OK, I see the question come up a lot as to what RvR is, why it's different than "normal world PVP", and how it worked in DAOC. I also see people relating RVR to WAR as "what RVR was" when it wasn't quite the same thing.
This is a post I wrote awhile back, but it still has the same relevance today to Rift and what RVR was all about. It's meant as an informational post, and I hope it helps the community better understand why people have such fond memories of DAOC, and why some have campaigned so much to try to get even a small version of it into Rift, to help broaden the game's horizons.
I'd love to hear people's thoughts as to how to improve the system, and combat population imbalance. If Trion chooses to implement RVR-esque gameplay/areas in some format, I'm sure the community's feedback as to how it could be done would be invaluable to them in shaping how it's designed.
Without further adieu... CLIFF NOTES AT BOTTOM IN A QUOTE BOX, I know this is extremely long and some may not want to read the whole thing. Scroll down if that's the case.
WAR was a very diminished, smaller version of RVR. In Dark Age of Camelot, the game most people think of when RVR is mentioned, there were extremely large zones that were connected directly to eachother and open at all times (in New Frontiers). Each side had relics that they had to defend and try to capture the enemies' to bolster their entire faction's physical or magical damage. I am going to describe how RVR worked for DAOC's mid-later life, which was a free "expansion" revamp called New Frontiers. The Relics were only accessible once you had taken almost all of the enemy Frontier. Once you picked up a relic, it had to be run back safely to your own relic keep (no teleportation allowed or it would drop to the ground, same as if the person carrying it was killed). The relic keeps had extremely powerful guards and favorable terrain/building structure for defense.
Each keep had four towers (around the size of the main inner keep of a WAR keep) and then one very large keep. You could break down walls with catapaults, etc. as well as use rams like in WAR (except they were free-moving). Owning a keep and all four towers meant that you could teleport to it, if you owned the previous keeps in the chain, thus pushing your territory closer to the enemy's, and eventually capturing some of it. You gained bonuses for owning the keeps, and had to buy wood to repair the doors if they were damaged (no auto-magical healing like in WAR). Each character could only carry a certain amount of wood, so you couldn't simply say "ok guy, here's all the cash we have, go repair it."
The side that owned the most keeps/towers had entry rights to a dungeon called Darkness Falls, which was a great place to level as well as having endgame content to it with boss encounters & powerful gear (it was later revamped as it became outmoded over time, in the revamped Darkness Falls, some of the items were very strong for top-end templates of gear again). It also conferred economic benefits as there were vendor items you could purchase to salvage with tokens that only (and more plentifully) dropped in Darkness Falls. The salvaged materials could be used to craft with or sold to other players. Enemies that were in Darkness Falls when the enemy realms gained access were *NOT* kicked out automatically; they could fight and try to hold areas of the large non-instanced dungeon, as well as rez eachother. If someone had to release, they couldn't enter again, and would re-appear outside, unless their side re-captured access.
Passage of Conflict, aka POC, was a large tunnel system with a good number of various small boss encounters. It was physically connected to each of the three Frontiers. It was always open to all three factions/Realms. It was sometimes used as a route to try to sneak through with a Relic during a Relic raid, or to send a diversionary force through while a smaller group safeguarded the Relic carrier and reached their homeland through other routes.
The New Frontiers also had leveling areas for near-top-level characters, which would often be used as you gained a large XP bonus per kill for leveling there.
The New Frontiers was large enough that you generally would take a boat that went along a pre-set route to an area, which you could jump off of at any time. It passed along the coasts of the enemy Frontiers (you chose which area) and you would begin your attacks upon landing. Each keep had a large area surrounding it, and as I mentioned before, four towers of varying distance and orientation from the keeps. Keeps could be lockpicked by enemy stealthers, and some classes had an ability to climb walls. Towers, on the other hand, became powerful beachheads as even though they only had 1 door (instead of 2-3 on keeps), they could not be broken into except by destroying the door/gate.
All keeps/towers had patrols of guards, and could be upgraded to various strengths. The guards could become decently powerful, if fully upgraded, but expensive. Guilds would claim the keeps and have control over its upgrades until they released it or it was captured. The guards moved quickly and patrolled a lot, enabling people to get around them for a time if they tried and coordinated well. Killing a guard would notify the guild who owned the keep that it was killed with a number of enemies inside of the keep's area. Additionally, when keeps were attacked, they very quickly would light up on the map on fire, with a small fire or a big one depending on how heavily it was being attacked.
Due to the very large area of the Frontier, meta-games evolved in RVR. Stealther wars, anti-stealthers, 8v8 groups, zergs, etc. all came about in it. I'll briefly describe these.
Stealther wars entailed stealthers trying to choke off routes that people would take to get to areas of action in the Frontiers, usually major bridges or common landing points from the boats, etc. A lot of people fought on the middle island called Agramon, which connected all three Frontiers by land (keep in mind, the ENTIRE New Frontiers was inside of a single gigantic zone). Stealthers would often set up shop inside of towers atop bridges, which was where small groups often tried to get to in order to launch an attack from on a keep or whatnot. Due to stealth being permanent when activated, stealthers could pose a constant danger. Many groups would cross Agramon with speed, and obviously a stealther wouldn't typically try to attack a group, but rather the stragglers or people trying to make it through individually or in a duo/trio. Stealthers battled eachother for turf and tried to hinder enemy travel routes as much as possible, as well as performing recon as to where enemies are in the Frontier to help their realm plan where to move through/to.
