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The Fool's Golden Age

I'm just another monkey throwing shit and diction at the current travesty that is my beloved genre.

Author: Apocryphus

Warhammer Online: Massively Mediocre

Posted by Apocryphus Saturday December 6 2008 at 6:34PM
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Now that I have dawned my bloodwades and my painmantles, now that I have survived tempestuous Praag, I sit here, in a cold glass room, surrounded by the hum of flourescent lighting and pretend to have something better to do than blog, bitching about the rapidly cooling fires of WAR.  I'm left with the sense that the game itself was released entirely unfinished.  It might be posited that patching will complete WAR, or that future expansions will address the errant gripes that float from forum to forum.  To these opinions I must simply ask this:

Why are you satisfied purchasing an unfinished product?  Why accept that the release will be flawed?

I am not speaking to the classes, whose resounding cries of, "OP," and "game breaking," spatter WarhammerAlliance almost incessantly.  No class will ever be perfect for every player in the game.  I'm talking about the core pillars of design that created WAR. 

Since we've already begun discussing classes, why not start there?  The idea of player classes goes all the way back to first edition Dungeons & Dragons and was first introduced to the MMO Genre in Everquest.  Since then, the vast majority of MMO's have featured this mechanic; and, for nigh on a decade, classes have been a plague on the MMO.  You, as players, have been pigeonholed into rigidly defined group roles, playing out, inside little binary boxes, what digital media conglomerates have dubbed to be your playstyle.  The illusion of deviation is created with hybrid classes (like the WoW Paladin), though, I think Guild Wars had something going for them when they chose to give players the option to multiclass.  Even so, the heirarchy of classes remained the same, and was subsequently brushed under the rug in WAR.  The multitude of classes in Warhammer Online is one of the more ridiculous attempts in the genre to mask this dictatorial paradox.  The MMO was first marketed by Origin as a game of total freedom, where one could explore ancient Sosaria as their Avatar had experienced it, adventuring, fighting, or blacksmithing.  Now, we've been reduced to Counterstrike with swords, watering down the setting and the story by telling gamers how to play.  The evidence of it is most clear in WAR, each class looking fundamentally different from the others but a mirror image of every other player of that class.  No longer is it up to the player to determine how he will defend himself or what his clothing will look like.  Those things are determined for you based on the class you play.  Why settle for this?  There is no deviation, no individuality or creativity in skill sets, just the same Magus with the same disc and the same staff and the same powers, over and over again.  Here, I think, lies a rather impressive joke, for those of you with a taste in eccentric humor.  How can one justify the creation of a race based entirely around the worship of chaos, when they've pigeonholed its entire population into a very orderly structure of class roles?

Secondly, there's the interface.  Looking almost identical to that of World of Warcraft, I felt as if it were almost copied and pasted from the aforementioned gold encrusted turd, and it has many of the same flaws.  The entire game is based, again around gear and the grinding thereof, whether through their admittedly impressive dungeons or their tired TFC remeniscent scenarios; and that's another thing.  Every scenario revolves around either grabbing the "ball" and keeping it or capturing points on a map.  I didn't buy this game to play Blood Bowl.  I'm buying the XBOX 360 title to play Blood Bowl, because that's what it is, and I doubt I'm going to see my Chosen in a spiked linebacker uniform. 

Finally, there's the zoning.  I've always been a proponent of open world MMOs.  It's jarring, irritating, and sloppy on the part of the designer to make his players wait at a loading screen every time they want to move to a new area.  To conclude, the MMO studios, in general, have seemed to place less of an emphasis on experiencing a vast, interesting setting with thousands of other players, instead using a tired, decade old template to force players into combat as quickly as possible with no real depth or enjoyment of the environment they've created.

I'm about done, now.  Go look at some porn or something, I'm waiting for Darkfall.