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Warhammer Online - First Impressions

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September 25, 2008 6:48:52 PM

Article by Travis Meacham.

The latest fantasy MMO to hit the stage, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, has been live for a full week and we've been playing it whenever time allows. See our impressions of the early-game content, low-level PvP and graphics.

http://www.tomsgames.com/us/2008/09/25/warhammeronline_...
September 26, 2008 2:46:21 PM

I'd have to say that you've given a pretty fair description of the early game in Warhammer Online.

While the graphics aren't as complex as Age of Conan I'd have to say that overall the game looks better imo. AoC is a bit bland. The WAR art syle is a lot more visually interesting if not nearly as realistic.

I do wish they would have at least added the options to use more detailed models and some more eye candy for higher end systems. Then again I doubt even the higher end systems would do all that well in the bigger RVR areas when you've got hundreds of players on screen.
September 26, 2008 4:24:22 PM

YEah graphics in WAR are great for an "MMO" show me AoC with 20 people on screen will look **** on any high end system.. lol.. AoC Great graphics.. gameplay crap... WAR nice graphics awesome gameplay options for RvRE PQ or PvP scenarios... or just PvE!! and ive played with 50+ "players" onscreen and i have a AMD X2 6000 2g ram and 4870(hehe i know its badass) and its smooth as ice!!
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September 26, 2008 5:54:14 PM

I concur that the review is a nearly spot-on assessment of the early game. I played beta near the end before release. Graphics shocked me when I logged in for the first time as well. Colors are not vibrant but somehow everything seemed a bit muted and simpler than the most recent MMOs visually.

Haven't played AoC as previous posts mentioned but I am currently trying LOTRO for the first time and after just playing WAR beta my jaw hit the floor with settings maxed on LOTRO. Beautiful game. I have to say after playing it for about a week I've only logged in for an 1-3 hrs about 3 nights. Can you see where this is going?

LOTRO=gorgeous world

WAR= middling graphics but it caught me up in it's world and gameplay

I loved the PQs and if you suddenly needed to log for whatever reason it was no big deal because they are walk-in walk-out affairs. I found the people I met in general to not be quite the l33t "kids" that are certainly prevalent in WoW or the so-called hardcore that play so damn much they cannot possibly have jobs/lives wanting you to do the same to keep up with them.

It was completely a more laid back and FUN experience. Nothing felt like work and the quests although sometimes the same old kill quests were still more interesting.

Say I need to go kill 6 wolves, hmm it's red area is this way..... la la la.....What is this? PQ zone, hmm it's at first stage, Haha detour for a bit while I get some points on that for a bit ! haha I have been playing MMOs since they went 3-D and have to say I haven't had the amount of fun I had in WAR in 5-6 years easy.

It isn't perfect but I actually wanted to log in, even if for 30 minutes if it's all the time I had every single day I was in beta. And unlike most MMOs, in that 30 minutes I could actually accomplish something PVP or PVE !! Lovely.

I do hope that at some point they do upgrade the graphics, but as a final note I will say that I will most likely join as a WAR subscriber as soon as my free month runs out on LOTRO if I can hold out that long. Nothing wrong with LOTRO but even it's beauty can't hide that WAR is the more "fun" experience.

Opps that got long, sorry. Just happy to be excited about an MMO for the first time in many years, peace !
:bounce: 
September 26, 2008 10:48:15 PM

After reading this review and many others it seem like WAR may have set the bar too low. You guys are kind, the graphic are just better than WoW. There is no comparison with D&D Online or LOTRO much less AoC. Also the reviews don't convey excitement and that may be because they bought no innovation to table, perhaps that will change at end-game. As I see it this is WoW 1.5 graphics engine with DAOC game play. The initial reviews also point out that PVE is just OK at best. That cuts the potential player base by about 50%, which is gutsy.

As an AoC player I could never go back to low quality cartoon graphics regardless of game play. Moreover being rid of the 90% of the kids is worth putting up with shortcomings in end-game content. Beyond that there is the mature content and awesome fatalities which never seems to get old. I agree that PvP in AoC needs work among other things but disagree that the game play sucks in general.

September 27, 2008 1:24:18 AM

I have to say, that this seems like a pretty fair description of WAR... and I agree on almost all points. Which is good, both optimists and pessimists seem to agree on the facts with WAR.

