I have to say that we all think we could do things better than they’ve been done – at least when it comes to games, or at least when it comes to a game’s vision. So don’t take this as a criticism of WAR, a game I’ve spent a grand total of 10 minutes playing, and that 18 months ago.
I look at the classes and lore or WAR and I’m puzzled as to why they have taken the approach they have. I mean I understand some of the design choices. It seems like everything they have done has hinged on making WAR revolve around the RvR and PvP mechanic. So, with that as your lynchpin, you do need to balance the classes on each side (which WAR has done by duplicating ten different mechanics across the two armies), as well as races and territories.
But as a tabletop Warhammer player, I would have loved to see the lore of the world explored and utilized more. Let’s take the high elves for example, since I play them in tabletop. In WAR, your elf has four choices for gameplay – a tank, a ranged dps, a healer, and a pet class. Now I don’t have beef with the way they have executed the lore – there is alot to suggest that HE mages know healing as well as anything else. But in game terms, you have lords, heroes, core troops, special troops, and rare troops. In WAR those four classes represent a lord and three different special troop choices! And quite frankly, leaves out the choices that lore wise would make for the best tanks (Phoenix Guard, Dragon Princes) and the best ranged dps (Archers, Ellyrian Reavers, Dragon Mages). Not to mention that in a game that features “four tiers” so prominently, the lore of the game already is leading you towards this advancement pattern:
(core > special > rare > lord/hero)!
So if you want to limit the roles, you could still do that and better incorporate the lore of the world. And I don’t know how to show you that other than to show you what I would have done.
Every elf starts out as a recruit, even high born ones. And they serve in one of three branches – the Spearmen, the Archers, or the Sea Guard (hybrid spear/bow marines). Then they move on to more specialized army choices if they are professionals, and eventually advance to leadership. Leadership becomes a key word especially in RvR battles, where players should be taking part in the action as heroes and leaders, and not as slogging foot grunts.
Since WAR also seems to want to keep the spec trees that WOW introduced (I prefer the 7 way splits in EQ2 or alternate 3 ways from EQOA myself), that should be a part of the advancement as well. Another thing is the tendency to let casters ebb and flow from dps to heal. That has been taken into account also.
So you have Recruit > Veteran > Specialist > Hero. Or for a specific flow, how about this:
I. Archer (dps)
IIIa. Reaver (ranged spec)
IIIb. Shadow Warrior (melee spec)
I. Spearman (tank)
IIIa. Phoenix Guard (shield spec)
IV. Keeper of the Flame
IIIb. Swordmaster of Hoeth (2h weapon spec)
I. Novice (caster)
IIIa. Warden of Caledor (damage spec)
IV. Dragon Mage
IIIb. Loremaster of Hoeth (healing spec)
The idea here is that you choose the archetype, and learn its basic mechanis for Tier I. At Tier II, you open up the remainder of the archetypes powers/abilities. At Tier III, you choose a direction to tailor the archetype more closely to your playstyle, and at Tier IV, you unlock the full potential of the spec you have chosen.
It keeps the lore more closely tied to what it should be – in particular, Shadow Warriors, who, while they have bows – are not a ranged combat unit. They are scouts and skirmishers, used to screen the main battle line until the heavy hitters can arrive. In fact, in tabletop use, their function is most closely associated with what in an MMO would be a tank! Not to mention the White Lions, who do not at any time train lions for their personal use. On the rare occasion that they are domesticated, they are put to use pullin the rare white lion chariot, not as a personal pet.
Why in the world you would include a pet central class in a PvP/RvR game is beyond me anyway. WOW, and now AOC, have struggled to balance out pet classes because of the inherent weakness they bring to PvP.
One more day to open beta downloads. Good luck to Mythic’s servers withstanding that tide, eh?