I’ve already commented about how I think Public Quests in Warhammer Online will be underutilized to the point that they’ll have to be changed after launch. What I didn’t talk about at the time was how this theoretically social game mechanic — this savior of cooperative play in MMOs — promotes subversive, antisocial behavior.
Everyone is singing the praises of Public Quests. They have to be in every traditional massively multiplayer game from now on. They are so much FUN! Well I’m not going to sing the praises of the system, I’m going to tear it limb from limb.
My hypothesis: Public Quests are antisocial.
And I have proof!
The fastest way to max out your Influence in a given Chapter is to find an empty Public Quest and kill things for 100 Influence a pop. This is easy because most Public Quests are, in fact, completely empty. It is boring and grindy if you allow yourself to do it, but it’s still the most efficient way to max your Influence out.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of taking part in a populated PQ, don’t relent. Sometimes you actually want to have fun doing one, or maybe you don’t know where to find one of the empty Public Quests in the area (clearly, they are empty, so nobody else has found them either). The best way to gain Influence when participating in a populated Public Quest is to actively screw other players.
If the current stage of the quest involves gathering something from a barrel that is guarded by a mob, wait for someone else to aggro the mob and steal the barrel from the player, because he can’t interact with it while being attacked. Don’t make the mistake of fighting the mob yourself, because you won’t gain Influence and you won’t get closer to Rank 1 in the PQ overall.
Oh, and this applies to people in your group, too. You don’t share Influence with party members when you gather any kind of node, so make sure you get your tank to go fight the mob while you pick up the object and gain more Influence. Suckers.
When a Champion mob comes out with a few solo guards and you attack it, ignore the adds if you’re the tank. Sure, they may go kill your healer, but you aren’t going to gain Influence by saving his life, so stick to the Champion and let the poor sod die. Especially because that poor healer will let you die in a heartbeat if it means more Influence for him, and it does.
When you get to the coveted Hero at the end, do everything in your power to get the tank killed (or if you are the tank, don’t make the mistake of taunting). That way, you can get more of the Influence yourself. And never, EVER, debuff the mob. If you reduce its armor level or resistances in any way, other people will be doing more damage to the mob, and you really don’t want that! Only use buffs and debuffs that affect you, and you alone.
Did I mention that there are quests that send players to the Public Quest area that involve killing mobs inside that same location? That’s an exercise in frustration for the person trying to do the quest, because everyone else will kill the mobs they’re after (they must not have read this handy guide, because they shouldn’t bother).
Did I also mention that nobody ever talks during a Public Quest? That’s because everyone is trying to screw each other as fast as possible to gain Influence and get the highest rank so they might possibly get a good loot bag in the end. And my rant about PQ rewards… that’s another post altogether.
So, in summary, I will give you the proof of my hypothesis that Public Quests are antisocial in simple bullet point fashion:
- The best way to grind Influence is in an empty PQ.
- But an empty PQ is incredibly boring.
- And most PQs are empty.
- If you find yourself in a populated PQ, you aren’t out of luck.
- Actively subvert the efforts of others.
- Even if they are your only healer.
- And only ever do anything that gains you Influence.
- Because everything else will handicap you.
This is my proof that Public Quests in WAR are antisocial. And, all this said, they are some of the most fun PvE game experiences I’ve had in an MMO in a very long time. They are, indeed, one of the greatest new ideas that Mythic brought to the table with Warhammer Online. Why am I criticizing them so much?
Because of their potential. It’s like when you know your kid is capable of getting straight As (or is it straight smiley faces these days?) or making the junior hockey team but they just aren’t quite reaching their full potential.
Public Quests can be better. They can be amazing. They are quite fixable. The only real problem with Public Quests is players. Players are a-holes, and they will game any system you put in place.
And, on a side note, Paul Barnett has officially surpassed Doctor Who as my favorite fictional British person, and I think I owe him a cupcake.
Update: I never expected this post to get linked all over the place, so there are a lot of people reading this who don’t know how I normally write. This is written in an exaggerated, overly cynical voice on purpose. I know PQs are not antisocial, and they were definitely not intended to be. Hopefully this will stave off a few of the angry responses, assuming any ever reads this far.