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Not So Quick Take on Sunday at WAR

08 Sep

Just a few quick thoughts on WAR so far. All opinions and “impressions” YMMV.

Mrs. P and I got downloaded before the weekend and patched Sunday morning. Would have been nice to be able to patch before, but we gritted our teeth and let the patcher do its thing for about an hour and a half.

Spent a good portion of the late afternoon and evening on and off in game trying races and classes– order and destro. I had to tear Mrs. P, who tends to fall asleep before I do, away from the computer after midnight. Usually, she’s meeting up with the sandman by 11pm.

Technical Matters

Its still a beta, and seeing how much stuff devs get accomplished in the last few weeks before launch, I’m not going to sweat the small stuff. LotRO had/still has a few item text bugs, and there are still some wee weirdnesses in Azerothian WoW. Conan, well, there was nothing small wrong with Conan at launch, or if there were, I couldn’t see them for the giant massive gamebreaking ones right in my face…

Probably logged in for about 12 hours yesterday (each of us, on and off) and didn’t have one CTD (very good). The one thing that caused me to exit the game was trying to switch servers between my order and destruction characters. For whatever reason, the server selection box and buttons would not populate. Exit, restart and it was fine (hardly annoying at this point).

Graphics looked good on my 8800GT. Framerates remained high, so much so that I didn’t bother to FRAPS them. You only care, if you notice them and I didn’t. The game performed very well even with many 30-40ish characters on screen in the lower level areas and PQs.

Mrs. P’s machine bogged a bit more in, but she’s running a slightly slower processor and slightly less RAM. It only seemed to slow down in large outdoor areas where a PQ was going on and the draw distance likely required the graphics engine to keep track of many distance characters and mobs. She’s due an upgrade to my config when I find a few hours to rip her MOBO. The parts sit on my desk staring at me.

We both ran everything on the highest settings. Graphics looked good overall– in a sort of what if WoW did LotRO sort of way. Limited pallet, muted colors, more realistic style yet done in a way that doesn’t make the game bog when 20 people are on screen.

Gameplay

I spent most of the day/eve trying out various classes and races. For Order, I rolled a Dwarf Ironbreaker (tank), Runepriest (healer) and Engineer (ranged dps). For Empire, I rolled a Warrior Priest (melee dps/healer) and a Bright Wizard. For the Elves, I rolled a Swordmaster (tank). For Destruction, I rolled a Squig Herder and a Shaman, for Chaos I rolled a Magus.

The highest level I got any of them to was 6 quite by accident. Most were in the L2-4 zone.

Others have noted that it feels “slower” in combat in some respects. While its not quite WoW zippy, neither is it EQ2 sloggy or LotRO’s somewhat indistinct feel. Some of this is hard to separate from “feedback” or what the game makes you feel like in response to an action. WoW still slightly more solid feedback. That seems to vary quite a bit by class.

For me, the melee classes have more responsiveness, but could stand to use a bit more feedback. On my Warrior Priest, I enjoyed smashing things with a giant hammer. The character seemed to do what I wanted it to do when I wanted it to do it, but maybe would have liked a bit more clank with my spank.

It felt a bit squishier with the pure casters. I’d like a little more positive feed back when my fireball explodes on a mob. Not a deal breaker, but with generally longer cooldown times than melee skills, you kind of want a bigger splash.

The ranged dps that fired things that go boom didn’t seem to suffer as much. My Engineer and Squig Herder seemed about right. Part I’m sure due to the fact that you don’t get a big explosion on impact from a small bullet and its probably easier to time a rifle crack to the relevant command and animation than a wooshy spell cast.

Case in point, Mrs. P rolled a Witch Hunter and I had to pry the sword and pistol from her cramping hands and bed time. I guess there’s just something satisfying about running a mob through with your sword and then unloading a pistol in their face.

Animations are an A or A-, with WoW being an A, EQ2/LotRO being a B+. Generally smooth, and well integrated into the environment. I didn’t notice too many that felt out of time or too long/too short for the action being depicted. I didn’t ever feel like I was locked into waiting for an animation to complete before I could do something else as often occurred in LotRO.

PvE

Not much new here, and because I didn’t want to “blow” all the content on an open beta, I didn’t spend that much time questing. As many others have stated, the minimap indicators, clear quest giver indicators, quest tracker/tome of knowledge integration are refinements in systems we have already seen. They are nice refinements though and all in one place. There is an integrated “quest helper” that helps guide you to where you need to go for your objectives.  Evolution, not revolution.

After futzing about with a few lowbie kill ten x quests, I went off in search of the much vaunted public quests. I found several not too far from the starting areas and afterwards, just ran all my level 1 noobs straight to the PQ areas bypassing the early quest back and forth.

There’s lots out there on PQ mechanics. I found them fun and enjoyably replayable. What was most refreshing was to see 15 or 20 people cooperating in a massive non-instanced way. Others have commented on how much fun these will be when there are no peeps around to help do them. I share this concern. Others have comments on how they are not particularly immersive because of the obvious mechanic.

I’ll give them a pass on the latter. How many times have I killed Hogger or Stiches or Van Cleef? Nuff said.

