Realm vs realm in Guild Wars 2 and Dark Age of Camelot

Can anyone here talk about the comparative merits of the larger-scale realm vs realm combat in Guild Wars 2 and Dark Age of Camelot? Are there any old-school Dark Age players who’ve tried the PvP in Guild Wars2 and what did you guys think of it?

How did Dark Age get around issues like rendering so many characters when Guild Wars 2 has the awful culling tech that just means people are often invisible until you’re right on top of them?

Furthermore, did Dark Age offer any guidance during the realm vs realm beyond “conquer the other dudes”? Guild Wars 2 used to have orbs, which I suspect were like relics in Dark Age. But without those, Guild Wars 2 is just about territory control with a little line of supply, which translates to small bonuses to the PvE gameplay on your server. Did Dark Age have anything like that?


I wasn’t a huge daoc player but wanted to agree with you Tom about the removal of the orbs. I understand clamping down on the rich get richer mechanic but I would of liked seeing them keep the pve bonus and remove the pvp bonus.

DAOC had three factions, based on Irish lore, British lore and Nordic lore. Each of the three realms had a RvR area which was filled with forts/ strongholds that initially all belonged to the home faction. However, each of these forts were controllable. If you tried conquering someone’s fort, there were a lot of high level NPC guards (including archers shooting from inside) minding the Fort. You had to perform a series of steps in order to take the fort and meanwhile the faction that owned the fort was getting warned.

Plus I thin they had some kind of bonus system where if you held certain forts, your other ones got bonuses like more NPC guards or something, but I’m very hazy on that. Also those RvR areas weren’t just filled with enemy players, they also had some really high level creatures there too, various level creature actually. So sometimes you were just in an open area fighting against creatures when you got attacked by opposing faction players.

I played DAoC to death back in the day. I’ll try to help.

For starters, when you’d get a bunch of guys from all three realms into combat in DAoC, the game would slow noticeably. It is a given that to RvR effectively in that game, you had to go into the options and make sure that you turned off all spell effects and combat effects except for those that you caused or affected your character personally. You’d have to turn down a ton of character detail, too. I can remember many a relic raid where the call would come on raid chat: take off your cloaks! The graphic movement of the cloaks of player characters in the game was a known resource hog, even if your cloak gave you a ton of bonuses.

The one thing DAoC did do was to give their frontiers three distinct flavors to play. When the game launched, 80% of the PVP took place in this wide expanse of land called Emain Macha…but after Mythic did their PVP overhaul expansion, there was good reason to fight in all three realms’ frontiers, which spread everyone out. The boats and lack of fast travel also helped to keep things at manageable numbers throughout, but there were plenty of times where the game would chug and be brought to it’s knees when large groups would fight.

At this point, I’ll mention the different combat mechanics. GW2 has some very dynamic combat concepts for players. You can dodge, you time your blocks and strikes, all fueled by dynamic movement when you encounter others.

DAoC was old school. You’d macro up the /face command, for instance. If you attack me, I’d target you and click my hotkey for /face and now no matter what sort of circle-strafing you do, my character automatically spins to face you and keeps you in my front field of view. In fact, I’d have /face and /stick macro’d together. /Stick basically attaches me to you unless you sprint out of range. So, if we’re in combat and I /face and /stick you in melee, now you can circle strafe and move through me all you want, but I’m dynamically staying in front of and attached to you. At that point then in DAoC, I’m hitting my attack hotkeys in the sequence I do in every attack, (with provisionals macro’d onto every key press in case I parry or dodge an incoming melee attack to chain off that.) As such, RVR combat in DAoC was less about individual player skill and more about your gear builds and 8-man group makeup. There were classes in DAoC that could NEVER get groups for lack of utility. I’m sure that taking a lot of the individual player skill and dynamics out of the game in DAoC helped its engine to handle the large group encounters when they’d happen.

