You know an MMO is in decline when they get rid of their dwarf-tossing and replace it with painfully pedantic beginner quests. Case in point: Warhammer Online.
WAR has always suffered from putting all of its eggs into one PvP basket. Their “public quests” – cooperative PvE encounters – are a great idea in theory, but they are a complete failure if the player population is too low to support them. (For more information on how Public Quests work, watch this video.) Mythic didn’t take into account the fact that as a game ages, players move out of the lower level maps, creating population imbalances on the server. This means that all of those exciting beginner and mid-level Public Quests are as empty as a Greenskin’s head.
Mythic’s answer to this problem was to redesign the starter area. Initially, each race had their own beginner quests that were tailored to their specific racial histories within the overall storyline. These quests were fun, informative, and even involved some dwarf-tossing. The redesigned beginner area lumps everyone together doing generic we’re-at-war-so-go-kill-stuff quests, and involves tutorials so simplistic that a 10 year-old would be offended.
Sadly, I don’t think Mythic was seeing the bigger picture, and was attempting to fix something that wasn’t really broken. Yes, player population densities do shift, but the game would have maintained its population and attracted new players if they had addressed the lack of content and uninspired quests at the mid-levels. When my first character, an Empire Witch Hunter, got to level 20 the available quests became sparse and the quest rewards were often two and three levels above her. Nothing kills player enthusiasm quicker than receiving rewards that you can’t even use!
The irony of the situation is that although the combined beginner areas may give the illusion of player density, they have done nothing to improve the mid-level PvE areas. I logged into my level 32 Bright Wizard, who was last standing in Eataine – a Tier 4 area appropriate for her level.
The entire map was deserted.