Like a lot of gamers I have always been a big fan of instances in MMOs. I have always loved killing bosses and finding a challenge that required a group to overcome. One thing I always disliked was trying to find a group, sometimes it would literally take hours. You would finally fill up your group and your ready to go, then someone has drop from the group and your back to searching for a member. Even worse is when you get your group together and clear some mobs in the instance, maybe even take down the first boss and then your tank or healer says, “ Sorry I g2g, thanks for group”. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning attempts to find the solution to these problems with their much talked about Public Quest System.
Public Quests are area based multi-staged fights which lead you to a final boss. There is no taking the time to get your group together and then waiting at the entrance of an instance for everyone to get there. Just walk into certain areas and there will be a Public Quest ongoing (marked on your map with a treasure chest icon). Generally, the first stage will be killing X number of these creatures and the area is flooded with said creatures, although I have read that there is a great variety in the objectives given. The next stage usually consists of a group of harder mobs, this progression continues until you get to the final stage. The final stage is a boss fight. The boss is a much harder fight and requires a little more coordination than the previous fights. When you defeat the boss the group receives a chest of loot.
The loot system adds the stats of the players involved in the public quest. When these points are added together, a number is randomly generated for each player that contributed to the public quest and then is added onto the amount of points you were given based on your contribution. Players are ranked based on the combined points given and earned and then the game distributes the loot accordingly.
While some people complain about the loot distribution system and while it’s not perfect, it is in essence a need roll, weighted to reflect your contribution. I think it is as fair as any loot distribution system, taking every kind of contribution a player can make into account; some class would be left out if they did it solely on DPS, or healing stats.
Public Quest bosses drop some really good loot, but it’s important to not that you also get experience for all the kills involved in the fight (which is pretty standard MMO fare) as well as gaining influence in the area.
Influence, which is built up alongside standard experience in the PQ can be used to buy goodies from an NPC. As mentioned above, there are three tiers for a PQ. Each tier grants XP and Influence. While there are a number of PQs in any given zone, they are repeatable if you are in need of Influence to buy a certain piece of armor or potion. The influence items are decent loot and it is a good way to gear up your character for the rest of your journey.
Being able to run the same Public Quest repeatedly highlights one of the other advantages of these quests. The option of staying or leaving the fight when you’re ready helps to bring a lot more freedom to the game. You are not committed to a group, which may have taken a long time to organize and you can pop in and out of the battle as you have time. So, when you sit down at your computer and you only have 15 minutes or so to play, you don’t have to rule out doing a Public Quest as you would an instance in other games. Also, if you want to get more influence, you can just hang around and participate again. You also don’t have to sit around while other players go afk to get a drink, walk their dog, or as I have had happen before, go eat dinner with their parents so they do not get grounded. I find that this takes away a lot of frustration involved in boss encounters in MMOs.
Public Quests won’t be hard to come by, the developers estimate about 300 or so of these public quests at the launch of the game. That is a lot of content to explore. I think that the people attacking WAR for its lack of PvE content are discounting the scope and volume of Public Quests.
With PQs located all over the place, you can jump into them at a very early level. All of the Public Quests are marked clearly on your map so there is no excuse for missing them.
This helps draw you into the lore of WAR and also the feeling of a real war going on. The Public Quests that I have seen have very good themes to them and help with the feeling of being a part of a war effort.
Public Quests add a new and exciting dimension to the game. This is a feature that we will surely see copied in the future by other games. It is a great step forward for removing some of the time constraints usually associated with boss fights. It also removes a lot of the drama of finding players to team up with.
Public Quests are one of the features that Warhammer has to offer that has drawn me toward the game. I am normally not the type of person that jumps on the new game bandwagon but WAR incorporates so many things that have been missing from the games that I have played lately. In addition to the PQs, I look forward to having a meaningful guild system, the freedom to level through PvP or PvE, and of course RvR. I will be the first to admit from my year plus of beta testing WAR, that it is not a perfect game. Not even close, but it is the most fun I have had playing a MMO in a long time. That alone was enough for me to give Mythic my pre-order money and to wait patiently for release.