The third arc is telling us the story of Old Cob and it is off to a great start. Polaris brought amazing visual masterpieces and excellent plotlines that interweaved and stunned us. The most recent world, Mirage, has delivered even more. The world is full of plot twists, I shall spare you from spoilers but if you are interested, (the newly Official) Swordroll has an excellent list of the Top 10 Big Mirage Reveals, it’s worth the read.
Polaris was seen as an excellent world in all capacities apart from length and difficulty. Some complained that the world went too fast, with some completing it in about 8 hours and others complained it was too easy, bosses weren’t as challenging as Khrysalis and health points dropped well below the norm. Taking on the feedback, Kingsisle produced one of, if not the, longest and most difficult worlds they have ever created.
Mirage set a new standard, the visuals were even more stunning than Polaris and the characters, dialogue and plot even more engaging. However, two things stood out among the community. The first was that the world was a good length, but some areas, particularly Aggrobah felt like they dragged on with no sense of progress. The second, a heated topic that has divided the player base lately, is that the world is unusually difficult. Some players who found soloing their niche, have found themselves unable to pass the beginning mobs and bosses and given up on the world. Others, who are not as skilled as some members have found themselves at an impasse at high-healthed bosses.
These opinions were voiced on twitter, wizard101central and the official message boards. Kingsisle have read these responses and in January’s KI Live (please note that the code mentioned in the video may not be redeemable at this time) they announced that the world would be receiving a nerf – for those who are not familiar with the term, they are making it easier.
Last week, those nerfs went live, and you can view the update notes here (scroll down to the bottom where it says “January 26th, 2017). Among them is a 50% health reduction (70000 to 35000) to Rasputin, the final boss of Polaris, the ability to dispel the minions in the Rasputin fight and a decrease in difficulty of mirage enemies.
The nerfs were met with some opposition and some praise but both sides had some very good arguments:
- We are now on the third arc and the game has been out for nearly 10 years, so this step up in difficulty (pre-nerf) is welcome, it is forcing players to adapt and strategise. It’s not simply just a point and shoot game anymore.
- However, the game is still – technically – aimed at families and young kids, an argument that is true to some extents. So the difficulty that mirage was originally set at could have discouraged a large player base.
Taking the many arguments into account, I’ve got a few thoughts on the nerf, and the general direction of the game.
Simply put, Mirage and Darkmoor went dark, similar to the last two Harry Potters or the new Fantastic Beasts, so we could be seeing a gentle increase in plotline maturity as we progress- similar to the themes in Pirate101. The data is unavailable, but it could be assumed that at least a third, maybe more of the Kingsisle player base have grown up with the game and in their late teens, possibly early twenties. So the gradual increase of plot theme maturity and difficulty could just be Kingsisle response to an evolving, and even more diverse group of avid players.
Another aspect, which I think is part of the direction, is that Kingsisle are doing to worlds what they originally did with Marleybone in Pirate101 when it first came out. For those who can remember the test realm of May 2013, they will remember the – sometimes – trials and tribulations of the Dragoon on the Isle of Fetch and Beachhead. However this wasn’t Kingsisle being unfair, this was Kingsisle setting the difficulty high, and then gradually reducing that difficulty until it pleased both the hard core players and the casual players. Ratbeard is fond of this option, and with the recent merge of the Live MMO teams, this could be the direction that the games are heading in.
If this is the direction that the game is going, perhaps the gradual nerfing is best done inside the test realm where players are able to test the difficulty, give feedback and then the mechanics can be readjusted from there and perfected before going live, just like with Marleybone.
As an additional note, Swordroll has suggested something very intriguing on how to better balance fights, particularly boss fights, so that they can either be quick and moderately difficult for casual players, quick for farmers or something for the hardcore players. To find out more on this great idea, read the post here.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.