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I played WAR at launch and for several months after, left due to boredom and the shape of the game, returned nearly a year later for a coupleof months and was having a blast but left due to a previous favorite game of mine relaunching under another company with new servers. In my time on and off the game, ive knocked it pretty hard for some of its issues & failings, but out of boredom my brother and I recently decided to hop back into playing WAR to check out the progress of the game and some of the recent changes to RvR, class balance, tier setup, etc. So heres a bit fo a rundown and some of my opinions & feelings on it:
Class balance -
I feel that theyve done a surprisingly good job of (finally...) bringing most of the classes into a better state of balance than before. Theyve reorganized several skill trees, removed skills & replaced them with new ones, altered the costs & effects of various skills, added new equipment, shifted the focus from AoE = automatic win to single target abilities, etc. There are classes that in the past, i absolutely hated because they were missing things or were pretty gimped, but ive given some of them a try this time around and they play much better than before, while some of the classes that ill admit i played partly because they were just plain better in every way are not quite as IMBA as before. Right now, the only major issue with balance has been caused by the release of the 80-100 renown ranks and the new gear sets for those ranks. The physical damage mitigation on that gear has caused a lot of grief to the physical ranged DPS classes such as Squig Herders. Melee DPS tends to have several tools for ignoring that mitigation & using piercing attacks, but unfortunately the ranged dps classes which rely on physical damage are rather useless vs players wearing that new equipment. Even against "squishies" (aka cloth wearers such as BWs/SOrcs) their mitigation from these new sets is just too high and classes such as SH ar ehaving a lot of trouble doing worthwhile damage in comparison to MDPS & casters. On the plus side, the most recent producers letter did state that their next focus is working on fixing things based on feedback from the community, INCLUDING the issues with physical damage mitigation in the higher ranks.
Just as an example of what i mentioned above with replacing skills & balancing them better with other classes: Zealots - they have a new toggle skill which takes all of the Willpower points from their gear and converts them to Intelligence, and turning it off converts all of your Intelligenece on equipment into Willpower. It makes Zealots much more viable as a hybrid dps/healer if they choose to, and allows much more flexibility with the class and brings them much mor ein line with the abilities of Shamans, Archmages, DoKs, and Warrior Priests. The other 4 have been good at hybrid or pure speccing for a long time, where Zealots have always been considered THE healer, and fairly useless as a DPS or Hybrid build. Now theyve all got that capability, and soloing as a Zealot is much more viable too.
Also Marauders, who were for a long time the redheaded stepchild of Melee DPS, are now actually being called by many OP. I dont agree with OP, theyre just a good class now, rather than the uselessness they faced before.
For those who dont know, ill touch on some of the changes from the past patch or 2.
Old way: Keeps were constantly being flipped by one side or the other in a series, starting with 1 and then moving to take over all the rest. Any keep controlled by an enemy could be attacked quickly & easily. Get a Warband together, go attack any keep owned by the enemy you feel like attacking, try to get it down as quickly as possible before the enemy can show up to defend, and usually the result was, instead of RvR you got RvDoor and RvNPCguards, with people focusing only on flipping keeps as quickly as possible while avoiding PvP. Siege weapons, except for oil, were fairly useless and rarely used. They were only able to be setup on predetermined sieg pads which never changed. Anyone could just run up to the door and beat it down, with or without a ram. Battlefield objectives were usually saved for after the keep was taken.
New way: In each zone 1 keep is owned by Order 1 keep is owned by Destruction. If you die in the RvR lake you are spawned at the keep owned by your realm (you can insta travel back to your Warcamp via a teleporter inside your keep, instead of the old way of jumping off the keep to suicide for a free ride back to WC). Keeps are not always attackable. In order to make the enemy keep attackable your side needs to take over the Battlefield Objectives and KEEP control of them for an extended period of time. While you have them controlled, NPCs called Resource Carriers will travel from the BOs to the keeps and over time level up the keep. As your keep levels, the Resource carriers get stronger & faster, and siege weapons (EXCEPT rams) start becoming available from your own keep. AftIn addition to the old things such as ballista, we now have Aerial Bombers as a siege weapon, which can be used to fly from your keep and drop firebombs on the enemies and jump off the bomber to land at your target location. Siege weapons can now be setup anywhere you want, instead of on siege pads, but are only available in a very limited supply. As your keep continues ranking up more weapons become available, and eventually the Ram is available to. You MUST have a ram to attack a keep. You can no longer attack the door directly with your character. You need 4 guys on the ram with everyone else providing support to them via heals and using siege weapons to take out the defenders trying to kill the guys on the ram. If the defenders die, they respawn in their keep, if the attackers die they have to make the trip back from their own keep with no resurrections at the enemy keep until you get the doors down. Once inside, you only need to capture a flag objective upstairs in the keep rather than fighting NPC guards.
Tiers (1,2,3,4) -
They have reorganized the tiers in way that many of us have asked for since a few months after the game launched.
