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I have played many popular MMORPGs, as well as participated in betas for the most obscure of games. I like to think I know a thing or two about the industry, and so I write about it.

Author: NotArkard

Contributor: NotBrandon

Witching Night: A blessing in disguise?

Posted by NotArkard Monday November 3 2008 at 1:12PM
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Cross posted from http://mmocrunch.com.

Happy Halloween, everybody! Yes, yes, I realize it's a couple of days late, but better late than never, right? On that note, I wanted to take this opportunity to properly introduce myself. My name is Malcom, and I'm one of the newest writers here at MMOCrunch.com. If you've read some of my previous posts here, you'll know that I mostly write about the world of Warhammer: Online, as well as some free-to-play MMORPGs that I happen to come by every now and then. Other than that, there's very little about me to share, and since you're here to read about MMORPGs, let's move on! Today, I will be describing my experience with the Witching Night event added to the world of Warhammer: Online on October 29th to honor the real-life celebrations of Halloween. Not only are we going to look into the event itself, and the obtainable rewards, but Mythic's ulterior motive behind this event. Was Witching Night Mythic's way of pushing people to the open RvR areas? Was it the miraculous kick-start that we've all been hoping RvR would get, or simply yet another item-driven and soon forgotten event?

I. Content Additions

I'm sure I wasn't the only one thinking "oh god, here comes another holiday event," but much to my surprise Mythic didn't simply add two or three items, a quest in Altdorf/Inevitable City and called it a day. Witching Night included one important addition: the Live Events tab to the Tome of Knowledge. We could spend a lot of time speculating what it will be used for in the very distant future, but it does show promise. Mythic has already announced that they will have more live events during the Heavy Metal content update set to take place starting November 17th. The potential for this tool shouldn't be underestimated in the right hands. For instance, if you were to have a team of people working on live events constantly, you could add a lot of flavour to the game. You could have daily, or weekly events to try to get people away from the daily scenario grind.

II. Influence and PvE

The main event included goals and rewards for both PvE and PvP. When accessing your Live Events tab on your Tome of Knowledge, you would see an influence bar and a "quest" showing your progress on the PvE aspect of the event. In order to complete the PvE side of the live event, you needed to kill: 50 Restless Spirits, 25 Withered Crones, and 10(?) Witching Lords. You would also get basic, advanced, and elite influence rewards as you would obtain from any regular PQ. To obtain influence during the event, you either had to kill the monsters listed on the live events tab, or players. Players seemed to give a minimal amount of influence, and from my experience they were not the best way to go about obtaining it. If anyone had a different experience, I'd love to hear how it worked for you. I would've preferred obtaining full influence by killing players than grinding mobs.

The PvE rewards included:

* Mask 4/4 - Obtained as the elite influence reward.
* Mask 3/4 - Obtained as drops from Restless Spirits, and Withered Crones.
* Gift of Dark Tidings - 4 cloaks in total you could choose from, one for each archetype. Each one had different bonuses: one for melee, one for ranged, one for healing, and one for offensive casting.
* Witching Potion - Obtained as the basic influence reward. This gives you an aura for 10 minutes and has a 60 minute cooldown. I don't know if this was intended or not, but my charges kept resetting at random intervals allowing me to always be at 5/5. You could also obtain a title from using this potion.
* Witch King* Title - Obtained by killing all the required mobs on the Live Events tab.

*To obtain the Witch King title, you actually had to do some or keep track of the RvR PQ. The Witching Lords you needed to complete the "quest" appeared only after one side killed 100 players of the opposing faction. I don't know if I was the only one this happened to, but whenever I killed a Witching Lord, it gave me credit for five. Not sure exactly how that was intended to work, or if Mythic originally intended for players to only have to kill two and the live events tab displayed ten.

As far as the PvE event, it wasn't anything spectacular. You had to grind mobs to get items. The rewards weren't really "rare" or difficult to obtain. It took me an hour and a half of grinding restless spirits to get full influence, and the result shown to the right. Man, I wish I was good enough to edit or manipulate pictures. That's actually how many masks I ended up with in my quest to full influence. Anyone who did the same can tell you it's a pretty accurate depiction of the drop rate for the gobbo masks. Now, I'm not going to complain; I plan to make a killing once the initial appeal of this holiday has passed and most everyone has sold their masks on the auction house. Still, it made me feel weird equipping this mask when I knew that everyone else on the planet was also wearing it. The mask model was actually my favourite out of the four, so you can imagine how disappointed I was when I realized how easy they were to obtain.

