Skaven instance impression

I’ve participated in testing the new skaven RvRvE instance last Friday. I was there with balanced 3 full guild groups, which may have skewed my view on the whole thing a bit, so keep that in mind.

Yes I know, I’m late. Go away.

The test begun with us entering the portal at Martyr’s Square in Praag. The event was triggered by the developers so we still have no idea on how opening the portals is going to work, or what effect it will have on the campaign (apparently the campaign is halted while the instance is open). When we entered the instance there was a little preparation countdown timer, just like in city sieges and away we went. The instance was pretty much one-sided throughout the encounters, as destro trickled in late and in small numbers, while order warband quickly filled up. Later an organised destro group entered (Tainted I believe?), but they were outnumbered and late, so they didn’t have a visible impact on the whole instance. Which means that it was just a matter of fighting off small groups of destro, figuring out all 3 PvE encounters and finishing them.

When I first entered the instance it looked cool enough. Resembling an old mine shaft it promised an immersive dungeon crawl spiced up by encounters with destruction. But when the barrier fell, I realised that there’s really one big room looking like Warpblade Tunnels, only with more crap thrown around and with an even more confusing layout than WBT. The textures and models are stale, as apart from the bosses and a few objects they are reused from already existing content (which is understandable I guess).  But the main problem with the environment is that while the dungeon is quite big, it feels much smaller to the point where it’s claustrophobic, especially when you have two opposing warbands in it. This probably happens because the main room is surrounded by a number of very small winding tunnels which rarely open up into a room. The effective space is quite big, but the perceived space and space useful for RvR is small and very limiting. It’s like an arena, with bosses spawning in the middle and both sides rushing into them from their spawnpoints (which are random, as far as I remember there are three possible spawn points). So it’s not really a dungeon in its layout, which is a shame because I feel like it would work much better as a more linear, elongated dungeon with three big rooms.

There are some neat mechanics that make the boss fights entertaining (at least the first time around) even for people who don’t find PvE enjoyable. The problem on the PTS was that the bosses had way too much health which made the encounters boring and drawn-out. It seems that Mythic presumed, based on their metrics, that taking a regular 6-man boss, scaling him up to the damage of a 24-man warband, and multiplying his hitpoints by two or three, to compensate for the fact that there are two warbands in there, would make for a balanced boss with enough hitpoints to not be easily taken out when the other warband wasn’t watching, while making the encounter just long enough. Which turned out to be wrong, mostly because of the fact that two opposing warbands in there means that there will be less damage directed at the boss and not more. But that’s what PTS is for. In my opinion reducing the boss’ hitpoints by a factor of two or three would make for a much more enjoyable encounter.

And now for the most important part, the RvR. I don’t know how the whole thing plays and feels like if you have two evenly matched warbands in the instance, but I can tell you how it feels if you are against half your numbers. It felt… confusing. It wasn’t as enjoyable as the city sieges (even if you outnumber/are outnumbered) and the whole thing took way too long, which I’m sure will be fixed. Then there’s also the problem of the attacking warband being almost always at a disadvantage compared to the warband holding the middle, because of the importance of morales in warband play and the nature of the encounters that don’t require a tank (second one doesn’t, first one doesn’t if you know the old trick and third one is optional for the add) and don’t really damage anyone. Or they damage them too much, as the case may be with the second boss, which I find sort of silly. I can’t shake the feeling that even if Mythic fixes the above things and you have two balanced warbands in the instance, the encounters will still feel confusing and not as enjoyable as city sieges. Maybe it’s because mixing PvE into PvP takes the focus off it, and in turn with PvP going on, PvE loses it’s impetus and importance. I would like to see the hp problem fixed and fight against an equal group before making my final judgement.

Then there were little bugs like contribution being wonky and being able to remove debuffs from the encounter with a right-click. But there is one thing that irks me about the loot distribution (apart from the insane stats on the RR81-100 gear, Mythic is a PvP game!), which is a shift from the city siege system. Namely all of the boss mobs are PQs and you get loot based on your contribution, which is something we’ve grown accustomed to. But the problem is that the losing side gets to roll on the bags aswell, potentially screwing the winning side with a couple of lucky rolls. Why this shift now? Why shouldn’t the losing side just get some tokens as a consolation prize. It’s how it works in an almost identical environment, the city siege (identical in lockouts, limited availability, RvR encounter with some boss bashing, important loot with PQ rolls). I’ll admit that this could be a bug, as I haven’t looked into it, but if it’s an intended change it is very puzzling.

All in all, I can’t help but feel disappointed. It really wasn’t what I expected and I don’t think that the current design can be made to feel as fun and engaging as the existing RvR/PvE content. I heard an idea that I think might really work much better, which is change the instance to contain several rooms with 2 phases interchanging. The first phase is fighting the destruction warband, with win-o-meter gauging the fight. The side that wins, gets to fight the boss, as they are exciting enough in their own right. The losing side gets consolidation prizes and can participate in the next stage. I have no idea what the losing side gets to do when the winning side is killing the boss, so that needs to be worked on. I guess we need to see what Mythic’s next move is, but so far it’s not very promising.

PS: Mythic, you really need to fix your bug where rooted bosses bug out and don’t attack if you stand at max melee range.

The picture below is not from the skaven instance testing but from the last T3 PTS test. I guess Carrie likes cows. :o

Below is a video a guildie took of the encounters. They’re not whole and not all of them, but it should give you a general idea on how it looks like.

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