I've been reading a lot of Syp's Waaagh! Warhammer Online Blog lately, which is an excellent read and will reward you for browsing his blog archives, and I spotted something in his recent post entitled 10 Features From Other MMO's I'd Love To See In War that I immediately had an opinion on worth writing about. Here is the text that caught my attention, which is point nine on his list:
"Tutorial Instance (LOTRO) - WAR is a fairly intuitive game, especially if you’re a seasoned MMO gamer, but Mythic shouldn’t assume that everyone trying out their game is — and they should be making allowances for the newbies who could feel very overwhelmed at the start of the game. An option for an instanced tutorial zone could be a great answer to these things, especially if they include all of the lingo, features and options that us vets take for granted."
First off, I completely agree with his opinion that there should be some kind of introductory element to the game to help those who may be playing their first MMORPG, and indeed, some who may be veterans of the table top world but are taking their first baby steps into the world of video games.
However, if something like this IS introduced into WAR, I am an advocate of giving all customers starting a character the option to skip it first time around. I've seen MMO's recently, LotRO being the main example I will use, where you were forced to go through the introductory tutorial instance/zone on your first character, then being given the privilege to skip it for additional characters created later.
In the case of LotRO, I didn't mind being forced into this as I am a huge fan of Tolkien and the universe he had created, and I was dying to see each and every aspect of the land and immerse myself into the story from the word go.
However with WAR, my approach is diferent. I don't want a rich, perfectly crafted introduction to the universe, the plight of the Order versus Destruction or a guided tour of the Dwarven areas, I just want to play!
Yes, I am a seasoned MMO player and yes, because of this it won't take me long to sort out my keys, UI, overall settings and find my way around the world getting quests, finding relevant & important NPC's and generally getting to all the important types of content...but the story is of no interest to me.
Warhammer Online, as far as I'm concerned, is about a 3 v 3 racial battle to conquer territory, keeps and capital cities with the ultimate goal being total, utter victory in the game world for side you are on. That's it.
I am not going to WAR for immersion, brilliant story telling, story arcs to blow my socks off or anything else that would otherwise support my game experience with creative writing and character dialogue. I know what to expect from being a Dwarf, I've played them before. I have never been into the regular Warhammer universe, WH40K has always been my thing and if this were Warhammer 40K: Age of Reckoning I would be approaching this differently, but it's not.
I haven't played any WAR at all. I'm even debating whether I'll bother using my Open Beta key from September 7th onwards; I've come to WAR for a fresh and unspoilt MMORPG experience and I just want to get straight into exploring, fighting, pillaging and enjoying the game.
It's a moot point to be talking about as unless Mythic suddenly spring tutorial instances/zones on us between now and September 14th/15th when the head-start begins, I'll be able to happily create my character and get cracking right away.
However the point still stands, let the veteran players who just want to get into the game and get their Return On Investment do so, and if you feel the need to cater for those new to MMORPG's, do so...but just make sure you appease BOTH.