Updated Thu, Apr 16, 2009 by RadarX
Roughly six months ago, with the backing of gaming giant EA, Mythic Entertainment brought MMO game carnage to the masses. Built on a premise of large scale PvP, the world of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning introduced thousands to a world built around warfare. Since that time, the development team has worked tirelessly and provided live events, more quests, and an unprecendented four new classes to play. Patch 1.2 continues this tradition by making major additions and changes that should improve the game's overall experience. The patch notes are extensive and too lengthy to cover in detail, but if you haven't been in WAR for awhile we're going to cover the highlights and try to explain how the patch will affect gameplay.
The most widely discussed changes currently on the Public Test Server are the Keep Upgrades. The patch makes a number of changes, but these are the most complex and influential. While Open RvR combat can take place sporadically throughout any zone, including Battlefield Objectives, the keeps are a magnet to those looking to capture a zone. A safe haven, (assuming you can get inside alive) they provide a base of operations and every player can retell a great battle fought over one. They do have a few shortcomings, but it appears many of the changes in 1.2 are an improvement and could revitalize interest in lengthy keep fights. What do we have in store for us?
The first and most exciting piece is the ability to upgrade keeps. Not the traditional ballista on a tower or boiling oil over a gate but something completely new. Conquering guilds will have access to a menu that allows those with enough cash to make improvements to the defense. Essentially when a keep is taken by a guild and claimed, they will have access to a Guild Broker NPCs offering additions that help raise the rank of the keep. While I didn't see it mentioned specifically, it's assumed a higher ranked keep generates more renown.
The list of upgrades is pretty extensive, but here are just a few. First is giving doors increasing amounts of hitpoints. This means you'll be able to keep the opposing force under fire much longer and increase damage while reducing their morale. Is the door not holding players back as long as you'd like? You'll be able to add a door repair merchant who sells wood used in shoring up damage and frustrating an enemy advance. Just these features alone are an effective money sink not to mention a perfect way to extend keep life and motivate guilds. But it doesn't end there!
If you haven't rushed a keep before, just imagine you and more than 20 others charging a wall or fortification guarded by a dozen soloable NPCs. Resistance from players on the walls will slow you down, but the NPCs will be chewed up in 90 seconds. The ability to upgrade some of these guards into champion ranks will put a big fat damper on these tactics and provide additional security.
What else could you possibly need to keep people out? Siege weaponry of course! We can purchase some of it already, but it normally requires a trip to the local warcamp meaning someone has to risk their neck to break the siege and buy it. You'll soon be able to add a siege vendor to replace boiling oil pots as fast as the enemy can break them.
Once the interior keep door is breached, one of two things can happen. The attackers rush straight to the Keep Lord's room or they are contained on the bottom floor. Either way it has little strategic value and receives at best a token defense on rare occasion. In order to improve the defense of this area, the WAR team is allowing guilds to purchase a Ritualist to cast spells on the lower level. You can either purchase one that generates an AoE lifetap or an AoE heal depending on the tactical need of your current situation. If these weren't interesting enough, guilds who have reached Rank 40 can purchase altars of Divine Favor. As skulls are collected off the corpses of the dead, they are added to the altar. When finally charged it can be triggered to "unleash pure terror" according to Mythic.
Admittedly those are the most exciting parts of 1.2 but I've barely touched on all the changes. It seems every class had abilities adjusted, fixed, or otherwise poked at, which will certainly affect combat. The list is too extensive and, though nothing looked like a major revamp, I'd advise looking at the final patch notes when they hit the live servers. Among the general combat changes is an attempt to provide more accurate cast times to the player. We've all had moments where latency or sluggish machines cost us either a kill or our own lives, so it's nice to see Mythic trying to make things as precise as they can.