The first thing to note when talking about Evolution versus Revolution in games is passion. If a player is passionate about the game he plays, he will strive to make everything about a new game sound as if it is only “more of the same” with some Evolution thrown in. If a player is passionate about the forthcoming game, he will strive to make everything sound as if it is all Revolution over the old games and that nothing is “more of the same”.
I’ve read a number of posts claiming that Public Quests in the upcoming Warhammer game are a Revolution. But it all depends on how you look at it. On one hand, I can see the Revolution aspect because it is encouraging random social behavior in a PvE environment, which most games actually tend to discourage through spawn locking and quests being individualized. (Its good to note here that while in World of Warcraft, only the quest holder gains the rewards of a quest completed, from the beginning, City of Heroes has always rewarded group members for assisting in completing another person’s quest by giving them a chunk of exp as well as many times giving them badges and/or enhancement rewards.) But, on the other hand, the Public Quest system, to me, looks like someone took Alterac Valley from World of Warcraft’s Battlegrounds, made one side entirely NPCs and tweaked the mini-quests in the zone. In fact, WoW could easily implement Public Quests that way, by taking Battleground style content and making in PvE, assigning rewards based on participation, similar to what they do now in their PvP versions. Whether you see the item as Evolution or Revolution, in my opinion, seems to be dependent entirely on how hard you are chomping and the bit to play Warhammer.
And Warhammer isn’t alone here. World of Warcraft wasn’t Revolutionary either, except in its broader market appeal, which could be considered just an Evolution of the trend seen in games that came prior: UO, EQ, etc. But plenty of people do consider WoW to be Revolutionary, either for that reason or because it was finally a fantasy MMO “done right” or some other basis.
The real question, rather than if something is Evoltionary or Revolutionary, is “Is it fun?” Looking at Public Quests, it addresses the one thing I have found a problem with in games since EverQuest: encourages people to be social. WoW has its raids, but outside that, you and four friends can do pretty much everything in the game. In fact, you can play the entire game from level 1 to level 70 without ever talking to or grouping with another person. In my experience, WoW is the most “silent” game I have ever played. People don’t talk, people don’t do pick up groups… most of the social activity is based in and around guild raids and battlegrounds, both of which in many cases are a minority of the players yelling at the majority of the players to do things. So, I probably will pick up Warhammer, but I’m not expecting it to be some huge revolution in gaming… just an evolution backwards toward players actually playing with each other more.