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The Fool's Golden Age

I'm just another monkey throwing shit and diction at the current travesty that is my beloved genre.

Author: Apocryphus

Warhammer Online: Massively Mediocre

Posted by Apocryphus Saturday December 6 2008 at 7:34PM
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Now that I have dawned my bloodwades and my painmantles, now that I have survived tempestuous Praag, I sit here, in a cold glass room, surrounded by the hum of flourescent lighting and pretend to have something better to do than blog, bitching about the rapidly cooling fires of WAR.  I'm left with the sense that the game itself was released entirely unfinished.  It might be posited that patching will complete WAR, or that future expansions will address the errant gripes that float from forum to forum.  To these opinions I must simply ask this:

Why are you satisfied purchasing an unfinished product?  Why accept that the release will be flawed?

I am not speaking to the classes, whose resounding cries of, "OP," and "game breaking," spatter WarhammerAlliance almost incessantly.  No class will ever be perfect for every player in the game.  I'm talking about the core pillars of design that created WAR. 

Since we've already begun discussing classes, why not start there?  The idea of player classes goes all the way back to first edition Dungeons & Dragons and was first introduced to the MMO Genre in Everquest.  Since then, the vast majority of MMO's have featured this mechanic; and, for nigh on a decade, classes have been a plague on the MMO.  You, as players, have been pigeonholed into rigidly defined group roles, playing out, inside little binary boxes, what digital media conglomerates have dubbed to be your playstyle.  The illusion of deviation is created with hybrid classes (like the WoW Paladin), though, I think Guild Wars had something going for them when they chose to give players the option to multiclass.  Even so, the heirarchy of classes remained the same, and was subsequently brushed under the rug in WAR.  The multitude of classes in Warhammer Online is one of the more ridiculous attempts in the genre to mask this dictatorial paradox.  The MMO was first marketed by Origin as a game of total freedom, where one could explore ancient Sosaria as their Avatar had experienced it, adventuring, fighting, or blacksmithing.  Now, we've been reduced to Counterstrike with swords, watering down the setting and the story by telling gamers how to play.  The evidence of it is most clear in WAR, each class looking fundamentally different from the others but a mirror image of every other player of that class.  No longer is it up to the player to determine how he will defend himself or what his clothing will look like.  Those things are determined for you based on the class you play.  Why settle for this?  There is no deviation, no individuality or creativity in skill sets, just the same Magus with the same disc and the same staff and the same powers, over and over again.  Here, I think, lies a rather impressive joke, for those of you with a taste in eccentric humor.  How can one justify the creation of a race based entirely around the worship of chaos, when they've pigeonholed its entire population into a very orderly structure of class roles?

Secondly, there's the interface.  Looking almost identical to that of World of Warcraft, I felt as if it were almost copied and pasted from the aforementioned gold encrusted turd, and it has many of the same flaws.  The entire game is based, again around gear and the grinding thereof, whether through their admittedly impressive dungeons or their tired TFC remeniscent scenarios; and that's another thing.  Every scenario revolves around either grabbing the "ball" and keeping it or capturing points on a map.  I didn't buy this game to play Blood Bowl.  I'm buying the XBOX 360 title to play Blood Bowl, because that's what it is, and I doubt I'm going to see my Chosen in a spiked linebacker uniform. 

Finally, there's the zoning.  I've always been a proponent of open world MMOs.  It's jarring, irritating, and sloppy on the part of the designer to make his players wait at a loading screen every time they want to move to a new area.  To conclude, the MMO studios, in general, have seemed to place less of an emphasis on experiencing a vast, interesting setting with thousands of other players, instead using a tired, decade old template to force players into combat as quickly as possible with no real depth or enjoyment of the environment they've created.

I'm about done, now.  Go look at some porn or something, I'm waiting for Darkfall.

alakram writes:

Totally true!

Sat Dec 06 2008 7:52PM Report
DeathTripp writes:

I don't see how this game is unfinished at all. Grinding and gear?? We know there is none of that in any other MMO's!! All you have to do is read your last sentence, that says enough about you.

Sat Dec 06 2008 8:43PM Report
Jtrav1987 writes:

Yet another person longing for a sandbox. Take a wild guess why there aren't any popular ones around? No one wants that anymore. Stop with the teen angst fest and go look at porn yourself.

Sat Dec 06 2008 9:55PM Report
Abrahmm writes:

Jtrav, you say "Yet another person longing for a sanbox" implying that many people want it, then say "No one wants that anymore"... Interesting stuff..


