Thoughts on WAR
I've been playing Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (WAR) for over a month now, and I'm still charmed. I've put in my subscription for three months, cancelled my WoW subscription for the foreseeable future, and even gone to the lengths of making sure my new laptop is sufficiently powerful to run it comfortably - my old desktop couldn't quite handle it.
So, you'll have gathered that I like it. There are, admittedly, some bits that I don't like, but they're not many. First, let me tell you about some stuff I like.
RvR (PvP) Focus
It's a game about war, and everything in the game focuses on the fight with the other side. Many of the quests - one of them available right from the very start of the game - deal with going into RvR (Realm versus Realm) areas, killing off other players, and supporting the war effort in one manner or another. You could play it as a purely PvE game, but I think doing so misses the point.
The other thing is that the RvR aspects are good. Both the scenarios (the equivalents of battlegrounds in WoW), and the open RvR areas are well executed, all the character classes have stuff to do, and the reward system, which works in parallel with the normal quest and crafting goods, is excellent. There's also the possibility of getting item drops from opposing players - not items belonging to those players (which would be useless for the opposing side's classes anyway), but good solid loot drops. A scenario take a maximum of 15 minutes, and as long as the server's population is reasonably balanced, you don't have to queue for long. My maximum queuing time so far has been about ten minutes, and that was at nine o'clock on a weekday morning (I was waiting for a furniture delivery, ok?). Even on my Bright Wizard, who has the resistance to damage of a wineglass, I spend a lot more time fighting than doing respawn runs. On the Warrior Priest, I go for whole games without dying.
The classes gain one power each level (on rare occasions, two). This allows you to learn what the powers do, one at a time, rather than having several dumped on you at once. And they scale with level, rather than having different versions every few levels. The advancement feels smooth (at least up to level 16), although I'm always far too engaged in the gameplay to feel impatient for the next level - several times now, levelling has been a complete surprise to me.
Despite having exactly the same zone-by-zone level-appropriate approach to geographical areas as WoW, the WAR zones feel more real. Some of that is the graphics, of course, but there are details in out of the way places, which reward exploration, and contribute to a feeling of a larger world. And the level of detail is wonderful; the developers have really paid attention to the setting from the RPGs and wargames, and made it come alive.
Some things I don't like:
While you can play solo, you need other people around. Specifically, there is no contribution whatsoever that a single player can make to taking keeps if there's nobody else in the area - the NPCs guarding the keep are far too tough, and if there are no opposing players to fight, that's it. As more and more people arrive in Tier 4, this should cease to be a problem - at least for those in Tier 4. People levelling up later may be out of luck.
Well, I'm hardly going to like bugs. But the game still occasionally crashes, and the auction house and mail systems are abysmally bad. They're really only slightly usable, and given that the game economies are often my major interest, I miss these features.
Articles about WAR hereafter are likely to be less reviews than ongoing commentary - I'm going to be playing this game for a while.
Posted by Drew Shiel at November 12, 2008 12:12 PM