Warhammer Online Preview: WAR, What is it Good For? Is it Worth Your Money?
MMORPG.com Managing Editor Jon Wood has been playing the head start for Mythic's Warhammer Online and today offers his opinions of the game.
While the title of this article might be a little bit clichéd and obvious, the spirit behind it is perfectly legitimate. With the full launch of Mythic Entertainment’s Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning only a few hours away, I thought it might be helpful for those of you out there who haven’t rushed out and bought the Collector’s Edition or pre-ordered a box to hear my impressions of the game and whether or not you should go out and spend your hard earned money on this new RvR offering.
The answer to the question ,”Is it worth my money?” isn’t as easy or black and white as you might think. Like most MMOs, your enjoyment of Warhammer Online is going to depend on your own personal likes and dislikes when it comes to MMOs. I’m going to address a number of questions that you may or may not have about the game:
Looking for something totally blow-me-away revolutionary?
So, right out of the gate, I’m going to say that if you’re hoping for an MMO that is going to turn the post-WoW industry on its ear and blow us away with sandboxy content and totally outside the box systems, you shouldn’t spend your money on this one. I’m also inclined to say though that if this is what you were expecting Warhammer Online to be, then you probably should have looked at any of the material put out by Mythic over the last few years. WAR was never meant to be that kind of game.It's cool to be dissapointed about that fact, but it shouldn't be a surprise.
What I thought that WAR did do well was to bring exciting elements out of existing MMOs and integrating them into WAR’s mechanics. The systems so far as I can tell are pretty solid and when put together make for a really entertaining game.
What about PvP?
I’m also going to say that if you absolutely, 100% can’t stand the idea of PvP, you probably shouldn’t spend your money on Warhammer Online. It’s an RvR game at its core, and while it does offer PvE elements, I found that they really serve to compliment the many other RvR-based systems that the developers have put into place. If you jump into this game and only do the PvE portions, you’re probably going to be disappointed. I mean, they're solid enough I guess, but for the most part this isn't where the meat or innovation of the game shines.
That all being said, the way that PvP is being presented in WAR has the potential to move people who are on the fence about PvP, or enjoy the occasional tussle, over to the dark side. The scenarios, battlefield objectives and other RvR elements don’t really bash you over the head with the “my e-peen is bigger than yours, my uber-lewt will ends you” elements that many non-PvPers try to avoid. Instead offering shorter term “bursts” of PvP (or RvR) combat that leave even a player who gets his butt handed to him more often than not (ahem *cough* I suck *cough*) wanting to participate more and more (and I’m actually improving).
One thing to note though… If you’re a novice at PvP, don’t jump into the Open RvR servers. There is plenty of RvR action on the Core servers, and you don’t run the risk of getting ganked again and again by some high level clown looking for some kicks at your expense. On the other hand, if you’re one of those players who loves the thrill of being in danger at all times and enjoy the realism of not being artificially separated and restricted by level, the Open RvR servers are probably right up your alley. Who needs those carebears anyway?
Are the graphics good?
There are a couple of ways to take this particular question. I should start by saying that pound for pound, I really like the graphics in WAR. I like the way that the world looks and enjoy my time there. I find that the art style does capture the feeling of the Warhammer Universe and that while the art style as a whole is reminiscent of the style in World of Warcraft (I’ll let you argue about which came first on your own time), the implementation of the graphics is such that they look modern (especially at the highest settings… seriously and no pun intended, wow) and really enhance the overall feel of the game. I personally think that people who call the graphics outdated are confusing modernity with art style.
So, knowing that, if you’re the kind of person who likes their games to have graphics as photo-realistic as possible, don’t buy WAR. Nothing about WAR looks photo-realistic and it wasn’t meant to, but if that’s your bag (and I know it’s just a preference for some people), you might to find that WAR feels a bit “cartoony” and “WoW-like”.
Do I have to group / guild up?
This is another question that often hits close to home for me. Maybe I’m just an anti-social player, but I’ve never been a big fan of making sure that I find a group. It’s almost always a hassle and my personal experience has been that finding a group has been more trouble than it’s worth.
