With my free month up in Warhammer Online, it was time to make the decision to pay up or move on. Given how WAR sucks, and all the new awesome in WoW, that decision was easy. On to grind those daily quests, repeat the same raid treadmill from 2004 (now with shiny new skins on reused boss mobs), and go around stun/fear locking people in the games e-sport.
Snark aside, here are my thoughts on WAR from what I’ve seen in the first month. Currently my Disciple of Khaine is rank 20, RR 14, my shaman is rank 14, RR 12, and my Marauder is rank 9, RR 8. I also have a semi-retired Warrior Priest at rank 16, RR12. That means I’ve yet to see much of tier 3, but I’ve seen most of the tier 1-2 content for Destruction, with some of the higher-end tier 2 PQs and such still unexplored. That said I’ve fully completed all Dark Elf PQs up to chapter 9. I’ve been playing since the CE head-start, and x-fire reports a total of about 70 hours played.
Warhammer is more heavily dependant on the players around you than any other MMO, both on your side and the enemy. For some this is going to be a deal breaker, as all of the best content for both PvE and PvP requires other players. If you play primarily solo, you won’t get much out of PQs or Open World RvR, and while you can always queue up for scenarios, always running them solo makes them a far bigger grind than intended. If you have grouping phobia, WoW or LoTRO will better suit you.
On the other side of the coin, if you do have a solid group/guild, or play at normal server times and enjoy being social, WAR is one of the more rewarding MMOs out. If you have a group, or take the time to put one together, PQs are generally great PvE content. While some follow the traditional ‘kill 100 mobs, kill 10 champions, kill 1 hero’ formula, more than enough mix it up with different objectives and twists, and given that each chapter features 3 PQs, you have a ton of content even if you only run each one once. They don’t take very long to complete, are easy to find (mostly), and offer some very decent rewards for the effort.
On that same note, running a few scenarios with some friends is also very rewarding. RvR tends to be more dynamic than PvE, as you are facing other players who at times do unexpected things. This leads to memorable moments and good laughs between a set group, and helps spice scenarios up. Even solo, in moderation, they are entertaining, and the variety of maps and objectives helps to keep things interesting. Another huge advantage to scenarios is you know they will never be longer than 15 minutes, and since you can queue from almost anywhere in the world, they make for great filler between PQs or Open World RvR. Many gaming sessions with my guild end in 1-2 scenarios to cap off our night.
One ‘feature’ that has been more prominent for me than any other is how friendly WAR is towards level/gear/class discrepancy. My rank 14 shaman can group with two rank 20 characters and we still have a ton of content available to us. We can run some scenarios, raid a Keep, take objectives, or participate in PQs. Basically any character can group with another in each tier and find something rewarding to do. Gear is also a non-factor for the most part, and you won’t be shunned because you have not farmed the latest shiny. It’s always fun to win a gold or purple bag and pull out some epic gear, but that gear won’t make or break your character, and for me this is a huge plus. Less spreadsheet min/maxing, and more focus on actual gameplay and strategy.
Speaking of strategy, this is the area I feel WAR separates itself in terms of gameplay and PvP from other MMOs. Since day one, Mythic has hyped WAR as a game all about RvR, and IMO they have delivered on that promise. From the deliberately slower pace of the combat, to how health/damage is balanced, to how classes work together to form a team, WAR’s RvR pieces fit together very well. Tanks actually feel like tanks, good healers can have a major impact, and dps classes need to smart in order to be deadly. As WAR is still a new MMO, and since many players are still learning the ropes, RvR is still at the beginner level. Today you still see many dps classes rushing ahead of tanks, players targeting tanks when they can see a healer nearby, tanks not using protective skills to help out healer, and other common mistakes. As time goes on, I have no doubts players will adjust to WAR’s complexity, and the overall level of RvR will improve.
So WAR is perfect right? Yes of course, best game EVA!
WAR being a new MMO, it has its fair share of issues. There are still some rather annoying bugs with the PvE and PQs (mobs being unkillable, one shotting you, not spawning at all, bags giving you money when you selected an item, etc), the chat/mail systems could use further improvement, the auction house is semi-usable at best, and crafting overall is nothing new or special. Far worse, if you play on a low pop server, you are playing a severely gimped version of WAR. Mythic made a mistake at some point and either introduced too many servers too quickly, or somehow failed to balance populations well enough. While they are working on it currently, and people are reporting improvements, the fact that for a month+ a section of your population has been playing an inferior version due to server selection is unacceptable. WAR sucks solo, and low pop servers make find a group or enemies far harder than it should be.
Overall however WAR is in very good shape. The game is being patched/fixed almost daily, and the rate of improvement has been very encouraging. Mythic has shown they are not afraid to address issues quickly, and do whatever they can to improve WAR. After only a month, WAR is much improved in many areas already, and we have yet to see the first major patch. The big question of end-game remains (I don’t really count power gamers exploiting the system as a solid test case), and ultimately WAR’s future depends on whether it’s as entertaining at rank 40 as it is at rank 1.
One last note about scenarios. I feel bad for everyone who is rushing to rank 40 by sitting in a war camp and grinding out scenarios. In your rush to ‘end’ game, you are sadly missing out on the ‘actual’ game. It only takes a little effort/time to gather up a group for Open RvR or PQs (low pop server issue aside), and considering that end-game will only be a slight variation of the current game (RvR Keep raids mostly) I really fail to see the motivation, e-peen aside, of rushing to 40. The fun in WAR starts at rank 1, not level 70. Do yourself a favor, slow down, and actually enjoy the game. End-game will still be there in a few months waiting for you, and your guild won’t kick you because they have moved on to the next instance.