Warhammer Online Games Day: The Future of Combat and Careers

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Are you tired of playing a melee class in Warhammer and getting killed by casters? At Baltimore Games Day we had a chance to sit down with Nate Levy to talk about careers, RvR, and class balance, which is a very touchy subject in Warhammer Online. Players have been crying “foul!” on Bright Wizard and Sorcerer area of effect attacks and the lack of survivability for tanks and DPS classes in the game.

Nate was quick to tell us that the Careers Team is taking a close look at crowd control groups right now. “We have to be careful with the changes we make to crowd control, one or two little changes can have big impacts in the game. That is why we tend to do smaller changes to crowd control as we assess the scope,” Nate said.

Melee classes may get some help against casters.

The largest issues right now players seem to be facing are the Bright Wizard and Sorcerer AOE groups in RvR. They are made up of a tank for protection, healers, and a Bright Wizard/Sorcerer who is spamming damage all around. Nate explained that these groups are a bit too effective and some changes are in the works. The Bright Wizard is the only career really doing anything active in the fight. Nate had this to say on the topic:

“Right now Bright Wizard and Sorcerer PBAOE bomb groups. People realize that these characters can do a lot of area damage, so they stack a group of a tank to guard, three healers, and a Bright Wizard and they do nothing but concentrate all these five people’s output through one person and they do very well at it,” he said. “Especially against uncoordinated groups who don’t realize you just take out the healers and the Bright Wizard is toast.”

“So that is the kind of thing you see right now, but next month it might be a different strategy that someone comes up with to work around that,” he continued. “We’re waiting to see players form an all ranged all knock back group to scatter the pack into six directions and focus their fire on killing them one at a time. That really is the answer to the PBAOE group.”

Nate was laughing about giving away some group tips, but did say that players should really look into their teammates and coordinate groups effectively. Each class has its own tool set and its job; however using them in a group is the most effective way to fight. Dark Age of Camelot ran the same way.

Are Bright Wizards W.A.R.'s most hated class?

I asked about the fighting/healing hybrid classes in the game and Nate said that they really want to see them push towards more of a frontline combat situation for them. Right now these pseudo-healers are standing back and acting more like regular healers. This takes away from their role on the front lines. He hopes that certain changes will give them more of a front line presence on the field.

In regards to ranged classes, Nate felt they could use some help:

“Most of them are pretty much hitting target as to where we want them to be, the Shadow Warriors do need some love, which is something we are closely looking at. Range does not seem to be the big issue right now; it is the range up close. Bright Wizard PBAOE bombing is a balanced strategy, but there are some points where it is just too overwhelming, too effective.”

I compared the PBAOE make up to Dark Age of Camelot and asked about the trend of bomb groups to assist trains, where tanks and DPS became the focus and would charge in on one target to kill it right away. A group is in trouble without its healer, then without its back up healer, etc. This trend led to some nasty groups in DAOC, I asked Nate if he expects this in Warhammer at some point?

“We have not seen a lot of assist trains in WAR at this point because AOE is a little too good. With AOE why assist on one person when you can just wipe out everybody?” he asked. “So that is one thing we’re really looking at, and that will help the melee classes once the AOE is handled better. The melee classes won’t fear as much getting up into the middle of the fireball, because you know you’re not going to get insta-burned.”

We asked about some help for tanks in RvR, and Nate gave us some tactics that players could use right now.

“Keep in mind that taunt does do something in RvR. The Taunt and the Challenge do work in RvR. If you taunt somebody you do more damage against them until they hit you three times,” he said.” Otherwise if they don’t turn around you’re going to punish them. Also with Challenge, which is the cone area taunt, everybody you challenge does less damage in the game to everybody but you.”

“So if they turn and hit you, they will be at full effectiveness, if they continue to attack your team mates they will be doing less damage. Taunts and Challenge absolutely work in RvR,” he continued. “If you are playing a great weapon tank, and you see a great weapon tank coming after you and taunting you, they are about to wreck you, unless you turn around and hit them, which is exactly what they want. The other thing to keep in mind is collision detection. If you set up a wall up front, odds are they are not getting through. You really cannot do that with anyone other than tanks.”

With all this great strategy coming from Nate, I asked him to continue. How can tanks and melee classes better compete against their ranged opponents?

Black Guards might have more tools than you think.

“A lot of it, especially for the close in guys, really comes down to teamwork. Because the guys in back can get much more breathing room, where as the guys up in the middle of it that are in hand to hand  on the front lines really need that support. If you look at a healer and melee class, that team is better than a healer and caster team,” he said. “Because if you have a healer and a Bright Wizard fighting against a healer and a Black Guard, the healer and the Black Guard are probably going to win. Because there is no way the damage is going to take down the Black Guard. The close combat guys really start to shine with support.”

We asked Nate about the DPS classes and he said to look closely at the mastery trees. There are some really nasty options in there that players have not started to fully use. There is a lot for the Choppa and Slayer on the lists and many players have yet to go there with their character builds. Overall he hopes players will explore every option with their classes to get the best ones for their play style.

In closing we talked about play style and Nate said that they are looking at many ways to give the tanks, melee DPS, caster DPS, and healer classes all new and strong identities. Each race has these classes in their make up and many players were asking what the differences are? Nate explained that the team continues to look for ways to set the Marauder apart from the Choppa and the Runepriest from the Arch Mage. They want the players to have a definite personality to their class.

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