I finally reached level 60 and engaged in a few more activities. Here is my feedback on specific topics.
Experience and Leveling
The new XP adjustments are dialed in quite well. Leveling up to 60 was an enjoyable exercise as I was rewarded XP fairly for all of my activities. I got to play more of the game the way I wanted to, and not what I needed to in order to reach the finish line. This is a significant improvement.
Stormglass Building Set
I already mentioned I loved the new Flotsam building set, but the Stormglass set is equally outstanding. All the pieces have intricate details on them, adding to their overall quality. The glass windows look great and leave great looking lighting/shadow effects in the building. There’s lots of creative potential with this set. I kind of wish I took screenshots during my new project. I have my construction crew setup and I’m slowly building up a masterpiece (hint hint: give us photo mode :).
The Rhino mount runs a bit slower than the horse. It also cannot jump and it will often get stuck in rocks if you assume it will just run over them. The horse can also get stuck with rocks, but its ability to jump can help get it out of a sticky situation. As for the rhino? Like a dump truck, you have to back that bad boy up (complete with the beeping sound) and dry steer it out. By then, it would have been faster for you to just run on foot. My suggestion? It’s a rhino, charge though the rocks!
The new skins look amazing; however rhino mounts run away in a fight. From what I understand, this was done specifically to mounts since we can now have fighter thralls in addition to mounts; however this just feels wrong. I would gladly leave my thrall at home if my mount could double as a fighting companion. It feels like a waste of great looking skins (and expensive to craft, yet great looking war mounts) if they’re just used as slow-running pack mules, especially since the horse is showing better advantages. I would suggest they double as fighters if a thrall companion is not in the group.
The Wild Surges need some work.
They spawn randomly in the map. It may or may not spawn in close proximity, often requiring a lengthy trip only to find out another player beat you to it or you do not find what you were looking for.
They spawn infrequently, requiring you to wait for the next maelstrom storm to complete (~1 hour?). This needs to be adjusted to better cater to a player’s available game time.
I have only seen Tier 1 craft thralls drop from the portal. Tier 2 and Tier 3 thralls seem to be reserved for fighters and archers. This seriously hurts builders and crafting costs.
Most surges I’ve been to have wildlife nearby and often engage with the thralls. In one case, a Corrupted Rocknose boss obliterated all 5 thralls before I was able to knock any of them out. I myself was in no place to fight that beast either.
I noticed the same thrall cultures drop from the same portal locations (no randomness). Based on Wild Surges I’ve been too, I know whether or not Cannibals, Black Hand, Relic Hunters, etc. will spawn there. As some cultures produce stronger thralls than others, I can see this creating bottlenecks at key portal sites.
I’ve noticed some tension on the PvE servers with these surges. Not often, but every now and then I see global chat with someone with explosive outbursts over rules they’ve established, entitlements, and general mischaracterizations. It’s incredibly unhealthy when I see players behave more savage than the fictional characters and universe we entertain ourselves with.
Wild Surges are a neat mechanic, but they’re not suited for thralls. I do believe the system you had in place with the classic Exiled Lands map is the better solution (if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it). Give thralls camps, respawn them after a period of time, and allow players to pick and choose what they want when they want it. Given how the island is littered with beached boats and sailors, there’s lots of opportunities for you to be creative with those ‘pirate’ camps.
What about Wild Surges then? Replace thralls with waves of increasingly difficult enemies, followed by a boss finally and unique loot rewards (like what you did with legendary enemies in Exiled Land). Give each player participant an instance of the loot so everyone leaves with something and it will avoid the unneeded explosive outbursts from people who got nothing or who felt they were entitled to more. We don’t need that behaviour in video games.
Vaults are interesting and artistically well done; however like Wild Surges they need some work. Notably, they need to be instanced per player or team (a feature you would have to add). Like surges, on PvE servers I see the occasional heated conflict between players over entitlements to a vault and its treasures.