As I poke my nose further into open RvR in Tier 4, I’m really impressed by the design of the open RvR areas. They may not work as a cohesive ‘world’ but there are some incredible landscapes and terrains for us to fight in and around. I am also noticing that although I was a initially frustrated at trying to navigate my way through zones like Dragonwake, I’m now much better able to pick out the good shortcuts and get my Archmage promptly to where she’s supposed to be going.
Or in other words, I’m learning the map. This appeals to the explorer in me. The more time you spend running around, the better you learn the route. Dragonwake in particular is a maze of breathtaking mountain ridges, fragile gorgeous bridge spans, and tiered waterfalls that will drive you nuts until you have found your footing. But it is also very beautiful and I’ve grown to like it a good deal. And no discussion of the artwork would be complete without a nod to the dwarvish keep in Thunder Mountain which took our breaths away the first time we saw it.
But however beautiful, twisted, atmospheric, or crazy the landscape the open RvR zones are still basic random fantasy terrain. All except one.
Praag steps it up a notch. We’re running around a proper city, complete with buildings, bridges, barricades, towers, and boulevards and town squares that would make Baron Haussman proud. All it lacks is a good hardware store where we could stock up on instruments of urban warfare and it would be perfect (although there is a war profiteering elf in the Order war camp who has some siege weapons of mass destruction for our pleasure).
I’m not sure quite why racing around a city and killing stuff is such a gleeful experience. But it is! It feels like we get to play in one of those army urban combat mockups, or the sort of cool paintballing places we used to go on work trips during the internet boom where everyone tries to snipe their bosses boss.
For me it is as if there is an instinctive ‘omg urban playground’ instinct that kicks in when faced with a cityscape in a game. And funnily enough, the only other MMO I know which had a city based zone that wasn’t peaceful was DaoC (Avalon City, if anyone remembers, which was a PvE zone) and we loved that too.
The only sad thing for me is that Praag was so insanely busy during beta and yet somehow people prefer fighting in the other zones now that the game is live. We’ve had some good fights there, but not on the same scale as the beta craziness. But hey, give it time.