Jay "Medeor" Johnson, News Reporter
In my quest to find the ultimate video game, I have been the equivalent
of Indiana Jones' unnamed sidekicks. I've been squashed by
the boulder of Auto Assault and fallen through
the trapdoors of many
others. Now my steps are more timid and I don't burn all of
my bridges as I leave whichever game I happen to be playing at the time
with forum messages lamenting the suckage of the game and extolling the
virtues of some new game I just bought. No, I've been bitten
enough times to know better. So when Warhammer Online
launched (way back a few days ago), I entered with caution.
After playing in the later stages of the beta and then the Head Start,
I feel pretty confident that I can start making preliminary judgments
on my five favorite things about Warhammer Online plus one bonus item.
There are thousands of entries to unlock in WAR's Tome of Knowledge.
1. Where do you want to
The first thing that struck me was the depth of this game. If
of Conan is a pool that's five feet deep, I'd say World
is about ten feet deep, and WAR is about 15. There is so much
to do, but only if you really want to do it. From the moment
a character steps into WAR, there are Tome
of Knowledge unlocks, quest
givers and public quests start popping up on your screen like instant
messages from a micromanaging boss with ADD. And while there
is a bevy of things you can do, you don't have to do them, and better
yet there is no pressure to do them. The quests and Tome
unlocks and RvR are available if you want to take part, but you could
just as easily ignore them and still have a full and rich experience in
the game. Even with the three different XP type bars I'm
trying to fill up (Experience bar, Renown (RvR) bar, and Influence
(public quests) bar) I get this feeling that is more of a marathon
mentality than a sprint.
2. WAR is the aspirin for
some of today's MMO headaches.
It takes the pain away. While WoW took the pain out of the
first generation of MMOs and made the genre attractive to a broader
audience, it brought its own type of fun-hurdles. Without
casting stones, I'll just drop in the little breaths of fresh air I've
noticed so far. In WAR, there are skill trainers and
mailboxes everywhere. Bag space grows. There are no
corpse runs. Gear does not deteriorate or require
repairs. My favorite is that all of the server maintenance is
done on East Coast Time and I live on the West Coast. Go me!
Everything in WAR has a purpose, and sometimes the purpose is comedy,
and sometimes laughter is the best medicine. If World of
Warcraft really brought MMOs to the masses, then WAR is taking it back
to the hearts and souls of gamers. I don't doubt the team at
Blizzard's passion for their game, but it seems like clinical passion
in those brief times it peeks its head out. The
guys at Mythic though, those are guys I would like to have a beer with
and their passion is infectious.
3. What was someone on
when they came up with this?
Squig Herder, it's all about the meatball with teeth. One of
the most unique player controlled characters I've ever seen, the squig
herder in a word, rocks.
RvR in WAR is fun. Lots of fun.
4. Why yes, yes it is.
really is that cool. I have a hard time explaining
WoW friends how PvP can be easily accessed (you click a button and
queue up and then when you're done you are put back where you were, not
some city half a world away), it is meaningful (you get bonuses for
holding nodes, and earn all kinds of experience - my
characters get more ranks from PvP than questing), and last but not
least, PvP/RvR provides some awesome gear rewards to get you
started. Yes started, I start RvR scenarios at rank 2 and
then I quest and RvR and it is fun. In addition to all of the
advantages mentioned, RvR scenarios are fast, usually 10-12 minutes,
sometimes they go to the time limit of 15 minutes, but that is
rare. That means that you aren't getting your head handed to
you so long that you resent the event. At lower ranks it is
common to get a quarter to a third of a rank of experience in one RvR
scenario. Oh yeah, and I got a blue drop from an RvR kill in
a scenario where I was rank four, yes rank four.
5. It's not WoW.
And before you start blasting me, realize that I have two WoW accounts
and six level 70s, I'm attending Blizzcon AND I have the Wrath of the
Lich King Collectors Edition on pre-order. I like WoW, hell I
love it. And WAR is different, it's not trying to be
WoW. WAR is unapologetic in its brutishness. WAR is
not fair and don't go screaming to the forums because whining is kicked
out by a special filter they have.
BONUS: Collision is
The bonus track (or Plus One) on this story is my undecided
issue: Collision. In RvR, Mythic uses collision so
players can't just run through other characters. I'm not used
to having collision and it is taking me a while to determine if it is
great or a complete pain in the rump. I am calling collision
the cilantro of the game (people seem to love or hate cilantro, so it
seems appropriate). Collision definitely adds spice, and I
can understand the reasoning, but I'm not sure I enjoy it.
Collision feels natural in a first person shooter like Call of Duty 4,
but it's new to me in an MMO. One aspect that collision
really accentuates is the need for a tank in RvR. The tanks
have real girth (dwarf and black orcs are like walking garage doors) so
if you want to get past them you have to get around them and they will
be hitting you with axes as you do so. My friend and I stood
shoulder to shoulder as Ironbreakers in a corridor of the Ekrund RvR
scenario and the other players could not get by and we were both lower
than rank 5! So far I think I like it, but I'm not
certain. Maybe it's an acquired taste.
So there you have it, the five things I like and one spicy unknown
about WAR. I'm not wanting to sound all fanboyish, but I
believe the bar has actually been raised for Lich King (something I
never thought I'd write). There will be winners and losers in
the MMO developer world, but right now the players are all winning.
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