One month of WAR, some thoughts.

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.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in MMO design, RvR, Warhammer Online. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to One month of WAR, some thoughts.

  1. Kazok says:

    Pretty much word for word my thoughts on the current state of the game, especially in regard to the reliance on other people. My chief worry is population issues and scenarios drawing people away from the open world because it’s either the easiest way to do something that isn’t questing, or because of the obsessive drive some have to grinding xp and renown and optimising the fun out of the game.

  2. Mikejl says:

    Hit that MMO nail on the head; especially with rushing to 40 part. Last two play sessions I only did PvE (went looking for tome unlocks, etc).. most solo. And took the time to read the quests and ToK, explore the areas. And IMO it’s not any worse than WoW.. I mean a PvE quest is a PvE quest.
    I think with so much intense RvR fun in groups. When you do hit a little down time some may see it as a flaw. I find is refreshing .. good mix of hot RvR action with some cool PvE.

  3. syncaine says:

    I agree Mikejl. While I generally favor PvP over PvE, I myself would hate to PvP 100% of my time online. PvE is indeed a nice break to relax and just take in the lore. Another big factor for me is how easy the quests are. I never really viewed non-group PvE as a challenge, but rather a quick break, and it’s nice not to have to struggle through it. If I wanted challenging solo PvE, I would play a console game.

  4. xXJayeDuBXx says:

    I thought the whole purpose of being able to join a scenario from anywhere was so that you can enjoy running around questing without having to sit around waiting. That’s what I have been doing, and I feel far more satisfied with my game time then I would just by sitting in a warcamp grinding scenarios.

  5. Moo says:

    I play a lot of scenarios because I enjoy playing scenarios, not because I am some sort of mini-maxer rushing to level cap. You do what you enjoy, I’ll do what I enjoy. It is ridiculous to accuse people who are taking advantage of a different slice of WAR’s many play options of skipping the ”real’ game’.

  6. syncaine says:

    Moo, that last part was for people who sit in war camps and queue for the same scenario, and at the same time complain that WAR is boring and only about scenarios.

    If you are having fun, play any way you want. I was just talking to the people who are missing some of the fun they could be having, that’s all.

  7. Dorath says:

    As somebody who had a rough time enjoying PvP in many other games, I’m really enjoying PvP in WAR. And while I am looking forward to Orkapults, rams, T4 sieges, etc., I’m having a great time with the PvE right now.

    Some people may be looking to rush to 40 now and take it slow with alts later, but I’m looking to enjoy the journey now and rush the alts later. Could just be a playstyle difference, or could be that people are just having an awesome time in PvP. Even my wife loves the PvP, she pretty much only plays scenarios. I’d never have expected that.

  8. p@tsh@t says:

    “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.”

    I don’t know if this has been patched recently, but I’ve noticed I take a significant XP hit when a lowbie groups with a highbie when doing even above lowbie level mobs. That’s kind of a buzz kill especially when that PQ is kill 100 X.

    IMHO, WAR is at a tipping point. RvR and PvE are much less rewarding than scenarios (as evidenced by the rush of players to play them). Whether its because they are fast easy rewards, or simply more fun, the result is a depopulated world.

    Client (and server?) performance is such that it appears that they can’t or don’t want to risk accommodating a much higher per server population which might result in more out of scenario population.

    As a result, Open RvR is empty except where the Day 1 curve happens to be (T3/T4 now).

    With a quest limit of 20 quests, its actually quite a pain to switch between pairings or scenarios– in T2 for example, carrying 3 scenario quests and at least the 3 kill enemy player quests means 30% of your quest log is potentially always full.

    Each chapter in each zone probably has 20 quests as well, so if you are zone hopping to hook up with guildies or participate in where open RvR may be happening, you rapidly fill up.

    Couple this with the fact that places with Rally Points |= places with Flight Points and you have some frustrations that conspire to keep you from easily getting to and from PvE quest hubs when open RvR is not to be found.

    I know, a buncha gripes, but its only because when the open RvR is happening its absolutely great. But it doesn’t happen that much in the lower tiers and its clear that PvE has not gotten the same love as the PvP side and that as between open RvR and scenarios, the incentives are still not appropriately balanced.

    Sad to say, I’m not having that “must log in” feeling ATM.