@bydesign
There's more to graphics then just high res textures, and lighting effects. Sure WAR's world is cartoonish, but its much more seamless than AOC's, and there was much more effort put into the art direction. To each their own, but personally I'll take a pass on the constant loading screens.

As far as actual gameplay, AOC has no endgame, poor quests during mid level, and nothing to discourage low level ganking. So, it sucks no matter what level you are. The game really does "suck in general", unless you're a child who finds excitement in seeing the same cheesy fatalities over and over. On the other hand, WAR makes it easy to get involved in PVP at any level, and has brought in some innovation to questing with their PQs.
-If it seems like I have a personal vendetta against AoC, I might. I put so much faith into that game, only to see all my suggestions ignored, and a completely broken product release. The PvP patch should be releasing around now tho (if it hasn't already), so there's still hope for the 20% of the players who still play on higher pop servers like Cimmeria... but, the game is in too many ways inherently flawed by design. WAR is not.

---
On LOTRO... its decent, and pretty (even w/o the DX10 effects). But, it draws in a playerbase I'd rather avoid. *pictures a nice nerdy 12 year old playing with his bookworm mother. "If you're going to participate in our raids, we'd kindly ask that you please refrain from cussing on the Vent server, Fulle."
-God no!
--
WAR's launch has seemed to have been very smooth, IMHO, and overall I see a lot of promise in this one. I've only seen 1 or 2 crashes (on a friend's SAGER laptop), which seem to be due to a minor memory leak. This launch is amazing compared to most other MMOs... so few bugs, I'm not sure if this isn't the smoothest I've ever seen.

Problem is, WAR still feels like WoW with a World PVP emphasis... and is drawing a lot of the same player-base. While its an excellent diversion, what's going to happen when WotLK releases? How many Chosen would rather be playing Death Knights? But, there's already been good evidence that Mythic will handle this period just fine. They seem to be on the ball with ways to get player to move to different servers (they'll copy your character to another server to let you "test drive" things with your original character in tact in order to encourage moves to balance population). So, I think it'll be fine.

My biggest gripes with WAR right now are balance related. So, if that's all I'm irritated with, with my normally extreme criticisms, WAR's doing great.
*Quickly on the balance, who the **** thought it was a good idea to give Destruction 2 awesome looking tank classes, and Order only 1, and decided it'd be a Dwarf? Its almost as if they intentionally wanted Destruction to steam roll over the good guys. If you're thinking of playing WAR, and you want to play Order, please roll an Ironbreaker.
September 27, 2008 6:58:22 PM

I played the game for about 2 weeks and then quit. I have a somewhat dated PC and don't really want to build a new one at this time. I did have Video lag issues. Even with the settings set at best framerate instead of better graphics, I still had video lag for little short periods. I have a Athlon 64 3500 with dual SLI 6600 video cards. I would get a faster processor but 939 socket chips are almost impossible to find.

My next complaint is the lack of chat channels. This is a major flaw in my opinion. There should be server wide chat that players can opt out of if they want. The reason for server wide chat? Rallying players for contested battles. I found that hard core players mostly played Evil. People who played good side generally got beat every time. At least that was my experience. Asking questions of other players etc.

I thought it was kinda bad that players respawned behind enemy lines. I found it very frustrating to die in PVP then die again before I could get back to my team mates because I respawned behind enemy lines. To me it was more of a frustrating gank fest.

Lastly my server seemed to be unbalenced. There were far more players playing evil than good. And this frustrated player quit. I play to have fun. Warhammer wasn't fun for me.

I miss EQ1. I miss raids with 65 players. I liked going up against boss mobs that required the coordination of many players. EQ1 had its problems though and is dead IMHO.
Anyone have any suggestions. I'm not playing anything atm. No wow or EQ2 though.
September 28, 2008 10:06:21 PM

I have played Warhammer through level 20 now. I would say it is very good.

My impressions so are this. PVP is probably the best in any MMO I have ever played, but PVP has never been something that I overly value. For instance, the PVP in WoW I would describe as being somewhat fun on rare occasion. So far the PVP in Warhammer is pretty fun regularly. Again, not a priority for me. I will say however, that the boosting in it is ... laughable. The PVP areas are 11 level brackets with a little overlap between them. Whenever you join a PVP scenario, if you are lower than the 8 of your bracket (level 8 of first tier, level 18 of second tier, level 28 of third tier, etc) it boosts up your stats to that of the 8 level for your tier. It does not boost your equipment or give you the spells and abilities you would have available at those levels and there can still be people who have 3 levels on you in there. If you try to do scenarios at near the beginning of your bracket you will be lunchmeat.

