Saturday, September 20, 2008

Warhammer Online: Public Quests

Many people are touting Public Quests as one of Warhammer Online's killer features. However, so far, I'm not very impressed with Public Quests.

A Public Quest is an area of the game in the open world which goes through a multi-stage fight. Everyone in the area can participate and work together to finish the battle. The first stages usually go through killing increasingly more difficult minions and the last stage is a boss. At the end, loot is distributed by a Random roll + Modifiers. You get a modifier based on how much you contributed to the fight.

The problem with Public Quests is that you need a minimum number of people. You also need a tank and healer. If you play at odd times, or stumble upon a PQ when no one is around, it's pretty much pointless. As well, the Empire and Dark Elves don't have a tank class, which makes PQs in their territory frustrating. Seriously, Witch Elves don't wear enough armour to tank a teddy bear. Perhaps this aspect will get better in later chapters.

Then, if you have too many people, the PQ devolves into a zerg, with everyone running around and spamming spells. There's no strategy or elegance. I don't really find that fun.

I think PQs will work nicely if you start with a good group. But starting with a proper group negates the entire "public" aspect of it, and it becomes just another dungeon fight.

Public Quests remind me of Alterac Valley (before the reinforcement timer) only without any PvP.* It's like a giant zerg. When you hit Drek'thar or Vannadar you hope to God that you have a half-way capable tank and some healers, and dps that doesn't react to getting aggro by running out of the room like a chicken with its head cut off. At least AV ensures that you have 20-40 people. Imagine showing up in AV with only 5 people, no tanks, and no healers. That's pretty much been my PQ experience.

*Let me preempt the wags: "So, just like normal AV, then?"

Finally, I hate the loot system. It's very annoying if you have a high contribution and roll low. If you have a low contribution and you roll high, it feels like you don't deserve the loot. If there are a lot of people in the PQ, only the first 10 or so will get a reward. This is a terrible design decision. Everyone should at least get the smallest loot bag. It's not your fault that a lot of other people decided to show up today. At least the loot bags offer you a nice choice of loot. You usually get to choose between an item for your class, some crafting components, or some gold.

It's a bit odd that I don't like the loot system, given that I don't mind rolling for loot in a normal dungeon. What really makes the difference for me is that PQs explicitly call out your contribution and give you modifiers to your roll. In a normal dungeon, there's a polite fiction that everyone in the group contributed equally, and so gets to roll on equal terms. It really sucks to be first or second on the contribution list, and yet end up with a white loot bag. Random + Modifier is more annoying than Random alone. Honestly, I'd probably prefer if the PQs didn't count your contribution, and just rolled equally for everyone in the group. Or even if everyone got the same loot bag, but the quality of the loot inside was randomly determined.

So those are my thoughts on Public Quests. It's an interesting idea, but being utterly dependent on other people showing up hurts. Also, Random + Modifier is a terrible loot system.


  1. That's exactly what my experience has been. It's a lot of fun when you get a group of around 5-8 people there from the first stage.

    Contribution calculation also really sucks. I've tried to join up during stage 2 of a PQ before. Even if I do half the work for stage 2 and dps/heal for stage 3 it says I didn't contribute enough and won't let me roll. It's really frustrating to see 6 loot bags and only 5 people on the list.

  2. I *think* that's because stage 1 tends to have a lot of minions to kill. So you get very high damage and healing totals. Stage 2 and 3 tends to have fewer, tougher targets. The total health pool is probably significantly less than Stage 1, but Stage 1 presents little danger, while Stage 2 and up are where the challenge lies.

    Sort of like inflating your stats on the meter by going all out on the trash mobs.

  3. PQs have felt different since Open Beta ended. Waaaaay less people. They certainly need people in order to work, so I agree that I've been disappointed a bit since my first experience. That being said...

    I had a blast the other night running from PQ to RvR to PQ to RvR with my Guild the other night. About 10 of us were running around as our own little wrecking crew.

    The lesson is that soloing (even at the low levels) isn't that much fun. The game really does encourage lots of grouping early on.

    My advice if you are struggling is to use the Open Group system and just look for the biggest group near you. Go do what they are doing... chances are, it's more fun than what you are already doing and maybe you'll meet some people.

  4. I'm not sure if you made a good case that random+modifier isn't a good system for distributing loot.
    It's very annoying if you have a high contribution and roll low. If you have a low contribution and you roll high, it feels like you don't deserve the loot.
    That seems to imply that the modifier should be greater, not smaller.

