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.

Summary of the Trove AMA with Avarem

First of all, for those who aren’t interested in Trove: Please excuse the “imbalance” here in this blog recently. But I’m sure that every gamer understands the excitement when a new game launches. Expect this to change in favour of Guild Wars 2 again, once the expansion launches (whenever that might be… *cough*). :)

Two days ago, Avarem posted an AMA on the official forums and it was met with a lot of enthusiasm. Reading through the countless posts he made can also be quite a lot of work, so I thought I should pick out some personal highlights to ramble about them here.

Trove Login Screen

What is pretty clear from the way he responded to people asking about queues etc., is that Trion did not expect so many new players. I get that queues happen every time an online game launches. I remember ArcheAge (yes, also published by Trion) having queues with a few hours of waiting time when it launched. Trove, at least, had queues of under one hour. They kept writing that they added more servers and did optimizations and that we should see the queues disappear or get shorter but for me, queues were at a consistent 30 to 50 minutes. Apparently, demand grew as fast as the (server) supply did. Looking at Steam, where the game got released as well, revealed that they were in Steam’s “top 10 games played” (no. 5 right now). I seriously believe them when they say they did not expect to have such a popular game! It seems that they took highest priority (as they should) which means that content updates are not the highest priority right now. I assume once the launch dust has settled, we will get lots of new goodies. Some of which Avarem talked or hinted about already in this AMA. But enough about queues. They are annoying to deal with and they are no more fun to write about either and it’s much more fun to look at what’s coming to Trove next.

Even before launch, the playerbase had asked for a better trading system. Currently, you need to be online at the same time and stand at the same trading post to initiate a trade. This can be a bit difficult to achieve especially when you want to trade with somebody from another time zone. But even back then, Trion already said that they will give us some easier method to trade and that it will come post-launch. This “trading system” is coming. No details yet, other than that it will be “more automated“.

In the beginning, Trion said that Trove will not get PvP. And I get it: They keep adding new classes and I would imagine it to be very difficult to balance them properly. So, “serious PvP” is out of the question (my personal opinion here!). But they have since changed their mind when it comes to “no PvP at all!” and they are working on some fun “Trovey” PvP. The important part for those who cannot stand PvP: It will not be mandatory – and probably not too serious. They are already working on the next new class, but it has no biome yet. It will have a new weapon type. At some point in the future, they will look at all classes again to see if they need some improvements (and maybe we will see some balancing for PvP, but who knows…)

Trove Ship Chaotic Clipper

When it comes to “more stuff to do”, something called The Shadow Tower will come to Trove next. Unfortunately, it seems to come before the underground update which has already been postponed before. Poor thing… other content keeps pushing in front. ;) Anyway, they will show or talk about The Shadow Tower more in their livestreams (on Twitch, usually on Fridays). Speaking of their livestreams: Inventory space will get an expansion, apparently, and this is another thing that they will talk about in their next livestream.

The Neon City biome is currently not part of the challenges, but it will be added in the future. Some lore may also be added to Trove at some point. At the moment, there is hardly any backstory to the game. They had some in the tutorial, but I’m not sure if they took it out again.

Clubs may see some love. I left out some ideas Avarem mentioned or ideas from players that he liked, as it sounded more like an “if we can somehow make it work” and less of a “this will come”. Avarem himself, at least, doesn’t give many details or specific ideas other than this: “Future of clubs: more building, more connection to the game, more progression.

For those on Macs, there’s good news for you: They are working on a Mac client! For those in Oceania, hoping to reduce latency, there aren’t such good news: They don’t have a data center in Oceania, so there are currently no plans to add servers located over there.

There is no policy about multiboxing yet, but we will hear from Trion about that soon, apparently.

One last thing: Since Avarem replied to somebody who has issues logging in, I thought it’s worth mentioning it here as well. If you have problems, send an email to support@trovegame.com – this is where you will get help! They also look at what bugs people are reporting, so they can work on fixing them. Considering how many new players have joined Trove recently, I would assume you need some patience until you get a reply, but yeah, there you go. :)

Bookahneer’s Geekwatch (November 25, 2014)

Guild Wars 2 Bookahneer's GeekwatchWelcome to today’s Bookahneer’s Geekwatch! The place about miscellaneous interesting gaming news.

