Global Agenda’s much anticipated 1.3 patch will release within the next couple of weeks. This patch continues the general trend towards timesink gameplay, while potentially damaging the balance of a game which is well-balanced already.
Below I will give impressions on some of the changes as posted in this thread by HiRezErez. (I’ve improved the formatting to make it somewhat more readable. I have not altered the text, though.)
Character levels and specializations:
- Leveling from 30-50 will now have a lot more meaning.
- At level 30+ players will be able to choose a specialization path for the character. Each class has two specializations (that match the current Skill Trees)
- You can only choose one specialization which allows you additional skill points in the specialization tree and allows you to use new weapons/devices that are being introduced.
- If you want to specialize in both areas and change between them frequently you will need to create and level up another character for that class.
Very negative reaction from the community forced HiRez into reconsidering the sudden inflexibility here that would cause players to have to level up two characters of the same class to have the same flexibility they have in one character now.
Vertical advancement, a problem in this game that is passable at the moment due to its limited nature, will be emphasized and elongated in the patch. I’ve been frustrated with power differences between level 10 and 30 characters up to this point as I’ve leveled alts through PvP—now it’s going to get almost doubly annoying.
- For each class specialization new weapons and devices are being introduced. We are trying for at least one weapon/device per slot type per class
Some examples: The Laser Sniper Rifle, The Barrage Grenade Launcher, The Claw,The Perfect Rifle, The Beacon Tracker, The Impact Hammer, The Multi-Heal Gun, The Oathbreaker Boost. There are over 50 that we are currently evaluating for introduction.
- These weapons/devices will be earned in a special way using Conquest Tokens
- These weapons have a minimum player level requirement ranging from 30-50
Conquest and Mercenary Tokens:
- Conquest Tokens are earned by playing/winning different parts of the game with a maximum tokens that can be earned each day. (Subscribers will get them faster since they will be able to participate in more parts of the game, but everyone can earn enough over time to get the various rewards)
- Mercenary Tokens are earned by playing/winning various matches with a maximum tokens that can be earned each day. (All players earn these at the same rate)
Rewards, Loot and Crafting:
- We plan on having full Armor drops as loot in PvE missions which are character bound when you get them (both Co-Op and Open Zones)
- We also plan on allowing Armor crafters create upgrade kits to these Armor drops to improve their stats.
- Weapon upgrades will be replaced with Upgrade Kits that allow players to improve the stat on the actual weapons (instead of overall stats)
- Weapons will also drop as loot in PvE with improved stats over current weapons (which can be then upgraded with Weapon Upgrade kits from crafters)
- Weapons and Armor can also be purchased with Conquest Tokens and Mercenary Tokens.
Timesinks! Now you have to grind to attain weapons and other equipment to be competitive in PvP, further increasing power differentials in a game already made a bit more annoying by existing vertical advancement.
Balance will also be tossed aside in favor of adding some new weapons and devices which almost definitely will ruin existing class balance. Before this patch, many devices are absolutely useless. After the patch, I’m sure many more will be. Instead of adding more potentially game-breaking devices, HiRez should focus on making more existing equipment viable. HiRez sees that their coffee table is unsteady, but instead of evening the legs, they instead have Aunt Bertha sit on it.
- More stores will be open.
- The Jetpack store will have two new jetpacks available that are purchased using Conquest Tokens
A new hightech UI is being introduced although not all screens may be changed to it in time for the 1.3 release
Opening all the stores that were in the game at release but closed? Sounds good to me. The conquest token bit is going to encourage grinding, though, which is counter to the skill-based philosophy of this game’s core design as a third-person tactical shooter.
It’s great that they’re fixing up the UI. It is quite buggy if not downright bad now. I bet, though, that the interface will be half-converted after this patch and will not be polished and finished for a while yet.
Open Zone (Warzones)
- We are currently testing these zone which are large open spaces that players will join to do various missions. For the 1.3 release we plan on having open PvE zone with several different mission types as well as a PvPvE zone with several mission types and a zone win condition.
- We are currently rewriting some of the Unreal 3 server to allow more players to interact in the zone. We don't know what the final number will look like yet but we hope for a minimum of 30 players in a PvE zone and 50 in a PvP zone.
Oh! Now maybe this game can justify labeling itself as an MMORPG/FPS—though it’s still neither an RPG nor an FPS, and it’s barely an MMO.
These new open world areas will further fracture the population, exacerbating the existing PvP and 4v4 queuing problems (not enough people in the queues for the games to be much fun).
What Should They Have Done?
- 10 new PvP maps: two for each game mode.
- A new, innovative PvP mode that doesn’t involve standing on a point.
- Three new kinds of PvE missions that auto-adjust the difficulty level of enemies depending on the team’s character and skill levels. Each of these missions should have a couple of maps.
- A huge bug-fixing pass on the existing interface. All mouse-overs are unified in a new, clearer style of writing that makes it clear what everything does.
- 5 new AvA maps.
- Bugfixing and enhancement of existing AvA platforms, vehicles, and gameplay in general.
This would expand the game significantly for existing players without introducing new timesinks or balance issues. 1.4 would then be spent on rebalancing a large chunk of the non-viable devices and weapons currently littering the game.
Instead of making Global Agenda a strictly better game, HiRez has specialized the game more in the MMORPG direction. At this point, HiRez needs to draw players back and attract new players. They can’t readily afford to further fracture their playerbase and dither on what kind of game they’re making. Unfortunately, they have chosen to try to make the game more like a themepark MMORPG—something which is incompatible with the micro-level gameplay.
I don’t know how this will turn out for the game in the long run. The game may lose a lot of the skill-interested players and gain some MMORPG players who are then turned off by the game’s skill-focus at the micro-level and later quit. On the other hand, the new features may draw enough players back to the game and hook them again. As the game is now, with roughly 1k players online at peak hours, I doubt it can survive by further breaking apart the population into even more queues and introducing increasingly demanding timesinks.
Global Agenda is a game caught between two design philosophies. So far it seems that they either don’t realize this, or they’re simply trying to cash-in on “easy” MMO money through the impossible path of trying to make everyone happy.