Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Botched Newbie GA Experience

I am back after a long and busy few months, and I want to talk about Global Agenda. Evizaer posted some facts of the game, and I'm going to share my perspective of the PvP missions.

I played a melee-focused Recon until 25 and a launcher Assault until level 18 in pre-order beta. Starting back at level 5 in release reinforces my notion that this is a very skill-centric game. Even at level 7, I topped damage, kill, and objective charts. However, I am going to attribute my dominance to a design oversight.

There are 5 PvP mission types, each with a handful of maps. I don't know the exact number, but it's in the ballpark of 15. When a player queues for a PvP mission, they cannot select a mission type preference. All enqueued players are pooled together, and when the matchmaking system finds appropriate players, spins up a random type and map, and puts all the players into the game.

That is terrible newbie game design. A game should shepherd newbies into the game, teaching them new systems once the players are familiar with the previous lesson. They should spend a few sessions with one map type, learning the strategies involved. Then the new types should open up, allowing the player to queue if they feel compelled. This is--in fact--exactly how queuing worked in the pre-release beta and some of the earlier closed betas. HiRez decided to change it to a single pool in order to "lower queue times". I never had a queue longer than 2 minutes with the former system. (Not to mention that I hate the spamfest that is GA Payload.)

Newbies who are trying to make heads or tails of combat, class abilities, team dynamics, etc. are forced to learn new map mechanics every 10 minutes. They have to learn where objectives, corridors, and hotspots are on every new map. So rather than focusing on the intricacies of fighting, they have to figure out basic map layout. This lack of consistancy and familiarity delays gaining player skill, and as a result I don't get healed by medics.

And I'll make a little comment about GiantBomb's 33 minute "quicklook": the reviewer ran around with his secondary weapon the entire time. Enough said.

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