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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Ho Ho Ho!






No, I'm not Santa. I just want to talk about HO's, or Heroic Opportunities, for a bit. Thanks to Beylanu for giving me the inspiration for this post towards the end of this thread.

When I first started playing EQII, I really enjoyed HO's. Even when soloing, they add some much needed spice to combat. There is an element of chance and it at least makes you feel as if you are doing something strategic.

In groups, it's even better. For one, it's really fun to do something as a team. Sure, we all play our team roles in group, but we kind of do it independently. HO's are something that really requires working together. It is a great feeling when you pull off a Heroic Opp and even better if it is one of the more difficult ones.

What's more, it rewards static groups, something I really enjoy. In my old static group, someone would just say "Fate" and we would immediately pull off the Luminary Fate HO like clockwork. It made me feel like we were a great team and the game was rewarding us for that.

But, like certain other gameplay elements (hello empty Arena how are you today?) I've mentioned in the past, I feel like HO's have suffered a bit from neglect. I have two issues here.

First, I don't feel enough care has ever gone into balancing and rebalancing HO's. I also don't feel as if they scale enough with level. It would be nice to see the super-rare ones just a bit more frequently as well.

Second, and more importantly, a little innovation with the HO's would go a long way. I would love to see HO's change as you level up, not necessarily every level but maybe every ten or twenty levels. When my group is at a higher level, we should be able to pull off different and new HO's. I really think this would keep it fresh and exciting. At the very least there should be new HO's with every new expansion.

As it stands now, I do not see people getting that excited about HO's anymore, though I still use then while soloing and they are still useful in group. To summarize, it's a good mechanic which has the potential to be great with a little work.
But I think this point is open to debate so I'd love to hear what you have to say on this subject.

A quick note in response to some e-mails I received on my "storyline" post. I realize there is a ton of detailed and excellent lore surrounding Norrath. But even though I personally might like reading it, I don't think the casual player should have to read special forums, lengthy .pdf files or play EQ for years to understand the lore of EQII. It should be integrated into the game naturally. And my point was not to disrespect the lore, which I think is great. But "storyline" and "lore" are not the same thing. I was talking about adding some sort of purpose to day to day doings in EQII - a general storyline that advanced over time which players could feel they had a role in.

12 Comments:

Blogger Anskiere said...

I loved HOs when they were actually hard to do. I absolutely hated when they made it so the chain doesn't break - that was one of the the things that set groups apart.. groups that could actually coordinate HOs and got a big benefit from it, and those who couldn't make HOs work if their lives depended on it (though that is probably why they changed it, too many people complaining about the chain breaking). That and the reduced wheel time we have now, in which if you have a spell (the star for the wizards, for example) you are pretty much boned since those spells have a long cast time and you're lucky to get another one off in time.

But I agree. HOs USED to be fun... now it's just "some window that pops on my screen when I fight.. whatever the hell it does, I don't know!"

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Magson said...

I'm with you anskiere. They used to be really cool, and getting a multi-character one was really an accomplishment.

Now it's easy to get the wheel up, but hard to complete one. Especially if it's a 4 person one that requires each skill to be done in order. If each skill has a 3 second cast time though. . . . .12 seconds is 2 seconds longer than the wheel.

I play with IRL friends. We all have a bunch of alts at various levels, so we may play T4 one day with me as tank, D as healer, and C and J as DPS, but the next day we'll be doing low T3 and I'll be healer, D is dps, J is tank, and C is off-tank. We still know our roles, though, and are successful at any level in accomplishing out goals. But even with that. . .we just don't bother to use the HO's anymore. Oh sure, they'll get triggered, but whoever triggered it usually immediately follows with their own activation skill, so we get a series of solo HO's. The occasional duo one triggered by accident, and the REALLY rare trio one. Even in a group with all 4 archetypes (cleared Nek Castle last week with an SK, a necro, an assassin, and a defiler) and all of us on ventrilo and being familiar with our roles and spells, we still only occasionally managed to coordinate 1 "all 4" wheel to open. And we didn't finish it. It timed out. There were 2 or 3 trio ones opened, and I think we finished 2 of them. Duo ones were uncommon, but not really surprising when they happened. But it was still mostly a series of the solo ones. They really don't add much anymore, so they're not really worth bothering with.

12:44 AM  
Blogger Krystalea said...

I always trigger HO's. Granted they may not be fantastic and they do need a little upgrading, but it is just that little bit extra damage.

And Anskiere brought up that star for wizards. I hate, no thats too strong, dislike that stinking star, expecially when duoing with my coercer hubby. Its not the recast times, as there are several spells that will finish the star. Its the fact that its AOE, even though the spell may not be, and then, of course, that will break any mez thats on.

