool
  • They internally have a launch date and they are on track
  • 64 bit alpha delayed, they gave a reason, but to be honest, I didn’t understand it, so I won’t write it down here (something with double build size and double build time)
  • Primalist souls: 4 still missing. They’ll be coming out next year

Rift: Starfall Prophecy’s Launch Date speculation (Blaugust Post 5)

While the next expansion for Rift “Starfall Prophecy” has been announced yesterday and pre-purchases are live, we do not know a launch day yet. But we did get some kind of estimation. Since bookahnerk and I just did some counting, I figured I would share it here, so others can save that time. :p

Rift_Starfall Prophecy Token rewards

Here is what we know so far:

In order to get all three rewards, you will need 85 tokens and thus, it takes 85 days to get those tokens. Counting 85 days into the future puts us at October 27, but that is without the “little cushion” they mentioned. This is pure guessing, of course, but I would say 5 days as cushion. Mostly because “90” is a nice number to remember. :p This would move the possible launch date to November 1. And we know it won’t be close to Christmas and definitely before December 20.

In other words, we know it will be between October 27 and December 19. But my guess is that the expansion will launch in November, maybe in the first week of December, even though I don’t think they want to get into December as people’s minds are halfway in Christmas holidays already. At the same time, planning for November means that they do have a little bit of time left to “postpone” the launch in case something goes wrong and they need more development time than anticipated.

 

Rift’s “Starfall Prophecy” revealing (Blaugust Post 2)

While I was having guests over, the Rift universe got expanded – well, not yet. But apparently, there was a sneak peek or leak or a bug revealing the next expansion.

Since the screenshots are still available and public in the official forums, I’ll just assume that writing about what the players found is fine with Trion. At this time, a lot of things are still unclear: From the sound of it, it may be that this expansion will end the “all of the content for free”-phase of Rift and Starfall Prophecy will be “buy to play”. I actually would not mind this at all. We all know that a company has to earn money to survive and keep on developing and paying their employees. If making the expansion “buy to play” leads to a) a good quality expansion and b) less changes that seem shady to the players, then I’m happy. There is a Standard Edition for $39.99 and a Deluxe Edition for $59.99. The Deluxe Edition will include an Ethereal Drake mount. Since this information was leaked early, all of this is probably still subject to change! That level 65 boost would be really nice, though. I am not sure which of my characters would get it, but eh, doesn’t really matter. I just like having more characters at max level in case I ever decide to switch my main character again. ;)

Either way, I am excited about getting a new expansion. I haven’t even played through the latest new map yet – which I guess isn’t even so new anymore at this point. For the time being, I’ll just try to remain calm and hopeful that we will not get to spend any more time underwater! I’m also not a big fan of their lore – or parts of their lore, at least. So, as long as the scenery is nice, I’ll be happy (which was the case with the underwater areas, but I really dislike being underwater, so that expansion wasn’t for me at all).

They may reveal everything on their Friday stream on Twitch and with the heads-up, I know I’ll have to put some money aside, so I can get the expansion and I’m hoping for the best: That I’ll be positively surprised and very excited about getting another expansion! – Update 5.15 pm: Never mind. Massively has reported about the expansion now, so we are getting a lot more information already. I expect to see something from the expansion in Friday’s livestream instead as well as getting even more details on what the new features will include. My favourite so far is the “planar assault mode” which sounds like it will be instant adventures with rifts instead of running around in an area and doing quests there. I really enjoy the rifts in the game, so I am curious to see this feature!

(This is post 2 for Blaugust)