My issues with dungeons (so far)

Ok, this is solely based on Gunbad and Bastion Stair which we’re currently half-heartedly working our way through.

Why half-heartedly? Well.. for a few reasons The first wing is almost too straightforward, easy to clear – the boss, wasn’t too bad once we got his schtick (not too hard to grasp!). The second wing, is more tricky – but has some nice little fights in. And I’ve not yet been to the third wing.

The problem? Well, it’s all well and good to have a public dungeon where I can take a warband of guild or alliance mates and crush evil wherever I see it. But, once we get to that instanced boss, we suddenly have to work on making balanced 6-man groups, leaving people out, feeling guilty/bad if one group does it and another doesn’t – and anyone who does it gets a 24-hr lockout. And the game doesn’t detect the 6 (or less) classes taking part and cleverly drop sensible loot for those classes – nope, it’s so far mostly dropped stuff for any class NOT in the group (often one in the other group, who then get different loot). I hate that a fast-paced dungeon romp comes to a crashing halt as bureacracy kicks in.

The only solution we’ve found so far – go as a 6-man group only. But that means I can’t just openly ask guild and alliance if they want to come along – everyone gets influence for the PQs, for example. Each group can tap mobs needed for quests and get some xp that way. But the bosses – it grinds to a halt and then there’s an aura of awkwardness.

And the 24-hr lockout. While I don’t disagree in principle to it (I think it was 30 mins for Gunbad, unless that’s changed), it means that some people are literally going EVERY night for a chance for their loot. I can’t and won’t do that, it’s no fun and it’s no xp after the first tranche of quests are completed.

Don’t get me wrong, I like public dungeons. I like being able to randomly decide I want a break from questing, scenarios and open RvR and that I have an option that can potentially offer me some great rewards. And both Gunbad and Bastion Stair are very atmospherically and graphically pleasing. Gunbad inhabited by Night Goblins, and Bastion Stair dedicated to Khorne with lots of skulls, blood and fire. So I like the occasional trip – they just always seem to leave me feeling a bit down.

Also, the lag caused by the pretty fires in Bastion Stair. Not fun!

I’m hoping people will answer with lots of things they love about the dungeons… so over to you.

Gunbad, good and bad

We’ve been playing a bit in Gunbad, a 3-wing public dungeon in the North-West corner of the Badlands. So once you know where it is, it really doesnt take much to organise a quick group and toddle along. The entrance is an impressive cavern mouth with a red crescent moon above it, signalling the presence of Night Goblins! And a swirly zone-change thingy. Go through that and discover a ton of quests, that cover all three wings of the dungeon.

The easiest wing starts with rank 23 champs, and is the right-hand one. You’ll see spiders, so you’ll know that’s the right one. The middle-ranked wing is off on the left-hand side and starts with rank 25 champs. So taking the middle path gets you to the hardest wing, I think they start at rank 28 champs – my group ran off and I was healing, so I didn’t pay as much attention.

You can do each wing as a warband or as a single group, and each consists of 3 PQs, followed by a boss fight. The PQs can  be fast and furious, especially if you do have a large warband, or there are more than just your group in there. Yes, it’s public, so it could be swarming with groups. We’ve never found it to have more than a couple though. And each PQ is pretty self-contained, usually helps with a quest and has 2-3 stages. They also drop purple, blue and gold bags with more regularity than we’ve seen elsewhere. You work along the influence bar for the zone, and when you get to the first bar of influence, you can go see the first boss, etc. That’s behind an instance swirly thing after the third PQ of the wing. But, be warned, you can’t go in in a warband, it’s a one-group fight.

That’s the good. You can jump straight into Gunbad with just one group, or announce you’re going and get quite a few interested parties and do some dungeon-bashing with nice rewards. The quests give a ton of xp compared to many (I had one quest from Dark Fire Pass just to go to Gunbad that netted me 10k xp), and the influence rewards are very nice too. So even if you don’t win anything at a PQ or boss fight, there’s a good chance of nice gear. And honestly, the PQs are pretty fast and can be redone with persistence points. Set pieces seem to drop from the bosses (not quite done the final boss yet!).

Also,  there’s a chance to work on your ‘kill night goblins’ tome achievements. And if you kill two named goblins in the final wing, you get an item unlock – a dark light for your pocket slot (buyable at city libraries). Can’t remember their names off the top of my head, but they’re on either side of a path and you need them both for a quest anyway!

So that’s the good. It’s a nicely accessible place with some fun PQs, nice loot, good xp and the ability to tromp through with a warband so you don’t have to turn people away. And each wing can be done in around 1.5h (possibly faster in big warband), so there’s no massive time commitment either.

But…

For the behind-instance boss fights you will need to separate out into balanced groups. If you took 10 people through the wing, you now need to discuss which 4 to leave outside. Bit of a bummer, but the lockout is only half an hour, so strictly those 4 people could hang out and then the whole group could burn half an hour doing PQs, reform the instance 6-man and do the boss again for those who missed out the first time. Or that’s the theory, I’ve not had a chance to try it.

