WC: With the 100th content update's Elder Game system, players can swear allegiance to factions and work to benefit them... can you explain this? How will it work in both PvP and PvE?
DJ: Our level cap is level 275. Once you get to level 180, you'll get to talk to recruiters in three of the main cities in the landmass, and each of them represents a different faction with a different backstory. They're well-established going to the beginning of AC history. We've spent the last few months seeding the updates with references to the factions so players would know what they're getting into. Each of the factions is tied to an important lore character.
Once you're in a faction, you can do tasks and do quests and help your faction in PvE terms. You can also help by taking part in fights in strongholds that pass from faction to faction in PvP.
Actually, I misspoke. Strongholds are the factions' home bases. The other places, the ones that people fight over, we're calling them "PK towns." They're small, walled towns, self-contained areas that were not previously there. They're new areas that players haven't previously seen.
WC: Will there be NPC guards? If I take it, will there be NPCs to help me hold it or do players have to do it all themselves?
Andy: There will be a month of only player defense. There will be guards put in place with update 101. Players WILL have to be involved. Sure, there's the chance that you could lose it at 4 AM but when you log in at 3 PM, you get to go do that really good fight again to take it back.
Players - especially our PK players - have been asking places to fight over, things to fight over, and reasons to fight other than just for the sake of fighting. It wouldn't make sense to attack these places at 4 AM when there's nobody there to fight. We hope that they'll do these fights when they're large-scale and will result in larger, more epic battles.
DJ: This is just the start of our faction-based content; we want to keep giving them more and more to do. There will be more cool PvP towns as long as the demand is there.
Andy: On top of the faction system (we're calling it a "society system," to use the proper terminology), we're also introducing a new tier of loot for higher level players. It's a very loot-based game; you find the best armor equipment via hunting and being out in the world as opposed to going on quests. It also depends heavily on player-driven crafting. With this new tier of loot players will have the ability to build better and stronger suits of armor.
DJ: We're also adding in a new tier of magic spells. With this new tier we're kind of giving the call back to our roots a little bit: back when AC first came out, in the first couple of years, we had a very robust spell research system. For every spell you wanted to learn, you had to research it and do work, and there was a sense of achievement when you finally learned it. Eventually, we got to the point where you just could buy a scroll and learn the spell.
Now we're going back to that - where players are going to have to research and be very focused on the type of magic they want to use - in order to learn these level 8 spells. We don't want to forget our roots, or where we came from.
We've also got two new landmasses coming for the 100th update - players will have to join one of the new factions to explore these new landmasses. One of the good things is that, if you choose to, you will be able to do the entire progression as a solo player, and don't have to depend on anyone.
You certainly CAN go with friends, and you'll kill and progress faster, but we designed these new areas to let the player move at their pace if they want to solo. Players want options, and with future content we'll be giving them this option to just sit down and play by themselves if they feel like it.