OP you are correct, WAR was completely mediocre at best.

Sat Dec 06 2008 9:58PM Report
Dynamo112 writes:

Just dont come crying to us if Darkfall sucks on many different levels.

Sat Dec 06 2008 10:36PM Report
Apocryphus writes:

@deathtripp - Because a joke regarding the most successful internet business on the planet is indicative of my personal character?  Try harder.

@JTrav - Again, a joke, obviously not meant for the heaving throngs of rabid fanboys for exactly the behavior it evoked in you and deathtripp.  Teen angst?  This is a review, not a diatribe about life.  I didn't say anything about my personal life except that I'm in a glass room.  I'm at work, all four walls are giant windows, hence the description.  My review wasn't meant for fanboys too brick stupid to realize that the game they fap to is flawed.  You obviously don't need the porn, you've got enough Witch Elves running around your screen. lol.

Sat Dec 06 2008 10:36PM Report
Apocryphus writes:

@Dynamo - Who's crying?  I'm expressing my opinion, but if they deliver on the mechanics they're talking about, I'll be perfectly content.  However, I'd like to get your opinion.  What are these "many different levels," on which it might suck?  Let's start a discourse, not a collection of dumbass comments spewed from the fingers of downies.

Sat Dec 06 2008 10:42PM Report
Apocryphus writes:

Thanks Abrahmm and alakram for the comments.  I'm glad you agree with me.

Sat Dec 06 2008 10:51PM Report
zergwatch writes:

If you find any good midget porn in your porn searches, let me know.     After playing warhammer, I don't know how you can compare it to wow, they are pretty polar opposites.  WoW = PVE grind / raid game.  Warhammer = PVP grind / raid game.

With that being said, I guess you can say all mmorpg's are Everquest clones.     Darkfall will probably fail because nobody will quit wow to play it.     Instancing is the future of mmo's.  Get used it.

Sat Dec 06 2008 10:53PM Report
Apocryphus writes:

I wouldn't call WoW and WAR polar opposites, because WAR has raid content, its just not as predominant as WoW, much like WoW has RvR content, just not as predominant as WAR.  Also, with the inclusion of keep seiges in WoW, they're looking more and more similar.  Also, I'm not totally against instancing, I think it's a very effective way of controlling the player population in any given dungeon, though I disagree with it being a necessity when jumping from zone to zone.  I also disagree that it's the future of MMO's.  It just happens to have been done that way for the past 5-7 years, hence, making it the past of MMO's, and an altogether terrible mechanic.

Sat Dec 06 2008 11:10PM Report
brostyn writes:

Totally agree Apocryphus. WAR was a supreme disappointment for me. I had very high hopes for it.

I doubt Darkfall will bring what we are looking, but it does no harm to hope.

Sun Dec 07 2008 12:12AM Report
xbellx777 writes:

congrats dude u wasted our time by posting the same crap weve all read.  just because u dont like it doesnt mean other ppl will follow what u say. the sooner u and abrahmn figure this out the better

Sun Dec 07 2008 12:45AM Report
DeathTripp writes:

No, the fact that you are a Darkfall fanboi is indicative of your character.

Sun Dec 07 2008 1:05AM Report
DeathTripp writes:

But I guess that was a little over even your head

Sun Dec 07 2008 1:06AM Report
Apocryphus writes:

Interesting generalization there.  The fact that I am looking forward to a new game makes me a fanboy of said release?  I suppose that made me a fanboy of WAR too.  Wait a second, I didn't like it upon actually having played it.  I must have been a fanboy of every game I've ever played as well, regardless of whether or not I enjoyed them.  Darkfall may be a total failure, none of us know, but I like what I've seen so far, and I'm open minded enough not to dismiss it.  Try harder.

Sun Dec 07 2008 1:13AM Report
Apocryphus writes:

Also, how does one's taste in video games define them as a person? I'd be interested to see what kind of hair brained logic you have caught in those rusty cogs of yours to explain that one.

Sun Dec 07 2008 1:15AM Report
Apocryphus writes:

Thank you, Bell, for the congratulatory comment.  Unfortunately, the fact that people are agreeing with me tends to deconstruct the point you're trying to make.  I'm not telling you guys that I'm the all knowing god of gaming, whose word is as liquid honey to the starving masses.  I'm just voicing my opinion.  You don't like it?  Don't read it.

