Friday, February 8, 2008

Looking at WAR from the outside

I reported it earlier, but Bildo went through the hassle of getting an official confirmation: EA Mythic keeps an eye on bloggers, considers them to be "press", and officially excludes them from joining the WAR beta. I knew I should have worn a wig and false mustache when writing my WAR beta application! Or more realistically not used the e-mail address that is posted on my blog. :) At least I now have a fun answer to Cameron's desperate cry of why other bloggers are in the WAR beta and he isn't: Congratulations, pal, you are so famous that you made it on EA Mythic's black list. So am I. :)

The one advantage of *not* being in the WAR beta is that we aren't under any NDA. We can look in from the outside, looking at the newsletters and video podcasts, and comment freely. So that is what I'll do.

With the January newsletter EA Mythic released a WAR PvP video, which got two main responses: It looks like WoW, and is far too scripted, nobody does PvP like that. Discussing the former is a bottomless pit, the "game A stole from game B" complaints are so old that somebody made a joke out of it when LotRO came out and ranted how this Tolkien guy stole elves and orcs from WoW. So I'm going to discuss how people move and fight in PvP.

As Cameron remarked, the WAR PvP video shows people lining up in battle lines. He mentions the British in 1776, but in fact battle lines were still alive and well in the Napoleonic Wars, and only went out of fashion in the American Civil war. But by that time the tactic was two millenia old, predating the Romans, who relied heavily on it. Battle lines in the real world made sense until the advent of heavy artillery and long-rifled muskets. If you fight with a sword or spear or short-ranged firearm, a battle-line keeps you from being outflanked or ganged up upon individually.

In MMORPGs battle lines don't happen due to two major reasons: no collision control, and too good ranged combat with no friendly fire. No collision control means that if you formed a battle line in WoW, the enemy rogues would just run right through you and still stab you in the back. And as ranged combat has auto-targeting with no way to hit somebody else than your target, it is far better to gang up on the most dangerous enemy (e.g. the healer or mage) with all you got than to fight in a line one against one. Even AoE spells are selective in a game like WoW, so any large melee clash on one spot would be hit by mages with blizzards, being sure that these blizzards only hurt the enemy and not their own side. A tank is more or less useless in WoW PvP, because usually he is the least dangerous target and can often simply be ignored. The enemy runs right through him, and there isn't much he can do. A full battle line of tanks shoulder to shoulder just looks silly, because everyone knows how useless it would be.

Now WAR has collision control. Which means that in principle, at least in confined spaces, a battle line of tanks theoretically could prevent the enemies melee characters to break through their ranks and kill the mages or healers in the back. Only that will still not lead to anyone forming battle lines in WAR, because the ranged combat is still too good. Collision control only hinders melee characters, but not a mage who can shoot a fireball quite far, through his own people without hurting them, through any enemies trying to block the path, and still kill the enemy healer without a problem. So unless WAR adds collision control between characters and fireballs, and shooting through your own lines becomes impossible or dangerous, I don't see PvP in WAR happening like in their video.

No comments:

Post a Comment