PQ-TipOctober 7, 2008
It’s been a while — since the virgin days of T1 Ekrund, to be exact — since I’ve met a PQ that made me sit up straight and crack my ever-weakening back. I can understand why the first PQ in each zone is particularly memorable and well-liked: they received the lion’s share of polishing pre-release (especially because this would be the first PQ journalists would experience) and you only have to do them two or three quick times to max out influence and get juicy rewards.
I remember being amazed when a giant burst out of the forest in the Empire T1 PQ, or how funny it was when his twin brother blew himself to smitherines with a sea mine in the Greenskins T1 PQ. The PQs weren’t just a great way for people to effortlessly group together for a common purpose (i.e. a “raid without the bullcrap”) or a path to decent blue gear for PvE players willing to put in the time to do them. They were dynamic stories in the game world that came to life through clever scripting, voice acting and environmental destruction.
Yet what happened? Far too quickly we got out of Chapter 1 and 2 and into the higher chapters that required a lot more time invested to max out that influence bar and degenerated into a very familiar three-act structure (not always in three stages, but I’d submit that there are usually three acts: the solo-able phase, the champion mob phase, and the hero mob phase). With far more trips through PQs necessary to get all the influence needed, with multiple PQs for several chapters, and with the playerbase spreading out, PQs got a lot less fun.
Don’t get me wrong — I really love PQs. I never go through a chapter without maxing out that influence bar, and it’s a special little thrill to go to the rally master and get three choice rewards in one swoop. But I miss that little something, that je ne sais quoi that took PQs from “good” to “wowzers!” Part of that depends on how many people are around to do the PQs with (even sharing influence gained, it’s just more enjoyable to do them with others, and safer as well), but simply having an ever-tougher crowd of baddies popping out at you do not an excellent PQ make. For that to happen, there needs to be a great story told through actions, dialogue and the environment — and last night, Dwarf Chapter 12, I rediscovered a PQ that met those standards.
It was the Hindelburg PQ, which took place in a walled-up town invaded by the Scaven. How did I know this? It’s not because I read the Tome entry (I like the Tome for many things, but I generally don’t sit and read a four-page backstory on each PQ), but because of what I saw and experienced. The first stage was pretty standard — kill a bazillion Scaven — but once our group got into the next stage, we got shaken from our complacency.
Up to the town walks Dieter Vorkwald, a NPC Warrior Priest who thinks he’s all that and a bag of Sigmar chips. Yup, it’s the standard escort-and-protect quest that I tend to hate, but Dieter made it work for me. He projected sheer arrogance, especially through his boasts and snide zings at us protecting him. His attitude actually made it tough to want to protect him — if it wasn’t for the promises of riches, I assure you all of us would’ve stepped aside instantly to watch him bite it — but the fact that he got an emotional reaction out of me was meaningful. He walks around town, purifying buildings while we do the hard work of protecting his sorry butt, and all the while he’s jawing about what a magnificent creature he is.
Suffice to say, he got his comeuppance in the end, and by the time we finished the PQ, our group was a bit breathless with the manic pace and story connection we felt. THAT’S what I want to see more often in PQs, and I’m hoping there’s a lot more out there like it (without Dieter, the jerk). Have any post-Chapter 1 PQs told you a great story and got you really involved with it?