1.4.7 and Beyond – Tabula Rasa for the Careers?
Tabula Rasa is Latin for an erased slate. On the table for 1.4.7 is a complete overhaul of careers. This is something that we were told at the Invasion would not happen because of the time required to implement, but I guess Bioware Mythic may have changed their minds. I’m all for perfect mirrors. Just about every other PvP game out has the same classes on each side on the conflict.
This would not be the first time Bioware Mythic has wiped the slate clean and redid something. The city siege was revamped twice post launch and Open RvR got a complete overhaul with 1.4.0.
A thread has been started on the official forums. http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/230/index/12541890 Let’s assume for now that Bioware Mythic did decide to continue with the plan of a complete rebalance. When I started writing this they were going to go ahead with it. I went to sleep and woke up and they changed their minds again already.
Several players have come out against the idea of perfect mirrors. The main reason seems to be individual class identity. In my case, it would be, “I want to play a Swordmaster, not a High Elf Black Orc.” I can certainly understand this. I even asked the question once at a PTS event. Imperfect mirrors didn’t even really unbalance the game when the engagement size was between 24 and 48 players so long as each side had access to all abilities. However as the population has declined, as to be expected with an older game, the engagement size has fallen. Instead of primarily being warband based, fights are now group based. Imperfect mirrors are a big problem when not all the classes can be present in a fight. I would not have a problem with mirrors being mostly equal and then having a signature ability or two to differentiate them.
This also gives the development team time to ask and answer some hard questions. What is a tank? What is a healer? What should each be able to do? Are we happy with the tank/healer/melee dps/ranged dps archetype system? Should the classes be interdependent upon each other or be able to function independently? For the last question, I think the only reason the old defensive melee dps sets were overpowered is that not every archetype could self sustain in battle, still do appreciable damage and have strong defenses. If all archetypes could be self sufficient like that, I don’t think that would have been a problem.
I think this process is necessary right now. When the question on the effect of Guild Wars 2 came up, the standard answer of some will leave and try it out. Even James said he probably play it. A good idea to at least know what the competition is doing. And then some will come back for the PvP that WAR offers. We’ve already seen this in threads on the official forums with some people playing the Beta Weekend Events and preferring the experience WAR offers. To be completely fair, the WvW in GW2 is a virtual copy of WAR patch 1.4.0 with three sides like Dark Age of Camelot. The PvE in GW2 is basically a bunch of conditionally available PQs. A complete rebalance of careers allows WAR the opportunity to more clearly define or reinforce its Unique Selling Proposition. With tons of competition coming up, WAR will have to do something to stand out more in the crowd.
The original reason my guild has stopped playing WAR for the most part was lack of competition. We ran a warband stacked with 6-7 slayers with Shatter Limbs. We also had Knights stacked to give every aura in the game. We then filled in the rest of the warband. We were basically unstoppable. At the time, Destruction did not have the ability to group cleanse and still to this day, the equivalent of Shatter Limbs for Destruction is on an unreliable squig pet. The counters to our warband composition did not exist at the time. Balance is supremely important. Had it been better, more of them would still be playing. Who know how many more players rage quit the game because of this strategy?
The original USP for WAR was that it was designed from the ground up for RvR. PvE was built around the RvR gameplay mechanics. I think the time and opportunity has come to further define and expand upon it. They should take their time and do it right. After all, it’s not as simple as drawing an eye.