We’ve compiled 20 questions specifically related to a new feature coming with Helm’s Deep that we’re calling “Big Battles” (though that name may change). In some cases questions overlapped. Those questions were grouped and an answer was given to both points. So, let’s talk about Big Battles.
Q1: What are “Big Battles” and what do you mean by "big"? How many active enemies will be involved?
Q2: Why the change from traditional instance clusters to this new system?
The Battle for Helm’s Deep is a new style of instance content. A brand new system is being utilized to create the Helm’s Deep experience in the way we feel it deserves, and demands, to be presented. It was clear from the start that in order to present the scope and measure of full throated war, we could not simply build instance, skirmish, and/or raid content in the fashion we had always done with the same tools we had been using.
We spent a lot of time at the drawing board and flipped the script on our overall way of thinking and approach. We asked ourselves not “What can we make with the pieces we have?” but instead “What pieces do we need to make what we want?” We shifted the narrative so that instead of asking ourselves “Why?” we asked “Why not?”
To do it justice, we had to innovate and make something new and unique that pushed on all the boundaries:
- The visual and aesthetic experience
- The moment to moment gameplay
- The strategic and tactical decisions that need to be made
- The definitions of victory and defeat and how those are measured and rewarded
- The way the player interacts with the objects and environment in meaningful ways
- The way players interact with each other and the decisions that prompts
- How those objects and environment interact back
- How non-cap characters get into the system and what allows them to have a satisfying experience
- The choices and options presented to the player to allow them to approach the battle and the decisions to be made in the manner of their choosing.
Q3: Can a level 10 character group with a level 95 character in a Battle?
Q4: How can a level 10 character hope to contribute successfully to the Battle?
The Battle for Helm’s Deep utilizes a new feature called Character Upscaling. When you join an instance in the Battle for Helm’s Deep we scale your character’s stats and skills to level 95. Your equipment is scaled as well, with the level differential between you and the equipment being maintained through the upscaling.
With everyone now being the same level, 95, groups can be assembled from anyone on the server available to play. While an upscaled 95 will be less powerful than a true 95, through the Medals system they will still be able to meaningfully contribute.
Q5: Do Big Battles support traditional group sizes? What about solo and duo players?
Q6: Will group instances be different from the solo and duo instances or is it all scaled like in the past?
Each instance in the Battle for Helm’s Deep has a solo option by default. The solo option allows two players to be in the instance together, but does not increase its difficulty when the second player joins. Select instances of the battle will also feature certain group sizes as options, either 3, 6, or 12. The group version is a completely different space from the solo and has been handcrafted to be suitable for that player count.
Q7: Do Big Battles use the same "Tier" system (I, II, IIc) as traditional raids?
Q8: Are Big Battles Tier'd like current skirms & raids? Do they get Progessively more difficult or do we just wash, rinse & repeat?
The Battle for Helm’s Deep only has one difficulty tier, however through the new Medals system we are able to judge how well you do at a given objective within the space and modify rewards based on having done better or worse at it. This creates a variable difficulty system the user can control on the fly as they are able to attempt more or less of the scoring criteria. The more of the criteria you do, the higher your reward, but the more difficult it is to succeed.
Q9: What are the differences between Big Battles & Traditional Raids?
Traditional Raids and Instance content focuses on the player and his group versus the boss and enemies. The primary goal and direct focus of both sides is purely to kill the other. In the Battle for Helm’s Deep the enemies goal is to tear down the walls, destroy the fortress, and slaughter everyone within. It is the complete and utter destruction of Rohan. The players are another enemy on the wall that need to be killed along the way, not the primary focus of the enemies efforts.
Within traditional raids all players are focused on the boss and any adds. This typically happens with everyone being bunched up together in the same 20 square meters and the majority of players attacking the same target. The Battle for Helm’s Deep requires groups to work together, communicate and coordinate at a larger strategic and tactical level. To find the greatest success and reward, the group will have to split up and be in several locations across Helm’s Deep dealing with multiple goals and a variety of challenges, yet still all be working together and coordinating on the larger objectives.
Q10: Will Helm’s Deep also feature traditional boss progression style group content?
No. Helm’s Deep instance content is being represented fully with the Big Battles system.
Q11: How do the devs see Big Battles fitting in with the other types of instanced content currently in the game?
Q12: Is the Big Battle system something that will be used only for Helm's Deep, or will we see more of it in the future?
Different locations, stories and events in the game necessitate different gameplay to truly tell them in the most compelling manner. This new system is another vehicle for us to deliver and package gameplay in order to tell certain stories. There are locations and events where it will be the correct method, and others where instance clusters or skirmishes are the correct choice. This gives us another tool in the toolbox, it doesn’t replace and invalidate the other options. Our intention is that Scaling Instances, Skirmishes, Big Battles, and new clusters can co-exist with each other, each providing a different focus of rewards, target playerbase, and gameplay.
Q13: How will Big Battles fit in with the storyline of Helm's Deep? Will participation in Big Battles be required to complete the storyline or is this an optional system?
The Battle for Helm’s Deep will be integrated into the Western Rohan epic in much the way skirmishes were for Mirkwood. The epic will also have its own content for Helm's Deep, fleshing out many more focused details of the characters and events during and related to the battle.
Q14: Will I be able to Play My character or is it more inline with how Monster Play Work?
You always play your character in the instances in the Battle for Helm’s Deep. There is no session play involved with the system.
Q15: How much time should be budgeted to participate in a Big Battle? Twenty minutes? An Hour?
The goal is the solo spaces clock in at no more than half an hour, with group spaces not running longer than an hour max.
Q16: How often can they be repeated? Are there "locks" to cool down?
As of now there are no locks within the Battle for Helm’s Deep, they can replayed as often as the player desires. We’ll be monitoring whether or not they’re required throughout balance, testing, and feedback.
Q17: How are rewards (loot) distributed?
As players obtain Medals for the various objectives throughout the Battle for Helm’s Deep they will earn class based rewards. The higher the quality of the medals earned, the better the quality of the rewards earned. It will also utilize the Marks, Medallions and Seals system.
Q18: Big Battles is Plural .. does this mean that there will be several different ones for Helm's Deep or it is indicitive of "many battles to complete a war" sort of thing.
Helm’s Deep has been time snapped at several key points to create multiple Battle Instances.
Q19: Are Big Battles restricted to canon battles i.e. Helm's Deep, The Battle of the Pelennor fields, etc, or will there be 'creative license' to create others?
There’s a scale factor required for an event before it makes sense for it to be conveyed in this way. You would expect something of the scale of thousands of characters coming together in battles mentioned somewhere in the books. That being said, if a compelling story can be told that enhances the less detailed portions of the world and lore and this is the best system to tell that with then we’ll certainly look to utilize it.
Q20: Is it a PvP Type Structure where we can eventually see PvP added to the model?
No. Big Battles has been designed and implemented as a purely PvE system.