Bait and Switch

An established online gaming company with some moderate success in its record released its next generation MMORPG based on a popular fantasy intellectual property. Whatever the initial hoopla, it was pretty quickly recognized as an incremental improvement on the WoW quest-based MMORPG model, with some changes such as a central quest line running through the story from tutorial to endgame, with the early parts customized to your character. One of the notable differences from comparable games was the financial model, which included buying an account once rather than paying a monthly fee; a cash shop provided assorted character boosts and account upgrades.

The game had immediate appeal Explorers and Socializers, and frequent events were a big draw that gathered players together, although it did split them into multiple instances of the zone which could be inconvenient. The PvE was relatively relaxed, the community was more positive than average. There was a lot of play and exploration below the level cap, and the endgame content was structured around single-group dungeons, although content did exist for larger groups of characters to tackle together, if you were up for fighting a dragon. It also had a draw on Achievers with its take on achievements, which linked back to Explorers given the range of achievements available. As much as the game tried to advertise to Killers with its PvP area based on taking keeps and sieging the central castle, it was mostly a PvE playground.

For its first expansion worth of content, it added a new tier of items, along with a new mechanic whereby dungeons would be more difficult unless you had run the dungeons enough to get equipment that countered the debuff mechanic. This new equipment also had the best stats in the game. You are familiar with the sort of forum wars that erupt when you put the best equipment in gated group content, but the Lord of the Rings Online got past it, and the game is still available with 4.5 years’ worth of updates if that is the game you are interested in playing.

: Zubon

24 thoughts on “Bait and Switch

  1. sleepy

    The problem being that it looks like ass. I’ve never made it past the 30′s because the art is, in a word, terrible, and the north downs is a grind of epic proportions.

  2. bhagpuss

    LotRO had frequent events? I played for quite a while and still play on occasion and I must have missed them. It has Holiday events and some excellent player-run events but what MMO doesn’t?

    I never tried the Player vs Monster PvP in LotRO so I can’t comment on how popular or otherwise that has been. WvW in GW2, at least on my server, Yak’s Bend, remains immensely vibrant. I spent most of this weekend defending the Frontiers where battle was never-ending. I had to queue to get in more than once and playing GMT hours on a US server I’m fast asleep during the server’s peak load.

    As for “the community was more positive than average” I regret to say that was very much not my experience and LoTRO remains the one and only MMO I have ever stopped playing because of the persistent and intolerable unpleasantness of strangers. GW2 on the other hand, has been a highly amusing and comfortable virtual JCR.

    On the substantive issue of changing the linen while we are still abed, every MMO does it to some extent. The embarrassing thing with GW2 is the scrambling speed with which it is happening and the hubris it has exposed.

    1. Fidjit

      It’s a double entendre. “Bait and Switch” refers both to adding the Radiance gear to LoTRO, and to the fact the post turns out to be about LoTRO instead of GW2.

      1. kharnamatic

        Are you sure he’s not comparing GW2 to LOTRO and that despite the latest ascended weapon controversy (which LOTRO went through) GW2 will survive, just as LOTRO is still out there 4.5 years later?

      2. Meagen

        Can’t be about LotRO. It didn’t launch as a buy-the-box with cash shop, but as a regular subscribtion MMO. It went Freemium long after Radiance was introduced.

      3. Juanele

        Couldn’t be about GW2 per say either, it’s not an popular intellectual property. However, many statements in there certainly could be said about GW2.

      4. Vatec

        @Meagen

        No, LOTRO didn’t launch as “buy-the-box,” but it did launch with the sale of lifetime subscriptions, which is just a more expensive riff on the same theme….

  3. Entombed

    If this game should be known for anything, it should be reintroducing WvW, trying something different, and giving explorer’s something to do in a polished, themepark experience.

    The PvE in this game has been rather disappointing, and I think this explains why one of their top priorities is to go back and revamp the story and explorable mode dungeons, as well as modifying Fractals. The dynamic events were interesting at first, but often they prove to lack the amount of diversity that this system needed to be viable and fun. Orr in particular, is not as fun or “dynamic” as they advertised it to be. In fact, in the initial month, it was home to the largest amount of broken events. If you participated in the final story mode dungeon, Arah, specifically in the last encounter with Zhaitan, or did any of the explorable modes…you would understand that ArenaNet is not a strong PvE company.

    If they could go back and change one thing as a company it should definitely be removing the personal story. It was not that fun, it was a huge consumer of their resources, it’s not as varied as anyone was hoping for, it’s not even centered around us as the hero, the majority of the story was rather dull for most races, is still filled with glitches that ArenaNet continues to work on, and ultimately is a bitter disappointment for many.

    WvW much to the authors beliefs, is a huge success. My server is not even in the top two brackets, and we can still find queues throughout the day. The only thing it lacks is rewards and possibly character progression, both of which are being worked on.

    sPvP is in great shape to become a esport, and is simply waiting on spectator mode, metagame development, and minor balancing changes.

    “As much as the game tried to advertise to Killers with its PvP area based on taking keeps and sieging the central castle, it was mostly a PvE playground.” No, I’m sorry but are we playing the same game? ArenaNet’s greatest strengths are in PvP, and their PvE has always been their weakest aspect. The only thing they have going for them in PvE, are jumping puzzles, mini-dungeons, and a fresh, and relatively lively world. That’s about it. There are far more players involved in WvW and sPvP then doing any of the aforementioned activities.

    I do however understand your frustration with Ascended gear and the LOTR-like Radiance system.