Open grouping around the PQs was also boon. No commitment, no drama, no LFG, no “ADD ME TO RAID GROUP”. Just click, join and collaborate.

Oh, and get XP, influence and a shot at class usuable loot. I knew this was a workable mechanic when I saw healers actually healing other players and tanks and DPSers trying to get mobs off the squishies, etc. The instant action, grindless xp grind, slot machine loot and oh yes, the “contribution” leader board each contribute to a volatile mix of gameplay objectives that can satisfy quite a few people in different ways for a good deal of time.

RvR/PvP

I didn’t do too much in the scenarios (aka battlegrounds). While you get buffed up to a reasonable level in an attempt to equalize the power disparity among folks in the same bracket, I think you still really need to have most of your skills for a particular tier in hand and hopefully some decent gear as well.

Not surprisingly I didn’t last too long as a nearly naked L1 noob. It will take a bit to get used to not only the class you’re playing but also your nemesis classes on the other side to make the PvP fun. I’ll probably do more exploring of this somewhat this week.

Exploration

Didn’t really do any. I attempted to follow Michael Zenke’s guide to get to another starting zone with the L1 Runepriest. And I made it to the flighpath only dying once, but not having done any questing, I had no money for the ride. Oops.

Take Away

So far, we’re having fun. New newness no doubt contributes quite a bit to that. Yes, its YAFMMORPG, but people spend their lives driving around trying to find the best burger or pizza too. WAR offers many things we’ve all seen before, some not quite, or not quite all in one place.

When I was questing, it felt more like an MMORPG. Doing PQs, it felt like a PvE battleground. When PvPing it felt like an FPS but with some persistent effects. And with anything that has the potential to appeal to different styles of gameplay, no doubt there are compromises in scope or depth of any of the above. Whether those compromises make things not fun after a time remains to be seen.

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9 Comments

Posted by on September 8, 2008 in Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft

 

Tags: , ,

9 responses to “Not So Quick Take on Sunday at WAR

  1. syncaine

    September 8, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Nice writeup, interesting stuff through the eyes of a 1-6 Rank player. Oddly enough, my gf also loves the Witch Hunter. I think women just like the ‘slash and blast’ style of the character.

     
  2. Graktar

    September 8, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Out of curiosity, what are the specs of your machines (CPU mostly). My performance has been pretty sloggy, and I’m trying to work out if its system related or server related.

     
  3. p@tsh@t

    September 8, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Current specs on my machine:

    Intel Core Duo E8400 3.0 GHz
    4GB Ram
    nVidia 8800GT 512MB
    WinXP

    Wife’s machine is (*scratches head* *ducks rolling pin*)
    AMD Athlon 64 3800 2.4 GHz (I think)
    2GB Ram
    nVidia 8800GT 512MB
    Win XP

    For reference, her machine gets a bit chunky with 5 people on Skype and a lot of stuff going on in WoW. Whether that’s RAM or CPU or more likely a combo I dunno for sure. The upgrade should solve both.

     
  4. p@tsh@t

    September 8, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    And FWIW, I was playing Order on Ab-something or other which was never full on the Order side when I was on.

    Likewise, I went to Sylvania on the Destro side because it wasn’t heavily loaded for most off the time I was playing.

     
  5. Openedge1

    September 9, 2008 at 5:44 am

    My wife also loved Witch Hunter

    But, as soon as she saw that /dance and /kiss do nothing, she was done.
    Superficial? Yes…
    Just like the ugly women no matter what you did. Everyone looking the same. The brightly lit circles around you and the mobs reminding us of a Disco..
    Or reminding us of…WoW.
    Ah well…

    But, at least we know who the audience for WAR is..

    Not Us.

     
  6. syncaine

    September 10, 2008 at 7:05 am

    /dance is a command in WAR, it just does not do what you expect…

     
  7. Eric

    September 11, 2008 at 2:53 am

    Weird that you like the animations, or your experience is just different. They seem to be totally off for me. My engineer 1st hits his target then starts the animation O_o. It’s very odd. Doesn’t happen all the time, but often enough to be annoying.

    I did like the combat a lot more on my engineer than on the black orc I tried. Very slow and sluggish.

     
  8. p@tsh@t

    September 11, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    I haven’t noticed too many “out of synch” issues with the animations. Once in a while, but certainly not enough to be annoying. When I’ve noticed it, it seems maybe lag related.

    I think it was LotRO or maybe EQ2 where the effect of the action (i.e. the damage done, etc.) would routinely occur before the animation finished. I remember seeing that in PotBS too– you’d see the health bar of your target go down after you fired the cannon but before the cannons fired and the cannon ball animations hit the target….

    I did notice that some of the unattackable target issues are much much worse in some PQs than others.

     
  9. Eric

    September 12, 2008 at 4:37 am


    I did notice that some of the unattackable target issues are much much worse in some PQs than others.

    Indeed. I did a few yesterday in the Orc / greenskin area and a few were just about unplayable as 1 out of 10 mobs were actually targetable. While other PQ’s didn’t suffer at all from this.

    The European pathnotes now state that they have fixed this problem now btw. We can only hope ;).

     

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