18/04/2014

Huttball on Quesh

After my initial struggles to get into the new warzone on patch day, I've had a chance to try it more than a few times by now. It looks great so far. I suppose my first impressions are to be taken with a grain of salt, as I remember enjoying Ancient Hypergates very much when it first came out, while it's one of my least favourites nowadays, but I like Huttball well enough in general, and the new map doesn't really change the basic gameplay of the warzone.

The first thing I found striking about the new Quesh map was the attention to detail that was clearly given to it by the devs. It didn't even occur to me that they might change the sound cues for example - it's still Huttball after all - but they actually recorded a whole set of completely new lines for Baron Deathmark, for everything from the intro to silly things like people kicking the Huttball. I haven't played a match yet where I didn't chuckle at one of his new sarcastic remarks.


The warzone itself seems slightly confusing at first, as it's more... cubic than original Huttball, meaning that vertical movement matters as much as horizontal movement, if not more so. While the original Huttball map has its ramps and pits, the one on Quesh takes things to a whole new level. As a healer it can be a bit bewildering to see someone clearly in range of you but be unable to heal them because they are on the level below you for example. Once you figure out where the ramps to climb different levels are located (around the edges), things become a lot more obvious however.

The thing that I found the most striking after a bit of observation is that this new map is not merely a reskin, it actually has a very different flow. Original Huttball is pretty much a straight line, with the Frog-Dogs on one end, Rot-Worms on the other and the ball in the middle. What this means is that you always want to push towards your enemy because getting closer to their line is beneficial both from an offensive (closer to scoring) and a defensive point of view (ball gets further away from your own goal line).

The Quesh Huttball pit on the other hand is basically an even-sided, downwards pointing triangle, with the ball spawn point at the bottom and the two goal lines located at the two top points. What this means is that as you climb the ramps to carry the ball towards the enemy goal line, the distance to your own goal doesn't diminish... in fact, depending on your route, the ball might be getting closer to your own line as well! A dangerous game, and if your ball carrier dies while on high ground, the enemy might be able to turn things around and score a goal of their own very quickly. At the same time, because so much of the fighting happens in between and close to both of the goal lines, it's a lot harder for a single person to just grab the ball and make a break for the line, away from the people fighting in the middle.

The area right in front of the goal line is also considerably smaller than in original Huttball, with fewer avenues of approach for the enemy, which makes it quite a bit more defensible from what I can tell. My impression of this so far is that it makes the whole game feel a bit more tense, as the only time you feel relatively safe from an enemy scoring is when the ball is at the bottom of the pit. It seems to me that there's less room for the endless back and forth in the middle, with no side coming even close to scoring, that you sometimes see in Huttball games on Nar Shaddaa.

One "downside" of the more vertical design is that leaps, pulls and pushbacks are more powerful than ever, so if you have neither you might feel a little left out. However, I've always felt that way in original Huttball already, so it doesn't make that much of a difference to me now.

There are a few grapple tables around the area that are supposed to ease the issue of fast movement between platforms for the less mobile classes (if you're not carrying the ball) but so far I'm not convinced of their usefulness, as their animation is kind of slow and doesn't actually carry you very far. One time I even bounced off the ceiling and fell right back down to the ground, which just felt pointless. I don't know, maybe there's some kind of trick to it that I have yet to discover.

I'm definitely looking forward to perfecting my mastery of this warzone over time; it looks like it will offer a lot of opportunities for interesting gameplay.

3 comments :

  1. Okay, I've been meaning to ask whether you change your UI and settings around when you PvP vs. when you PvE. I know there are some abilities that I look at and think "oh, this is definitely PvP oriented" and put them off to the side where I hardly ever touch them, but I've often wondered whether I ought to just set up something specifically for PvP just to try out a Warzone or two.

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    1. Nah, I have enough trouble remembering where everything is on all my alts without constantly changing things, not to mention that I'm not a fan of too much fiddling with the UI. I would think that that kind of thing is for the super hardcore... reminds me of the time a hardcore PvPer ranted at me about how having "jump" bound to the space bar is a waste of a very accessible key and how he has it bound to his best survival cooldown instead. :P

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    2. Hah, yea... they must be insanely patient to get past the 'blow an important cooldown basically every time it comes up because of muscle memory' thing.

      I've actually recently switched the ~ key so that it no longer opens up the companion skillbar (because who needs that on a hotkey) and instead uses a medpac. So far, there have been many wasted medpacs...

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