    1. Curuniel

      Each to their own; I played GW1 for years without touching PvP, and so far I’ve had a great time doing nothing but PvE in GW2. If they didn’t have the personal story, a lot of people would have bemoaned the lack of a central quest line to give them some guidance. I think part of the problem is that too many of us assume we should be playing everything, whereas GW2 is built so that you can just ignore large aspects of it if they’re not your style (yes, I know, easier said than done).

      Anyway, suffice to say I feel like my server has hit just the right balance lately of having people around for events in PvE, but never so many that I don’t get good interactions with each of them. I can understand other people not getting as much out of it, but I know a lot of people who are finding it just right.

    2. Darketower

      Regarding the personal story… it’s important to note that the story available during release is just the first “chapter.” They’ve stated many times that they intend on continuing to develop it just like they’re doing with other parts of the game.

  4. Kalu

    After paying the new content, I am not sure you can call the new content gated. You do not have to have the new gear to play the new content and you can play new content in its entirety without it as well. You can get the new gear by playing the new content repeatedly. The only gating occurs if you want to play the new content at its most difficult settings. I think by the time you get there you will have the tokens to get the gear if you do not already have it. If not, one can still play at lower difficulty settings.

    The Bait and Switch deals with the fact there is gear with better stats than the game shipped with. Who in thier right mind thought a game with a life expentency of many years would ship with all the gear and stats that, except for legendary gear which may take some people years if ever, it only takes a character a few months to aquire playng just few times a week?

    1. gattsuru

      I think by the time you get there you will have the tokens to get the gear if you do not already have it.

      Not… quite. Agony shows up with Fractal level 10, but the number of tokens required to get infused is pretty high: 1925 tokens, with each (currently known) level being worth between fifteen and thirty-five tokens, plus up to forty for certain daily awards. It’s possible to get to Fractal-10 or even Fractal-20 and still not have that many. Not terribly likely to race through them all in one go, but even doing several repeats won’t get you there alone.

      There are other ways to get Ascended Gear, but these are reliant on account-bound drops, such as the Rings or crafting material drops, and they also require pretty sizable amounts of rare crafting materials.

      Who in thier right mind thought a game with a life expentency of many years would ship with all the gear and stats that, except for legendary gear which may take some people years if ever, it only takes a character a few months to aquire playng just few times a week?

      People who played GW1, which only added new skills and new cosmetic options?

  5. pixelrevision

    “After paying the new content, I am not sure you can call the new content gated.”
    The Ascended portion maybe not so much. The leveling portion absolutely. I played the first night and got to level 2. Have not been able to get on for the week because of the holidays. At this point the guildies I did all the other dungeons with are all on level 7 and above. My choice is try to convince 4 members to run content not relevant to them 6 times or more to get me caught up, or pug the thing with no group finder tools and people posting groups for many level ranges in LA.

    “Who in thier right mind thought a game with a life expentency of many years would ship with all the gear and stats that, except for legendary gear which may take some people years if ever, it only takes a character a few months to aquire playng just few times a week?”
    Guild Wars 1 players. But they took that one off the table when they decided that optional skills would no longer be the progression content.

    Either way they’ve ended up at the same place that they didn’t want to be. There’s an endgame with instances as the primary focus, gear trickling in that they’ll have to balance content against that can be used in WvWvW and most of the open world content already in the rear view mirror.

    http://www.lotro.com/gameinfo/devdiaries/1043-update-2-radiance-removal-developer-diary

    1. Curuniel

      I admit I’m curious where ArenaNet go from here – I think that they’re trying to appease certain vocal parts of their community, and I’m not sure that doing so is ultimately a good idea.

      However, I don’t think it’s fair to say that getting left behind as many people have with the Fractals constitutes gated content. The fact that you (and many other people, don’t get me wrong) can’t find someone willing to group with you isn’t really ArenaNet’s fault, it’s player behaviour.

      1. gattsuru

        Well, some of it is ArenaNet’s fault: the design of the Fractal dungeon overwhelmingly fractures the playerbase, and trying to look for a dungeon group is not especially easy when the in-game tools are terrible.

        Creating a LFD tool — or just improving chat tools — is a programming exercise, albeit not a trivial one. That Fractals has turned into 20+ separate queues is a social issue, but one that really can be reduced by adequate design decisions. There’s little reason someone at Fractal-6 can’t run with his or her Fractal-7 and Fractal-8 friends and still have everyone go up a rank, but right now that’s not how the system works.

      2. Jeromai

        Well, there is already at least one creative use of a functional guild to handle looking for fractals. The FOTM guild, though it functions more like a cross-server list of available people of self-specified rank.

        Unfortunately, if you end up looking at a time when overflows are not available, it’s impossible for party members from different servers to meet up with each other too. ArenaNet really needs to work on their partying/guesting/grouping systems.

  6. gattsuru

    I’ll note that LoTRO eventually removed Radiance gear after it turned into an unholy mess.

    Ironically, the ‘special attribute damage’ is probably the least of the issues, here — just as LoTRO would have done fine with merely adding another tier of gear stats without Radiance, Guild Wars players probably wouldn’t be in an uproar about Radiance without the other stat tier. Perhaps some complaints about expense and grind, but nothing like what’s been on the forums. Guild Wars 1 featured Spectral Agony as well, and outside of not liking the Seer character that infused gear to protect against it, the mechanic largely worked.

    On the flip side, it’s also kinda strange as a gating mechanic..

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