    Is it that the modifier doesn't accurately reflect your contribution to the group? It seems like that would be something pretty tricky to program, but you didn't mention that in your post.

  5. Interesting post on Mythic Worlds on a PQ gone bad.

    Seems to strengthen what you wrote, that without strategy and and tank+healer, PQ phase 2 and over will wipe groups. OTOH that blogger seemed to have fun, even with the wipes. Go figure ;)

  6. A potential scenario is healers letting high dps players "accidentally" die, since that would increase the odds of the healer winning the loot roll.

    Also, I think healers have a loot roll disavantage because there's very little healing needed in the first and second stages when you have high dps.

  7. I've been playing a Squig Herder and every PQ I've come across has always had a nice number of players taking part.

    However my girlfriend has been playing a Magus and she's finding it very hard to complete the PQ's she's finding as there are never enough players around.

    The lack of communication makes the quests hard. So far WAR has felt much more like a single player game. People just don't seem to bother talking.

    I'm finding the same problems with the loot system. When you contribute more I feel you should be almost guaranteed loot. And those who join too late should have almost no chance at the better loot.

  8. Public Quests are a novelty. The first five or so PQ's I took part in were fun. After that, they get kind of BORING. I'm currently level 14, so perhaps things change down the road, but so far all PQ's follow the same pattern. This pattern gets old, quick.

    Apart from being boring, there are a lot of public quests through out a given zone. I havn't counted but I'd say each zone has atleast five or so PQ's. Many of the PQ's are near empty. So I don't even get a chance to do them(thats okay, done one, done em all. See above). The only PQ's that active are the PQ's near an outpost. On my server it is either zerg PQ, or no PQ.

    I'm sorry but I can't see myself doing PQ's until level 40, unless they get more variety. Also he's a ninja.

  9. I like the pq system and I'm in the 15 range so iv done a few

    As for the loot system its great for people that show up late do a lil damage and think they got rights.. you gotta put in or else you get squat

    And if you do the same pq a few times if you loose you get a bonus to your roll for sticking around.. persistence has its rewards (its a little blue thing on the right of the roll so eventually your guaranteed loot you just gotta stick it out

    Basically I pq till my rep is full then move on..

    And ya iv been there where you cant complete a phase due to no tank or to few people.. but did you really try and do everything you could?

    Like this one was stage 2, you gotta kill dudes (wolf worshipers or something) and when the dude dies it would spawn a champion wolf..
    So if your short people, the phase says kill 25 dudes so kill the dude an don't aggro the wolf that spawns.. they eventually de-spawn but if you aggro the wolf by yourself your screwed.

    This game makes you think.. like in the dwarf area (lvl 8 ish) when you gotta bomb 3 catapults.. you cant fight the dudes by the catapults because they are champions, so run in and drop 1/5 bomb and then run like hell.. do that 5 times and you killed one of the 3 catapults.. wash rinse repeat.. just like shampoo, easy as pie.

    As for no tank.. its called kiting.. (you do remember kiting don't you.. or perhaps you never played a necro in EQ letting your dots tick away while making sure your snare stayed up..) if you get aggro then you need to run... and run like hell..(use that sprint button and use it often) in big circles tho so your not taking him to far, and when he turns from you to someone else.. get back on him.

    Try to remember its not always about the "holy trinity" of MMO's its about accomplishing the mission with what you got... thinking outside the box.. ~insert other mumbo jumbo catch phrase here~

    But just because you seem to be stuck in the WoW mentality of "lfg have healer, need tank" you shouldn't let that sour you on what war is supposed to be about.

    To me W:AR is about kikin the livin snot outta da stunties.. I's been fightin dem forever and I's hates um.


    Time to get dem brains a werkin.

  10. Well there is no point in doing PQ's in the early stages because you can pop into a scenario instead and gain renown instead then by your gear from the renown gear merchant because the gear is higher then what the PQ offers. Plus the item is always the same thing, I went on as a Dwarf Ironbreaker and did the first PQ at least 3 times and won the PQ drawings all three times but the bag loot was the exact same item all three times.

  11. For the boss you generally need a healer yes, but a tank?...not necessarily. it's nice ofcourse..but not necessary. using detaunts in a meaningful way can get you far (they halve the damage taken).

  12. I understand what your saying about Public Quests, and if you don't like them then don't do them. Personally I like them because its another option of playstyle. If I am tired of PVP or running around on quests, I can do some Public Quests for a change of pace. Also the Public Quest influence rewards are a good way to keep your character in decent gear.