As Closed Beta 3 approaches this Friday, I can't help but feel like we're coming up on the finish line. So many things that we've been planning to do are finally all coming together, and it's really making the game seem like a finished product. At the same time, it's been a bit weird since the last couple of months have had the longest stretches of time in the game's development in terms of not actually having people in-game playing. I think in the end it's been worth it, though, because it's given us on the Dev Team some time to tackle some of the largest parts of the game that weren't finished yet.
As we move past Beta 3, we'll be switching from "hide away and develop" mode into "this game is coming out and we need to start spreading the word!" mode. So that will be an interesting change and a new chapter for the game that I am excited to see play out. In the mean time, enough with the chatting and onto the revealing!
Wilds Zones and Enemies
The Wilds zones have been a part of some of our earliest design discussions for the game, and it's a place that you'll likely spend a lot of time after you hit Level 20, especially if you're wanting to participate in the economy of the game world.
Wilds zones are areas that are, collectively, far away from civilization. Because of that, they feature unique and rare ingredients which will be used in some of the most powerful crafting recipes as well as powerful gear. They are also filled with fearsome creatures and roaming bands of monsters which are very dangerous to the unprepared. Finally, they are a lawless place where you may end up losing more than you gain if you aren't cautious.
The Wilds zones themselves are the Greater Lamavora Frontier, Greater Lucian Wilds, and the Greater Obnobi Desert. These are large areas devoid of towns or villages. They require a decent amount of travel to get to, and there are no direct portal spells which will take you into, or out of, them.
When you are in the Wilds, you are in a dangerous place. As such, there are no guards apart from near the entrances. Other players can attack you, and if you die (either due to a player attacking you or a monster) you will drop all of your Tradable items, which anyone may then pick up just like the loot from any other kill. (Note: tradable items are things such as crafting ingredients, potions, and fish. Your gear and weapons are all "Soulbound" and will not drop when you die). If you have tradable items on your person, a backpack will appear on your back when you are in the Wilds, so that other players can quickly tell if you are carrying something worth fighting you over.
If you attack another player in the Wilds unprovoked, you will become a bandit, and a bounty will be placed on your head. Any other players can then attack you without becoming bandits themselves. And if a player kills you, they will receive the bounty on your head. The more players you kill, the higher your bounty will grow, and the longer you must remain in the wilds to wait for your bounty to expire. If you try to leave the Wilds before your bounty has expired, the guards waiting near the entrance will kill you on sight.
The Wilds are home to some of the most powerful enemies in the game. In fact, these enemies are so powerful that their very presence has corrupted some of the other creatures nearby. These enemies and their corrupted friends form powerful roaming challenges which serve as an immediate deterrent to anyone who wishes to enter the Wilds and glean its riches for themselves. They are meant to be fought by a five-player party, and each features unique new mechanics which will challenge you in ways that you've never seen before. These fights represent the first stepping-stone toward our idea of what truly challenging, end-game content will look like in OrbusVR.
So if the Wilds are so dangerous, why would you want to go there in the first place? The answer is simple: the rewards that await the brave adventurer! Elite wilds enemies are able to drop Epic-level 20 gear. There are also crafting ingredients such as herbs which can only be found in these zones, not to mention the fishing which is some of the best in the world.
Of course, it's not for everyone, which is why there is nothing forcing you to go there. By entering the Wilds you take on risk in return for potential reward; if you prefer to avoid PvP, you can simply stick the PvE parts of the game (such as the end-game dungeons, which we'll discuss in a moment). You will have to pay other players if you need to acquire goods which are only found there, but it's perfectly acceptable to let them take that risk instead.
During Closed Beta 3, two of the Wilds zones, the Greater Obnobi Desert and the Greater Lucian Wilds, will be available for testing. The Greater Lamavora Frontier will be available the following test.
End Game Dungeons
The other side of the end-game content coin is the end-game dungeon system. Some of our views have changed on this since our earliest days of designing the game, but what we have now is a methodology that we think will serve the game well in the months to come, and keep the content interesting and enjoyable.
To begin, when you first hit Level 20 you'll have access to the Tradua Mines, an archaeological dig site being delved by the Explorer's League. They've uncovered a fascinating set of ruins that they want you to explore as soon as possible. This dungeon will feature a central area that is non-instanced, as well as 4 instanced wings, each with two bosses to fight. We want each wing to take around 20-30 minutes to complete, so that you can do the whole dungeon in one long session, or break it up if you want to into bite-sized chunks.
The dungeon will also feature a central boss mechanic like we discussed previously. So as you do the dungeon wings, you will gather pieces which can be used to "charge" a part in the central, shared part of the dungeon. When it's been fully charged, it will summon a boss that's meant to be tackled by 15-20 players (essentially another World Boss).
A Brief Sidetrack into Gear Tiers
The tiers of gear available for the game at launch are as follows:
Tier 1 & 2: Leveling Gear, available Pre-20
Tier 3: "Basic" End-Game Gear
Tier 4: "Advanced" End-Game Gear
To further complicate matters, Tier 3 gear can be Rare or Epic, and Tier 4 gear comes in Rare, Epic, and Legendary. Keep in mind that the base attack/armor values of the gear (which is the most important part) don't change between Rare and Epic, it's just that Epic gear will have affixes. So essentially our goal with tuning content is that you need all the Rare gear from Tier 3 to do Tier 4 content, and then if you have Epic Tier 3 gear you're about 10% more powerful so it's a little easier.
Tier 3 gear can be acquired from killing creatures in the Wilds or by doing the Tradua Mines dungeon.
After you've gotten your feet wet with the Tier 3 content, even more challenge is available via Shard Dungeons. When you complete the Tradua Mines for the first time, you will receive an Essence Shard. This is (drumroll please), a shard filled with a little bit of the essence (a substance you'll be learning a lot about during the quests). You can then use this Essence Shard to "power up" the previous dungeons you have already completed, including the Tradua Mines as well as any of the "leveling" dungeons (Rainforest Dungeon, Cave Dungeon, etc.) When you do so, those dungeons will become even more difficult than a base Level 20 dungeon. The monsters in them will have more health and hit harder, and they'll also take on mutations such as "resists magical damage" or "moves 100% faster" that will add additional challenge.
Only one Essence Shard can be used to power up a dungeon at a time. That is the "active" shard. If you successfully complete the sharded dungeon in a certain amount of time, the entire group will get a loot drop appropriate to that level of difficulty. In addition, the active shard will be upgraded to the next level (for example, becoming a Level 2 Essence Shard). The shard will also be tuned to a different, randomly-selected dungeon from the available pool. And then you can take on a higher-challenge dungeon, with even better rewards.
If you're unable to complete the dungeon in time, you will lose your Essence Shard, and receive no reward at the end. You can complete the Tradua Mines (or run in a group with someone who already has their own shard) to get a new shard and start charging it up again. Note that you can only have one shard at a time in your possession.
The higher the level of your Essence Shard, the more difficult the challenge, and the higher the level of the rewards you'll be eligible to receive.
The Tradua Mines will be available for testing shortly before Early Access begins, and the Shard Dungeons will be released shortly after Early Access begins.
Whew! That's a lot of new info. We'll be back with another post before the weekend to give you all the details you need before the Beta starts. See you then!