I wasn't going to play Warhammer: Age of Reckoning at launch. Like AoC before it, I was going to give it 30 days, then see what the community reaction towards the title was. Frankly I thought AoC was going to be a trainwreck of a launch, but someone sold their soul for a pretty good launch - it was only after that the problems became clear.
But then a friend picked up WAR and I was in the right place and time that getting it seemed like a good idea. So I end up buying WAR and using the month's play time that comes with the box to trial things out. Unfortunately I found myself disappointed with a very empty feeling world, a PvE experience that lacked soul, a PvP experience that varied from being fun to incredibly frustrating and a developer who appears not to understand player behaviour in MMOs.
In the initial play month I got my character Etherial, a High Elf Shadow Warrior, to
level rank 19, but just got to a point of frustration that meant I was no longer having fun.
I've already blogged about the empty world feeling of WAR arising from server population limts so won't really cover that ground again... except to say that it is probably a major reason for a lot of WAR's other issues. More players closer together means more chances to team up and PvE, more chances of running PvP and more chances of the world actually feeling 'alive'. PvE had no tactics at all to it - no point standing on the other side of a river or up a hill to do a ranged attack, since mobs move the same speed over all terrain, so it is just stand there and attack until they die, then repeat.
No point trying to use terrain to your advantage when your enemies can walk on water!
PvP showed some high points - I got into playing Scenarios... for a while. But seeing Mourkain Temple pop five or six times in a row got old. PUG experiences could get very messy, especially since what was good for individual players often led to play behaviour that lost the match (i.e. it is better to be out there damaging targets than protecting your flag, but not protecting your flag often costs you the match and reduces your play rewards). My RvR experience was running around empty areas and looking at PvP sites that were protected by PvE mobs.
Probably the largest secondary factor to quitting WAR (after not having fun) rather than waiting a month to see if things improve is how Mythic appear to have little understanding of what the real problems of WAR are. Or, if they have the understanding, their will to do something is lacking.
Take the current situation with RvR. It is mostly under-used partly because the character progression rewards from it are so weak, yet is meant to be WAR's core. However, instead of incentivsing players to come to RvR by making it give excellent experience, reknown and / or loot, Mythic instead starts talking about introducing new 'no scenario' servers. Firstly, the last thing WAR needs is more servers (the news on free character transfers off low population servers would seem to support the idea they've got too many servers up currently) and secondly I would hate to see the grind this game would have if scenarios were taken out. Rather than reduce scenarios, Mythic needs to improve RvR's reward if they wish to see this area improve and get players excited.
Or take the Witching Night event. The main show sounds like a great idea - a PQ in an RvR zone for special loot - but Mythic opts to have the PQ reset every "few hours", even hotfixing the event when it was discovered it could reset more frequently than that if successfully completed (it's the last patch note here). For an event that only lasts 5 days, having to wait for a few hours for the chance of something to appear (which can be completed very quickly once the first stage of killing 100 players is completed) is a text book way of annoying the player base.
I'm sure the idea was that people will RvR in the mean time as something to do, but the reality is that scenarios provide better rewards than RvR so it is more likely players will stand around warcamps doing them while waiting for the Witching Night PQ to start, or perhaps taking keeps or area objectives (which, because RvR rewards are so low, generally aren't defended). C'mon Mythic - it's Halloween! Have the Witching Night PQ constantly reset, keep the players in the area and fighting each other, let the players get their candy when they win and keep them happy during the event!
I could go on in this vein, but I've already written plenty. Mythic appears to have designed a game of separate parts, not a game that hangs well together. Nothing it does is really exceptional while a multitude of flaws are on display... and all the while Mythic keeps making changes that appear designed to actively distance players from each other and from the game.
To say something positive, WAR does look good most of the time. It's just ... empty.
I might come back to WAR one day, but 'might' is the operative word. Right now it isn't delivering me much fun and I'm getting more enjoyment out of seeing Mythic deliver fun-stifling changes than I would get from winning a scenario or completing a public quest.