Not So Quick Take on Sunday at WAR

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Wow.  Been a bit busy of late, so nothing much to write about.

Eve Endures

I continue to make progress in Eve, though I knew I’d be hitting a busy spot IRL, so I have queued a bunch of longer skills just in case I wasn’t able to pay as much attention to Eve as I should.

After reading the comments to the Zero Punctuation, uh, review of Eve (thanks Wilhelm for linking it or I wouldn’t have seen it), regarding needing to have a goal in Eve (specifically, your own goal as the game wont really provide you with one), it it occurred to me that I was in that slightly flat spot in Eve where you are not exactly without a goal, but rather in pursuit of a goal that will take some time and is, as ZP would say, “boring, boring, boring, boring.”  I don’t necessarily agree, and quite frankly, I’m glad the Eve will reward me (or at least not penalize me) for not playing it.

Design flaw or product feature (as the old joke goes)?  For an old man with a real life, I say product feature.

I’m currently in pursuit of two related goals– getting my miner Hulk qualified and getting my mission runner/hauler Itty V skilled.  Both of which will take some time (around 30 days) to complete the level V skill training necessary.  Astrogeology V and Mining Barge V for the miner and Gallente Industrial V for the hauler.  So I’m about a month off for both of those to complete.

The Hulk is the gateway to all good things that require massive amounts of ISK, including a battleship, etc. so the immediate task is get skilled for the Hulk and knock down enough ISK in the intervening period to afford it and the required fittings.  Sticking with Eve requires a certain amount of discipline because time is just not negotiable.

So, eager as I am to progress, I wait.  With anticipation.

WoW Wasteland

Our WoW group, on the other hand, still has any number of instances left to do since we have all hit 70.  Life at 70, however, is less than fulfilling.  Try as I may to be enthused about the “opportunity” to do dailies or BGs or whatever, I just can’t do it.

I logged on this weekend after our Saturday group session and it was all I could do to not pull my own head off when confronted with grinding dailies and other rep grinds.  The magic is gone gone gone.

On the WAR Path

Until now, I’ve managed to stay on the sidelines of the Warhammer discussion for a couple of good reasons– first, I didn’t get into the beta (not that I would necessarily have anything to say that hasn’t been said about a thousand times), and second, I’m not genetically coded to view it as the Next Big Thing ™.

Not that I’m not intrigued, I am, but I just haven’t been swept away by the hype machine which, next to Conan, has been the most offputting PR campaign I’ve experienced in a while.  To be fair, SINCE Conan has come out (and it was revealed to have feet of clay), the EA/Mythic hype machine seems to have become more tempered, more realistic and maybe attempting to bring expectations in for a soft landing.

Marc Jacobs comments regarding the problems with the preview weekend gained him some substantial credibility points in my book.  Now that the shouting has stopped, I’m able to actually listen.  Amazing how that happens.

So, with the pre-order enabled Open Beta for WAR just a few days away, I find myself in the unenviable position of not having a pre-order box in hand.  Mrs. P and I found ourselves at Fry’s this last weekend and alas, no pre-order boxes left!

That bodes well for launch I suspect, but I’m still left without an Open Beta option.  I suppose I could go digital download, but they always seem to fuck things up somehow.  I’m open to recommendations.  I’ve had bad experiences with Amazon in the past and have little faith in others, but what the hey.

Ultimately, I find myself actually looking forward to yet another launch of another virtual world that offers the potential of something a little bit different.  As many have said, you play the game your friends play, so I’m hoping that after nearly four years in WoW with a great group of friends that WAR might offer a sufficiently compelling and different experience to get our group sucked in.

Absent WAR, there is nothing on the horizon (*cough*Lich King*cough*) that I’m waiting for.  Without building expectations too much, WAR, please bring back the magic at least for a while.

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say…

Boy oh boy do the summer doldrums continue.  Unbearably hot weather and the all consuming fires of hell devouring our fair state of California puts the kaibosh on most fun outdoor activities.  Almost a recipe for an extensive gaming jag– not unlike those short day, long stormy nights of winter that almost force you to game to excess.

Sad to say, I haven’t had that itch much.  More acccurately, I’ve had the itch, just found nothing much to scratch it of late.  When I start digging through the old game box, you know its bad.

I got into the beta of Wizard101 which many have mentioned of late.  I’ve explored a bit, but am loath to say more without having explored more.  Suffice it to say the turn based card combat is interesting and a new twist.

To show you how bad it is, Mrs. P and I picked up a couple of shooters for the CONSOLE and we are anything but console players.  We do enjoy a good run around and shoot em up from time to time, but its like eating popcorn– great as a snack, but unless you’re still in college, hardly a meal.

Summer vacation schedules has kept the WoW group on informal status of late.  With our self imposed level cap removed, the horses, now unleashed, largely remain at the gate.  I’ve mentioned it before, but doing anything outside of an instance in WoW as a group is almost shooting yourself in the foot, groin and then head.  Diligent progress can be made as a group, but it pales in comparison to any focused solo effort.

As I managed to ding 69 and get a good way into the level, I did start to get that horse-to-stable itch.  One. More. Level.  20 chiclets… Its pretty tempting and watching the bar slowly progress from left to right on its (for now) last march has got me in that “lets just get it over” mood though I’ll see if it lasts.

Oh, I guess I should say something about Warhammer and the recent hoo dee doo.  I told you so.  Actually I didn’t, but lacking sufficient insight as to whether the sky has fallen with the announcement that 4 classes are getting cut and 4 out of 6 capital cities wont be in at launch, all I can really comment on is the fact that EA Mythic-no-just-call-me-Mythic has even less cred now.  Assuming launch is actually coming, seems like a crappy interview is probably the last place to Make a Major Announcement.  But then again, they’ve been blathering incessant jibberish for three hype-filled years, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when they developers run out of unobtainium to finish all the features marketing sold to the public over the last few years.  Of course how could the hype about the hype ever live up to the reality about the hype?

Another week or two like this and I think it might be about time to reload Age of Kings.

A Peep at Warhammer Online

Props to Fred at MMO Explorer (at least thats where I found it) for unearthing this look at Warhammer Online.   While it looks like this will definitely be one of the new “polished” generation of MMOs to arrive on the scene, I still am struck by how amazingly familiar it all looks.

Of course, making entertaining and engaging games is like comedy, its a game of millimeters.  Small adjustments can make the difference between tedium and rabid game addition.  From what I can see, it certainly looks like Warhammer will continue the trend of improving the genre without redefining it.

Take a look and see what you think so far.