The Public Quests are awesome. I love the concept. They are fun, exciting, and profitable. This is one of those innovations that really needs to be picked up by the industry as a whole. If you looked at Warhammer and didn't see any innovation then you didn't play any of the PQs. I would say these are easily the best part of the game.

Questing is pretty typical. The greenskins area has by far the most flavor in their quests followed by Chaos. The one big boost that questing got was that it puts a red splotch on your map and minimap that you can hover your mouse over to see what the objectives are there. This is so useful that it cannot be understated. If you don't care about the flavor, you can easily just click accept on every quest and then head to the nearest red blotch. This is a feature WoW in particular could really benefit from. Also there doesn't seem to be such a thing as a low drop rate quest item. If you would get it from killing a certain thing, you get it from killing one of them. You won't be hunting monkeys for hours looking for that one extremely rare tooth.

The graphics are nothing to write home about but they are by no means a deal breaker for me. I like the style, but the quality is average at best.

The capitol cities are awesome. It took me a while to get used to navigating the Inevitable City, but the quests and scope and the sheer grandeur of it are amazing to behold.

Guilds are interesting in that they level as you do. They also have both a guild rank and a guild renown rank just like a player would. This offers various benefits and abilities to the guild.

The last point I would like to make is balance.... it isn't really well balanced. and for a good percentage of the game so far Black Orcs (greenskin tanks) were near the top of the damage charts and near the top of the healing charts in scenarios. Meanwhile the Magus (chaos ranged DPS) and the squig Herder (greenskin ranged DPS) were around the middle of the pack on damage. The game seems to really favor tanks. This sort of thing I expect to see resolved as patches get released.
September 29, 2008 2:26:27 PM

I'd just like to comment on a couple points people have made.
PQs:
The PQs are a nice addition. I think though that they wouldn't fit with most MMOs. The loot system used in the PQs is great and should be implemented in a lot more games, as it is extremely fair, but the PQ system in WAR makes EQ very much NOT the focus of the game.

Balance:
A lot of the healing issue is a bug in the code in my opinion. Anytime a player has lifetap on THEY get the points for the healing instead of the healer. So that is why you're seeing melee chars with high healing. It's not uncommon for my chosen to heal 10k hp in a scenario, and I don't have a single healing ability aside from two auras that aren't very good most of the time.

I almost always see Bright Wizards at the top of the damage charts, and they've generally got a massive lead. The melee DPSers generally come in second, and the tanks usually follow very closely or sometimes beat the melee DPSers. The pet and heavily hybridized classes just don't seem to rank as well in RvR. I'm not sure if this is a matter of a flaw in the rankings or in the classes themselves, but I don't see the problem out in the PQs and general PvE.

I'm not sure if this is just a matter of my server being heavily populated with healers on the Order side or if the Order healers are just that much better, but healing seems to be heavily in favor of the Order. I've had tons of matches where the highest kills on Destruction didn't break double digits while the Order team was nearing triple digits due to this healer imbalance.

Order vs. Destruction in the open RvR areas is all about the players and the server. From about noon to 10pm Destruction seems to control just about the whole world. Order controls it most of the time when it isn't in that window.
September 29, 2008 6:33:39 PM

Pretty good preview, but I would like to add some comments to a few missing elements.

Coming from AoC, I immediately notice the disappointing graphics (I wondered for a while if i could live with those graphics after AoC)... but soon discovered the MUCH richer game experience and I gotta say, I like it so far.

I left AoC before the end of the 2nd month because it was just too shallow. I don't think it will be the case with WAR... but I guess we will have to wait and see :) 

Here are the things that make WAR such a rich experience, on top of what Travis mentioned in his preview :


1) Each race has its own sets of quests which in themselves are enough to level you up all the way from beginning to end without having to switch to another race's leveling area. You can make 3 toons, level them to the top and never do the same quest... and you haven't spent hours farming the same repeatable quests (you know what I'm talking about, Funcom!).