Old tier setup:
This woun dbeing a pretty big problem with Tier 4 because you had fresh level 30 players with low RR and crappy gear vs suddenly having to fight level 30 / RR 80 players with far superior gear and basically no chance to do anything by themselves. It turned a lot fo people off from the game once they hit T4 and realized "crap, its going to be a couple months before i am able to hold my own here" and they didnt want to suffer through months of constantly getting their asses handed to them. It also led to T1 being very active since trial players were all there, but then once you got over level 10 there was very very little PvP & Scenarios popping throughout T2 & T3. and you quickly starte dfalling way behind in RR (further increasing the gap between players who had to PvE grind their way to T4 with no RR gain vs established T4 players).
A great change for many. It allows players to continue fighting in T1 for several more levels and gain more RR since T1 is very active due to trial players. It also widens the level ranges of T2 & T3 so that there is a much better chance of you being able to get some RvR & Scenarios due the population of the tier being higher because of the level ranges. Now T2 & T3 arent quite so dead and lonely as before. And T4 being level 40 only is another great part. No longer do you have to worry about hitting that dreaded level 32 and then facing months of curbstomping until you hit 40 & get your RR up. Youre fighting people in more similar gear & RRs and you get a chance to build up that RR to a decent level and get some gear ready for when you do hit 40 and can jump in and play with the big boys. Theres still a good gap in power between low RR and high RR level 40s, but not nearly as bad as level 32s vs high RR 40s.
Renown Rank Cap & Renown Skill -
They have adjusted the RR cap so that you are no longer limited to the old rukle of RR cannot be higher than your level until T4. Now you are able to at anytime, regardless of level, achieve RR of up to 2x your current XP Level. So at level 10 you can have RR 20, and at level 39 you can get up to RR 78 which helsp a lot jumping into T4 with level 40s with RR80-100. Now theres no more "Damn I have to go grind out some XP fast so im not wasting my time doing RvR and getting no RR out of it". I havent really touched PvE, except during low pop times, since i can just continue doing RvR/SCs and keep racking up RR several level sabove my XP Level.
Renown skills are no longer in seperate tiers, requiring you to put X points into Tier 1 to unlock the Tier 2 set, an dsame for Tier 3. Every Renown Skill is available at level 1, all you need to do is build up enough points to purchase the ability. SO now instead of needing to get to mid-high levels & RR to start getting things like + crit chances, +block, +parry, + AP, etc you can start getting them in T1 if you want to spec that way. Allows for much greater flexibility & variety of builds in lower tiers, and youve got for example instead of every melee being specced for pure Strength in Renown, youve also got some focusing on + Crit and such.
Ok, so thats the main changes. Now in my opinion, i think this new system is awesome. Ive had a blast taking keeps now compare dto before.... it used to be so easy & boring. Now you HAVE to work as a team. You cant just take a group of people and zerg the keep, you have to maintain control of the BOs for quite some time ebfore going afte rthe keep, which gives the enemy plenty of time to notice the attack and get a defense organized. They will be constantly trying to take the BOs back, so you have to have defenders stationed at every BO the entire time and allows the defenders (who are usually outnumbered) to fight you off in smaller groups while trying to take each BO rathe rthan just a few vs a zerg. Last night for example, we had 10-12 in our WB going from zone to zone taking each keep. The entire time, there was a White Lion following us from zone to zone, usually by himself with only a couple others showing up here and there. We were only able to maintain 2-3 people at each BO in order to keep them all, and this WL managed several times to retake a couple of BOs from us by killing the 2-3 defenders, then quickly movin gon to another one while we scrambled to track him down and stop him from taking another while he had a big headstart on us and we had no idea which he would go for next. Eventually he started gathering more people to his side, and on our 2nd round of taking all the keeps Order started showing up in greater numbers and eventually stopped what started out as an easy take over in one zone and completely flipped it around on us, retaking the BOs, ranking up their own keep while we tried to take theirs down, and in the end they took down our keep before we could get theirs.
To me, that whole thing wa sa hell of a lot more fun & interesting then "Hey we have a dozen people and theres almost no order around, lets go zerg some keeps before they can defend and then run away to the next keep before they try to take this one back over". Also, as you control the BOs and gather resources, you are constantly getting XP, Renown, and Influence ticks. So its great for those of us who are online during non-primetime and tend to not have a whole lot of PvP action going on. It gives us a way to still gain some levels/RR doing RvR stuff without having to go grind mobs for Xp only and no RR/Influence.
Anyway, there are a couple other things that have been improved that i may touch on later, but overall things have gotten quite a bit better than a year or 2 ago. Its really shaped up to be a great game now, with only a few minor issues here an dthere rather than tons of very very big issues killing the game. It seems someone finally realized what the game SHOULD have been, and started steering it more in that direction and have brought about a few nice & unexpected changes to further improve the focus on RvR. The only thing really holding the game back in its current state is the population. During primetime, its great, lots of action going on. But outside of those hours its fairly dead in the lower, tiers though T4 still seems fairly active. If they coul dbring in some more new subscription players to fill in the gaps between T1 and T4, and even further increase the action in 1 & 4, WAR would be an awesome game right now. As i said earlier, T2 & 3 arent AS dead as they were in the past, but they could still use a bit of help.