Sssh! I’m not here, honestly, I’m still afk. This post doesn’t exist it’s just a dream you had.
Thinking about ways to improve RvR I shifted my point of view from the end game to the mid game, so to speak. I know that high renown ranked players need something to do, and currently there isn’t much in the way of content for RR80 players (which is imo inherently a player problem rather than a game problem, but more on that some other time). I hope the next few patches address that and improve end game content, so the game can retain veteran players. But we don’t want the population to remain stagnant. We want to increase the player base. For this to happen we have to streamline the content and make it enjoyable from RR1 to 80. The biggest problem, I am sure most will agree, is the transient period when players are finishing with their career rank leveling and start attaining renown ranks in T4. It’s a huge speed bump and can turn many players away from the game.
Note: It’s a long post, scroll to the bottom for the tl;dr version, if that’s your fancy.
If we examine the ways of leveling when you enter T4, we see that there really aren’t many viable options. You can level up in ORvR, which is a slow process and involves running with the zerg and grabbing every bit of experience and renown you can. Because usually, organised groups won’t take in low RR or even sub CR40 players. Then you have the option of leveling by doing scenarios. You won’t be competitive at those levels and will most likely queue alone, because again, for organised group play higher ranked players are needed. This will result in an odd fun, balanced game when you end up in a scenario with both groups being composed of random players. But mostly you will either get obliterated by the opposition composed of organised high RR players, or obliterate them because you had the luck of ending up with an organised group on your side. The latter two usually aren’t fun, with the last one occurring seldom. This turns scenarios in a frustrating and slow way to level. Lastly, we have the option of leveling through PvE, which most players will opt for. Simply because you will be able to effectively kill mobs even if you are under-geared or lower ranked. It also yields much more experience than RvR, especially in LotD. It’s an obvious choice. But this effectively turns the last few ranks before hitting 40 into a boring PvE grind. You end up being behind in renown, currency and combat experience. In the end, you will wind up in pretty much the same situation as before you dinged rank 40.
I already outlined the change that would make ORvR more interesting of a choice for leveling in my Big ‘un post. Simply introducing a different way of splitting xp would make it much easier to level in ORvR, while scarcely having any negative impact on gameplay (at least in T4). But now let’s look at scenarios as a means to level.
There are two things that change scenarios from a fast, fun way of leveling in lower tiers into a frustrating and slow grind in T4.
- You are pitted against organised groups much more often. Before T4 they are almost non-existant.
- You fight against much higher RR players. The overall gear, combat experience and renown/mastery point gap is huge.
Organised groups is what WAR is balanced around. Careers are made so that they have to depend on each other to unleash their full potential. There is only a handful of careers that work very well in solo situations. It’s quite understandable that any group that regularly plays together, takes the time to devise their tactics and get on vent, will hand PuGers their behind. For all the whining this should not be changed. WAR is casual friendly enough and we do not want it to shift to support solo PvP instead of the current group focused PvP. When you get farmed in a scenario by an organised group it’s WAR’s way of saying “Either walk it off, make your own group or GTFO”. The game encourages you to group up.
Again, we don’t want to shift the focus from group play to solo play and start catering for the casual player who doesn’t want to group, rather than the organised group who enjoys playing together. So the most sensible suggestion that’s put forward is to introduce separate brackets for organised and random players. This isn’t viable as there are not enough players on most servers to support it, and it would lead into no scenarios popping at all (for one of those groups anyway). Some may argue that introducing cross-server scenarios would destroy the last bit of realm pride. Furthermore, it might be quite difficult to implement. I’d go as far as to say that because of the points outlined above, the current system shouldn’t be changed, as group play is the essence of the game. hopefully players know what they are getting themselves into when they start playing this game, and if they don’t figure it out until T4 they really don’t have any reason for whining (as Rancid would put it, they’re scrubs).
However, what we can change is the second aspect that makes it frustrating to enter scenarios as a fresh rank 40. This aspect is also a contributing factor to the problem of players refusing to organise themselves (“Why should we, we’re getting stomped anyway.”) Here’s an idea on how to close the gap between fresh rank forties and veteran characters:
Implement a separate bracket for players below RR41. You’ll ask how is this different from separating random and organised groups? Here’s the clever bit. You allow the players from the lower bracket (under RR41) to queue in the upper bracket (higher than RR40) if they wish, but not the other way around. The majority of population in T4 are players above RR40. This means that the upper bracket will always have more action. But the players in the lower bracket can opt to play against equal opposition. Only if there isn’t any, will they be forced to either choose the higher bracket, or not do scenarios at all. In a way, this change would only give the player more options and act like a bonus, rather than further restrain them. Not to mention the amount of lower ranked players queuing for scenarios should increase greatly with this system. additionally premades would be almost non-existant in the “junior” bracket. This also does not prevent people from playing together. Any lower ranked player/s that want to join their higher RR friends can do so.
