So just a day after posts (and good conversations as well) on both the Epic Slant and Casual Stroll to Mordor blogs, I saw this announcement on MMORPG.com on the upcoming expansion for Age of Conan. Now I did try AoC but I just really couldn’t get into it – however, this new concept is VERY intriguing to me and I will be paying close attention to this as it is rolled on out.
To recap, the discussions on CStM and ES talked about both vertical (raising the level cap) and horizontal progressions and the advantages (and pitfalls) of both. As they talk about the different ideas, I think one of the main points is that there needs to be a diversity in the methods of progression and that just raising the level cap isn’t enough.
What AoC is looking to do is create additional flavors of experience points that are gained in both PvP and PvE as well as an additional pool that’s a combination of the 2. So each character would have normal XP for leveling and then 3 other pools they could progress. As the characters gain these experience pools they can be used to buy Feats and Perks. Feats are passive abilities that provide a constant buff while perks are useable skills that come in two flavors, major and minor. Feats sound like you can have as many as you want, but you are capped at how many perks you can have. Major perks will take up a larger portion of the “perk pool” which makes sense, but the exact definitions weren’t explained. This system starts at level 20 (their current level cap is 80) with certain options open early while others being capped by level.
Another interesting part of this is that these points can be advanced while either online or offline in a similar fashion to how EVE works. Granted, this out-of-game advancement is no where near as fast as in-game but still will provide a value and advancement paths for those who don’t play 24/7. This concept is further explained as a way for PvE players to pick up feats of perks in the PvP tree and vice versa.
This is a similar mechanic to how PvP worked in Dark Ages of Camelot in that as you gained points in PvP you could use those to spend on skills usable in both PvP and PvE. I always thought this was a great way to drive people to PvP but not necessarily penalize them for not. It worked for me as I raided in PvE and PvP and I believed I gained equal rewards through both and those rewards help in both aspects.
I think this is an idea full of win for everyone and I’d love for LOTRO to adopt a similar mechanic. Sure it is still slanted towards the hard-core gamers, but it provides enough options for everyone to benefit and utilize the system. If they’re serious about the long rumored Monster Play revamp, this would be an awesome system to implement as it would give freeps more incentive to play in the moors but wouldn’t exclude non-PvPers from gaining those same rewards. I believe this is the biggest issue currently in the moors as there’s really no carrot out there for PvMP, even the moors armor sets require you to PvE! I’m thinking something similar could even be done creep side, but I’m not sure how that might work – maybe another way to get creep gold?
Now when I initially started this article I was purely thinking of the PvE and PvMP divide within LOTRO, but I think a similar concept could already be in place with both skirmishes and legendary items. The problem is that there just aren’t enough viable options nor that same feeling of character advancement. If they could somehow figure out a way to tie these existing systems into skills and/or traits I think they could accomplish a similar thing to what AoC is doing and really allow us to personalize our characters and meaningfully progress them. Another thought would be to use something along these lines as another path to gain virtue ranks or even virtue/class slots!
Needless to say I’ll be curious to see how this plays out for AoC and if LOTRO gleams anything from these kinds of systems as we go forward in Volume 3.