Tier 4.5 – Isle of the D(r)ead

In my last post, where I ranted about things Mythic needs to fix, I put separating the RR80+ crowd from the rest as a top priority. I also mentioned I’ll be fleshing out an idea that achieves that. As you correctly assumed from the title, it takes the form of a new tier. Now before you get up from your chair and start shouting at the monitor I should tell you that it’s not a regular tier. Just calm down and read on.

The basics

First, for some goal setting. While this idea is quite fleshed out and, in my opinion, wouldn’t take that much work to implement, Mythic might want to take just the basics and put their own twist to it. Which is fine. But here is the gist of the matter, the goals they should strive to achieve aswell:

1. Separate the RR80+ crowd from the >RR81 crowd.

I’ve talked about this in my previous post quite extensively. The power gap is too big and warrants separating the two groups.

2. Open the new tier to players of all ranks and allow both crowds to access both tiers.

The goal is not to completely wall off any player that dings 81, but rather to give those players a chance to fight against someone their own size in an area where they won’t feel bad about attacking anyone that passes by, on the account of him being a lowbie. Which means that this zone could be seen as more of a funzone, a tier 4.5 so to speak, and not a full tier. It wouldn’t have any impact on the progression of the overall campaign, it would just be somewhere higher ranks can hang out amidst their own.

If they feel like it, they can still return to other zones and PvP there and players below RR81 can PvP in the new zone if they want, but not without some drawbacks.

3. Reward the higher ranked players for playing in the new tier.

The best thing to motivate those trying to rank up is giving them renown. In this case, bonus renown. I was thinking of a anywhere between 20-50% permanent renown bonus while in the zone. This is enough to encourage players  to PvP in the new zone, while having them work for their renown as usual. This would also lessen the grind to RR100 a bit so the players don’t burn out as easily (which is frankly, their own fault). All the normal renown modifications would apply, such as Against All Odds and of course the anti-afk measure would be in effect.

Anyone not over RR80 would not get any kind of a renown bonus. But at the same time, anyone lower than RR81 wanting to play in the new zone would have to be quite presistent, since there wouldn’t be any advantage to doing that, more of a disadvantage with most of the players in the zone outranking you and therefore being harder to kill. I can’t envision players wanting to play in the new tier after the novelty factor wears off and the zone start getting dominated by the higher ranked players.

Possible issues

There are a number of problems with this brilliant idea, the first being that not everyone wants to fight honorably and wants to go against players of their rank. It’s not a terrible stretch to claim that a lot of the population will take two easy kills over a hard one of the same value any day of the week. For them it’s not about the challenge, but about the grind. Fair enough, we’ll just have to encourage those players to fight in the new tier by rewarding them.

Second problem is that if you reward players for fighting in that zone, everyone regardless of rank will want to fight there. The clever bit is that you simply don’t reward them. RR81+ get rewarded, anyone else doesn’t. Simple as.

The third problem is that separating the two crowds like that might give rise to even more elitism that we see now. The higher ranked players will see themselves priviledged to have their own tier and might not even want to help with the overall campaign anymore, or something of the sort. But I honestly can’t see elitism hurting the game more than the power gap. It might divide the community a bit and make it less friendly, but how can not having a community be better than having a crap one? Also, we should have some faith in the players. Of which I have none, so this is very likely to happen.

As an aside I’d like to address the worries that this might spread out the population too much to be viable. It’s true that any kind of a new tier will spread the population, but if you give players free passage between the tiers it will only do that when there is enough population to spread. If there’s no one to fight in the new area the higher ranked players can just PvP in the regular zones, and the other way around. “But if that’s true then this measure won’t be very effective at getting RR81+ players out of the zones and into their new tier on the servers with low population”, I hear you say. That’s correct, you can’t have non-existant players battling it out in the new tier. We’ll just have to trust Mythic to balance the server population or suffer the power gap, but at least this idea gives us the choice of separating the two groups.

Those are the basics. And now for a practical implementation.

