Order and Chaos Online Anniversary Update Arrives, Makes Major Changes
Last week, I was griping about Gameloft’s month-late acknowledgment of the one-year anniversary of Order and Chaos Online . This week, we got that update, and I can see why there was a delay. Far from being a simple novelty update, the Anniversary Update introduces sweeping changes that signal a positive shift in the game going forward.
The update does bring the expected novelty content: wooden masks, fireworks, and even cookies that can let you turn into dungeon bosses (uber powers not included). It’s fun, but nothing more than we thought an Anniversary update would bring. There’s also the expected bug fixes and tweaks; for example, they “fixed” the “plucking glove,” a minor quest item that people had been abusing for many months now. Gameloft even gave out a 3-month subscription extension for every player — bonus! Nothing earth-shattering, though.
But then, out of the blue, they went and dropped this bomb: they have completely revamped and rebalanced every skill tree for every class. Every character had their talents reset, and everyone has had to re-explore their character builds.
There are many changes to individual powers. For example, Divine Breath’s effectiveness has been reduced; Fire Barrage’s knockdown effect is now a stun; Guardian Stance now requires a shield. But beyond that, talents have been moved, so that some good powers are deeper in the individual talent trees. Other talents have been deleted, and new ones have been added. There are clear changes in the way classes work and the way classes interact with one another.
Also, the power curve has been reduced by these changes. Overall, no geared-out level 60 build is quite as OP as it was before the update. No warrior is going to be soloing dungeon bosses anymore, nor rangers one-shotting people in Vega Square. Hybrid builds are really nerfed now, meaning there will be more variety of builds; a Fire Mage will be different from an Ice Mage, and a Guardian Warrior will be doing less damage than a Battle Warrior, etc.
As an World of Warcraft player, I’m used to the occasional talent reset; but OnC has never had this. This is an incredibly big deal. People had fine-tuned their character builds for maximum efficiency; they were farming dungeons and soul dailies like well-oiled machines. This is a major shift and not surprisingly, the change was initially met with some sturm und drang. There’s cries of “nerf!” Accusations that “They’ve ruined the game!” More than a couple declarations of “I quit!”
But, here’s the thing: Order and Chaos Online needed this. Everyone was sporting the same builds, exploiting the same combos, doing the same things. This shake-up not only makes things interesting again, but it tries to put every player on firmer, more even-footing.
And that’s important, because this update also shows that Gameloft is actually paying some attention to the long-term development of the game. Specifically, this change sets the stage for two major future updates:
PvP Arenas. This is not-so-subtly hinted at in the update, in the letter sent to each toon. It’s also obvious from the way the talent trees were reset. No only is making a good hybrid more or less impossible (so far — I’m sure someone will suss something out eventually), but now it seems to me that each class has a distinct Dungeon path and a distinct PvP path. For example, the fire tree is now the Mage Dungeon tree, while the ice tree is where all the good PvP powers are. Things will be interesting when organized PvP hits.
Level Cap Raise. By flattening the power curve, they’ve set things up, I think, for the rumored new zone and level cap increase. This one is more gut instinct than the PvP Arenas, but the changes they’ve made, as well as ease with which you can now get things like epic weapons and rune gear, leads me to believe that they no longer want level 60 to be something people need to work at … no longer endgame.
All in all, I like this update. It’s made things interesting again, and that’s an achievement in and of itself. If you haven’t played in awhile, now might be the time to start checking the game out again. You may be glad you did.
For more on the changes wrought by the OnC Anniversary Update, listen to the Massively Portable podcast.