The highlight of Warhammer Online's 1.4.5 (1.4.3 is current) patch will be the return of Fortresses to the game. They were removed a while ago for a number of reasons. Performance and just not being fun were the two main ones. Players have long wished for fights to return to these epic locations, and they soon will.
When forts make their comeback, they will not return as we remember them. No longer will they serve as a roadblock between your enemy and your city. Sadly, that never really worked out all that well. Bringing them back like that now would also not be fair to newer players who did not get their advanced armors during the time when city sieges happened often.
Instead, forts will server a purpose unrelated to the campaign. As we learned from the blogger trip and Games Day Chicago, they will instead house artifacts/relics which can be seized by the opposing realm. Each pairing will host a relic, half of which will be housed in each of its two forts. When combined, the entire realm will get a bonus/buff of some sort.
Here is additional information from WAR developer Steven Engle:
The running across three zones was one of the larger discussions during the blogger visit. We were trying to determine which would play better; A short run so that defense only gets a few coordinated efforts or allowing it to be a full run with "speed buffs"(TBD) and giving the defense more chances to defend.follow ups-First design is per pairing, although you can't rule out one pairing.-We have a few ideas of different bonuses per pairing or capturing it provides bonuses against the opposing race in the pairing.-steal it back, although maybe a forced reset mechanic would liven it up. It isn't a bad suggestion.-haven't thought about that yet, nor have we figured out how you keep fortresses out of the campaign yet still need to be able to get through it for city sieges.-being debated, although the original design is much like Camelot. You get yours back first and then you can capture your opponents.Also, the relic will use a "Hot Potato" system that ensures the holder of the relic changes periodically. We want it to be a group running it and not a solo person. It will also help with self realm griefing, if someone wants to be unsupportive of the cause.And now I'm done because all of this should come out in a Dev Discussion sometime between 1.4.4 and 1.4.5. We only have a first draft with the basics down. We still need to solve problems such as how can Fortresses coexist without being directly tied in with the campaign
I like the idea of having RvR going on that may not be related to the overall campaign. It may actually reduce the amount of city sieges since players focus will be split. We'll have to wait and see how it does in practice of course.
One question I have is: how do opposing players get to the enemy fort? It doesn't sound like the pairing will need to be locked, so they will have to travel through enemy zones which are 'inactive'. That seems kinda weird to me, but may not be an issue. Getting around some keeps could be a challenge, but this isn't supposed to be easy.
The mechanics at the actual forts is still up in the air too. There has been talk of making the Fort Lord (boss) Play as Monster. That could be interesting, but it may also be easily abused. I hope there will at least be NPC guards which are AAO enhanced, to give heavily outnumbered defenders a chance.
Still lots of decisions to be made, but I like where this is headed.