2) You get new abilities every level (rank). Your Realm Renown level (increased through PvP and RvR) also gives you point to spend to increase basic stats such as str, int, etc. Working on Public Quests to fill your influence level enables you to access some good gear, plus you can get epic quality items while doing the Public Quests themselves.

On top of normal spells and abilities, you get select passive abilities among several that you want active at all time (called tactics) and periodic abilities that become available when you are actively engaged in combat (moral abilities).

3) Guilds and even realm cities level up just as players do. By gaining levels a guild grants its members bonuses, allows members to carry banners that work as area effect buff, experience bonuses, etc. Each guild level has its own bonus. On the other hand, higher level realm cities grants better gear at merchants, better prices and who knows what else.


It is worth playing, no doubt about it.
September 29, 2008 7:51:02 PM

Lately (levels 15 and up for me) Bright wizards and Sorceresses have been owning the damage charts. Up to about 15 though I consistently saw black orcs among the top if not at the top.

The hybrid classes (squig herder, white lion, magus, and engineer) are in need of some rebalancing. They are nowhere near as durable as a tank or pure melee dps class, and they also cannot put out much more damage. I have noticed that if I can stay alive for most of the scenario (rare occurance) with my squig herder, he will be approaching the top of the charts on damage, but they don't have the durability to stay up and in the thick of it. They will frequently spend more than half of the match rezzing and marching back to the front lines.
October 3, 2008 12:06:17 PM

Thought I'd like to add my own impressions here.

I've been playing now since it's release in September and I'm really enjoying it. Tried AoC and left after a couple weeks as just found it unfinished. Played WOW on and off for years but just became bored of it. So WAR was pretty exciting for me. Plus I was a fan of the games back in the day.
Pretty much everything about it I like. Yer the graphics aren't super amazing but like someone else said, gameplay makes a good MMO, not graphics. PQs are cool. Like them quite a bit and its a good place to meet people. Scenarios, didn't really like too much. Preferred world PvP/RvR. That was a lot more fun. I remember spending hours with a whole bunch of fellow Destruction fighting with Order for a town near the first Chaos Warcamp. Was awesome.
The only thing that needs to pick up I feel is the social aspect. Was chatting to a guy ingame last night about how there is no talk in the channels and started talking on the general channel. Didn't even realise it was there!!! I even struggled to get people to reply to general talk on the channel. Not sure why that is. I hope its because its just so new though and will develop in time. I know with WOW you can't get people to shut up on the channels!
October 28, 2008 5:22:51 PM

I will not comment on many of the key elements in the first impressions. I do really like Warhammer the public quests in particular. However there are two problems with the game. The first is that the servers feel empty. The second is that it becomes a total lag fest when large groups are together. For a game that is supposed to be all about Realm Versus Realm this is a major flaw. They are able to do it in games like battlefield so why not here?

Foe
October 28, 2008 5:38:43 PM

Ok, it is nearly a month since my last post on this game and here is what I see now.

I have 3 characters at 20, 2 at 11, and 1 at 9.

There are 4 or 5 well balanced classes per side. For destruction they are Black Orc, Chosen, Sorceress, Marauder, and Disciple of Khaine.

For Order they are Iron Breaker, Swordmaster, Warrior priest, and Bright Wizard.

All the other classes are in desperate need of attention. In particular the Squig Herder, Magus, and Engineer.

One of my 20s is a DPS oriented Chosen (tank) and he consistently outdamages and outsurvives all ranged DPS classes except for Bright Wizard and Sorceress.

Balance issues aside however, after tier 2 (each tier is roughly 10 levels) your leveling slows to near stagnation. It becomes an unbearable grind just to catch up to the levels expected of you for your next chapter's quests. The PVP has gotten repetitive and boring. Mainly because you cannot get other players to adhere to any semblance of tactics. Now that levels have spread out more there are rarely enough people in an area to really get many Public Quests done. Working on your influence comes down to soloing or duoing the first one or two stages of a PQ until the bar is full.

It looks like this game has no staying power at all, and that makes me sad. It has a lot of potential and many of the problems it has will probably be addressed in the next 6 months to a year, but to anyone considering picking this game up, I'd say wait 6 months for it to mature before jumping in, if you join now you will just burn out on it too fast and it won't be worth it.

I hope this helps.
!