Isle of the Dead

I tried to incorporate the idea of a tier 4.5 with the need for new content, together with keeping in mind that Mythic is working at a heavily reduced team size. The perfect solution is a zone not many people have seen that would only require a few additions and terrain changes, without having to design a completely new zone. I chose Isle of the Dead because it’s one of the more isolated and therefore less travelled zones. And because it’s one of the more awesome zones and terribly underrated, it would be a shame not to give such a zone exposure it deserves.

Isle of the dead is a small island near Uluthan and a place of great power. In the past, greatest High Elf mages gathered here under the command of Caledor the Dragontamer to summon a Vortex of magical energies in order to combat the unstoppable chaos horde. Now it is a place of great importance to both factions because the huge amounts of power gathered here remain.

The redesign

The zone is big enough to hold a warband or two, but small enough for enemies to find each other easily. Granted, if you’d stick more than two warbands there it might get crowded, but it should never get to that with all the other zones having their own pull.

The zone overhaul would involve wiping all of the NPCs there and creating two small warcamps. Nothing fancy, a vendor, a flightmaster, an expedition quartermaster, a influence NPC (with a book bind) and a couple of guards. The access to the island would need to be made easier, as currently you can only access it by entering a portal in the middle of nowhere, which is a place in Dragonwake (I assume it’s the same for destruction).

The big divide you see on the map is currently impassable, the only way around is swimming. Two bridges on each side would solve that problem, totalling in four bridges just so you can’t easily camp them and deny access to the other side. Besides implementing my RvR mechanic idea (down below), there isn’t much to be done in the zone design and art wise. An art make-over would be nice, especially to the core of the Vortex which is currently very plain looking for such a terrifying source of power (maybe even allow access almost to the centre itself), but otherwise I guess the zone could pass as it is.

The ORvR mechanic

To keep players entertained in the zone in the absence of any keeps or battlefield objectives, I’ve thought of implementing some other kind of a RvR large-scale goal system. In my version there are three capture points on the island. All three can be captured by interacting with a nearby flag/stone/thingy, they basically act like BOs. Only that when captured they charge the Vortex. When all three nodes have chagred the Vortex to the maximum amount its power is either harnessed by destruction or repressed by order, depending on who manages to capture it. If a node gets captured by the other side the charge doesn’t simply disappear, it first has to dissipate, which takes a long as it takes for it to build up. Only then can the capturing side start building their own charge.

Possible node locations

In theory, one side could go and capture all nodes and just let the charge build to capture the Vortex, if they had no opposition. That would be somewhat thwarted by the long charge time (say 30 min for one node).

Possible node location nr. 1

When the Vortex’ power would be secured by one side, they would get a renown and influence reward. A 5000 net renown reward would be sufficient, in my opinion. It may be possible to abuse the mechanic by chain capturing it, but with the time it takes and the less-than-awesome reward I don’t think that would be really feasible. The nodes and the system is just something to act as a focal point for any action, spice up the RvR and give players something to fight over.

Possible node location nr. 2

Against All Odds would apply to this zone aswell and the Vortex capturing mechanic could be affected by the underdog system, taking longer the more consecutive captures one side managed, or alternatively just have the capturing speed be affected by the AAO amount one side has.

Possible node location nr. 3

I realise the node locations are out in the open with very little strategic value and don’t really facilitate awesome fights, but there aren’t any buildings on the island, mostly just ruins and rocks. A few derelict buildings thrown on top or near the nodes wouldn’t go amiss and would really make for some great tactical possibilities.

The island would act as one of the PvP chapters and have an influence bar with influence rewards. They could possibly be some jewelry and cloak pieces for both RR90 and 100 (a usable healing cloak for WPs/DoKs and similar things currently missing from the game). Kills and capturing of the Vortex would award influence.

Conclusion

None of the variables provided here are set in stone, the charge time on the nodes, the charge required, the number of the nodes and their location. Hell, even the mechanic itself could be swapped for something more interesting. This is just an example of something that is easy to do and doesn’t require an excessive amount of manpower or time. As long as the primary goals stay the same as those above when designing such a zone it will be a good addition to the game.

