The preview weekend for Warhammer Online began yesterday. This marks the beginning of the end for the beta phase of development for all but maybe the Elder Testers. While I am considered an “Elder Tester”, most everything tested there is classified and done on test servers. Unless they lift the BTA (like an NDA) then I won’t be talking about my experiences there.
For this weekend’s preview I decided to play a Chaos Zealot. I really wanted to dive deeper into my analysis of the healer classes in WAR and solidify, with facts, that the Shaman was under-healing more than he should.
This is a fantastic class. Zealots are the best Destruction healers and are the mirror of the Runepriest. They start off with an instant cast heal that feels like it has no cooldown aside from the global cooldown. Although it heals for so low, mashing the key allows you to really pack on the numbers. I decided that with this character I was going to level as much with RvR as possible so I spent all of yesterday in the queue. When I wasn’t in a scenario I was doing a few quests to fill in or open-world RvR.
Since I began RvRing at level 1 I was able to watch this class develop from 1-12 entirely in RvR. I noticed that the Zealot takes a lot of damage, similar to the shaman, except it has the ability to counter that damage with instant cast heals. When a ‘robe’ wearing class starts taking damage it’s imperative to run away. When a Shaman runs he can’t heal himsself with more than a slow-to-work HoT. When the Zealot runs away he’s spamming himself with heals and full HP by the time he’s out of range. This makes all the difference in the world.
The Zealot also provided the perfect partner for Graev’s Chaos Chosen. He would run right at a group of 6+ Order and I would keep him alive as the rest of our team followed him into the fight. This was key to our winning most of the scenarios yesterday. When a tank runs in and begins hitting healers or ranged dps it scatters their front line. Few classes can take the initial damage that charging a line focus firing you can deliver, but a Chosen and a Zealot got the job done. One particular experience from yesterday comes to mind. Most of our team was disorganized except for myself and 3 Marauders. I kept all 3 alive while they butchered the entire enemy team (albeit the enemy was equally disorganized, it was still a beautiful sight).
When I started getting a few levels I was given an amazing HoT that heals for double what the Shaman’s does, a damage absorption shield that heals when it expires, a Heal + HoT, and buffs that increase the intel/str of my team. This class is built for support.
It became clear though that the Zealot lacked dps. Killing things in PvE took 2-3x as long as it does on my Shaman. I can kill multiple mobs quickly with my Shammy but would be fighting for a prolonged period of time on the Zealot. It’s give and take though. The plus side is that my Zealot never came -anywhere- close to dying even with 4 mobs on him.
It’s a matter of playstyles really. The Shaman is going to be a late bloomer with much less healing and far more damage/debuff/utility. The Zealot is going to be a VASTLY superior healer, probably a little more than he should be, and keep any group alive. If I had to pick one, even though it’s undoubtedly inferior early on, I would say the Shaman is more fun to me. I like the playstyle, feel, look, and end result of the Shaman more.
Notes from my playtime yesterday. Did I CTD or Lag? Did the masses make it unplayable?
CTD’s – In closed beta for the past month I did not CTD more than twice the ENTIRE time. In the Collector’s Edition beta I CTD’d a couple times but nothing to worry about. Yesterday alone I CTD’s over a dozen times. I have no idea why. Nothing changed on my end. This is an annoying problem that I want to see fixed before the game goes live. I have no patience for CTD’s.
Lag – It was present but expected and not really as bad as it could have been. I can remember only an hour’s worth of gameplay yesterday in a total of 8+ that lagged. The server must have been having some problems because things got out of sync and delayed. This caused me to lose a few people in RvR because their HP wouldn’t drop until they were dead but it went away. Framerate wise it was fine. I was doing a PQ with 57+ people and I didn’t notice a thing wrong with my rig’s ability to perform.
Numbers – There was A LOT of people online in one area at a time. In the first PQ we had 50+ people and in the Chapter 2 PQ that is right near the quest hub there were so many people that the PQ was being done in record time. I had done this PQ in closed beta and it took us easily 10 minutes. Yesterday it was being done in 3. It was fun for a while but when too many people were there I couldn’t get ANY influence (100 being split 50+ ways isn’t much) and my odds at placing and getting loot were nil. Graev and I went to some of the more secluded PQ’s where there were maybe 10 people and we rocked those for a bit earning out entire influence for the chapter before the others probably got 1/4th of theirs.
RvR – It was the best yet. The Chaos vs. Empire area was the hot spot of activity for everyone. SO MANY people were waging all out war all day long over these objectives. We had one point where it was zerg vs. zerg and we let them advance to the little town. As soon as they were close to sounded the charge and overran them for a ton of renown and experience. Amazing times! While big numbers can hurt PQ’s they certainly help RvR live up to its full potential.
Odd Technical Issues – I experienced one odd issue yesterday. I had a video display driver failure at one point when I had been playing the game all day. Not sure what caused it. Vista recovered from it and the game continued to run. If anyone knows what can cause these please let me know.
This Preview Weekend, in the first day, cemented my excitement for the game. I was able to play another class; and enjoy it, see first hand how team work annihilates my enemies, have epic RvR battles in the level 1-10 area, and make it to level 12 – T2 – RR10! Today is going to be even more fun as the masses move to T2 and begin keep sieges. I LOVE this game.