Just played the update, and it's incredibly underwhelming.
Don't get me wrong; it was fun, but it was incredibly shallow. I understand that this was put together in two months, but in a game that lacked content at launch, this doesn't set a good precedent for the updates to come.
I've already mentioned just how exploitable the quest design is, and I expect to see a system that doesn't allow for player exploitation present in the next update, or at least a system that takes more than two minutes for people to figure out how to exploit.
A possible solution to this is selective invulnerability. You could have a flag (say - the one that you pay 2,500 gold for) that you can choose to equip, and if you equip it during the time the event is live, you cannot be boarded or hurt by other players, and in turn, you cannot hurt other players or board their ships. If you choose to use this invulnerability, you would be restricted to only doing the event quest, and once you complete it, the invulnerability would end. It wouldn't stop the PvP players from not using it, but it would keep them from exploiting a broken design, and in a timed event, I think it's justified.
Something that I believe was lacking in this update is replayability. Once you've completed the event once, there's little to no incentive to play it again, which is a shame because this will more than likely negatively impact people playing this update later. The longer you wait to play, the harder it will be to complete a quest just because of how few people will actually be interested in doing the quest by that point. Because you need at least 5 people to summon the shark, I don't think too many people past this week will have any luck completing the event. This problem could be fixed in a number of ways, but here are my two suggestions:
- 1.) Reward players for running through the event multiple times. Either have more secrets to find in successive run-throughs or change things up a bit to keep players interested. You could also reward players with Rep or Loot that you pick up from the quest-giver (in this case, Merrick) and have a different reward each time you finish. You could always try to think outside the box and spice up the adventure every so often so that players will always have a chance of something new when playing through again.
- 2.) Allow players to select a server they wish to play on. If you plan to have mechanics like the 5 drum beats in the future, a system allowing you to choose which server you would like to play on would make it possible to queue up with multiple crews to ensure that you get the quest done, rather than party up with three other people and hope that you can stumble across a fifth willing to help.
Either way, this issue is not only important to fix so that you keep your players engaged, it's also important because it could encourage cooperation and encourage people who have already finished the quest to go back and aid players who haven't. In fact, I think it would be a great idea to add in a special reward for anyone who does go back to help anyone who hasn't beaten the event. That'd give players more incentive to not only play your game, but be kind and friendly to other players, as well.
A small issue I had that bugged me was that the Bilge Rat pirate was the same character at each and every tavern. This small detail really broke the immersion for me, and just left a bad taste in my mouth over-all. Literally every other character at every Outpost is specific to that Outpost. It just boggles my mind why you didn't put a different pirate at each Outpost. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but you probably could've even used your random pirate generator to create the models if need be. Just, something would've been nice.
The actual hunt for the shark's location was interesting enough and took advantage of uncharted islands, which is really nice, but the riddles themselves weren't interesting in the slightest. They were so easy to guess that I got every answer right on the first try. But, I guess that's probably a good thing, considering that I would've been furious if I had to sail all the way back to the previous location if I got the clue wrong, but traveling through the world shouldn't be aggravating, and I consider this a lose/lose situation.
The actual creature fight was pretty awesome, though I will admit that I got lucky. I ran into a twelve-man team working together, and my friend and I tagged along. It was so easy to summon the shark and the fight was very epic and engaging - easily the best part of this otherwise mediocre update. However, I definitely feel like my experience was an outlier, and I do not expect anyone to get as lucky as I did. For example, the friend that I was with attempted to round up enough people to summon the shark on his own for hours with no luck. In fact, the people that he found were so uncooperative, he decided to stop playing the game. He only picked it back up again once I was available to play, several hours later. This should be a learning experience for you, Rare, and keep this in mind when designing future updates to be as not frustrating as possible.
As for what will happen to this quest once the event is over - who knows? I don't know how the shark will be encountered once these two weeks are up, and if it's anything like the kracken, then I personally think it's a huge waste of dev time and content to just shove this thing in as a random encounter. The game is already barren as it is - I hope they at least leave some possible way to ensure that you fight this thing again if you want to.
Over-all, it wasn't a terrible update, but I wouldn't say it was a particularly good update, either. Mediocre and unimpressive are pretty descriptive of it. Serviceable - for now is also something that describes it well. All I can say is that each event that will release beyond The Hungering Deep better be leagues and bounds more gripping and fleshed out than this one. If this update is all we can expect of future additions, I don't think there's much to get excited about.