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I know it's early and we haven't seen any footage yet but I'm tired of companies (Mythic, Anet, Blizzard) that don't learn from the mistakes of the past.
First of we all know that this type of PvP started with DAoC, and (pre-ToA) DAoC is considered by most people as the best PvP game of all time.
But then games like the DAoC expansions (ToA and later), WAR, GW2 and WoW (Outland zone control, wintergrasp, tol barad) tried to improve the formula and failed completely. The key to creating the perfect PvP is seeing what those games changed and why it didn't work.
Let's start with the DAoC expansions' mistakes:
- It introduced mandatory (and grindy/boring) PvE to be able to compete in PvP
- it added many more poorly balanced skills (DAoC had already tons of skills for each class)
- it added many more weird/crazy/completely unbalanced classes (this had already started with the Shrouded Isles expansion)
- it added weird "morph" skills, everyone started running around as panthers, crocodiles etc. Armors, races were no longer visible and the casting/melee animations were mediocre.
- it homogenized the realm abilities, making classes less unique in the name of balance (the game was impossible to balance though, due to the above changes)
- It added items (artifacts) that required months of camping a spot (just google cloudsong and watch the video, you'll understand) to get and they were required to be competitive in PvP
- 2 factions instead of 3 (no danger here)
- low duration WoW-like crowd control system: Why is this important? High duration aoe CC allows a full group of skilled players to take on zergs of lesser skilled enemies. With low duration CC the number of players is much more important than skill (the skill cap is much lower)
- instanced WoW-like battlegrounds that were much more rewarding / easy than open world PvP. Players will always choose the path of least resistance. If instanced PvP lets you progress faster nobody will bother with open world PvP.
- Keep trading. There was simply no incentive to defend a keep. It was much more effective to let your opponent take your keep and then take it back (and do it over and over)
- Renown Rank progression was way too fast. In (pre-ToA) DAoC it took YEARS to reach max RR, yet in WAR they did it very quickly. Renown ranks(war) didn't have the same weight as realm ranks(daoc), they didn't feel important.
- 6man groups instead of 8, which made it even harder to be effective as a single group against zergs.
- no DF-like dungeon to fight for (DF=darkness falls)
GW2 WvW's mistakes:
- No progression (they promised to add it recently)
- Main objective is taking keeps, not killing enemies. This led to one and only one playstyle: Zerging. Also this led to the losing servers getting discouraged / giving up easily.
- culling (awaiting fix)
- poor performance compared to the PvE zones
- Relics kept getting hacked so they just removed them
- low duration CC system favoring larger groups
- No trinity means no healers which is favoring larger groups
- 5 man groups (way too small for open world pvp)
- The downed mechanic favoring larger groups
- siege way too effective against players
- siege can be bought with RL money
- names of enemies not visible, enemies changing every 2 weeks = impossible to build rivalries (one of the things that made DAoC so awesome)
- easy to transfer to the winning server
- all 3 enemy realms are essentially the same realm (same classes/races)
- no DF-like dungeon to fight for
I won't even go into WoW's open world ideas (wintergrasp etc), every single one was a trainwreck.
So what is the key of creating a great open world PvP?
1) permanent progression which is only achieved through open world PvP kills (primary objective) and taking keeps (secondary objective, much slower than kills). Progression should be endless or extremely hard to reach the max rank. It should be interesting: not +1 str per rank etc, give us PvP-only skills that can't be unlocked with PvE.
2) A dungeon like Darkness Falls to fight over
3) The game should be optimized for large open world battles (without culling)
4) Large duration crowd control system, large groups (8 players is optimal), no "downed mechanic", yes to the trinity(healers,tanks,dps) to allow for many different playstyles (zerging, competitive group vs group, soloing, small group, stealthing etc)
5) Relics (that don't get hacked easily) to fight over
6) Names of enemies visible, same enemies all the time (to build rivalries and realm pride, and to make the whole war feel important)
7) Make defending keeps much more rewarding than trading them with your enemies.
8) DON'T force us to PvE (much) to be able to compete in PvP.
9) The skill system should allow skilled players to overpower zergs of lesser skilled players. If twitch.tv existed back in 2002, DAoC would be the most watched game by far. It was insanely competitive. But if the skill cap is as low as WoW's/GW2's it will never happen.
DAoC - Excalibur & Camlann