In the board room, this must have appeared to be an excellent approach, appealing to casual gamers and ensuring all were able to experience what WAR has to offer in their own time. Unfortunately, the trial appears to have segmented the game, and bred a new style of gamer in the form of a ‘Twink’. ‘Twinks’ are over-specced ‘Endless Free Trial’ characters, who are capped at level 10, but have continued playing with beefed up characters. Sadly, this can ruin the game for newcomers, who are constantly maimed and mauled in RvR- scaring off potential subscribers.
All is not lost though- in February this year, Carrie Gouskos took to the plate as Franchise Producer, and released a statement with some promising comments, breathing new life into the title. This was good news for many players, as concern was growing about the future of WAR with frequent updates removing scenario maps, and the fear that the game was going into maintenance mode. The community is now being embraced, and players are being encouraged to put forward their ideas for improvements to the game, the first of which being player comments and tips shown on loading screens. In-game updates are also being promised, with full credit towards individuals whose suggestions are implemented. Community building is also being encouraged, through the utilization of social forums for communication such as twitter (http://twitter.com/cgouskos). While this may all seem minor in comparison to what has been lost, the correct steps are being taken to keep the WAR alive.
The current version of WAR (1.3.4) has delivered some promising additions, such as the Scenario Rewards System, which included the subset of greatly anticipated RvR weapons, and several exciting additions may be in the works for coming updates.
According to Carrie Gouskos, patch 1.3.5 will see cities being revamped moving away from PvE towards an RvR style, creating a siege experience that isn’t population dependent and appealing to all player types, whether casual or hardcore. How is this going to be done? We’ll surely find out soon enough!
This is excellent news though, as not only will it restrict ‘Twinks’ from participating (due to the Capital City restriction) but addresses one of the main gripes many players have with the current difficulty of sieges. The current Tier 4 End-Game events rarely occur, as they literally require hundreds of players to ‘lock in’ the four racial parings in order to conquer the opposing realm’s Capital City. Keeps are also commonly viewed as being too hard to attack, and too easy to defend- making the whole RvR scene counterproductive. Each racial tier contains an RvR ‘Lake’ (named so for it’s shape on the map). These areas are quite large, meaning that the few players contributing are required to run over large areas to defend a Battle Object or Keep, and often arrive too late to fight off the opposing realm and end up fighting NPC guards.
Some other exciting (yet unconfirmed) prospects are the redesign of armor to be released in 1.3.6., and the fan forumites speculated inclusion of two new player races. On a personal note, I would love to see the inclusion of the Vampire Counts and Empire, for the sake of variety.
From a visual standpoint, WAR looks far from dated, and can still be compared to some of the newer titles being released. The performance issues that initially riddled even high performance rigs seems to have subsided, and can be run on most moderate systems with few performance issues.
From day one, WAR has often been over promised, and under delivered. With 2010 being dubbed Warhammer Online’s year for “commitment to quality” in MMORPG’s interview with Josh Drescher last year, I look forward in anticipation to see how the year will unfold. It’s still far from the game it should have been at launch, and it’s unfortunate to think it will ever reach that point. It has to be said though, that if there is one thing that Mythic Entertainment does, and does well, it’s RvR. Warhammer Online is a title that has a very short learning curve, and with the ‘Endless Free Trial’ I would encourage everyone to jump in and experience a PvP experience which is unrivalled by any other title currently on the market.