III. Get thee to the RvR area!

The RvR PQ was actually fun, and it looked like it could've been even more fun if it had been planned a little bit better. I'm on a medium population server, and the amount of people that showed up to the RvR areas for the event was absolutely staggering. I had to tinker with my settings for a few minutes to make sure that I wouldn't miss a second of the plentiful action. It reminded me of why I wanted to play Warhammer: Online in the first place; this bloodshed is what I signed up for.

I sharpened my waraxe, polished my armour, and set myself on the path to combat. Leaving behind the makeshift defenses of the Troll Country warcamp, I steeled my nerve and prepared myself for battle. The land itself had been scarred by tools of war, and the marching of hundreds of heavily-armored soldiers. Bodies lay scattered across the war-torn field where each faction had planted their own seeds of enmity, in preparation for their harvest of death. In the distance, the fighting screams of elf and greenskin alike could be heard, many silenced half-way by arrow or blade. Ready for the coming bloodbath, I rushed to aid my fellow soldiers in battle. Arriving closer to the battle cries, I could now see the fight more clearly, and that's when I witnessed the most horrifying event of my life.

Now that you get the basic idea, let me tell you what I witnessed without role-playing. What I saw in the coming minutes were the forces of Destruction sitting safely at the border to (in this case) Ostland/Troll Country shooting arrows or spells at our dim-witted melee classes who could not understand that we needed them to back up so we could get credit for the kills. Here's the deal: The event consisted of both factions fighting to see which one could obtain 100 kills first, so that a Witching Lord could spawn. That sounds easy, right? There were, after all, at least one hundred people constantly respawning and showing up to the RvR area on my server. The problem was that most of the kills we got were outside of the designated PQ area. As such, about three quarters of the kills we got didn't count towards our overall progress. This meant that we had to spend close to four hours completing stage I, constantly telling people to back up, so that one person could walk away with a gold bag, and the rest of us with suicidal thoughts. I'll be honest, though. I didn't really much care for the PQ itself. In my mind, I was happy that there were that many people in the open RvR areas, and that I was getting so much experience and enjoyment from doing open RvR. Early one morning, I was able to get 4140 experience for killing a single chosen solo. It made my day. Okay, that wasn't in the RvR area, and it was a 1 on 1...but, still!

The rewards for the PvP side of the event were the following:

* Mask 2/4 - Obtained as random drops from players.
* Mask 1/4 - Obtained as a reward from a gold bag after the PQ ended.
* A large amount of satisfaction.

I had a lot of fun. Whether we were completing the PQ objective or not, it encouraged people to actually get to the RvR areas, and that was enough for me. If the PQ wasn't happening, people would still show up, and we would take the area's objectives, or a keep. I loved every minute of it.

IV. Conclusion - Success or flop?

Having witnessed the event first-hand, and spent many hours participating in both aspects(PvE and PvP) of the event, it made me wonder: Did Mythic really give a damn about Halloween, or were they just using that as an excuse to add a couple of items to convince people to get out to the RvR areas? If the event's ultimate goal was to get people to do open RvR, then it's safe to consider it a success. Who cares if you got a gold bag from the ORvR PQ or not? As mentioned previously, even when the PQ wasn't happening, people would still show up, and we would then take objectives and keeps. It made organizing warbands a lot easier, since you knew where to find the people you needed. Normally, if you want to take a keep, you have to spend a staggering amount of time organizing a warband, and trying to find people in the right areas. With the event, you knew where people were, all the time. Even if you didn't want to do the PQ, you could go poach people there, and off to another area you go!

If you are to judge the event's organization, the way the PQ was laid out, and the originality and effort put forth to create a holiday event, then I would call it a flop. The ORvR PQ was poorly laid out, with people usually sitting away from the designated area shooting arrows or spells, or one faction chasing another one away from the area and refusing to back down resulting in hours and hours of lack of progress.

What did you guys think? Was the event entertaining or not? Are you looking at it from the PQ-completing perspective, or simply for the fun factor? I, for one, am looking forward to the Heavy Metal content update, and the events that it will bring.