Anti-stealthers are a pretty obvious breed (and fit in with duo/trio or stealthers often). They are either stealthers, or non-stealthers who tried to keep an area as clear of enemy stealthers as possible, to safeguard travel routes and supplies being brought to keeps/major staging areas. They would stomp around, act as bait, etc. to lure out enemies and kill them.
8v8 groups were generally what people refer to as "premades" now, except they were nearly always from allied guilds or same-guild players, and often they would run in "static groups" meaning it was almost always the same 8 people (or close to it) every time. People would become very attuned to how their allies played and through skill + coordination be able to take on far more than their own number of players. Other 8-man groups would run to try to kill them, or do the same to their own enemies. A skilled 8-man could either hit-and-run a zerg, try to bait some people to break from the zerg, act as a tower-taking force, etc. etc. Many skilled 8-mans could either take a zerg with an ambush (I personally have been in 8-mans that took out anywhere from 40-100 enemies in a battle), or try to "over-extend" the zerg, aka stretch them out thin over a distance and basically kill enemies as they came once the zerg re-oriented itself (zergs tend to be much much less controlled and skilled than a smaller, "hardcore" group).
Zergs are the most basic form of player tactics: they are simply a large group of people who are running around to an area or objective. Usually there are one or two people designated as a leader in a joinable custom chat channel they would make with an in-game command (called a Battlegroup) which could hold up to 200 people. Zergs typically do not overcome obstacles with anything but brute force and sheer, overwhelming numbers, and tend to be relatively un-coordinated compared to smaller groups of people who either organize a balanced group on the spur (a PUG group, aka pick-up group of players) or an 8-man.
As you can imagine, all of these various parties would interact with eachother in a lot of ways. A couple of stealthers might cause chaos at an important chokehold, act as bait for part of a zerg to try to slow it down by simply running away and stringing them along to try to allow more time for allies to reach a defense for a keep, etc. An 8-man would try to defeat other 8-mans or kill part of a zerg then get away, only to do it again (or move to another area entirely for other purposes). Anti-stealthers worked to try to help and facilitate people reaching their zerg or defense/attack, or scout areas to learn where enemy zergs were and what 8-mans were about/what area they were roaming. That's just a smattering of examples, of course, and not meant to be all-inclusive by a long shot.
Finally, what really set DAOC's RVR apart was the "Realm Rank" system. Killing enemy players (the primary source of realm points) would provide you with RP's (realm points). As you reached certain cumulative lifetime totals, you would earn specialization points for Realm Abilities. These ranged from stat boosts, critical boosts, defensive boosts, etc. all the way through major actively-used abilities (some of which had 3 levels). Examples of these are "Purge" which would for example at level 1, clear you of all debuffs/crowd control after 5 seconds with a 15 minute re-use timer (and was usable while CC'd). Level 2 would work instantly, while level 3 would work instantly and have a 5-minute re-use timer. However, each level cost a lot more points, as did the stat boosts (which had 5 levels to each one).
The Realm Rank system had so many levels that became progressively harder/longer to gain enough RP's to gain, that you were talking years to become someone with a high realm rank. Lower levels came more quickly, allowing people to reach a "proficient" level of boosts, while higher ones were for really fleshing out your character and becoming a little more powerful than others for your dedicated playing. Skill played into this as well, since if you weren't killing (or healing others for realm points in combat), you weren't earning much. If you keep dying repeatedly your earnings would be very small and not really get you much of anywhere quickly. If you were a good/great player you could earn much more quickly, as could a solid group.
So, yes... you *COULD* simply call RVR "faction-based PVP", but then again, you could call the entire PVE game "killing monsters". Neither description of those facets of gameplay really describes it, and as you can see, RVR is a lot more complex than a simple 10-minute instanced battle that has no impact on the game world, or simple mindless attacking of people PVE'ing.
On server population imbalances between factions, and what happened to morale when one faction owned most of the lands...
That happened on my server too, eventually, as far as one side owning a ton of the enemy's land and no one caring. It is indeed a game mechanic issue too that evolved and reared its head later on. That's why there would need to be improvements to the whole concept, but it's a solid base: things like some way to reset things more easily, underdog incentives/boosts, etc. to really keep people trying to fight the good fight instead of balling up and going home since they have no chance, etc.
Population imbalance is a hard thing to manage, and I really feel that keeps should have provided more bonuses individually to hold, so when the times were tough you could at least get something for your efforts. I'm not trying to paint a picture of things being rosy the entire time I played DAOC, and obviously improvements could be made with a newer game such as Rift to help lessen the mechanics that encouraged the community toward poor behavior which resulted in it being a lot less fun for a lot of people.
There were, as with anything, a lot of pluses and minuses to the game. I only really pointed out the pluses, since the scope of my OP wasn't really to give my thoughts as to how it could be refined and improved upon but to describe what it was for people completely unfamiliar to understand (perhaps it was a bit too idealistic a view of it as I was almost always on top of the food pyramid as you said).
I recall some times where the enemy had taken most of our Frontier and it felt pointless to go out to recapture it since we knew it would just be taken again right away with no chance of defense succeeding, sometimes lasting for a week or more before the tides shifted some. The whole thing could definitely be evolved to help handle this, as no one enjoys it when it's severely imbalanced. Part of the problem stemmed from people simply running into the PVE lands and farming if the tide of war turned against them even a little, which cascaded into more doing the same until those left, where they once may have had a good shot at defending or pushing the enemy back, had no real chance of doing so. Then the people who went to hide wouldn't come back out because it looked hopeless still. That's why I mention game mechanics such as underdog bonuses etc. to help encourage better player behavior, and make it more worthwhile to be out when the going's tough.
Thanks for reading, all!Originally Posted by GoldenTiger