Sun Dec 07 2008 1:17AM Report
Dynamo112 writes:

@ Apocryphus

I never accused you of crying. I said " Dont come crying to us if Darkfall does in fact suck when it releases ". Has Darkfall released? No it hasnt. READ fool READ

Sun Dec 07 2008 1:22AM Report
Apocryphus writes:

I did read it, and I asked you what different levels you might anticipate Darkfall might fail.  I was asking for your opinion, not being a brutish asshole.

Sun Dec 07 2008 1:33AM Report
DarkFears writes:

I also have to agree with you Apocryphus.

Sun Dec 07 2008 2:04AM Report
Firedorn writes:

OMG!  People, please grow up or something!  It's his opinion and this blog is his to express it on.  I don't agree with what he says, but I understand where he's coming from.  I personally love WAR and will be playing it for a while, but there's no reason why Apocryphus should be judged on his expressions of his own opinion.  No one made you click the link to come see this post...if you don't like it, don't read it and get lost.

Now, as for your opinions, I don't agree that the product was unfinished.  It did however leave a slight sour taste in my mouth.  That's mainly due to the ultra-hype leading up to its release.  I felt it lacking in overall "Ooomph!".  Can't really put my finger on it.

Classes, unfortunately are a fact of MMOs.  I would love a game that allows you to do what you want and develop your toon as you wish, but I don't think it really fits with Warhammer.  I mean, tabletop WAR had you pick and choose your troops; you didn't change their abilities on the fly.  But that's just me.

For the record, I have yet to see a game where there isn't a series of extremely coveted items.  They all have that one item that has the better stat boost, the better defense, more damage, less skin coverage....but I digress.

I do sincerely hope that there is a more open ended MMOG on the way that is worth playing.  One that will allow me to exploit my options and not be stuck with my choices; don't leave me stuck with what path I took, otherwise, it's just as bad as picking a class from the begining.

Sun Dec 07 2008 2:25AM Report
Tyvolus1 writes:

You keep waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for Darkfall.  Me ?  I dont need porn, I have a girlfriend, oh and I will keep playing and enjoying WAR.  I hope DF does really release, so I can laugh at how quick it bombs and how silly people like this blogger look in the aftermath.

Sun Dec 07 2008 11:28AM Report
Apocryphus writes:

If Darkfall does terribly, I don't think anyone will look silly, considering the hobby with which we occupy our time doesn't really permit us to look at one another, much less regard them as silly or not.  Personally, I think any gamer worthless enough to laugh at another gamer for trying out a new game is two brain cells short of retarded.  Enjoy playing WAR, though, and congrats on having a girlfriend, I'm sure your mother is very proud.

Sun Dec 07 2008 4:33PM Report
Apocryphus writes:

@ Seryth

Classes are indeed an unfortunate occurence in most MMOs, and you make an interesting point about WAR.  The tabletop game does well as a fall back to justify the creation of player classes in the MMO, though it would seem to me that an MMORPG like WAR would do better to follow the template of the pen and paper version of the Warhammer setting, as opposed to the strategy game. The pen and paper game is a roleplaying game, the table top is a strategy game, so, it would seem much more logical to design an electronic RPG around a written one.

I'm not postulating that magic items should be wholly removed.  I just think it is ridiculous how common they've become in MMOs.  Everything is magic, everything enhances stats, and there's no magic left to them, just stat numbers.  When I was playing UO, magic weapons and armor were coveted, and attainable.  In WoW, epic items were coveted and required months of grinding.  There's no fun to it anymore, just grinding the same brick stupid AI.  It's not fun, it's social conditioning and functionalist bullshit, and that's the inherent difference between classless and classed MMOs.

Sun Dec 07 2008 6:15PM Report
Apocryphus writes:

granted, there are still classes in the PnP game, but there's much more to them than the simple stat lines and gear lists of the strategy game, more to work with on the developer's end and greater degree of variance within each class to make a substantial difference in what they released.

Sun Dec 07 2008 6:55PM Report
Hathi writes:

Ok, undestood your negative feelings about WAR, but your blog is titled Massively Medicore. Anything in the game sparked your interest?

