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BioWare Mythic
MMORPG | Genre:Fantasy | Status:Cancelled  (est.rel 09/18/08)  | Pub:Electronic Arts
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Warhammer Online: Population Imbalance Issues

MMORPG.com Warhammer online Correspondent Asaf Younsian writes this quick opinion piece throwing in his two cents about the population imbalances in Mythic Entertainment's Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.

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After a smooth launch and a lot of buzz, we're starting to see dents in Mythic Entertainment’s Warhammer Online world.

As it's not my intent to go on and list them, I wanted to narrow it down on one specific problem that might cause a series of problems that might very well drop the entire game a notch – Population imbalance between the different factions.

First, let's take a look at what this imbalance means and how it affects the world:

Most (if not all) servers seem to have a population of around 60% Destruction oriented characters and only 40% Order. While those numbers may change slightly, the majority remains on the destruction side.

This is a double edged sword of a problem. First, Order players end up with not enough participants to cover all the Public Quests. Since most of those quests require at least 4-5 players to complete in their last stage, the Order players are missing out on a lot of the less popular PQs. In addition, and maybe more importantly in the bigger picture, the only time when Order can gain the upper hand in RvR is either in a "guerrilla" raid of Destruction taken RvR control points (Night-time raids, small strike groups taking isolated locations, etc.) or when a large group of Order is assembled.

While the latter option seems very valid, we all know that it's also impractical to ask Order to organize an allied raid once a day at least.

Destruction's side isn't full of honey either – While there is enough population to run almost all of the PQs, I believe that the Destruction players are missing out the fun of just clicking on the WAR icon and getting instantly invited to join a scenario as their Order players can do. I can attest from my experience that queuing to an RvR scenario with my girlfriend while playing our Destruction characters would usually end up waiting for anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, while I was entering and leaving scenarios non-stop when playing our Order characters.

WAR High Jump

So, we get it, imbalance is bad. What caused it? A few things, in my opinion.

Post WoW Syndrome:

When WoW was launched, a decisive 60% of the players chose to play as part of the Alliance, while 40% were playing the Horde. Sound familiar?

Those Alliance players (myself included) were tired of playing the goodie-two-shoes characters and decided to be the mean Black Orc or the huge hulk of a man in armor with evil auras around him.

Public Relations and Paul Barnett:

I have been watching quite a lot of pod-casts and videos prior to WAR's launch. I dare any of you to find a video that talks as passionately about Order as the guys at Mythic talk about Destruction. I assume that they did it in order to promote more players to favor Destruction in order to create balance, but maybe ended up overdoing it.

Let's face it, they're cooler:

So in Destruction we have:

  • Chaos - Big, corrupted people with mutating arms and impressive armors? – check.
  • Dark Elves - Sexy, scantily clad women that can chop up things really fast? – check.
  • Green Skins - "So ugly that they're cute" goblins and huge, loud brutes? – check.

Let's look at their Order counterparts:

  • Order – Nothing fancy, just same old human without a tank? – check.
  • High Elves – Weird hats, wiry and "fruity" vampire looking guys? – check.
  • Dwarves – Small, unassuming, quiet, desperate with unimpressive armor? – check.

Need I say more?

Class balance:

You can feel it when you play a Nordenwatch scenario (or at least could before the cross-racial pairing system) – Order has weaker healers and no tanks. The result was a steam rolling fiasco on almost all scenarios you ended up playing (The Chosen running into your face and never dying).

I believe Mythic should have released those classes (Knights and Hammerers at least) even as "half-baked" as they were.

So now we know what imbalance is and we might have a hint on what caused it. How can it be fixed?

Population self balance – People go where they are needed. If you're just another Chosen in a crowd of 4-5 more in every scenario, it gets boring. If you're the only Ironbreaker, you're unique.

Underdogs – I don't know about most people, but I love playing the underdog. I want to know that if we won we did something good, not just another one of the daily grinds.

Class balance restored – It's a long shot, but the Knight of the Blazing Sun is something the Empire needs badly. I believe it will have a bigger effect on drawing people to Order then it's Dark-elven counterpart.

What kills you makes you tougher – Order players play more scenarios, they end up learning more, getting more experience, knowing their classes better. This will become crucial in Tier 4.

With all that said and done, it all boils down to Tier 4 and the City Sieges. It's a matter of how many Destruction and Order players stick it out through the leveling up process and end up facing off at Tier 4 and city sieges.

While I expect the imbalance to ease up over time, I really don't want to wake up every morning to see Altdorf sacked and see even more people leaving Order because their main pride and joy is constantly in ruins.

Asaf Yonay / Game Designer, game addict, believes that a good game design can only come from players.

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