There was no new update today in Guild Wars 2, but as is custom on the non-update Tuesdays, we got to see a short teaser for next week’s update. Be warned, though, before you click on anything: If you haven’t played through last week’s update, this video may contain spoilers! If you have played through the story already or if you don’t mind spoilers, then go ahead, click this link and enjoy the video. :)

Next week, we will not just get an update to the living story, we will also get quite a few changes for sPvP. Mostly on how matchmaking works (see the official blog post for more information) and changes to queueing, a system to vote on maps to play on and a bit more. Again, see this official blog post for more information. The best news: Since you need to stay in the Hearts of the Mist while queued, you will find services like the trading post there with the update!

Because of the upcoming changes, there will be an episode of Ready Up tomorrow at 12 pm PST (should be 9 pm Berlin/Paris time). “Ready Up” is their PvP-related Twitch livestream.

 And in case you are interested in Guild Wars 2, but haven’t bought it yet or know somebody who would like to get the game, it’s currently on sale again on the official website (you can only buy the digital versions there!).

But Trove has stuff on sale as well. Block Friday has the starter packs 50 % off! The official store currently does not list the sale, which is very weird. But when you add the starter pack to your cart, it shows the discounted item. Please also note that credits are not on sale.

The Primal Pack currently costs 8.99 €, the Hero Pack is 22.49 € and the Voxstar Pack is 44.99 €. According to the recent patch notes, this sale will last “this week only”. I would assume this means from Tuesday to next Monday, but I’m not certain. You can also buy those packs from within the client where it’s actually showing the correct prices! :)

Trove_Block Friday Sale
“This week only”

I’m sorry if this all sounds a bit like an advertisement for those two games. I guess it is, in a way. But as always: I would never tell anybody to go and buy a game. Only do so if you really want to buy it and if you do, well, then a sale is the best time to actually spend that money, right? :p

Now excuse me, my candy barbarian is calling for me as she wants to gain another level tonight. ;)

Edit: Ohohoh! I am so excited to see that they added an extra line to the terraformer items’ tooltips! You may remember me writing in my Second Impressions Review

Then we decided to expand the club world and added a few more biomes. What we did not know: Everything built within 40 to 50 blocks from the border of where the new biome will be placed will get destroyed. The tower got hit and disappeared and with it all the items we had placed there.

I had sent in feedback and just now, when I looked at the terraformers, I saw that they added a new line to the tooltip. It now says:

BE WARNED – this will destroy everything in that zone, as well as the borders of the adjacent zones.

I cannot tell you how happy I am that they added this! Too late for us, of course, but I hope it will keep other players from losing their buildings and losing precious hours of work.

Trove_Terraformer_BE WARNED
BE WARNED – this will destroy everything in that zone, as well as borders of adjacent zones.

Pondering about which profession to choose…

WoWScrnShot_041710_184501When I wrote about my favourite profession in Guild Wars 2, I was looking at the topic from a pure PvE point of view. This entry is about WvW now.

I used to play World of Warcraft on a PvP server and I always hated it. As soon as I got the chance to get away (because I founded a guild with friends on a PvE server and later transferred to join a guild that bookahnerk had been with back in Ultima Online who are also on a PvE server), I left and never looked back.

The ironic part is that I actually love open world PvP. However, and here’s the big caveat: There have to be “safe” zones and going to either (PvE or PvP) zone has to be optional. I want to decide when I want to PvP or PvE! I do not want some random player who passes by to make that decision for me. Especially since that usually meant players that were much higher in level or had much better gear and thus, much better chances than me.

Defending a tower.
Defending a tower.

I found out how much I enjoy PvP when I played Warhammer Online. For those who don’t know: The game has 4 tiers, which are basically four level ranges. Each tier had different zones that belonged to the different race pairings. For example, dwarves and greenskins. So there you were, a level 5 player in the dwarf/greenskin T1 area. You could either do your PvE – regular quests or public quests (events) – or hop into the RvR lake which was marked on the map with a brownish border. When you entered the area that was marked as RvR, you got a warning and had a few seconds time to run back in case you did not want to get flagged.