Sun Dec 07 2008 9:34PM Report
logix225 writes:

Also sounds like and ad for Darkfall.  Don't get me wrong i too am waiting for Darkfall.  But all games have restraints even UO had a skill cap.  The thing you must remember is for games such as UO players had to have ALOT of time to work on skills and what not.  Which not everyone has that kind of time so newer MMOs are trying to cater to the masses more then the normal mmo players.  WAR is not Medicore you stated that you have played and done all you can do.  I don't truly believe any gamer would play a game that much if they didn't care for it.

I do believe at times alot of people ESPECIALLY wow players forget the 1 most important thing.  And that's these are games we are supposed to have fun with them.  The money we spend and the time we invest should only be measured with how much fun we are having.  Once the fun is over its time to move on.   Don't dwell on the fact that the game didn't have enough of this and that.  Just take it for what fun you had out of it.  NOW if it were like AoC and you were done in like 2 weeks then its time to be a little upset. lol

Sun Dec 07 2008 10:54PM Report
BarakIII writes:

I'm not very experienced as an mmo player. I've only played a handful of mmo's and none of them keep my attention for long periods at a time, instead I go back and forth between those I have enjoyed somewhat. Primarily those would include WoW, CoH, and Eve.

Eve is the most unique of the three and seems to have so much potential, but in gameplay is actually sort of boring. I play it anyway because I love the overall feel and atmosphere of the game.

I haven't played WAR and I don't intend to. I've never been a big fan of pvp, but that said I think I understand a bit of where you are coming from. There's a sameness to every mmo I've played and I'm beginning to think it's just the nature of mmo's. I'm not really sure why I play them...other than it passes the time.

There is one thing I'd like to comment on. In the recent expansion of WoW there are certain quests that once done changes the world around you. Now this is completely new to me and it actually excited me a bit. It's not done much in WoW but the potental of such a thing seems tremendous. It was done without any load screens or obvious movement between transitions. One player I talked to called it 'phasing'.

Now to some of you experienced mmo players, this may be old news and perhaps has been done before, but for me it's entirely new and it's potential seems great.

Has this sort of thing been done before, and if so in what game, and was it as smoothly done as in WoW? If it has been done before, why isn't it used to a greater extent? Perhaps the technology hasn't existed before to do it well?

Sun Dec 07 2008 11:34PM Report
Apocryphus writes:

@ Hathi - One thing that really did catch my interest was the cultivating and alchemy pairing.  Their alchemy system was probably one of my favorite aspects of the game.  The castle battles in open world were alot of fun as well.  There are a couple things I would have done different, but overall I had alot of fun with castles and seiges.  I thought their lairs were cool, and the dungeons they had created were fun, but there are certain elements of PvE that I think could be greatly expanded on.  Like I said before, it's the same AI, all the time.  No thought is required, just a little research on WARDB.

@ Logix - I didn't mean of it to sound that way, I simply don't like classes.  I've never liked classes.  Though, I think that working on skills is the same as a level system, it's just requires a bit more consideration, which I consider a good thing.  It leaves all roads open.  You're still putting time in to develop your character, just like any other mmo, if people want to play it like a second job, that's their perogative, but you see people dedicating more time to endgame WoW and raiding than you ever did with UO's skill system.

@ Barak - I think that what you're referring to does indeed have great potential, though I would say that if those quests are available to everyone, then it's been done incorrectly.  The idea of unique quests is something I've thought about in between college papers and the errant hour on Left4Dead or whatever MMO I happen to be playing.  If the world changes for you the same way it changes for a player that did the same quest, the world isn't changing.  You're just advancing in the game.  However, if there were quests that locked once they had been accepted by members and were gone upon completion, giving unique rewards or renown gains in separate areas, possibly unique titles, that would be sweet; and new unique quests would be generated by a database of possible quest variables and evolving monster territories.

Sun Dec 07 2008 11:58PM Report
Larose14 writes:

I think a lot of people have overlooked the main aspect of WAR and nit pick at the small individualistic ideals that you may have got from other games. WAR is about team work, cooperation and tactics, it is about the community you play with and the guild you are a part of since most things in the game can't be done without other people. The class mechanics were designed for cooperation and team work, learning how to play your character with others is the key to winning and is what the game is all about. The Wow template is something that work well, and why fix something that isn't broken? The magic items that buff your stats allow you to enhance your play style as long as it has to do with your chosen class. The mirror classes are great in my opinion so that there's a anti-class for everyone on both sides which means its how the person actually plays the character and what skills, tactics, abilities and training they've combined to actually stand out amongst the rest. The customization with paint, trophies and guild options give the game its individualistic touch it needs to make people feel a part of something different but at the same time amongst a group of people.