As you state, DAoC’s relics were fairly analogous to the Orbs in GW2. For one thing, though, the Relics in DAoC were two per realm (is it that way in GW2?), and had personality and were easily understood. Each realm has two relics, one for “Strength” that affected melee stats, and one for “Power” that affected casters. Albion had Merlin’s Staff (Power) and the Scabbard Of Excalibur (Strength) for instance. It sounds like a little thing, but that’s much easier to describe and make a goal for RVR players, having those relics be recognizable like that. (Midgard had Thor’s Hammer for Strength, and Horn of Valhalla for power; Hibernia had Lug’s Spear Of Lightning for Strength, and the Cauldron of Dagda for power. Much more interesting-sounding than “orbs”.)

The dynamic with DAoC back in the day (not sure if it’s the same) prevented one realm from running roughshod over everyone. In order to even raise the gate to get to the part of an enemy realm where the Relic Keep was required the holding Realm to lose a certain number of keeps they held through the frontier. If you had just your own relics, you’d have to hold at least a good number of keeps in your home frontier. If you had your own relics plus those of other realms…well, the game made it hard to hold onto other team’s relics.

That brings me to discussing having to hold this huge swath of keeps. In DAoC, in order to protect your own relics, you’d have to hold onto a decent number of keeps in your home frontier. To take another team’s relics, you’d have to first take a bunch of keeps in their home frontier, and then siege the relic keep itself, and then run the relic back home and house it…and then you’d have to HOLD those keeps in the enemy frontier. If you wanted the relics from all three realms, you’d have to take and hold a sizeable number of keeps in all three realms.

Sounds like a numbers game? Sort of, but Mythic worked around it, too. With each keep your realm held across the frontiers, your realm’s ability to top up the levels of the walls and gates and NPC guards at those keeps got progressively more expensive, to the point that if you took enough keeps to get the relics from both of the enemy realms, no one could afford to raise the levels of the keeps taken to raid the relics. Thus, taking back your relics was likely to involve sieging keeps and castles in your home frontier that had low-level walls and NPC guards, stuff that could be easily accomplished by a partially-full group, even. The only way to defend them was to spread out huge numbers of player characters across all three frontier realms, and the sheer number of keeps to defend prevented that from being a good option for long. It was rare on a competitive server for any one realm to hold all three realm’s relics for longer than a week or so. To make a long story short: DAoC made it fairly possible to take and raid other realm’s relics, but made it very, very hard to hold onto them for long periods of time.

The relics gave each side a very discernible bonus in PVP and PVE both. If you control both your home relics, you got a 10% bonus to PVP damage for melee (strength relic) and magic (power relic). You’d get an additional 10% bonus for each relic from another realm you controlled, and this bonus would also apply to PVE. It definitely was an incentive to take and hold relics in the game!

Another dynamic that helped was the XP granting in the PVP frontiers. When the much-maligned expansion for Atlantis came out, the artifacts (which were player weapons and armor) that you earned doing that PVE stuff could be best “leveled up” (the weapons and armor had 10 levels) by doing PVE content in the frontiers; players and their level-able gear got double XP in the PVP areas. What did that mean? Well it established a food chain of sorts in the game. You’d have individuals or small, partial groups of 3 or 4 out doing PVE stuff in the frontiers to maybe power level a friend or to level up gear because of the double XP bonus you’d get. Then you’d have meanies (like the groups I ran with) who knew where the likely “camps” were that players would farm for XP, and would go merrily ganking away at folks leveling up at those places. And of course, you’d have bigger groups who knew there’d be gank groups out there, and they’d come after us, and then we’d finally get a zerg together to take them out, and so on.

What made that chain work is the Realm Level system. When our gankers would attack and kill 3 poor sots out leveling up some piece of gear, chances are those guys leveling were of low realm rank. We’d get comparably small XP and realm points for killing them, because we were higher realm rank than them. That’s why groups would hunt our gank group–because we were higher realm rank, and thus we were a nice prize to kill. If we got killed out there by another group, they’d get a nice haul of XP and realm points that made it worth their while. And so on.

That went on longer than I expected! I poured maybe thousands of hours into DAoC from 2001 through 2008 or so. Be happy to clarify anything that I messed up on.

