I had a reader of mine once tell me I should review games for a living. My response to that was "No one reads the positive reviews - just look at Zero Punctuation." Today, however, I'm going to start out on a positive note and say Warhammer Online looks like a splendid game and overall well done game. I'm all about the PVP, and I'm all about the RVR, and my last MMO was Age of Conan - meaning Mythic provided a more meaningful PVP experience in the first 15 minutes of playing Warhammer than Conan did for 2 months. Kidding aside, I'm going to highlight, quickly, some of the ups and downs (from my point of view) of Warhammer over the last couple days.
Choosing a Faction and Server -- Pain in the ass.
Unfortunately, the Faction and Server choice in Warhammer seems to be tearing apart friendships and guilds a bit. It's no secret that Destruction is more populated, and this is causing a lot of players (like me) with some sort of "Underdog Complex" to stay the hell away from this side. However, I must admit that the Destruction side feels a bit more complete, a bit more fun, and a bit more, well, interesting. Perhaps players are just a bit burnt out on yet another Elf / Dwarf / Human sort of faction, and are happy to play something kinda new with Chaos and Dark Elves, not to mention a superbly done Greenskin faction (missing Choppa aside!). Hell, squig hunters get to go inside their Battle Squig, Chaos Magus get to zoom around on a unique disc, and Dark Elves get to run around in a g-string. (Must... resist... rolling... Destruction...) All the while us poor Order saps get to run around with yet another Dwarf Warrior and yay, look, Legolas. I can see why people want to play Destruction. I can't see why Order didn't get more love.
On a similar note, rumor is that Destruction scenario queues are quite lengthy due to the population imbalances. Unfortunately for the bad guys, I don't think there is a way to fix this, save getting more people to play Order.
Server choice seems to be muddled due to an odd "Open RVR" ruleset that has players wondering if they can even revisit Tiers 1 & 2 at high level due to the beloved Chicken Mechanic. Also a concern is Open RVR servers actually diluting the RVR action because the fights will be more spread out. While it might be too early to tell for that, it's still causing long time PVP veterans to question their server choice. Core servers are also being called "Corebear" or likened to WoW PVE servers, and while incorrect, it's still causing some indecision or separation in playerbases.
Performance and Stability -- Not bad.
I experienced some horrific performance issues when first playing Warhammer - much worse than the Closed or Open Beta - which surprised me. I found out that this was actually caused by using the Beta Client patched to retail. A full file check kicked my FPS up dramatically. So, if you've upgraded from the Beta client, best to do a full file check or reinstall from the DVDs to be safe. Performance is still a bit iffy in some spots but these seem to be isolated locales. The game feels a bit clunky, but it might just take some time to get used to.
Stability hasn't been bad. The Alt + Tab blackscreen bug hasn't appeared yet, which is great. I haven't had a CTD or lost connection once.
Advancing via RVR and PVP -- Thank God, it's finally possible.
Warhammer Online can go down in the MMO history books as being the game that finally made this possible. Players have been asking for it since... well, forever. I always found it comical that you can "advance" your character in a game by mindlessly killing no-challenge NPC's all day long, yet come an unpredictable and challenging fight with an actual human, you gain nothing in terms of character advancement.
Playing Order, it's definitely possible to just do RvR and scenarios all the time for advancement. Empire/Chaos seems to be the most populated with players, so even in off-peak times you can wait max 5 minutes for a Scenario to pop up.
The only downside is it seems that open world RVR is much less beneficial than these scenarios. Mythic stated multiple times, in various podcasts and blogs, that this wouldn't be the case, so let's hope it's just temporary. I've found it hard to find RvR battles sometimes in Tier 1... and sadly, due to population imbalance, it seems that most battles are quickly ended by the Albion... er, I mean Destruction zerg.
Player Interaction and Community -- Well... no one's perfect.
A couple things to harp on in terms of player interaction and community for Warhammer Online:
No official forums sucks donkey testicles. I know they're a pain in the ass to maintain, but no one knows where to go to talk to other people on their server.
People don't need to talk to each other. I'm fairly certain you can do nearly everything in this game never saying a word. You can wander into RvR and just /join a group, you can go do Public Quests and just /join a group, you don't have to ask where anything is because it's all on the map... That, and with NPC's talking at about 700 words per minute, anything an actual person says is quickly lost in the sea of inane NPC chatter. The positive side to this is that there are no public channels for Dirge spam.
I've leveled 3 characters to level 10ish on the Order side (I suck at choosing a class, bah!) - and I've seen a total of 4 people talk. I'm on a roleplaying server -- (EU Burlok for those that want to stalk me - stay away Erling!) -- and the only people to talk have been shouting insults at Orks in the Public Quests. I do it all the time, so I guess it spurned some others to RP a bit. Other than that, though, Warhammer seems like it's a ghost town.
Fo-shame, Mythic. A strong game and server community is vital for the long term success of the game. Let's hope that the chat system is improved and players are forced to communicate more at higher levels.
That's all I got for now. Overall, the game is new, the game is fun, and I'm just happy to be RvRing again. Of course, I said the same thing for Age of Conan (short of the RvR part) - so take that all with a shaker of salt.
Original article is here.
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