The Warhammer Online open beta is just around the corner, and shortly after Warhammer will finally go live. While the game is by no means ‘finished’ or ‘perfect’, it’s actually in far better shape than what most people saw during the preview weekend.
The NPC/Pet pathing issue, which was the most major and noticeable bug during PW, has been fixed, along with a graphics fix that will finally let us see what the engine behind Warhammer can actually do, instead of viewing muddy textures 10 feet away from our character. In addition to those two major changes, a slew of lesser fixes have also go in (according to forums and such), adding further polish to a game that was already in good shape.
I have little doubt Open Beta will generate even more buzz than the PW did, and as positive as the PW was, I think Open Beta will blow that out of the water. Simply put, WAR was drastically different with working pathing than it was during PW, when even I at times logged out in frustration. It will be interesting to watch fan reaction during Open Beta, both from people playing it for the first time, and those who only got to play during the PW. Both groups are in for a treat, and instead of getting hung up on bugs, they will be able to dive deeper (read: outside the starting area) into the game and actually see how the systems work. We already saw a few PvE players react positively to the small sample of RvR they got; my guess is a whole lot more of that will happen during Open Beta.
WAR has been getting a lot of heat for its almost constant hype, both from Mythic and from fan sites. In most cases, a product never lives up to the hype, and no matter how good it actually was it leads to disappointment. With WAR, as hard as it is to believe, I think MMO fans will actually be surprised by just how well the game works, how everything fits, and how its got both the familiar MMO feel while offering so many “that’s awesome” moments.
I’m very much looking forward to launch, not only to play a great MMO, but also to watch and observe the reaction from both fans and skeptics alike. For me, it’s 2004 all over again, waiting for the WoW beta to finally end so we can get in and ‘make it count’.
Based on all the hype Mythic generated themselves, I think there is very little that doesn’t meet the expections they set out for us.
In terms of the hype WE have generated (fansites and testers) and and dreamed up in our heads (non-beta testers who are rabid to play), I think it may be very hard to fulfill all the expectations to a degree. But you can’t really blame Mythic for that.