Also, if you do go in in a warband, bear in mind that quest mobs (and tome unlock mobs) will need to be tagged by each group separately in order to tick the achievement/quest off. They respawn relatively quickly and is another encouragement to do the nearest PQ twice, but it’d be nice if some of these things did work better in warbands generally.

If there are other groups in there doing PQs, prepare to be a little underwhelmed at the epic-ness of some of the fights. I’ve done the first wing in a lowish level 6-man and in a mid-level warband, I’m sure you can guess which was more challenging! But you can challenge yourself and still find another couple of groups in there, so it’s probably best just to see it as a romp and enjoy the fighting and looting.

Overall, I really enjoy Gunbad. It’s a good way to bring people together and do something fun in PvE that’s also rewarding and a little different. I look forward to the other public dungeons around the place, since I believe they all follow a similar pattern and now we’re knocking on Tier 4 it’s nice to have the odd break from RvR!

When the tier 3 quest train got derailed

Tier 3 is the level 21-32 stretch of the game. There are two zones per racial pairing to cover this level range, and an increase of scenarios to two per pairing (making six in total). Like tier 2, there are two keeps to attack per pairing, but the keeps are much larger than the ‘baby’ versions and have an outer wall as well as an inner bailey, making twice as many doors to knock down.

And just as tier 2 had an instances (sewers in Altdorf, I assume there’s a Destruction equivalent), tier 3 has Gunbad. It’s an underground area in the Badlands with oddles of quests, public quests, and instances with bosses – lots to do and nice rewards if you do them.

Other than that, business as usual! So how’s tier 3 treating you?

Slow, Slow, slowslowslow

The big difference that we, and everyone else, has noticed is that it takes longer and longer to level up via PvE. Where before we were struggling not to outlevel our quests because we were getting so much xp from pretty much everything, now the opposite is true. It’s quite easy to finish all the quests in an area and not yet be high enough level to easily tackle the next set of quests. Snafzg has a good rant about this. I agree that questing feels too slow at this level but not that grinding does — that depends more on what class you are playing and who is with you.

What’s more, scenarios give xp at a hugely better rate than quests. If a quest gives about 2500xp, I can pull at least 10k xp from a scenario (if we win), and that’s not including the associated scenario quests from the warcamps. Plus scenarios generate a lot of renown too, it’s a no-brainer if they are up. So people congregate at warcamps so as to be able to hand the quests in after every run.

I’m not  inclined to work up to a major rant because I haven’t been personally frustrated. We play Order on a well populated server so we never have to wait long for a scenario at prime time. So what we tend to do is quest/grind xp in the mornings (or when not many people are on), and try to run scenarios or groups to Gunbad or world RvR (doesn’t give much xp but is fun!) in prime time. Still, it is the first time I have found myself grinding out some xp and on a healer that’s a fairly slow proposition.

All aboard for the quest train

Questing is the fancy package holiday levelling version of an MMO. Hop onto the quest train and get a guided tour around  story and lore mixed with bits of killing^D^D^D^Dmeeting the natives and exploring. Sometimes there will be clips of cool scripted dialogue or encounters too. And eventually you end up at the max level quest terminus with connecting flights to whatever you plan to do at end game.

So when you hit a brick wall, it hurts hard. Not only has it interrupted the questing rhythm, but when you wander into an area to talk to a quest person and all the creatures that you see are 4 or 5 levels above you, you have to wonder what your dumb character is doing there. If you decide that it isn’t possible,  you now need to think about how you can (in time honored fashion) go off and kill some wandering monsters so that you can go back to your quests later when you are a bit tougher. And when it’s slow to get xp from wandering monsters — suddenly the fun light-hearted game starts to look like work. Lots of work. Stray off the beaten track of your package holiday and you don’t know where you might end up.

I don’t think it is necessary to be able to level purely by questing in one area but it should be possible to do so by questing in all available areas. That way, if you chose to stick to one pairing you still have the option to grind xp or  scenario, but if you prefer to just quest you can.  So while the best possible option would be to add an entire new zone full of quests into T3 for each pairing, the easiest would be to tweak quest and PQ xp upwards. Mythic should do this.

Other things of note about T3

There are some really good Public Quests available in the T3 areas. Syp mentioned a skaven one which we all love. There is one in Saphery which I liked that involved helping an ancient Archmage defend his tower; I think I prefer the PQs which have badass NPCs in them. (But where’s my tower? What, that garden shed …) But people aren’t flocking to the PQs any more. My guess is that this is mostly because they don’t give as good xp as scenarios, plus people wanting to stick to warcamps to maximise scenario xp.

In Tier 3 you also notice that healers and tanks don’t feel as competent at soloing as they did in earlier levels, if they spec to heal/tank. This also contributes to the ‘slowing down’ feeling. Tier 3 feels slow compared with what went before.

