The never-ending debate about how ‘done’ a game needs to be before it’s shipped is often seen on blogs or gaming forums. We all know it’s impossible to ship a perfect game, as even the most rock solid titles have kinks and minor errors, yet we still expect that perfection. Or if not perfection, we expect OUR gaming experience to be near-perfect. As long as OUR video card works, it’s ok. As long as the servers are up during OUR gaming time, it’s ok. Any error is a minor error until it affects us, and then it’s ‘ZOMG THE GAME SUX!’
Warhammer Online had a great launch by MMO standards. The servers were up, the game was very playable, and most features worked. The average gamer was able to log in, create a character, and go off to enjoy a PQ, RvR, Scenarios, or just good old questing, without really noticing anything seriously weird. In MMO land, on day one, that’s very rare.
But WAR is not without it’s flaws, it is an MMO after all. The auction house is there, but actually getting what you want is more difficult than it should be. Crafting is in the game, but is somewhat lacking and uninspiring. PQs are terrific, but some are far too easy, while others are amazingly difficult, and the whole risk/reword ratio is a bit off at times. I’m sure you could name other issues as well.
It’s easy to forget, especially if you read the forums, that the most important thing in WAR, RvR, works. And not only does it work, it works so well it can be called revolutionary. Not because it features a new gameplay style, or because it has an all new, all awesome combat system, or because it has jaw dropping graphics. It’s revolutionary because it pulls MMO players away from solo grinding quests, gets them into groups, and keeps them fighting with there realm/guild mates for hours on end, against other players doing the exact same thing. It’s not about a flawlessly scripted raid encounter you finally mastered and defeated, it’s about that player on the other side saving a Keep by dumping burning oil on half your guild. It’s about raising your guild’s banner on a Keep after an epic 2 hour battle, a battle decided by clever strategy and not who has the most epics. It’s about logging on, asking what’s going on in guild chat, and actually having people respond with invites and not ‘the raid is full’ or ‘we don’t need that class’ or ‘you’re too low for that’.
So while we might bitch (it’s what we do!) about the side stuff being broken or in need of a tweak, the fact is we can still log in, ask what’s going on, and get sucked into a great social gaming experience night in and night out, instead of putting in more time ‘grind x’ to reach some carrot we never really wanted in the first place. And while the idea of gaming with others got lost for a bit during the solo-MMO reign, I for one am glad social MMO gaming is back in the forefront!