  9. yunk says:

    The one thing I disagree with is the level discrepancy comment. It’s great for the lower level character, it will earn tons of xp. But the higher level will earn next to nothing, since the dropoff in XP is so steep. Not sure why, maybe it’s to discourage grinding.

    The people standing around aren’t necessarily trying to min max, or rush to 40, it is unfair to try to assume what their intentions are. In reality, they are only behaving according to the incentives Mythic provides. Often it bothers me when I miss a lot of xp by not turning in the quests. But it also annoys me to run back and turn it in. So Mythic has provided a little thorn in the side of the player no matter which of the choices they make.

    Making those quests available at every chapter hub (as well as having them in a seperate list so they don’t take up so much room in your quest log) would alleviate about 75% of the problem players have.

  10. Talyn says:

    I’m with potshot (sorry, I’m not looking up ASCII codes mate :p~) I haven’t felt like logging in for well over a week, possibly two. I have logged in a few times in the period anyway but it didn’t last long. When it seems like I’m the only one around, I have nothing left to do but have all those little small issues stare me in the face as one huge issue. I’m bored. If any scenario pops it’s always the same scenario. There’s no one around to open group/PQ with, no one to chat with.

    Sure, I *could* give up some prime-time evenings and play, and perhaps I’d have a better experience. Perhaps. But given the crappy experience I’ve had when I usually play — and I’ve been playing the same hours for nearly a decade on many many games with no problem until WAR — why should I gamble on a “maybe” when I have tons of primetime fun awaiting me in my main MMO?

    I could resub to WoW if I wanted instanced battles. I thought WAR was about, well… war. Out in the open. The slogan said “WAR is everywhere.” No, it isn’t. WAR is in one single instanced scenario per tier. I’ve kept my sub going mostly out of stubbornness, hoping things will change, that the RvR I wanted to play will actually come into being someday. But I’d probably be better off canceling and waiting for it.

  11. AW says:

    I’d say if you are looking for RvR at off hours, especially right now with people spread across every Tier, you are going to struggle to enjoy WAR.

    Another thing is that more than the other popular MMO out there, I think it is useful to be in a guild as soon as possible. It’s easier to have fun that way doing PQs and Scenarios. At the same time, it’s much easier to go looking for a fight. Some nights in my guild we get together to take objectives or keeps with the specific hope of drawing the attention of the opposition.

    I’ve only run into the same scenario issue in the first Tier. After that, a variety seem to pop.

    Of course, the name of the game is fun and if you aren’t having it, then no one can tell you otherwise, and that should be your ultimate guide.

  12. Talyn says:

    I joined CoW when they first started taking applications a month or few before launch, so I’ve got the guild covered. But my off-hours applies to the guild as well; there’s usually only 3-5 people tops. It’s been that way since I installed the game, which was several days after launch day when my pre-order box arrived. The first day, possibly first two days I played finding open groups was no problem. After that, everywhere I went was a ghost town. In nearly ten years playing the exact same off-hours in umpteen games, I’ve never had such a lonely game. And no, I’m not having fun. I think the potential, the promise for fun someday is there, but not yet.

  13. syncaine says:

    Yea like I said, WAR is not very fun if you play ONLY at odd hours. If you mixed it up, I could see it working, doing the ORvR and PQs when you play during prime hours, and doing the more solo stuff like questing, exploring, and crafting.

    I don’t know if a high pop server would help, but maybe playing on an Oceanic server?

  14. Talyn says:

    It might, and it’s been suggested before. But CoW is the ONLY reason I bothered with WAR to begin with. If I’m not having fun in the game, if I *can’t stand* the PvE, if all I read about is grinding the same scenario per tier on every server, if all I read about is anti-social ghostly silence on every server, why would I change servers? That also brings me to the statement I made a few comments ago: if I’m having such a negative experience during off-hours, why should I waste my prime-time hours on *maybe* having a somewhat better experience when I can *definitely* have a great experience in my main game during prime-time?

    It would be one thing if I had this problem in every game during these hours. But I don’t. It’s only WAR.

  15. syncaine says:

    Right the ‘only WAR’ totally makes sense. WAR solo sucks more than WoW solo, no question. The tough sell here is that WAR is also a hell of a lot more fun during prime time than game x, especially with CoW.

