I like crafting. In MMOs, crafting can be a great way to spend some down time, or take a break from the usual questing and combat. It can also be a nice way to make a little extra cash on the side. I recently hit the crafting skill cap of 200 for both apothecary and cultivation. Based on those experiences, I can confidently say WAR’s crafting mechanics are decent and full of potential, but far from perfect. There are some really solid ideas and some definite areas for improvement.
WAR in particular is a game where an exceptional crafting system would be a great complement to the core game design. Let me explain: the design of the game is centered around ORvR. ORvR consists of a lot of action, interspersed by periods of inactivity. What happens when you capture a BO? You wait three minutes for the enemy to come and take it back, which almost never happens in that time window. Great time to make a couple potions or talismans! I know I’ve spent a lot of time hanging out on the walls of a keep, waiting for the Destro push that we knew was coming. I generally prefer to spend that time crafting, rather than just hanging out looking at the scenery. Crafting was created for times like these.
So what does WAR do well? What does it do poorly? Let’s break it down.
The base mechanics are interesting and fun. When I first heard about the mechanic for cultivation, I thought it sounded totally stupid. Despite the need to suspend disbelief a bit (do you carry these four plots with you?), it turns out I really like cultivation. I like being able to plant a seed or spore and forget about it. I’ll come back to it later and harvest the plant. If I want to add water and nutrients I can, but I don’t have to. And the plants that I get from cultivation naturally lead me right into my next profession.
Apothecary is nice in that the interface is well done and it doesn’t take too long. It also produces useful items, as potions will never go out of style. I like how you can use different items (e.g. stabilizers) that can change the characteristics of the crafted item, although that leads to problems as you’ll see below.
Contrary to what I was originally thinking as I was leveling up my skills, I like the fact that the professions are such a money sink. Even though I was near-broke through the majority of my 20’s, I realized (too late, as it turned out), that I was leveling my professions too quickly relative to my realm level. I think professions SHOULD be a money sink, but only if you make that money back and then some later on. As an alternative to having to spend a lot of money, you could get your mats from your guild, which is also a good thing as it promotes the community aspect of the game.
I have a few minor issues and one major problem with crafting in WAR. Minor ones first. I wish the ingredients for cultivation were more readily available. It seems like seeds drop for everyone, regardless of profession. Why then are nutrients not common drops as well? You need to have scavenging or butchering or something to get those, which is kind of annoying – both for the cultivators who can’t get their mats and everyone else who doesn’t need seeds.
Secondly, I miss recipes. I miss them desperately. I can see what Mythic is trying to do; by getting rid of recipes you make the process seem more organic. Unfortunately, this leads to the problem of too many possibilities. In apothecary, you quickly realize that the breadth of main ingredients and possible stabilizers give rise to a vast amount of potions, all of which are just slightly different, whether it be level, duration, stability, or whatever. This takes up room in your bag and makes it hard to sell them (or even mail them for that matter), as you may have 4 different healing potions, all only slightly different and therefore not stackable.
That leads into my major gripe, which actually has nothing to do with crafting, at least not directly: the auction house is weak. Not so much in design – although there are some quirks – but more in the fact that the economy just does not seem established. As much as I want WAR to have a strong, flourishing economy, it just doesn’t right now. At least not that I can tell. An offshoot to that problem is that its hard to sell potions on the auction house. At least for any amount of profit. I believe part of this problem is due to the fact that there are so many types of potions out there. As alluded to above, the variations on each potion are so extreme that it makes it hard to know what does what without doing a large amount of tooltip research. As a result, the market has not been established, and you see prices wildly fluctuating for the same potions.
Not only that, it’s hard to search for materials as well. Within the main search function you can search for crafting items only, and then there’s a dropdown for “All Crafting Skills” which looks like you’ll be able to sort by skill, but when you drop the menu down, there’s no further categories. (BTW, am I doing this wrong? This seems ridiculous.) This lends credibility to the theory that crafting was simply tacked on near the end of development. When I was desperately trying to level up my cultivation skill and searching for seeds, there was no good way to do so. I will spare you the tedium of describing looking up different types of seeds on Wardb just so I could type in the individual name and see if there were any for sale. That was not fun.
OK, time to catch a breath. It seems like I’m coming down hard on WAR’s crafting, and that’s really not the case. I do like crafting in this game, as evidenced by my maxed-out skills. It’s just that I see the (currently unrealized) potential for some really great stuff. The economy in any MMO is a big part of the experience, even in one as combat-focused as WAR. And crafting is a big part of any solid MMO economy. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I feel like the player base would respond positively to improvements in both the crafting system and auction house. Those improvements would go a long way toward establishing a thriving economy and making WAR feel more like a virtual world.
I’m fairly new to the MMO scene. Since this is my first MMO that I’ve played from launch, I have no idea how long it takes for the economy to establish itself, although I would think that would’ve happened by now if it was going to. Here’s hoping that the kinks get ironed out one day. Now that I’ve hit 200, I will be looking to do some more potion-making, both for the guild and for profit. I’m interested to get deeper into the AH and either confirm or reject my suspicions.
Is a good economy essential for me to enjoy WAR? No, it’s not. RvR still rocks, and if the crafting system went away tomorrow I’d still play the game. But it’s the icing on the cake. And I don’t know about you guys, but I like my cake with icing.