We do think it’s an issue and are sympathetic to anyone who doesn’t have the option to pad out quest xp with regular scenarios due to server population. But we also have some suggestions:

– grinding xp on pqs. it isn’t exciting but you get a lot of xp and gold and you might meet people, you never know. If you don’t want to meet people, pick a less exciting or more out of the way PQ.  This is almost certainly the fastest way to grind xp if scenarios are not running, just if it drives you nuts after awhile take a break and do one of the other things on this list instead.

– check out quests and PQs in your capital city. Altdorf is now level 3 for us and there is new stuff turning up all the time. It passes the time and has nice xp attached, plus helps to level the city more.

– scenarios. I know, not helpful if you are on a low pop server but if you are playing in prime time and scenarios are running and you don’t utterly hate them, queue at a war camp and give the quests in as much as you can.

– grab some people and go to Gunbad. Most people will be curious to see it, and you can take a warband and zip through some PQs and get cool influence rewards and nice xp from quests. If you have a balanced 6 man group, you can check out the instanced bosses as well.

-Log out in a capital city. It will increase your rest bonus. if your guild has access to the guild tavern, make sure you have a scroll of return on you at all times to make this easier.

– I’m hoping that with the chat system revamp, mythic will add more realmwide channels to help with group forming but meanwhile, see if your server has an order/destruction channel and use it if so.

– tome unlocks. Explore everywhere. Kill anything you haven’t seen before. Talk to other people about unlocks they have found or check lists on the net. All tome unlocks give xp. If you want to spend some time exploring you can try to hit a load of these in one go.

– world pvp. not really great for xp although it is good for renown. But anything is better than nothing, right? And you can always ask people if they want to knock out some PQs when you’re done storming the castle.

Updates upon updates

We don’t talk that much about what we’re doing in-game, we think other bloggers have that pretty well-covered and we’re in that kind of crazy first month of running around madly and trying to fit in work, life, TV and gaming all in one messy pot. I’ll write a little more about how it’s affecting me personally this weekend, I think.

But here’s a quick rundown.

Hawley’s offline (boo!), he’s got himself a fancy new job which meant relocating, and thanks to a certain big company not being very .. good, he’s delayed getting back online. We miss him.

Me and Spinks are still playing Archmage and Rune Priest as our mains and enjoying them, finding ways through the Tier 3 slowdown. Spinks has been organising some guild keep takes/defences, while I’ve been knuckling down and getting to grips with mastery specs. If you can bear angst, I might talk more about that also. We’ve also got alts of various levels that might enter the blog at some point.

Guild is going well, it’s big and we’re currently on closed status, but am sure eventually it’ll open. Getting some more officers for what is likely to be an interesting November. I’ll definitely be spending time on Moria, and obviously Lich King will take some people’s attention away from WAR for awhile. So anyway, that’s behind-the-scenes guild stuff. Generally we’re all pretty happy with the guild I think! We’ve got a great bunch of people and there’s always something going on (often spontaneous, sometimes organised).

We’ve run some small roleplay events, claimed our first keep (thankfully the server reset it before we went bankrupt), a little chicken run to explore some areas, a couple of runs through bits of Gunbad with either groups or warbands and many many sets of PQs and scenario groups. Oh, and we’re part of an Alliance!

Order on our server is getting to know one another, and becoming more organised, we have channels set up to discuss open field RvR and it appears to be effective. There’s a roleplay event set up for saturday for guilds to meet up and chat.

Last night I spoke to Zizlak online too, he moonlighted as Order to come say hi. Though we were in the boss fight of a Gunbad wing, so I think I was a bit lame in my responses. Sorry Ziz!

And now.. the newsletter

With thanks to one of our readers, cb, who forwarded me hers to read!

  • The newsletter starts with the news about release date and pricing
  • As of 28th August, European players will be able to pre-order the regular/standard edition of Warhammer Online and receive headstart and in-game bonuses
  • Almost all of the European CEs have been reserved, but there are still some left
  • The second WAR trailer is due out on 19th August and will be shown on MTV and Game One after 5pm. After the debut it’ll be available on the European WAR website as well as at the Games Convention in Leipzig. ps. it’s over 5 mins long!
  • The Leipzig Games Convention is on 21st August and the WAR stand has 360m2 of space devoted to it. Iain C, Jeff Hickman, Paul Barnett and Mark Jacobs will be there, offering prizes for puzzles and challenges.
  • Mythic is returning to its name of Mythic Entertainment
  • Links to E3 coverage
  • Intro to Gunbad (dungeon in Badlands) with three wings, each with three PQs, as well as instanced wing bosses, as well as a big boss once you’ve completed all three wings
  • Guild beta opening and what’s being tested (all pairings through tier 2, mounts, etc)
  • Little overview of Rune Priest and Squig Herder (yay!)
  • Screenshots of some named NPCs and some more generic ones (ie. bankers)
  • Grab bag on the Magus
  • Screenshots, beta journal, podcasts, and Paul’s video phone blog as detailed below

Because it was forwarded I didn’t get to see the pics included. But that’s a quick summary for now!