As a basic introduction, I was in the WAR beta for many months and got into the game last Sunday via the CE head start. My main character (a Swordmaster) is level 14, with a smattering of level 4-8 characters because I wanted to play around a little bit.
WAR, first off, isn’t perfect as far as stability is concerned. I’ve been the victim of “WTF where did my game go?!?” as it suddenly and unexplainably shut down. There is some lag, but nothing that keeps me from killing things. And though there have been a few bugs here and there (such as getting a tome unlock at around level 4 that said I killed 10,000 of a particular beast… um, yeah…), but nothing that’s made me shut the game down because I was too annoyed to continue playing. Overall, it’s been a fairly stable launch (as far as MMO stable launches are concerned).
Since the “end-game” is mostly going to be RvRing, I’ve been focusing more so on the PvE/PQ aspects of the game. I have RvRed some, and from what I’ve seen, there isn’t anything that stands out and really grabs me. That’s not to say that RvRing isn’t fun, because it’s a lot of fun chasing people down just to get that final deathblow in, but none of my RvR experiences really make me want to jump right back into that queue the moment I finish the last one.
PvEing is mostly questing, and about 95% of them are pretty traditional. There are always the oddball quests, like recruiting NPCs to fight, but the majority are “purify this, kill that, go talk to him.” As for the stories themselves, I just didn’t care for the HE ones in the Blighted Isles and Chrace. Literally every single one of them was “we’re getting the snot beaten out of us,” or “go find my sister who’s gone missing and oh, yup, she’s dead.” Not a single story stands out in my mind, while I can think of several with the same somber theme in the Empire area that really stand out to me (such as chasing after the daughter and son-in-law, only to find one dead and the other half-mad). The HE stories do get a little more hopeful and a lot more powerful (“Screw the Dark Elves and their silly plans… use your blade and send them back to the arks they came from!!”) as you continue on, but it was definitely a rough start.
PQing is really about the group. I’ve lost track (though luckily my tome is keeping count!) of how many times I’ve been in a PQ and ended up inviting literally everyone in the area into a massive warband when at first they only wanted to solo. It’s not that people are against grouping up, because generally people accept the invites, but I think people are so used to being punished for grouping up that they don’t actively seek it out. In a group, the XP is evenly split up between members, but since you’re killing a lot more, you end up making the same (if not more, since you don’t have to take a breath between kills) amount as you would alone.
The other thing I really love about the PQs is that they’re quite hard (at least the timed phases), but not so much that you all have to coordinate to make sure one person doesn’t face the wrong direction. It’s pretty impressive when you’ve got 10 minutes and 10 people, yet it still takes you most of the 10 minutes to take a single Hero down. And every time you take one of them down, there’s a sense of accomplishment (even if the rolling system is awful… I’ve topped the charts before only to get a horrid roll and end up in 11th place. I’ve also literally run into a PQ before, threw an axe at the boss for maybe 30 damage, and managed to get a loot bag). And the higher rewards for maxing out rep with the chapter you’re on are always great upgrades.
I’ve spent some time with the crafting system and must say that it’s definitely lacking. I understand that they want players to trade and interact with each other in order to get materials, but the community is still too new to rely on such a system. Relying on the auction house will seriously cut into your saving-for-a-mount funds, since everyone else is trying to get the most out of their drops to save up for their own mounts, and unless you come into the game with a large, reliable, and generous guild, you won’t really have others to fall back on.
Instead, I’ve got four characters going, each one with one of the four gathering professions, and two of them have the crafting professions. The (magical) Salvaging portion is AWFUL. Simply awful. There’s no way to know what level an item is, and if you try to salvage one slightly above your level, it fails, gives you “broken” magical items (which I think can still be used, but I’m not certain), and then it doesn’t even level your salvaging up a point. And all of this is dependent on whether you can actually get any. I think by the time I generally maxed out the PQ’s rep, only 2-3 dropped with an average of five people in my group. You’ll easily out-level an area before you get enough salvageables to level it up.
The other three gathering professions are pretty simple, but normally you’ll need more than one just to get the supplies to level either of the crafting professions up. Butchering gets much-needed Apothecary items as well as nutrients for Cultivating, Cultivating supplies Apothecary, Scavenging, a profession that you will use a lot since you fight humanoids 95% of the time, supplies both Apothecary and Talisman making (though it’s better for talismans), and Salvaging is NECESSARY for Talismans. I think this system will become much more viable once players start hitting 40 and an actual economy is stabilized, but for now, my main’s Apothecary is still stuck at 44 while I’m Scavenging things level 75 and playing on my alts to get the items I need to maybe one day get Apothecary up to 50.
While this one feature is a downer, overall I’m really enjoying the game. Quests are improving, more skills are popping up, greater challenges are rearing their ugly head, and I’m genuinely looking forward to where the quests lead me next.