During my recent visit to EA Mythic, the Keep and Siege system was demonstrated and seeing the implementation of the concept made me want to fire a ballista into a High Elf mage. Sadly, we didn't get to go hands-on during the presentation, but what I saw certainly instilled the desire to jump into the action at the earliest opportunity.
The first time players will encounter a keep will be in the Tier 2 (mid-level) Realm vs. Realm (RvR) zones; tier 1 (low level) currently only consists of control points that do not require heavy artillery to take over. In the Tier 2 areas there is one keep for each side and they will be styled in the manner of the races that are connected to the zone. High Elves have gleaming walls and spires, while the Chaos keep is more jagged and foreboding. Tier 2 Keeps each have a single point of entry that must be destroyed in order to gain access to the interior. Using siege weapons makes that much easier. Each keep has static points where these siege weapons may be placed, both for the attackers and the defenders. These points can be targeted and attacked and if they are destroyed may not be used until they respawn after a set time.
To build a siege weapon requires that a player have the correct item in their inventory, which can be bought from NPCs. As interacts with the pad where the siege weapon can be placed, it brings up a window showing the available options for building. In the demo we saw, there were places to add enhancements to the weapon before building that could increase damage or accuracy. The possibility of loading a dead animal into a catapult or trebuchet was mentioned as a way to disease your targets.
In our demo, a ballista was built and when the character took control of the weapon the view changed into a first-person mode with large arrows representing a targeting reticule bordering the edges of the screen. Once a target was selected, the arrows began to slowly move towards the center with the intent that the closer the arrows got to each other, the more accurate the shot would be. Individuals can be targeted by a ballista but whenever you move your aim, the arrows reset to the outer edge and you will have a hard time hitting your target. Still, for the NPC that stood still long enough the ballista did a great deal of damage.
When a siege weapon takes damage, it will be possible for players to repair it. To do this the weapon must be unmanned, and up to 4 players can repair it by right-clicking with it going faster based on the number of players involved.
We were then shown Tier 3 and Tier 4 keeps, which are similar to the Tier 2 with the addition of a protective wall that has multiple points of entry. Once the attackers have broken down the gate and get inside the keep, they must defeat the Keep Lord in order to take control of the structure, not to mention carving a path through the defenders. Once the keep is taken over, it is possible for a guild to place their banner outside and if the keep was previously owned by a guild that did so, the opposing banner is captured and available for display as a trophy inside the keep. Keep capture contributes to your side's overall control of a zone and these will probably be the RvR hotspots when the game goes live, which means this is where I'll be hanging out most of the time, trying to get a High Elf to hold still long enough for me to get a ballista shot off.