The entire game is based on PVP/ ORVR, scenarios, pqs and dungeons are just side things to do. The end game takes a massive amount of coordination and team work to achieve which is something people are still getting used to, and the people that are whining are just impatient and mostly the ones who grinded to the level cap in the first month and expected a whole lot of everything when it takes a lot of people to truly experience the games potential. Yes the game has bugs and the massive 100 on 100 battles need some tweaking and fixes, but this game is only a few months old and people need to relax. NO GAME is perfect when it first launches, what mythic did was create a strong BASE to build their game on which is what counts, if you want PvE grinding go back to Wow where their expansions continually screw up everything from their previous expansions/original game.   

Also for the comment of I want to go explore the great vastness of an open world and not sit at a load screen for 30 seconds. Go play Age of Conan if you truly care about the beautiful graphics, the endless world and the crappy gameplay and overall build of the game. This game is about fighting other players and being rewarded for it in the most ways they can make available.

Mon Dec 08 2008 1:05AM Report
BarakIII writes:

"though I would say that if those quests are available to everyone, then it's been done incorrectly."

Let's not get carried away, this is still WoW we're talking about. :p

I wouldn't really expect what you're talking about coming from a game like WoW or really a company like blizzard. However, the fact that it could be done in WoW and done so well shows promise for future mmo's who may make the most of it. What you're describing is the potential I was seeing in it and if implemented in that way mmo's could well have a bright future ahead of them.

Mon Dec 08 2008 1:44AM Report
BarakIII writes:

It's also possible Blizzard took the technology as far as it's capable of going right now. Unique quests for individuals that actually change the world around you...both for you and everyone else...well, that sounds like something that would not be easy to do.

Yeah, it's a bummer that everybody does the same quests, but it's still a step in the right direction. I mean, I certainly haven't seen anything of the sort in any of the mmo's I've played thus far.

Mon Dec 08 2008 1:54AM Report
Apocryphus writes:

Larose -  I understand the points you're making and even agree with you to a certain extent.  I agree that WAR is an MMO and, as such, revolves around the core principle of community.  However, when the freedom to play as one chooses is stripped from the player, as it was in WAR and other MMOs that actively force players into groups rather than have them solve the challenges presented to them intelligently, then the game ceases to be fun.  Even in a classless system, taking a keep alone would be nigh impossible.  Facing off against elite mobs (unless you're a DoK, WP, or possibly a BW, but I never played one of those pyros) is nigh impossible.  Therefore, the need for community and cooperation is already created without the need for classes.

I would agree that the WoW template worked well, worked being past tense, and only on account of the popularity of EQ and Blizzard's excellent marketing strategies.  That, and the game was based around a popular IP and created by the studio that nurtured that IP to its ultimate fruition.  That, and the game had a personality, something WAR lacks altogether.  The fantasy setting has personality, the MMO bastardization of that fantasy setting does not.  It's DAoC 2.0 with Warhammer toons.

Even if the template has worked in the past, that doesn't make it good.  That makes it the MMO standard, which it has been for the past decade, which I said before.  The standard is exactly that.  It's not good, it's not great, it's not phenomenal, it's mediocre, which is exactly what I said WAR was.

I played AoC, and it's obvious you haven't because the same problem is inherent in that game.  The world is not endless.  You zone everywhere.  It also has a rigid class system based on country, and I quit that game for the same reason I did WAR.

In closing, I see where you're coming from, but I think you set the bar too low when it comes to the genre, just like most MMO players, which is the root of it's current, sad state.

Barak - I'd love to get carried away, man.  This is great stuff we're talking about.  What do you want to see in an MMO?  Think outside the box the genre's been placed in.  What would really be cool?  We've got an evolving world setting, that would be sweet!  I agree, you don't see enough of that.  None of this would be easy to do on a grand scale, but what if NPC's reacted differently to you for saving the mayor's daughter or whatever, and only you did that.  It wouldn't be hard if the friendly mobs all came with little rep meters in their code that increased as you completed unique quests in the town.  They react to your good deeds, cheer and shit, while players just arriving in the town see you getting all the praise and go out bounty hunting for some bandits; but you saved the mayor's daughter, got the key to the city, and some gold in your bank.  Window's past, you're the town hero, everyone else is just looking for bandit ears.

Mon Dec 08 2008 6:03AM Report writes:
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