Most of my experience in Dark Age of Camelot was from beta/release through the Shrouded Isles expansion. I did play Guild Wars 2 up to level 55 or so and spent maybe 40 hours in WvW, which I acknowledge isn’t much and probably well over 25 times less than I spent in DAOC, but here are my thoughts.

In DAOC, you had to actually rely on scouts for information and they could stay stealthed unlike GW2. I don’t recall there even being in game maps so you also needed to know the areas well or have a guide/leader. You also did not see things like the crossed swords telling you where the battles were/are and how large they are. You had to rely on scouting by actual players. Later in the development you could claim keeps as a guild and if you did it would tell you in guild chat (as if the guard could relay info to the guild) as to whether it was under attack and approximate numbers of enemy. There were alliances of 10 guilds max that were relied on to communicate alert levels and issue “Call to Arms” to the realm where necessary. There was a lot of realm pride back then that I don’t think you will ever recapture again. GW2 allowing the server transfers pretty much killed any chance GW2 had of creating this, but I feel the modern gamer will never be as patient as we were back in the early days of DAoC and will want much more immediate reward for their actions. In DAOC days it wasn’t uncommon to camp gates for hours to prevent enemy intrusions and to tell you the truth they were some of my best gaming memories to date. We would create our fun or kill some high level creatures nearby and with the way the game was designed, there was always some action to be had before too long.

I also seem to remember there being rewards for holding the relics. There was a strength relic and power relic for each realm making 6 total. If you held the strength relics, you gained power in melee and power relics improved your magic power. I don’t recall the numbers, but as Midgard we would normally try to snag the strength relics if we could. If Hibernia got a hold of the Power relics, it could get pretty nasty. Also, another balance change they made eventually was that the more keeps you held in an enemy land the less resistance the guards would put up at the relic keep. I don’t recall specifically if it just changed the number of guards or the strength of them, but it impacted their ability to repel relic keep attacks. This would impact the strategy as time was always of the essence when a relic raid was going on and the defending realm would almost always be able to repel a relic keep attack given sufficient time. Also, dying really hurt and you couldn’t get back into the fray immediately. It could take 5-10 minutes just to get back to the realm entrance and then many times you had to get around blockades set up by the enemy on highly traveled paths so there was a lot more strategic level commander type actions going on.

There were no automatic supply caravans. Players would have to manually transport all materials (wood) to upgrade and repair doors of both normal keeps and relic keeps. The more expensive wood you purchased, the more “repair power” you would have. Each slab of wood weighed the same, but the higher tier ones cost more and would repair/upgrade more per attempt. Each realm really had to rely on the guilds and alliances to put forth significant funds and efforts toward keeping gates and keeps upgraded and repaired. One of the first things I would do every time I logged in when I got home from work was to grab a stack of wood and patrol around our realm looking for doors that needed repairs. There was also the off chance I would run into enemy out in the realm and get us a head start on realm defense if necessary.

To this day, for me, nothing has come close since to capturing the strategic level and realm pride and enjoyment that newly released DAOC had.

Haha! I knew this would get some detailed responses from people and noticed triggercut beat me to the post. I will leave my post as is although many of our comments may be similar.

Yeah, I don’t recall having to hold enemy land keeps once we captured the relics and got them home in the early days of DAOC. You just held them in your own lands unless I am forgetting something. Perhaps that was a later change. What I recall was the “gates” were always open if you had sufficient power to take them and didn’t require taking a certain number of keeps to gain access to the relic keep.

Still, cool memories and good stuff, triggercut.

Another one everyone always did was “Turn off all names” to help reduce lag. You definitely had to turn everything down and off to help combat the lag. A few times on early relic raids we crashed the server even, but most of the time the game was playable throughout them for me.

Agreed, that was a fun dynamic. You’d have scouts staying stealthed waay behind enemy lines reporting defenses and group movements (and occasionally ganking stragglers.)

I don’t recall there even being in game maps so you also needed to know the areas well or have a guide/leader. You also did not see things like the crossed swords telling you where the battles were/are and how large they are. You had to rely on scouting by actual players.

