All About The Artifacts

One thing that bothers me about newer MMOs is they are all designed to have an endpoint, like a single player RPG.  The world gets built around an endpoint the developer creates; and zones, quests and gear all get based around it.

Players view the endpoint from a gear point of view usually, it’s all about the gear, and when you have the best gear you’ve reached the endpoint.  Unfortunately once you do it almost feels like the game’s over.  There is nothing left to do.  You have the best gear you can get!  So you become bored.  The developers know this will happen, so what do they do?  They define a new endpoint and update the game, adding new content and gear focused on the new endpoint.  And then everything is exciting again until you reach that endpoint.  So they create another endpoint, and so on and so on..

I am not a fan of this design at all, it’s just a gear treadmill you get tricked into repeating over and over.  There must be an alternative?  A better way?  Perhaps…

Items and Gear
First, gear needs to stop being used as a carrot to force players to do things.  Too much gear just gets handed out because of that damn carrot mentality.  The more special gear that gets handed to you, the less special each piece seems – so lets tone down the amount of gear handed out for carrots.

Next, crafting needs to be the main source of special gear players want.  Special gear shouldn’t drop nearly as much in the game world, instead players should turn to crafters for their gear.  This promotes a better economy and features like auction houses and player shops.  It also puts more emphasis on crafting recipes and special metals, gems and other materials.  All this helps to make tradeskills an important part of the game, which is a good thing.

So if the best special gear is made by crafters, what do raid bosses and other epic encounters reward players with?  Welcome to your introduction to Artifacts.

What is an Artifact?  Artifacts are the best gear available in the game, always better than any special gear that can be found or crafted in the world.  But with great power comes great restrictions, and Artifacts need at least two – the first is they should be unique items, not unique-equipped but actually unique, only one of each Artifact exists in the game world; the second is Artifacts should be temporary items with a one week duration, after which they are destroyed and reset to their loading spot to be found by another player.

Benefits from Artifacts
The first benefit is that the “Best set of gear” endpoint vanishes.  It’s gone!  Players will never have the best gear because Artifacts always trump their special gear, and Artifacts only last one week and are rare because they are each unique.  This setup allows players to have a good set of special gear, but to always be working towards a better set with Artifacts, but never reaching it and becoming bored.

The second benefit is crafting never becomes useless due to overpowered sets being introduced by new raid bosses – raid bosses drop Artifacts, not special gear, and those Artifacts are temporary.  So players will always need special gear, even with their Artifacts, which keeps crafters always in demand.

PvP and Artifacts
How would Artifacts factor into PvP?  Easy – they need to be lootable from your victim’s corpse!  This may sound crazy to some people at first, especially ex-WoW players who spend weeks or even months raiding to earn their “Best set” and may scream at the thought of losing it so easily.

But rather then thinking of how this may work in WoW or another gear treadmill game, imagine how it would work in a world where special gear is fairly easy to come by, and you’re instead focused on the Artifacts.  Now imagine there is around 1,000 different Artifacts available in the game and you’re playing with about 5,000 players online.  And looting only affects Artifacts, not your special gear or coins or other items.

How might this play out?  When you kill someone it would surely be exciting to see what Artifacts you may have just received.  And when you die you still have your special gear and other items so its not too harsh; you can get back into the action quickly.  Really this just adds more reasons to want to kill and stay alive, which are both good – PvP needs purpose!

Personally I would love to play in such a setting.  Anyone else with me, or am i way out in left field? =p

WAR’s PvP Gear is far too hard to obtain

I waited a while to give the token system a chance before writing this post, but I have to say, WAR’s PvP gear is just far too hard to obtain..

Personally, I have the full annihilator set and 3 pieces of the conqueror set.  That initially sounds pretty decent, but as you’ll see that is hardly the case.  Let’s look at it first ignoring tokens:

Starting with the Annihilator Set.  I got lucky, by starting out on Ostermark I had less people to roll against for gold bags at keeps.  And, truthfully I got most of my annihilator set 4-maning empty keeps; yay RvE.  Nowadays on Phoenix Throne though, I imagine Annihilator set is pretty rough to get.  Last night keeps were being sieged by 188 destruction at a time!  That is a mighty low chance of you being lucky enough to receive a bag.  4-man keep sieges really aren’t possible on Phoenix Throne due to the population, you’ll always be interrupted, which is a good thing, but it sure makes the gear harder to obtain..

Let’s move up to the Conqueror Set.  This is the set I’ve wanted for a while, and as I’ve mentioned I have 3 pieces of it.  Not too shabby, no?  Well, not really.  I bought the gloves from a vendor back when that was possible.  And I bought the belt on the auction house.  The only piece I’ve seen from RvR is the boots, which drops off players.  The rest of the set only drops in fortresses, and you are basically competing with even worse numbers attempting to win a lucky roll.  I’ve been at maybe 50 fortress sieges.  Never, ever won.  In fact, I would be shocked to learn if anyone, on any server, in either North America or Europe has their full conqueror set.

Let’s move on.  Invader Set.  This is the set up from conqueror and only available at the city siege stage.  This set is completely out of my grasp now.  Why?  Because I refuse to ever subject myself to the pain that is city sieging in warhammer again =p  If city sieges were improved however, this set is almost reasonable to obtain.  You’re in an instance with only 48 other people, and 3? gold bags drop, and you can likely complete the quest 5 or more times before the 2 hour timer is up.  Unfortunately, Mythic decided to make stage 2 have four hero mobs that hit for like 20,000 damage, making this completely impossible with any kind of resistance.  Some players got “lucky”, if you want to call it that, and managed to deck themselves out in full invader back when the instances were bugged and you could get in one with 0 enemy players.  That doesn’t happen anymore, so these sets are basically unattainable.

Finally, there is the Sovereign Set.  This is also only available from city sieges, and only once you win the first instance (which seemingly is no longer possible).  So this set might as well not even be in the game at the moment.

That’s all the PvP sets I know of.  As you can see, they are all very difficult, some perhaps impossible, to obtain.  So, Mythic added tokens as a way to make these sets more obtainable.  Except, the costs from these tokens are just far too high.  I’ve been saving up for the conqueror shirt and am not even half-way there after several weeks, many fortress sieges and a lot of kills.  And that’s for one piece!

What Mythic Should Have Done
Players don’t mind working for their gear, but there needs to be some measure of hope that they will eventually obtain it.  Mythic’s addition of influence to the RvR lakes was great, and while a little slow to work through, gave you a clear goal that if you invest enough time in each lake you get certain rewards.

The renown system should have worked the exact same way.  All the PvP sets already have a renown rank requirement to use, as you gain that renown rank you should be able to go and just buy the item from a vendor exactly how influence works.  To me this makes a lot of sense, I would then be able to use my Conqueror set now, and as I progress further, know eventually I can get invader and then sovereign..  currently my gear is at a standstill and it feels like I’ll never progress at all.

Keeps, Fortresses and Cities should have never been about personal gain.  It should have been about your realm and provide benefits to your realm.  Just look what happened with the last update, making it so guild leaders who claimed keeps get a gold bag to hand out, I’ve never seen so much bickering in /2 over who gets to claim the keep.  If all of the personal gains were removed from keeps, fortresses and cities, and instead placed where they make sense (renown, which is really your personal progress), then the game would be so much better off.  And if they do that and everyone just PvPs and stops sieging keeps, fortresses and cities – guess what?  Then keeps, fortresses and city sieges aren’t fun enough.  Improve them!