My vacation arrived at 5PM CT on Friday, at which time I promptly logged into WAR. I hadn’t played in a week and was getting that must play itch. I was really shocked to find so few guild members online and it wasn’t just the day or hour of day, it’s remained that way for the past few days.
In general, the whole game is less populated. The whole Open Group mechanic is a bit futile when there aren’t enough people in the zone who need to do what you need to do. As a long time solo player I don’t mind questing all alone for long periods of time. However, the riotous fun from the preview weekend and initial launch spoiled me on the idea that “big is better” and more fun. Worst of all is that although I can certainly solo the INF in each chapter via the Public Quests, I can't complete them to Stage III and as a result, have zero opportunity of chest rewards. You can sometimes get two or three people together but depending on the classes, you still might not be able to complete Stage III which is a bummer.
Scenarios are still a big hit but even those are taking longer and longer to populate and there’s even less open RVR than when I was playing a couple of weeks ago. I really enjoy WAR. The quests are a cut above most other games and the variety of content – Scenarios, Quests, Open RVR and instanced PVE make for a great game. Unfortunately, more so than other games, the content is predicated on having other players around. Much of the fun is lost in a low population environment. I’m becoming a broken record but I still think that they built the Field of Dreams but don’t have enough players to hit critical mass. Available players are divided by faction, rank (level), racial pairings AND content types (scenarios, PQs, quests, RVR, crafting and exploration), which makes ALL of the content feel very under populated.
The lack of active players is also affecting the crafting and economy. While I’m sure the non-harvesting crafting mechanic seemed perfect when it was designed, it doesn’t play out so well when there aren’t enough players selling materials. You’re already grinding through a lot of group content alone or in very small groups. Not being able to explicitly farm materials leaves you grinding more mobs which aren’t guaranteed to drop what you need on each kill for crafting too. Buying off the auction house is very hit-n-miss. The sale prices are often ridiculously high to produce items that aren’t valued in the market. You can’t sell the items for what it costs you to make them if you have to buy the components. *Sigh* Apocathary suffers from this even more because the items aren’t even worth it to you as the crafter. Buff potions don’t persist through death so the cost of creation is disproportionate to the value in a game where you die often. Healing potions are great but since I have to farm mobs with inconsistent drop rates, I can’t be bothered.
I hope that the populations increase or they take more drastic measures if the transfers don’t alleviate the situation. I’m not going back to WOW and I just can’t bear leveling in EQ2. WAR is my home for the foreseeable future. But when I don’t feel like grinding through stuff then I just don’t log on.
I've enjoyed playing again over the weekend. However, the absence of the previously large group of guild members in game and on Vent, combined with fewer players in game, is a very noticeable problem. In fact, it's a bit depressing to consider that this game might not draw enough players to make the world in general come alive. There is so much good content and things to do but it's not nearly the same in these smaller groups.