    CoW schedules a ton of events, I would pick a few, devote that game night to the event, and if you still don’t have a good time, clearly WAR is not for you. I would honestly be shocked if you don’t have a good time though, not once has that happened for me.

    And all the ghost town, scenario only crap you read about on forums is mostly noise. Even on Thorgrim, a low/mid pop server, I’ve more often than not found randoms for PQs and ORvR. Was it INSTANT group, no. But within 10-15 minutes to get things going, yea usually. And in the odd night that I don’t, well I don’t mind the PvE (I don’t think it’s awesome, but decent enough not to hate it)

  16. Talyn says:

    Depending what I’ve got going tonight, I might give prime-time a shot. I already canceled my account today, which expired tomorrow anyway. But having fun with a guild and only a guild still does not an MMO make. I could have fun with an FPS clan and only that clan and not have to worry about monthly fees, leveling brackets (seriously, if nothing else WAR brings it home that levels need to go away), being on different servers, etc. I sub to MMO’s to interact with potentially hundreds or thousands of players. That isn’t happening in WAR, and that’s probably my biggest overall problem aside from a complete lack of population during off-hours. I’d expect low population during off-hours on older games, but I don’t see that. Hell, I can even log into DDO — a game known to have a very small population — at 7am and there are people running around playing, chatting and grouping. Why is a brand new shiny high-profile 750k+ subscriber game like WAR so devoid of life?

  17. syncaine says:

    Answer to the last question is rather easy, its a new game with 55 servers in the US alone. EU has it’s own servers, and WAR is not available in Asia. Outside of the full/full servers, the population has yet to settle and fill most servers. Might be a mistake on Mythic’s part, or just pre-planning. Either way, in the first month, most servers are not where they need to be population-wise. During prime time it’s not very noticeable (although even then it could and will be better), but off-hours it becomes brutal if you want to do the group stuff and are limited with time/patience.

    Assuming CoW has a RvR event tonight (no idea if they do), you will likely be playing with CoW and then whoever shows up for Order. And in PvE MMOs, at the high end, don’t you basically just play with a guild? You certainly don’t PUG raid right? DDO is a bit different because the population is so small, but even then, it’s not much fun to run instances with people who speed rush them.

    But like most MMOs, you get what you put in, and that’s double the case in WAR. While you CAN solo in WAR, it’s not the games bread and butter, and you end up missing the really good stuff. If all you put in is a few short off-hour play sessions, you won’t get much out of WAR. Just comes down to whether you like the setting/style/gameplay enough to devote that time.

  18. Talyn says:

    Oh, I totally agree there and have been very up-front on my blog about being a two-way street. If I’m not inclined to login I therefore get less out of the game. The less I play, CoW and I don’t get to know each other. And so on.

    And yes, I PUG raid, too. I’m not afraid of it — depending on the game. It’s not something I’ll do all the time. But then define “PUG” truly. If I join a guild such as CoW but because I don’t play much, wouldn’t the regulars basically consider me a PUG player whether I have the guild tag over my head or not? Wouldn’t I consider them PUG players as well? (Answer: yes, I do.) None of us have any inkling to each others abilities. We’re strangers in the same family. So what’s the difference really of literally doing content with non-guildies? Isn’t that the point of PQ’s? Isn’t that the point of Open RvR? Plenty of people have been through the raids but maybe their various guilds aren’t online or aren’t doing that raid. PUG in and of itself does not mean complete noobs and utter fools. Except maybe in WoW…

  19. syncaine says:

    Even though I don’t know all of CoW, or have played with each one of them, I think just having a guild tag does mean something. It at least keeps people somewhat honest because they want to remain in good standing with the guild. It removes a bit of that ‘anonymous ass’ that the internet and MMOs are famous for.

    And outside of WoW, PUG is not always a bad thing, no. But I’ll take guild > pug any day, regardless of the game, so if we are talking about getting the most out of an MMO (enough to make it worth paying for, in this case), I would say the best bet is a guild event/group.

    In your case though, it’s more about whether RvR is something just to do, or whether it’s something that motivates you. If it’s the latter, that makes the PvE look more attractive, because it’s a means to an end. If you are eh about RvR in general, the decent PvE won’t be enough to make you log in. Experience good RvR (decent numbers on both sides, organized Keep raid), and if that does little for you, no amount of server balance or anything else will make WAR stand out for you.