And to answer something I know will come up: this technically isn’t new content, like most of the newly implemented things Mythic are calling new content. But I think that recycling an already existing zone in this way, especially if it was a rarely travelled or even seen zone, is a good thing and will be a welcome addition to the game.

PS: For more and more fleshed out ideas on new content check Hypothetical WAR. Well worth a read.

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4 thoughts on “Tier 4.5 – Isle of the D(r)ead

  1. Many players are interested in maximizing their numbers. If you tell them they can get more renown in a special place, they will go. This is the goal I imagine that you had in mind.

    I think though that doing this will kill the fun for them. Players will subject themselves to visiting this zone for the bonus renown because it is just what a lot of players do. Spending a lot of time in a small zone waiting for timers to tick could get tiresome very quickly, yet players will stay. I foresee this causing disinterest in the game quickly.

    I am still in the camp that thinks diving up players is a bad idea. However, for the sake of this idea, I am going to go along with you.

    One thing we could do to keep interest is to perhaps do a sort of rotation on where the “4.5” fighting takes place.

    Another option would be to add two more repurposed areas for 4.5 combat. Once each is controlled by one faction, then a special event in another repurposed area opens up. Think of something on the city siege scale that all players would want to do. This would take place in Bastion Stair. To populate this final showdown you could have players below RR81 take control of creatures (maybe even skaven) while the tier 4.5 players do some whatever task is invented for this even and obtain “phat loot” and a bunch of renown.

    That last idea was very rough but you get the idea. Basically more content to retain interest.

    • I see where you’re coming from. Unfortunately I really didn’t consider the option of players not wanting to go to this new tier to have fun, and rise up to the challenge of a tier full of high ranked players, but to grind renown. Because that’s one of the reasons WAR has failed, not having content that can be ground, but people who are actively grinding it.

      I can see how standing around waiting for timers to go down would be boring, but that would only happen if the zone didn’t have any opponents or very few. In such a situation it really doesn’t matter what you try to do, but PvP won’t work without enemies. It’ll become a boring stalemate or, as in this case, a waiting game. Unless of course you try to mix in some PvE and then the content ceases to be PvP.

      Players who subject themselves to this mindless grind and are prepared to stand around in the zone doing nothing will only do so if the reward is big enough. I envisioned a net 5000 renown for 30 min of such standing around (if there are no opponents). In this case I truly believe any smart “renown farmer” would be switching to old zones if only there was something to kill there, because it would be more profitable.

      The zone was only intended to be active when the population is big enough to allow the higher ranked players to separate themselves (peak times) and to serve as more of a “let’s leave these noobies and go kill some RR90 stuff” zone. I realise most players PvP because they have to in order to advance their characters and not becaus of the PvP itself. Which is a core problem of the game.

      But again, I see where you’re coming from. More zones, more mechanics, more variety. I’ve considered other two largely unused zones Deathpeak and West Praag for this but I found Isle of the Dead better because it wouldn’t need as much of a redesign as other two. But sure, a rotation is doable. Your other ideas however, would maybe take a bit too much manpower and time to do. One of my aims was to provide content without Mythic having to work on it for months with a semi-large team, because honestly they don’t have the time nor the team at the moment. Ideas are always good though, just hope Mythic can start working on one some of them and revitalise WAR before it’s too late.

      Thanks for your comment. :)

  2. I think you are right about the core problem. WAR is more of a game than any recent mmos. It is just that most players do not see it this way because they are always foaming at the mouth for the highest RR acquisition.

    The second option I put forth really did require too much. I really just want to see Bastion Stair made useful… like REALLY bad. :p

    That place is awesome.

    • Yeah Bastion Stair is awesome. Shame they went with Khorne first, as it doesn’t get enough exposure. Nurgle (BB), Tzeentch (SC) and Slaneesh (LV) get far more. :S

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