Wednesday, June 25, 2008

WAR: Beyond launch, content updates?

In WoW, a new expansion pack is released every two years or so. This usually (well it has only happened once) consists of a new level cap, new races or classes, new professions and new areas. In between, they release new content in the form of new raids/dungeons, quests, items and features.

In LoTRO, they release a new content pack every few months. These usually contain a new zone and quests. Sometimes it includes feature upgrades (like housing or Fishing) as well. They are set to release a new expansion soon, which will include several new zones, dungeons and classes.

What kind of content will WAR be able to release? First, lets look what Mythic did with DAoC:

  • 7 Retail expansions
    • Classes added, not evenly to all realms. Some available to all realms.
    • Races added. Some available to all realms.
    • Areas, dungeons added.
    • Player customization (i.e. models)
    • New forms of advancement (Champion and Master levels)
    • Housing and vendors
    • Expanded RvR ( Boat transport, new siege capabilities, expanded keep building, realm abilities)
  • Patches
    • Patches every couple months
    • Patches are mostly fixes, but they do include new content sometimes, but not much.
Since WAR is a RvR game, balance will be very important. Any additions should not give an advantage to either side. We have seen them address this by mirroring classes on both sides. Not only are classes mirrored, but areas are too. They have taken a very symmetric path with the design of the game. This is good and bad.

It is good for balance. It is bad for adding new content. Instead of just adding one Dwarf class, they will have to add a second to the Destruction side. If they want to add an area to the Chaos Front, they will have to add one to the Empire side as well. Then the Empire/Chaos front will not be mirrored with the other two anymore... so it could get complicated.

A lot of what was added in DAoC was outside the scope of RvR. Many of the areas were open to both sides but were primarily PvE. New PvE content is great, but this is WAR! Some of the PvE additions led to equipment grinding, which many blame for the downfall of DAoC.

For an expansion pack, I could see Mythic releasing 2 new races, 9 new areas , 2 new capital cities and 6 or 8 classes. Yikes! That does not sound very easy, as those classes have to be balanced with the rest of the game. An expansion should be a big deal though. Also, I don't see a reason that new fronts must have all 4 Tiers, so there could be room for easier expansion there.

As for content upgrades, that will be a bit tougher. Classes/races which can be used by anyone are a possibility. Imagine being able to unlock an Ogre class. It would not be an alpha class, just different in how it plays. New areas don't seem appropriate for a content upgrade for the reasons above. The world should be pretty full of Public Quests and such, so I don't see those really being a big part of an update (without new areas).

What will we see in the way of WAR updates and expansion packs?


To maintain the symmetry, I think they'll have to follow the format of new racial pairings each expansion (one for Order, one for Dest). It would be pretty cool if they added a third realm to the war, a new alliance if you will, but I don't see that happening.

I think the mirrored archetype model is somewhat limiting for possible expansions because they've already covered the bases pretty much. What other RPG archetype is there besides Tank, Melee DPS, Ranged DPS, and Healer? The only way they can expand here is to hybridize even more imho or introduce stealth across the board, which will probably be highly resisted by most of the gamers.

This comment is going to get huge so I'll stop right here and write my own post about it, pinging this article! Thanks for the inspiration! :)

I generally like to keep my posts short, but this was one I had to cut off early, so I know what you mean.

I will probably do a follow-up post that is more idea focused. 'Horizontal expansions' are pretty new so it will be interesting. DAoC's character advancement (Champion and Master) seem like vertical systems to me.

It's madness! Also, cupcake frosting!

Definitely things to think about. I don't worry so much about expansions as I do regular and consistent content updates. They do those, I'll be a very loyal customer.

I really like how Turbine does their update, a pretty constant stream of quality content. I just don't know how Mythic can accomplish the same due to the way WAR was designed.

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