Useful maps were introduced in the RVR expansion circa 2003 or so. They’d show where everything was across all three frontier zones, plus which side controlled the various keeps, plus crossed swords of varying size to depict ongoing battles from small to large. It actually added to the dynamic. Let’s say you had a small, partially full group of 6 and were taking down a lightly-defended keep. After a few minutes of beating on the door, those swords would go up on the map, and you knew you had to be fast and get inside and take the keep lord or you were going to have unwelcome company.

Later in the development you could claim keeps as a guild and if you did it would tell you in guild chat (as if the guard could relay info to the guild) as to whether it was under attack and approximate numbers of enemy.

Yep, that was a cool element. If your guild controlled a keep, your guards would tell you when they were under attack and by how many people, approximately. In the expansion, you’d get that notice before the swords would pop up on the map.

The RVR expansion that was introduced after Shrouded Isles changed that.

I loved DAOC with a sort of love/hate relationship, in that leveling was hard (pre-Catacombs at least), the UI was complex, and it was very group dependent…but it was also amazingly atmospheric, challenging, rewarding, and satisfying when things went right. My main was a Reaver (Alb/Percival), which I picked for no apparently reason other than I liked the idea of using a whip; I sucked at melee combat, which was not a good thing for a Levi/Slam build. But because my wife was a Grand Master Alchemist, I had a bitchin’ collection of violet/rose/magenta dyes to use!

Much of my fondness for the game though is permanently tarnished by nightmares of Master Level raids. To this day, thinking of ML3 gives me hives.

I was going to come in here and recommend Triggercut talk about this but I see it’s not necessary.

I certainly recall people yelling “take off your cloaks” and turning down my spell effects (there was a setting where you’d only see your group’s spell effects and that was what I used. I played on dial-up and RvR battles were frequently frustrating to me because I’d oftentimes have horrible performance. Unless it was a gigantic zerg it would be playable though.

The orbs in GW2 were one per border keep. They gave bonuses but they weren’t terribly difficult to steal - you just had to take the supply camp north of the border keep and then kill a bunch of champions and the like. Nothing that a medium sized force couldn’t do - and in fact, often the second the maps reset on Friday evening you’d have groups pushing to take the orbs (which wasn’t the best idea since at that point you probably didn’t have a good place to store it).

The size of the DAoC maps and the lack of map notifications are two of the elements that made the realm battles more exciting in DAoC. Though the total size of the borderlands maps + Eternal Battlegrounds might be large, but since each one is a separate entity, they feel small - and you can book around one of the borderlands map pretty fast. Whereas in DAoC, it could take a while to traverse those wide open spaces.

Because the maps in GW2 are so small, most people feel as though they have to zerg the maps. DAoC’s larger maps made running in small groups more rewarding.

I have nothing to add to this thread, just want to say that you guys are making me very nostalgic for DAOC! :(

So many nights staying up until 4:00 a.m. (when I had to get up for work at 7:00!) defending a keep from those snooty Albs and despicable Mids or running around in an 8-man looking for a good fight to level my Warden. Fantastic times. I’ve tried a few other MMORPGs though not many, and none of them could ever hold my attention for long.

I’ve played both and enjoyed both of them. Playing GW2’s WvW, you can see that the developers drew a lot of inspiration from DAoC’s RvR (particularly post-Frontiers RvR). I remember playing the first beta weekend for GW2 and thinking, “Wow! This is a lot like RvR.”

There are two things I’d like to bring into the conversation to begin with. The first is map design. In DAoC, the maps were large and if you were not moving with enhanced movement speed (ie grouped with a bard, minstrel, or skald), it took a long time to travel across the map. People who were moving at speed had an insane advantage over those who were not. This made the battlefields feel enormous and really made you feel vulnerable traveling through them if you were relegated to regular foot speed. Plus, each of the maps was different.

In GW2, the maps feel constrained. Yes, they’re fairly decent sized, but they’re so filled with towers, keeps, castles, supply camps that there isn’t a lot of room for groups to maneuver outside of those strategic locations. Worst of all, all three borderlands maps are identical, which disappoints me.