  20. Micah S says:

    I think 99% of the real systemic problems I have encountered in the game so far have been down to low server population. We rolled Order with our friends on red Eye Mountain, one of the servers that came up for CE head start. Then we rolled Destruction on Kislev (one of the servers that release on ‘launch day’) when a bunch of other non-CE friends joined. I always intended to play Destro seriously and just have characters on Red Eye to chat, but Kislev just never made it in server pop, starting at Med/Med and now really jsust low/low. I soldiered on, but last Friday the scenario pop times measured in hours in T3 and PvE was a howling wilderness., so I reluctantly shelved my beloved Black Orc and went to Red Eye to play my Engineer…Wow, what a difference. Red Eye is a ‘high’ pop server, but I would say it has just the right amount to make WAR a viable game. over the weekend scenarios popped every 5 minutes or so, I participated keep sieges in T2 involving 2+ full warbands on both sides, I had running battles over battlefield objectives. I saw that elusive beast last seen in beta: the PUG PQ warband, roaming about a chapter finishing PQs without influence grinding. It’s like night and day. I just think someone had a brainfart during deployment and thought people are going to complain if servers are full, cause they will see queues’, and subsequently brought waaaaay too many servers live, spreading the population really thin. I have hope that the merges/transfers MJ talked about in the state of the game will help Kislev, because I miss da boyz, but untill then I suggest rolling on a high pop server to see what the game is really like.

  21. Talyn says:

    The RvR is attractive. Or, more to the point: what I thought RvR would be is attractive. I didn’t want this excruciatingly boring PvE game leveling up (why?) to an RvR end-game. I wanted “WAR is everywhere!” Not being a DAOC player, I had grand visions that RvR actually meant something more than “just” PvP. That doesn’t seem to be the case, but I’d be willing to overlook that if there were more of it going on as opposed to everyone anonymously hiding (to avoid the spam-bots, probably) and scenario grinding. I was hoping PQ’s meant I’d be auto-grouped and be rolling in the PvE world when BAM! we stumble into a massive RvR battle at the same time, and eventually maybe take the battle to the enemy’s keeps and cities. That excites me. Going into an instanced battleground doesn’t. Having to punish myself with the artificial barriers of leveling and this boring and separate PvE experience doesn’t. And putting up with the typical punk kid ganker asshat on a PvP server doesn’t either, so that one’s out.

    I *think* all the pieces to the puzzle might be there, more or less, in WAR but it needs a few months for Mythic to tweak things before it’s a game that will actually appeal to me and be more like the experience I was hoping for.

  22. syncaine says:

    Well currently WAR is about 50% of what you envisioned RvR to be. It’s not as easy as ‘insta group, insta find a balanced fight at all times’. Even on a full server, sometimes it takes a little stirring to get a good fight going.

    Now on the other hand, the group I play with outside of CoW is 6 people. Usually we have 5 online at prime, but with that base of 5, we have been able to get good PQ/RvR action almost every single night on Thorgrim. It’s not instant, we usually have to stir some stuff up in the RvR area, and actively try to gather a warband, but it does eventually come together, and we have had some amazing battles in/around Keeps.

    You also seem to have a major issue with the PvE and leveling, and I don’t mind it, so we differ there. That just means the RvR has to impress you that much more to make WAR worthwhile. It’s too bad your account is up tomorrow, I would be interested to see how you view WAR once you have been in a few memorable RvR battles.

  23. Talyn says:

    Like I said in my “I’m canceling for now” post on my blog, I plan on coming back to give it another shot once I start hearing the entire game is improving and I’ll be able to play during the hours I’m most available. Hopefully players will be more social and there will be more of them at that point.

    I tried logging in a bit ago but as usual, no one was around to do anything with in the game. No scenarios popped. I’m basically lost and don’t know where to go or what to do and I can’t bring myself to go out and solo any more of the PvE. Yes, it’s that bad. Grouped? Fine. Solo? I despise it. I have no idea who Noobina is, if he/she is a blogger or not, but I’d at least like to thank him/her for being the only one in CoW to say hi and answer a few questions awhile ago when I logged in, said hi and asked them. The Daytime CoW is nearly as silent as the general chat, so I’m glad I got at least one player willing to type even if the answer wasn’t what I wanted to hear! :)

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