HO's are nice, but after my little tangent there, I agree they do need some twinking, and then I think they will be all the rage again.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Krystalea said...

Oh I wanted to add about that stinking star. They need to remove some of those specialty pets off the star symbol. Have had a number of times, triggered HO, had the necro casting his trio of pets and boom, what was once crowd controlled, is now beating the ever living daylights out of us.

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are different kinds of HOs? Where do you learn about this stuff? I can't figure them out. If HOs are cool and fun to use, then SOE needs to work on explaining their game a little better. I've even read the text in the Prima startegy guide--no clearer there.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Quylein said...

Anon I got a great write up about HO's here
http://quylein.blogspot.com/2005/09/im-hero.html

Also a link to a HO websight

12:17 PM  
Blogger Mercurie said...

With regards to storylines and lore, I think one problem with both MMORPGs and pen and paper RPGs is that sometimes there is so much lore that a newbie can find himself or herself lost. It seems to me that the best games do incorporate the lore into the everyday goings on of the game, so that people can learn it quickly.

1:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I try to encourage collective HO's, especially on raids, but am usually met with the tepid replies of "/yawn, who cares". Additionally, playing as a Troubador confined to the "Mage" group, my reward for sneaking in an 'upgrade' to the one mage that likes to do his 'solo' HO is to have the wheel pop up that requires two scout spells/arts to complete! (As I am the only scout in this caster group, I race to complete the HO, praying that I'm not 'greyed out').
I do agree that HO's should be given another look at with some thoughts to improving them overall.

3:22 PM  
Anonymous Teh Chunt said...

Wow, this has been something I've been thinking about a lot lately. As a Illusionist, I solo with HOs all the time. Without them, my DPS would be even worse. So I've become attached to them. I see value in them, I think they're fun, and I love that with a HO, I can do cool things, like complete the chain with my debuff, and have it cause damage on top.

That said, I get very frustrated in groups, since NOBODY uses them anymore. Even in close heroic fights where that little bit of dmg could be the difference between life and death, no one uses them. At most, I'll see the tank do his solo HO to help increase hate. As a caster, It's no use starting a HO most of the time. Tanks or Scouts should be starting them, but are usually too busy.

Even when I play my berzerker alt and start the Hos myself, they're rarely completed. Now sometimes this is a result of spells not landing (very frustrating when you have a 3 class HO going and the last in the chain just keeps getting resisted), and sometimes it's a matter of priorities (like we get an add that has to be taken care of). Often, though, it seems people either have no clue, or don't care. Most of the HOs I started, ended up being solos finished by me. The few times we did get off duo HOs, the effect was noticeable.

I've been wondering about this a lot lately. Why does no one want to do Heroic ops? Aggro, as usual, is onto something. The benefits need to be upped, the timer needs to be extended by a few seconds, and they need to scale with level. Me, I'm not bored with them yet, since I have yet to actually see a 4 class HO pulled off. But scaling is a good idea, I hope SOE is listening.

2 final thoughts:
1) Why not spice it up a little, and add subclass differences? For example, when a Paladin completes a HO with a taunt icon, for example, he could add a group ward or heal as a bonus. When a SK completes the same HO with the same move type, he could add a lifedrain effect or disease debuff instead. Same with casters. Wizzie HO finishers could do a supernuke to the mob targeted by MT, and a warlock doing the same finisher could but a nasty AoE dot down. All this would be in addition to the normal effects of the HO, and it could add some strategy to who finishes the HO. What about a special HO for allied classes? If a SK, Necro, Defiler and Assassian do a Ho together, they should bust out a vicious dark HO that debuffs and lifedraing, maybe instantly killing weaker foes. What do you think?

2) Cmon scouts, let's see some HO flipping. Part of the scout's role in EQ2, along with DPS, stealth, ant tracking, is managing the Heroic ops. They are the only class that can change the Heroic, but I almost never see it happen. There are some great HO writeups on multiple boards. Learn up scouts, and impress your next group.

3:38 PM  
Anonymous beylanu said...

Good write up aggro. And I really like the comments above as well.

As for lore vs story. I think the game has plenty of lore, but very little story.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i use HOs a lot when solo. but in groups i have seen as well that it's not so popular. i find that sad.
it may be that people are not really aware of how useful HOs can be. like a previous poster said 'There are different kinds of HOs? ... SOE needs to work on explaining their game a little better.'
i think a good idea would be for them to include some serious HO training quests on IoR. something that shows the HO basics, but goes beyond that as well. like different types, or even 'group simulation'. so the newbies know from start , what is possible.

6:59 AM  
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