The main reason it disappoints me is that one of the areas that GW2’s WvW areas really shine over DAoC’s RvR is how awesome the maps themselves are. They’re filled with interesting terrains. Every tower’s layout is different. You could show me the insides of two different keeps in DAoC, and other than being able to tell you if it was a Hibernian, Midgardian, or Albion keep, I’d have trouble telling you which keep it was. But I can tell if I’m in Durious, Veloka, Quentin, Ogrewatch, etc. in an instant.

The other thing I would bring up is the issue of accessibility. Non 50s really had no place in the Frontiers in DAoC. Sure you occasionally found them out there, grinding mobs for exp since the exp was so good out there. And occasionally they’d come out and tag along with the zerg, but they were essentially worthless. DAoC worked around this by having little mini-frontier areas for lower level characters to play in. These were essentially small maps with a single tower to fight over. They were a lot of fun for what they were, but they were just sideshows to the real thing (though certainly there were people who did nothing but play in Thidranki).

GW2 on the other hand lets you participate at any level. Sure, at level 10, you’re not likely to beat an 80 one on one, but you’re at least capable of damaging your opponent.

The basic game mechanics of GW2 also improve the accessibility of WvW. With no trinity design, every character is self sufficient. You can run around solo if you’re brave and expect to do reasonably well should you encounter another solo opponent no matter what your class. While there was certainly a culture of solo roamers on some DAoC servers, those roamers played a very narrow band of classes that usually had stealth or speed (or both in the case of the minstrel).

In groups, DAoC’s mechanics practically required you to run with a speed class (bard, skald, minstrel), two primary healers, a primary cc, and four burst dps classes who knew how to assist each other. There was some flexibility in these group compositions, but some classes were completely shut out of running in groups because they really didn’t bring enough to the table in terms of class abilities and realm abilities.

In GW2, you don’t have those defined roles, so there’s much greater flexibility in group composition if you want to run in a group. On the flip side, GW2 hasn’t quite cultivated that group mentality DAoC had because of precisely this issue (and the small maps).

And as a random aside, the narcissistic side of me misses DAoC’s deathspam. I liked knowing who killed me, so I knew who to hunt for revenge.

Edit: Hmm, that was a long, rambling post and I didn’t even say half of what I intended to say.

Suddenly I want to play this again, if only on a personal shard. I liked Albion’s look, and the game mechanics were nice. I don’t know if they stand up to the test of time though.

I loved plinking away at people by the mile gates with my scout. Although I don’t miss continually falling off the stairs in Hib keeps due to lag.

GW2 has a very serious WvW PvP flaw - there are no spec groups. You can portal bomb, you can run necro plauge cover and that is about it. Without spec groups it turns into numbers game. Any 20 people group will generally win against 10 people group. This leaves high-end PvP very lackluster.

I’m curious to see how Elder Scrolls RvR will turn out. Apparently it’s being developed by ex WAR/DAOC developers. Most likely it will be a mess but I’m still keeping an eye on it. The combat is supposed to be like Tera apparently.

I do hope the next MMO that wants to have large scale PVP intends to let you see the enemies further than 2m in front of you. Bonus points if you can make permanent damage to terrain/buildings that will take time and not just “magic” to repair.

I spent way to much time in Thidranki, the level 21-24 battle ground. I used to reroll toons just to play more of it. The setup was that each realm had their own portal keep which was in an area of the map, that was themed similar to their normal land, and fought over a Keep located on a middle island. You had the choice of following the road and going straight over the bridge to get to the keep or you could turn off and swim to it at a much slower speed. The amount of hibs I killed as a stealther camping their bridge would make any full blown RvRer proud. The joy of that particular BG was that it was an actual keep with doors and wall that could be knocked down or repaired, it could be upgraded and claimed, and you also gained Realm Points in it but only up to R1L4 (or levels past the initial start). So far the sPvP seems very bland and reminds me more of playing TF2 than DAoC’s Battle Grounds.

Except that real full blown RvRers didn’t play stealthers.

Ooops, sorry, I was just overcome by a bout of ancient prejudice.