I realise that getting from say RR20 to RR40 doesn’t take long, especially if we had balanced scenarios for that rank available, and that the gap between RR40 and RR70+ is still considerable. It’s quite appealing to imagine another bracket, say RR41-50, as that’s when most players feel they become competitive. It would sport the same system. You can queue up, but you can’t queue down. It would pit people of roughly the same renown rank against each other, unless they wished to face better opposition. But at the same time discourage organised groups in that bracket.
Nevertheless, I would be against creating more than 3 brackets or implementing them all the way to 80. Because you can only use this concept of queueing if you have one big pool of scenario players that serve as a back up for the other two smaller ones. For example, if RR71-80 had their own bracket there wouldn’t be quite as many people playing in that section. And if you assume that players will want to face opposition as close to their own RR as possible (RR41+ will rather queue for RR51+ than RR61+, but still rather RR61+ than RR71+) you’ll notice that on a fairly populated server this snowball effect won’t get to the highest bracket. This would have a negative effect on the frequency of the “elite” scenarios and FUBAR the whole system, as RR71+ people would have no one to play with. Imo implement brackets to max RR51, then pool the rest of the players together to create a big enough group to still retain a decent frequency of scenarios firing.
Note (statistics waffle): The above is based on my experience and Winkl’s WAR Stats (awesome website btw, wish EU had one), which I’ve taken a look at to estimate the breakdown by RR. It seems that the amount of active players both in RR1-40 and in RR41-50 is around a third of those in RR51-80 on most servers, which means that it’s a healthy number and 3 brackets might be doable. One concern might be, that there aren’t enough players in >RR40 and RR41-50 brackets and scenarios wouldn’t pop, but that is irrelevant as long as the majority of the players are in the uppermost bracket. Simply because if there are no pops in the lower one, you can and should queue for the higher one. Plus, I’m confident that scenarios in those brackets would see an increase in frequency, enough for a stable amount of them being played at or near primetime. If you think I’m wrong with any of this, feel free to comment.
Possible Problems? I honestly can’t see any. Except for people being confused about which bracket is active which would result in some of them being dead. To fix this, Mythic could implement a timer that tells you how long has it been since the last scenario in that bracket popped (along with a note if the bracket isn’t active that they should queue for one of the higher ones). That would give the player some idea on which group to queue for. Other than that, there are no problems with people being separated (except if you are a player who likes owning in a lower bracket, chicken!). There would be no problem with population since you always have a bigger pool to fall back on. And it in a way limits most of the organised groups farming lower ranked players. Sure there might be an odd lower ranked premade that would dominate a bracket for a short period, but this does in no way eliminate organised play in “junior” scenarios. You would still get random people creating scenario groups and coordinating a bit better than the opposition, but at least players will have a fighting chance through organising themselves aswell, and will no longer face a wall of RR80ies. Furthermore, organised groups would benefit from this as they would be more frequently playing against higher RR players (probably mostly at primetime).
In hindsight, I realised that this change might result in a negative backlash for scenario popularity. New players who are unaware of how things were before (oh the hardships we endured in the old days!) might rather not queue for scenarios at all if their bracket is dead. And just because they have the option to queue for a higher bracket doesn’t mean that they will. They might just idle and wait for their scen to pop. Maybe some sort of automated system that unifies the brackets after queue time <30 min would be in order, if this turns out to be true.
At the same time it realises a minor idea of mine, of a steady progression in T4 like in all other tiers. You get into the tier, get the feel for it, see how things are done and how combat changes. Then you start getting renown/combat rank and gear AFTER you’ve had the chance to adapt to the specific gameplay and learn react to new abilities careers get. For example; in T1 CC is limited to snares and an odd morale knockback (only IBs get a knockdown, nerf!). In T2 player encounters roots and more frequent and powerful knockbacks, with hard CC (knockdown, disarm, silence) being very mild. In T3 you’ll find most CC that there is in the game. But then in T4 there’s a massive amount of things to take in and adapt to. If you give the player time to learn about their career, the specific flow of combat and the playstyles unique to T4 by letting him play against players in a similar situation, it’s much less of a shock. And a much more pleasant of an experience. You get to learn how to swim in the kiddie pool before jumping into the big boys’ pool.
tl;dr: Divide scenarios into 3 brackets (>RR40, RR41-RR50, RR51-RR80) and allow lower RR players to queue for all higher ones but not the other way around. This would still only apply for players who have actually entered T4 and would not affect lower tiers.
Anyway, is this change a win/win situation? Let me know what you think. Oh and your initiative is low and the wall of text crits you for lots if you don’t see pictures, here’s an awesome painting by Zdizslaw Beksinski: