Okay it’s time for Part 2 of my Beta impressions. If you missed any of my previous WAR coverage here are some links:
I’m going to start off these impressions by hitting a few key topics then I’ll move on to some bigger stuff. I’ll be doing a few entries today as well as happily answering any questions you have in comments or emails.
Realm Balance – Overall I would say that the two realms are fairly balanced on the whole. I definitely don’t get the sense that one realm is naturally more powerful than the other. Population-wise it has been lopsided the entire time I have been in beta in favor of Destruction. On average Destruction will have 1300 people and Order will have about 800-900. *These numbers are examples. In terms of class balance there are still several issues that I will go into at a later date.
Zergs – The power of the Zerg manifests itself strongly in Warhammer Online. A group of 6 will not be able to take more than 2x their numbers even if they are incredibly skilled. Open-world RvR has proven, so far in my experience, to attract zergs. This is nothing new for those who have played DAOC. People tend to gravitate towards one another for safety. With the open-group system this is much easier. Is this a bad thing? Yeah, if you’re one who likes to solo or move in small groups all the time. The plus side to the zerginess is that it brings about a LOT of epic battles… I’m talking 50 on 50 clashes. INCREDIBLE fun.
Crowd Control – In DAOC terms it’s almost nonexistent. There are short stuns, knockbacks/downs and snares but nothing like mez. There will never be a time where you stand around waiting to do something. In some ways I miss mez… don’t ask me why.
Stealth – Most of you know about this. It’s in the game for the Witch Hunter and Witch Elf but it’s not your normal stealth. When active it drains AP and lasts a short duration with a cooldown. It’s enough to maybe sneak away or into a fight without being seen but it’s definitely not the backbone of these classes in any way shape or form.
Bears Bears Bears – This is one of the things I feel let down about. When Paul Barnett discussed the “bears bears bears” stuff I thought this applied to ‘normal quests’ and not just “Kill Collectors”. I thought that if I was out killing bears then I found a quest that needed me to kill bears then I could get credit for that quest. Unless I have TOTALLY missed something (and I doubt it) this theory of getting credit for things you’ve already done applies only to kill collectors who want you to kill a very specific type of mob and will reward you some experience for doing it. Color me disappointed on that one.
Siege Weapons – They are nothing short of awesome. I love using rams of doors and having multiple people participate in them. I love how they are so easy to take control of and use with a little interface that comes up giving the option to aim then, repair them, or release them. When aiming it’s almost a mini-game in itself because you have to aim the thing – sometimes ground target sometimes reticule – and adjust for wind. Hellblasters and Catapults are downright nasty and oil that can pour down on people attacking doors makes me laugh hysterically EVERY time it kills people.
Questing – For the most part it’s standard mmo questing. This is where the annoying “zomg it’s just like WoW” crowd can actually speak without me wanting to force choke them through the internet. It’s EXACTLY like WoW in this regard. So what? Are you going to try and justify that this is a BAD thing? It’s a fantastic thing. WoW’s questing-to-level was mostly polished. But wait! There’s more! WAR takes it a step beyond WoW and introduces more types of quests, a much better tracking system including map waypoints that will tell you where to go (they can be turned off), and rewards you can actually use. But wait! There’s EVEN MORE! You don’t have to do them if you don’t want to! Unlike WoW where the only alternative to questing is grinding… you can RvR in WAR or grind or quest!
Capital Cities – Inevitable City and Altdorf
Both cities are nothing short of amazing. When Mark Jacobs told me to my face that he feels they have the best cities in any game he was not just boasting their accomplishments; he was stating a fact. Their capital cities ARE the best I have ever seen. There are people walking the streets, details on every building, and a sense of atmosphere that takes them that extra mile. “Living Cities” is exactly how I would describe them.
Of the two cities I would have to say Altdorf is my favorite. While Inevitable has a great atmosphere and really gives that “chaos” feeling, the level of detail put into Altdorf makes my jaw drop. They’ve captured something special in Altdorf; maybe it’s the Empire lore. The city is divided into districts (seamless) like the slums and docks. In the marketplace you feel like you could actually stand around hawking your wears. On the docks you feel like you could actually take a ship to some distant land because it has that … gosh what’s the feeling I’m looking for? It feels like a real dock or an airport where you know people are coming and going from all over – although no one really is which is sort of a bummer. 😛 I wish I could take a boat to another continent or something just for the sake of being able to do it.
The cities have everything you could want. Quests (tons), shops (tons), banks (more than one), Auction Houses, DUNGEONS, Tome unlocks, legendary locations from Warhammer Lore like the Blowhole and Bright Wizard College tower thingy, and more.
While I’m a Destruction guy at heart, I have to give Order a small victory by saying their city rocks.
I have done some limited testing of the crafting system and have mixed feelings. Right now Talisman making is not in the game so the only real crafting is Apothecary. Mark Jacobs’ vision of crafting is that everything you do contributes to the realm war in some way. Thus crafting is not a way to get rich quick, it’s not a means of decking yourself out in gear, and it’s not an aspect of the game that you can devote your entire playtime to like in some games where you can truly just be a crafter (EQ2 or SWG come to mind). It’s not that crafting is an afterthought, although sometimes I truly think it may have been, it’s just not an integral part of the game. You can make potions for RvR and they DO help… but they’re potions. Talismans can be attached to armor and provide bonuses – how much of a bonus right now I’m unsure – and will definitely give an obvious edge against those who don’t have Talismans on their armor.
The part of the crafting system that I really like are the gathering professions. You can scavenge, butcher, and that sort of thing. In beta this has been a really nice source of income, tome unlocks, and has been effortless. Everything I kill seems to be useful and everything I need comes from what I kill. There’s no roaming around to find nodes or any of that nonsense that always turned me off of gathering. This information has been available to people for some time but I feel the need to confirm it for you becasue of how sketchy some of the past details have been.
More to come…
I will be editing and uploading a few more videos including a detailed tour of Altdorf and some more RvR. I also have more writeups coming today and the rest of the week. My next impressions will be of specific classes.
If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment here and I will get back to you. I will be compiling a Q/A blog entry as well that will make all the questions easily available for everyone to see.