This is what I miss most in my current MMOs. The ease of joining RvR when you wanted to (PvE and PvP was on the same map in each zone) and do PvE if you wanted to do that. There were clear borders (on the map, at least, not in the world per se). Joining was as easy as setting a foot into the area.

Guild Wars 2 Mini Lion CubAll this long-winded history of my gaming habits is just here to explain what I love about “world PvP”. For some reason, Guild Wars 2’s WvW hasn’t sticked with me yet. I’ve been in there a couple of times (almost literally) and I enjoyed my time there, but it seems to be so distant from the rest of the game that I find it hard to get in there, but yesterday, ArenaNet talked about the upcoming WvW area Edge of the Mists, and it makes me want to get into WvW!

The problem here is: As much as I love melee and swords in PvE, I do not like playing melee in PvP. So, the warrior is basically out. I did think about taking my mesmer there, but I really dislike that she’s so slow… or I’d have to get builds that make use of the focus which is a reliable way of getting some swiftness. On the other hand: Maybe this weapon IS the perfect one to use in WvW?

All I know is that I want something tricky to play. The warrior is too straight-forward. I absolutely loved playing a frost mage in World of Warcraft’s Burning Crusade. That mage was about controlling, freezing, slowing, the enemies. Making sure they can’t hit you. Something like that would be great. And this is why I’m rambling about this topic. Maybe some of our readers can help me here. Which profession would resemble such a playstyle in Guild Wars 2? Maybe the engineer? Anything tricky that isn’t melee… it’s okay if it’s not easy to play. I get used to it… I hope. ;)

Guild Wars 2: A FAQ for new players

You may already know the first version of this FAQ. I decided to rewrite it, update it and put newer screenshots in. So here is the new version. A very special thank you goes to Tasha Darke for reading through it all. I was hoping for a few bits of corrected grammar but she gave me very valuable feedback on top of that!

This FAQ is mostly for those who have just recently heard of Guild Wars 2 and now want to know more. If you have been following the game for years or even just months, if you have pre-purchased the game and if you have already played it, you are welcome to read it as well, but you will find a lot of information that you already know.

Since the game is still in development a lot of things are subject to change (yes, believe it or not, ArenaNet is handling the Beta Weekend Events like a real beta and is still changing things around). Also, new information comes out every now and then which might outdate what you can read here. If you notice any of that – or just errors that I’ve made – please comment (with sources if possible).

I am going to use the same categories that I have used for my “Rift vs. Lotro vs. WoW” posting already.

If you only want a very short overview, the following will hopefully be enough. There are lots of links leading you further down my posting if you want more information!

Before we start, we need to get two questions out of the way (as suggested by Pyzlnar on Reddit):
“Yes, you can jump!” – and no, this game is not an Asian-grinder and it is not made by an Asian company. It’s made by ArenaNet who is located in Seattle, Washington, USA (though they do belong to NCSoft but they only work as a publisher here while ArenaNet is the developer and thus, actually makes the game). Guild Wars 2 will also feature an open world and will not be heavily instanced like Guild Wars 1 is. Again, thank you, Pyzlnar, for these suggestions. You were right, they’re clearly missing and should be the first two points in any GW2 FAQ. ;)

OMG! When’s the beta? How do I get in?
If you have pre-purchased the game, you are automatically invited to all beta weekend events planned to take place roughly once a month until release. Do not confuse it with a preorder, though. Pre-purchasing means you pay the game in full! Beta keys are also available through giveaways and competitions from a variety of fan and gaming websites.
Wait, what?

How much does the game cost? Which extra security against hacked accounts do they offer?
You will have to buy the game itself but there will be no monthly fees. Without monthly fees, the follow-up costs are basically voluntary as there will be a real money shop (called “gem store”), but stuff you buy there will not give you more power and thus, won’t be required for the gameplay. Gems, the shop’s currency, can be bought in the game’s auction house (here called the Trading Post) for in game gold. Nothing is known yet about security like authenticators. There will very likely be system for account restorations in case you were hacked.
More on costs and security

What can I play and how do I play? – Races, professions and combat mechanics
You will be able to choose from 5 races: Norn, human, asura, charr and sylvari. Each race can be each of the 8 professions (often also called “classes”) in the game: Engineer, Thief, Guardian, Warrior, Elementalist, Necromancer, Ranger and Mesmer.

