First off let me say that I am a huge fan of the Warhammer franchise. I have played the tabletop game in one form or another for 15+ years. I started when I was in High School and still have my mini’s although I don’t play anymore. I have played fantasy battles, 40K, Necromunda, Mordheim, and even some of the smaller more obscure games. I have the following armies Bretonnian army, High Elf, vampire counts, Ork, Imperial Guard, Blood Angels, and Dark Elves(40K version). Plus assorted mini’s from the other games. Needless to say I am a fan
So with my fandom established I am all logged into Warhammer Online and ready to play. First thing I notice is the great art style and awesome looking characters we can choose from. The character creation screen is really well designed with a clean interface. I was a little confused for a few seconds as I was trying to select my race by clicking on the description at the top. I soon realized my error and proceeded to make my first character. There is a nice selection of features to choose from when customizing the look of your character which is very important to fans. While you don’t have the freedom to alter every detail like some games such as Vanguard or EQ2 you still get e wider range of choices than WoW.
I was a little surprised on Sunday that Destruction was full on every server. Sign of things to come? I don’t think so, the initial fan base might gravitate towards Destruction races but once the game hits shelves and the more casual player base moves in I suspect the numbers will favor Order. I give the character creation process an A.
So I pick my first character, a High Elf Swordmaster (since I don’t have the patience to wait in a queue for destruction). I play for five minutes and I crash hard. I got a message Windows had to shut down to protect itself from corruption or some such. When I restart my computer my character is gone. GRRRR!!!! That’s ok its beta right? So I try a dwarf Runpriest next.
First thing I notice is the ease of getting in there and playing the game. For anyone who has played a MMO there is no guessing in WAR about how to move or use the UI. The UI is well designed with just a little bit of difference to keep it fresh but still be familiar. There is plenty of ways to add hotkeys and change how your hot bars look. No annoying little graphics at the bottom of your screen cluttering it up with useless icons, like options, player data etc. It is all located at the top in a nice and utilitarian manner so as to maximize my view of the world. Chat is easy to figure out and customize to my liking. I can change text colors, opacity, and size right in beta. No waiting weeks for some annoying patch to fix something that is crucial to playing. With the ability for players to customize their UI I give the UI an A+.
Like I said I am really impressed with the art style. They hit the look and feel of the Warhammer universe dead on. Each race has a distinct look that is right out of the IP. Mythic choose to go with a bright colorful look to their art which some people refer to as cartoony. I can see how they would say that but it is nowhere near as cartoony as WoW. They chose this style as that is how Games Workshop paints their miniatures, bright and colorful. Another benefit is that this allows people to run the game on lower end machines. When we factor in the huge number of people that will be taking part of RvR, the ability for players to play on modest machines is crucial to keeping a large active player base. I could run the game on highest settings on my machine with a Geforce 7800. I was a little dispointed that the games graphics don’t scale up. On my high end rig (running a GeForce 8800GT) it looked only slightly better.
Overall I give the graphics a B+, they are good clean graphics with an excellent art style but they aren’t going to show off my hardware. The graphics already look out of date so what will it look like in 5 years? I would give it lower marks but factoring in that they want to have massive amounts of people in RvR, going for lower end graphics was probably a smart idea.
Next time I will get into the meat and potatoes of the game, going over pve and pvp gameplay.