August 25, 2008

I had a WAR Weekend , My Rabbit Had a Beauty Day

The Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (WAR) Preview Weekend has come and gone. It was so grand that I spent Sunday giving our pet rabbit a beauty day instead of playing. No, it wasn’t because the game wasn’t playable. It was because WAR is fun, no matter how little or how much time you spend in game. Actually, I had a metric ton of fun, but that doesn’t mean the game was perfect. Far from it, but I learned a very valuable lesson: having fun in a game trumps many flaws.

My desktop machine specs:

Video card: MSI 9600 GT OC
CPU: Intel Q6600 @ 2.6 GHz (that’s a quad core btw)
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Operating system: Windows XP Pro x64

Pros and Cons

I am going to break this down into a Pros and Cons list, as that will be the easiest way to get my thoughts down.

  • The game performs absolutely flawlessly on my machine. No FPS or graphical issues at all during the weekend.
  • Lag was a non-factor. Lag that was encountered was minor and rarely persisted more than a minute.
  • Massive RvR battles were absolutely awesome, both in performance and fun. Even with 100+ players on screen, the game ran fine and was 100% playable.
  • Combat was slower paced, allowing for longer life expectancy. This goes a long way towards making the RvR a lot of fun, as players rarely die the second someone touches them.
  • Battle-ranking evens out the playing field in RvR and makes low-level RvR enjoyable.
  • The ability to queue for scenarios anywhere in the zone supports the RvR and PvE progression idea.
  • Also, being able to form cross-zone parties and queue for any scenario in any zone a party member is in helps alleviate pointless travel.
  • Open grouping ensures that players can easily find others to play with.
  • Public quest system takes questing to another level, provides some reasoning for the world, and offers great socialization opportunities.
  • Quest objectives are outlined on the map. At first I didn’t like it, but I now prefer it over using spoiler websites.
  • Easily accessible travel to other racial pairings, warcamps, and capital cities. Hopefully this stays intact for launch, but I can understand if Mythic restricts it a bit.
  • Tome of Knowledge is impossible to “preview” as it is immense. I was absolutely blown away by the few things I took time to browse through.
  • Easily customizable UI out of the box.
  • Guild tools are just fucking awesome. Guilds and what they can do will be the centerpiece of WAR.
  • Crafting is fast, fun, and easily funded. It focuses on consumable items which I used a lot. I made over a hundred potions and used every single one by the end of the weekend. I bought most of the basic supplies up front and scavenged the rest from dead enemies in RvR.
  • Crash to desktop problems for many people. Personally, I only crashed twice in about ten hours of play.
  • Combat responsiveness needs work. Hard to tell what skill is being used, if it can be used, and many other perceptual errors that make combat feel sluggish.
  • Better visual feedback needed for the player and the casting bar needs to be reworked.
  • Spell effects were hit or miss. Sometimes I saw them, sometimes I didn’t, for both team mates and enemies. I was hit a lot in RvR by stuff I never saw.
  • Scrolling combat text failed. It was off center, small, and often didn’t work.
  • Default chat window filter needs to be reworked. There was far too much spam that should be in the combat window by default that makes it hard to keep up with conversations.
  • There was a gear imbalance when higher tier gear is able to be used in the level tier below where it is acquired. For example: Tier 2 renown rank 6 gear with level 18 stats in Tier 1 (levels 1-11).
  • Healing felt very overpowering in the lower levels. Playing DPS classes, I felt it was impossible to kill any healer without the assistance of two, three, or more players.
  • Tanks were always the top damage dealers in RvR. Not because of DPS, but because they never died and therefore always were doing damage.
  • Class specific issue: Shadow Warrior hotbars often reset, making it impossible to use my current stance-specific abilities.

I have no conclusion. The game is absolutely fun, but needs work. I will be in at Open Beta and the Head Start. I am glad that I chose to play a tank at launch. This game isn’t going to be perfect, but it is going to be fun and that is exactly what I’ve been expecting.

Update: 5 Sept, 2008 - Preview Weekend + addressed many of these Cons.