So, after that long-winded introduction, I should say that you don’t have to group in WAR, at least not at the early stages. Still though, I’ve found that I’ve done it more often in WAR than ever before in an MMO. It seems like every time I jump into a public quest, or even engage in RvR, I get at least one invite to join a group. Normally, I ignore these, but on a whim decided that I’d try and it’s made a world of difference. Not only am I enjoying those PQs more this way, but I’m also finding that I’m making a number of “friends” along the way, familiar faces that I see even days later in another area. It really adds to the team spirit of the game.
If you’re worried about getting “stuck” with a group though, don’t. I usually jump into a group to get whatever we’re all doing together completed and then leave again. It hasn’t seemed to be a problem. So, in the end, while you don’t have to group, I urge you to give it a try at least in PQ and RvR situations. I haven’t regretted it and I don’t think you will either.
Which side should I play?
There’s no right answer to this question. Destruction has had more population recently, but it’s totally a question of choice for you. I have found that the two sides are balanced (I win as often as I lose in scenarios and RvR) and both are fun to play.
Now, the selfish answer. Play Order. We will destroy the unruly denizens of destruction!
Is there a grind?
Ok, this is a fair question, and one that comes up whenever a new MMO is launched. When I hear people talk about the grind, I find that they’re usually talking about moving through boring aspects of the game to get to the “good stuff” at the end. The grind to me is pointless repetition, so I’ll answer this question accordingly:
While this game is indeed level based, in that I suppose you could grind away until you reach the end, I don’t think that’s the point. Warhammer Online does a fantastic job of giving you so many different things to do so often that you never really feel like things are getting overly repetitive.
For me, there have been four different forms of play so far and they’ve all intermingled well enough that I don’t get tired of any of them. They are: PvE (quests and the like), Scenarios (capture the flag deals in Tier 1) RvR Battlefield Objectives (real world RvR) and Public Quests (big ol’ group quests without the hassle of groups).
The way that Warhammer is laid out is that one invariably leads to another (though doesn’t require it). For example, you will start the game most likely doing PvE. Like in most MMOs, you pick up a bunch of quests in your starting area. Those quests though, will invariably (and pretty invisibly) lead you to an area where a public quest is happening (you don’t have to participate, but I almost always found it a nice distraction). Then, when that’s done, you carry about on your merry way. The culmination of all of this at least in the opening zone is that you eventually make your way to where the battlefield objectives are being fought over, so it’s all pretty organic. Throughout all of this, you have the option of jumping into a scenario by clicking the scenario button on your mini-map. Getting bored of PvE and PQs? Jump into a scenario or two.
So, in the end I suppose that you could say that there is a grind. You’re gaining a couple of different forms of XP and improving your gear and gaining cash along the way. The thing is that Mythic almost manages to mask it by giving you so much to do (and I didn’t even touch on crafting or tome unlocks, which add even more). Levelling up for me hasn’t felt like a chore at all. In fact, I feel like I’m contributing to the overall WAR (the premise of the game) in everything I do, so I don’t see a point to rushing to “endgame”. That may just be me.
Are there still bugs in the game?
I think this would almost be a silly question if it hadn’t been such an issue in the past. Are there bugs? Yeah, I’ve noticed one or two little things. Last night, my map went blank for a minute or two and I had I think one instance of a bullet animation getting hung up, but that’s it and for all I know these won’t even exist tomorrow (little things like that crop up from time to time, but seem easy for devs to squish). Did I see any game breaking bugs? No. In fact, not a single thing that impeded my gameplay in the slightest.
Looking for Free 2 Play?
Believe it or not, I have had a number of people ask me if WAR is F2P. First off, it isn’t and it shouldn’t be. It’s not how the game was designed, it’s not how the game was advertised… Don’t even ask.
When are you going to tell me if I should buy the game?
I’m not and I suppose that the title was a bit misleading. In the end, I can’t tell you to run out and buy this game one way or the other. All I can do is offer you the information provided above.
If you’re looking for my personal opinion, I would be more than happy to tell you:
If you’re an MMO fan, you’re probably going to get your money’s worth out of your initial purchase (unless you fall into one of the categories above). I have been really enjoying my time in-game and honestly find it hard to put down at the end of the night. My Witch Hunter is now level 11 (very close to level 12) and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. Am I saying that the game is flawless? No. That would be silly. Am I saying that I’m having a blast playing. Yes, I like it and I think you might enjoy it too.