Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Cataclysm Revamp part1 - Unbalanced Combat

Blizzard shocked and delighted its fan base when they announced that their next expansion would be a revamp of the old world content. The lands of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms sit mostly empty nowadays with only a few low level characters moving through them. Such a large amount of underutilized space is a waste of resources and makes the game less accessible to new players. People new to the game often have to depend on "recruit a friend" bonuses to get caught up with the rest of us. The game really isn't that fun if your only contact with other players is when they gank you.

This could even become a major issue when Cataclysm is released. The re-worked zones are sure to attract explorers from every level and not just newly made goblins/worgen. On the PvP servers you should expect a lot of interference from higher level players as you are trying out the new quests. This expansion will probably revitalize open world PvP in some areas of Azeroth, though it's sure to be a nuisance to anyone making a new character. This sort of makes me suspect that Blizzard might have something up its sleeve to deal with the problem.

One of the numerous minor changes to the game announced at Blizzcon was the reworking of how players upgrade their spells and abilities. Instead of constantly visiting your class trainer to get more powerful versions, your spells and abilities automatically upgrade themselves as you level. This suggests that Blizzard might also have the functionality to decrease the power of spells and abilities based on level. This is pure conjecture, but we could see a downgrading of damage when players fight characters that are grossly below their level. This would also have to take into account basic melee damage, but it's not entirely impossible.

The idea would be to make it so players leveling new characters couldn't easily be one shotted by maxed level players. In the previous two expansions not that many people were playing new characters so this was never a major issue. However, after the Cataclysm the number of players leveling once again should be through the roof. That's going to be a pretty tempting target for players who are going to be 20 to 60 levels higher. Some classes will be able to use AOE abilities and massacre entire low level quest hubs in a few seconds. There was no motivation to do this when these quest hubs were mostly empty (no bragging rights), but that changes in the expansion.

Even if Blizzard doesn't have some way of dealing with unbalanced combat we'll probably at least see some changes to limit ganking. At the very least I expect low level quest hubs to have their guards upgraded to level 85. There also might be some attempts to encourage players to protect low level quest hubs with their maxed level characters. Unfortunately, the problem is that the level difference is so great that most gankers will be able to wipe out a bunch of low level characters quickly and escape any consequences. That's why I really hope Blizzard is aware of the issue. Otherwise I might just be leveling my goblin and worgen in dungeons only.


Dorgol said...

I doubt we'll see anything like that. MAYBE they will add a "I want to help my buddy in a dungeon so I voluntarily weaken myself", but not a "you can't 1-shot that guy because you are supposed to be nice to those lower than you".

Getting ganked is part of being on a PvP server. :)