There is no holy trinity anymore! “Holy trinity” refers to characters that tank (the foes focus on the tank and leave the other players alone), characters that heal and characters that deal damage. In Guild Wars 2, every profession is self-sufficient up to a certain point and you will be able to play with any combination of professions without having to wait for “another healer” or “a tank”. Professions can interact with each other through their skills and support others.
More about races and professions

What does the game look like?
In short: Gorgeous, artsy, picturesque if you ask me. As with all games’ graphics, this is very subjective. Have a look at the various screenshots you can find online and decide for yourself if you like it.
Pictures and videos outsourced to below in order to keep the part up here short.

What’s there to fight against (PvE)?
First things first, there will be no regular raids in this game as you may know them from WoW or SWTOR! Instead, dynamic events in the open world that scale for up to 100 players. There will be several dungeons to play which will each have a story mode and the more difficult explorable mode. There will be no standard quests for playing either. The closest you will get to regular quests will be your personal storyline.
More about PvE

Who’s there to fight (PvP)?
There are 2 modes of PvP – Structured and World vs World.
Structured PvP, also known as Conquest, is somewhat similar to battlegrounds (WoW) or warzones (SWTOR) except everybody will be max level and have all weaponry and armor available to them straight out of character creation. So no gear advantages. 2 Teams (hot join or premade) fight it out on different maps for Glory, a currency which can be spent on better looking equipment and other (as yet unannounced) rewards.
World vs. world vs. world (frequently abbreviated to WvW) is the second mode. Three worlds (servers) will fight against each other for guild recognition and bonuses which affect the entire world. Players cannot fight players from the same server,as there are no factions, and while characters are buffed to have the basic stats as a level 80 character, gear and traits are not levelled (but you do earn experience in WvW which means that you can level your character in WvW). Servers will rotate every two weeks.
More about PvP

Grouping and socialization
In Guild Wars 2, you will be able to join more than one guild with one single character (I assume you will be able to create more than one character. So don’t misunderstand this sentence ^^). If you want to read our opinion about it, go here. If you don’t, well that’s just as well. ;)
Grouping will be in the game but it will not be forced on you like it is in other games. For example, you can attack a mob that another player is currently fighting. As you both contribute to the kill, you will both get the same amount of experience points and loot that you would have gotten if you had fought the mob on your own! In other words: Kill-stealing will not be possible!
More about Grouping and Socialization

I want to be on my own sometimes (- or: What can do I solo?)
The first thing that comes to my mind is the personal storyline. When creating your character, you get asked a few questions and can choose between different answers. That determines the starting point of your personal story. Other choices later on will further determine how your story evolves. You can bring a friend along to your storyline. But it will essentially be your story.

Guild Wars 2 will also have achievements. So that’s something you can do. You can also roam the world on your own or play a lone wolf in WvW – though I’m not sure how viable the latter is, apart from escorting the odd caravan. ;)
More about stuff to do solo

Crafting
There are 8 crafting skills to choose from and you can have two at a time: Weaponsmith, Huntsman, Artificer, Armorsmith, Leatherworker, Tailor, Jeweler and Cook.
Every character can gather all resources provided you have the correct gathering tool equipped which can be bought from merchants for gold or karma. A resource node can be used by several players, so it is not possible to steal such a node from under another player’s nose.
More about crafting

Fluff
There will be mini-pets just as in Guild Wars 1. Activities have also been announced but there haven’t been any recent details on them. “Bar brawl” was one of the activities mentioned, for example.

You will also have a home instance which is an entire district in the capital city of your character’s race. The home instance automatically changes with your personal story but you can’t change anything yourself (like putting furniture in).

Also, you will be able to change the way your armor looks. And there will be 400 different dyes in the game. Each piece of armor has 1 to 3 areas that can be dyed.
More about fluff

That was the short version. Its bigger brother will follow now, which also includes links for further reading. Most of the information can be found on ArenaNet’s blog or in the official wiki for Guild Wars 2.

Click here to see the full entry