Review: Warhammer Preview Weekend
For this entry I am going to try something new and take a break from ranting about the usual MMO debacles. Instead, I am going to give my impressions of the Warhammer Preview Weekend from the perspective of an MMO veteran, guild leader, and a gamer coming off the of the AoC disaster.
As a guild leader, I and my members were recently burned badly by the Funcom bullshit. I approach Warhammer Online with heavy scrutiny while trying to recover from the burns Funcom gave me and my members.
Character creation is nothing to write home about honestly. I found it to be quite lackluster, and I could see where this could give people a negative first impression. I wasn't thrilled about my option, but like most MMO's, my armor covered me up after a few levels and it became a non-issue to me at least. I guess it could be justified that a lack of options helps performance in large scale PvP, I am not going to speculate to the validity of this theory, but after AoC's performance I could see it having merit.
The user interface is probably one of most glaring similarities to World of Warcraft that will catch your eye. It literally shares an almost identical positioning and style to WoW, which could be viewed as a positive if you liked this interface. The good news is the user interface is fairly customizable, and Mythic has left the door open to 3rd party UI mods which will surely be in abundance.
As a guild leader, I am extremely thrilled to see a real Guild Interface akin to that of Everquest 2. Guild Functionality has always been important to me, and Age of Conan's left a lot to be desired. The Warhammer Guild UI offers multiple tabs showing roster that is sortable, and gives me the ability to make notes next to each name to labels alts and such. It also gives me the ability to rename all my ranks, set their permissions, an unlockable calender, a log showing me recent events, and guild battle standard options. Guilds level up through the members PvPing and new functionality becomes unlocked.
The graphics in this game have been the subject of a lot of debate among the community. Obviously no one will contest that Age of Conan has far better graphics, but these graphics are a lot better then WoW IMO. Are they cutting edge? Not be any means, but they get the job done. Again I think some will argue that the games graphics will make it accessible to a wider audience, and help performance in RvR. I do think some people are giving this game a lot more heat than it deserves in this department, once I turned the resolution up, it looked good, and in large scale PvP I ran smooth as a baby's ass.
Character Customization comes to you in a variety of ways. While I found the creation process lacking, as you progress through the game will you see that there are some ways for you to tweak your looks and skills to fit your playstyle. First you will be able to tailor your "Tactics Abilities" to suit your needs. These are basically passive abilities that you can put into the bottom right of the screen to enhance your character. They deliberately limit the number you can use at a given time to force you to decide what to best use in a situation. These can be changed at any time however, and I think you can cycle through layouts of these as easy as you cycle your hotbars depending on your situation.
There are also "Moral Abilities" which remind me of TP moves from FFXI. The longer you fight and stay alive, the more jacked up your character gets. He is able to then perform super moves that get stronger as he gets more moral built up. These can be interchanged again to fit your playstyle, and add another layer of tactics to the combat.
The RvR rewards come in the ways of both gear and points. The gear is strong enough to make it a viable alternative to gear earned through PvE, and better in some cases. The points are spent much like talent points or AA points. If you played DAOC, you are very familiar with their PvP reward system, which is fully functional and in the game unlike a certain rival game which still has yet to give an ETA on their system.
One other aspect of this game in regards to customizing your appearance in the use of armor Dyes. This was one of the better features of DAOC that I am shocked was never stolen by more recent MMOs. It gives you the ability to make yourself look a little different and it gives guilds a chance to add uniformity to their members. Changing your armor colors can be done very easily by visiting a merchant. A nice dressing room screen comes up where you will be able to see the colors before you buy them.
The PvE aspect of the game is pretty run of the mill from what we have seen in recent MMOs. The game follows the same lame quest format of collecting X amount of dingleberries, killing Y amount of orcs. Nothing to write home about honestly. The game does break Quest mold from recent games by adding public quests. Doing these will get you rep in that local area, and this rep can be used to claim rewards, which are usually very good if your rep gets maxed. Luckily, maxing out your rep in a given area does not seem to take very long at all, and the public quests are always fun as long as other people are there. They can be compared to the Besieged Mode found in FFXI where you are rewarded for your contribution, and acts a nice diversion from the collection quests. At the end of the day, the PvE is just a means to an end, and that end is the RvR.
The RvR is where this game really shines. Finally I feel like I am getting the RvR that World of Warcraft promised me but never delivered on. You can PvP from level 1. You get exp from PvP, and quests to kill people in PvP. This helps makes PvP a viable way of leveling if you so chose. The games does have a battleground type system called Scenarios, which honestly I am not a fan of being an overworld guy myself. To their credit though, they are well thought out and usually contain some sort of interesting twist instead of the makeshift deathmatches we got in AoC. I hope Mythic will make world PvP enticing enough to minimize the desire to play in these. On the flip side, if you play on a server where the population is imbalanced, these do provide a level playing field somewhat. If you are under leveled, the game gives you a buff to your level to help you remain useful, but a true level 10 is stronger than a buffed level 10 because he has better gear and new spells that a level 5 won't have.
The castle sieges are very well done. Finally we have real capturable objectives to fight over, and they are meaningful in the struggle to push your enemy back to the city gates. Siege weapons are easy to get and funner to use. Giant cannons that put you in an FPS view with a crosshair to bark fire on the oceans of enemies inside the castle or outside. Rocks can be seen flying through the air from catapults, and it really adds a wildcard to the battle as well as making things a bit more chaotic in a good way. It also helps give melee something to do in situations where enemies are out of reach. After playing these sieges, I have no desire to go into the scenarios, and hopefully the population who plays will see it the same way.
Most of the PvP is group on group. Do not expect to be some WoW superhero 1 shotting people like a God. Combat in this game takes a bit longer, and as such I think a bit more skill. If I wanted to 1 shot everyone I would stick with Call of Duty 4. You feel like you are a unit in an RTS game, no one person is so superpowerful. This makes it a very team oriented game, and hopefully the Community will be good. Some have complained about the combat speed and a global cool down, but honestly it never occurred to me until I started reading whining on the forums. The combat to me felt interesting, tactical, and I was not spamming the same ability over and over like other games.
In conclusion, the game is fun even though it lacks major Innovation. First and foremost I think that fun is why we play. The game delivers on its promises. Mark Jacobs at Mythic has been honest about talking about flaws and problems with the game and I appreciate his straight talk. It upset a lot of us with AoC that they were in denial about the game's missing features and short comings.
This game will live and die by the RvR and the endgame. The RvR looks amazing, the endgame we won't know until we get there. If it is anything like DAOC, then hopefully we will have a good RvR MMO that will last us a long time, made by a company that seems to be honest and competent. I am hoping this game will help heal the burns Funcom gave me, my guild, and so many others like me. Only time will tell.
Co-Leader of Inquisition