I like to analyze the games that I’m playing.Â I can’t help it – it’s a habit.Â I almost derive as much pleasure from dissecting them and thinking about them as I do from playing them.Â I know, I’m seeking help, but until that happens I wanted to dive further into what might be WAR’s greatest flaw.Â This goes hand in hand with the posts I’ve been writing lately about it being ‘the players’ fault this time‘ and my commentary on the lack of Realm vs. Realm enthusiasm, realm pride, and community.
I read something yesterday that I would like to quote:
“I’ve come to realize truly what could be warhammer’s greatest flaw, and that is I don’t miss it. The tome of knowledge is awsome, scenarios were fun, quests entertaining, and graphics very solid. In a month or so of casually playing and pvping there just wasn’t enough social interaction in the game where guilds seemed appealing or worth joining, friends were nothing more than a wave and nod when you saw them in PQs, and chat wasn’t worth looking at 90% of the time due to spam and lack of audio alerts.
Warhammer feels more like a game, and less of a world to me. The players running around could be npcs to the casual eye and there just isn’t a living breathing mmo experience that would want to draw me in, and keep me coming back. I’m subbed for 6 months because I want to see mythic succeed, especially after all the exelent effort since launch to fix bugs and such. It’s my humble request tho, that when I log in next there are more social aspects to the game. I know this is WAR, and WAR is all around us but it still feels too much like a single player game atm.” – TrisianX
This quote comes from a player who recently came back from a break.Â He states that WAR’s greatest flaw is that he didn’t miss the game when he wasn’t playing.Â That says a lot about a game – not only to its fun factor but its immersion and sense of world as well.Â One of the big eye opening statements that causes people to go “oh yeah, that’s what it is…”Â is that Warhammer feels more like a game and less like a world.
It’s tough to pin down exactly what WAR is lacking as a game world.Â I think the best thing I can do to explain this is use other games as an example.Â I’m going to break one of the holiest laws among the MMORPG people… I’m going to speak highly of Vanguard. *gasp, hiss, guffaw!*Â Vanguard’s world was(is?) enormous, beautiful, and swallows the player up in its immersion.Â Exploring the newbie areas – the run from the Gnome starting location to the capital city of Khal – is an adventure.Â You start in this underground cavern environment, work your way through to the Gnome capital city which spans farther than the eye can see, and eventually work your way to the surface.Â By now you are level 5 and have done much play.Â When you break through and the rays of sunlight come pouring onto your monitor you almost feel as though you are taking the first steps of an epic journey as you behold the vastness of the desert that lay ahead.Â In the distance you see large oasis-like river and dunes spanning the lands that lay left and right of a path.Â Nearby you see an encampment of Gnomes whose attire reflects their harsh environment.Â Fast forwarding ahead to level 10 (if you spent the time experiencing the content) you come naturally to the city of Khal.Â You don’t realize how vast this city is until you see that it serves as a massive port for all ships that would travel to this continent.Â Â Discovering this city for the first time instills a sense of scope for the player as to how massive this game is going to be from here on out.
Now, there is more to tell about the journey up to this point for the player.Â If they were playing from 1-10 and experiencing the content without running straight to Khal (the purpose of which would be to level here and not travel to a new land to level with friends) then there are a few things they would have experienced naturally.
- They would have found a few quests to do.
- Tons of creatures to naturally fight without a specific purpose (IE: Not quest objectives)
- A dungeon at level 5.
- A clear, yet unknown to the player, path of progression.
- Danger along the way – lots of it.Â Straying off the path can get you killed.
- A dungeon around level 8-10 that required you to work well with a team. (a giant wasp hive to explore)
- A sense of community that comes about when players realize that they are making a particular place in the world their temporary home and base of operations.
- The unknown…
Many of those things do not exist in WAR.Â To quickly go down the list: WAR’s PvE is completely quest driven and the mobs you fight are always for a purpose, there are no lowbie dungeons, the path of progression is clear and you’re tied to it, there is no danger along the way, there is no ‘unknown’ and there is arguably no sense of community because of how rushed the entire process feels.Â Why is that?Â First and foremost the argument could be made that these two games are very different in scope.Â Vanguard is a sandbox style game and WAR is a RvR(PvP) based game.Â This is possibly the strongest argument to be made because, in a sense, I’m comparing apples and oranges here.Â I want people to see this clear distinction.
WAR represents a streamlined mmorpg with a clear purpose; that purpose being the actual encounters of player vs player.Â Everything you do in the game is to further this goal of meeting up with your enemy and doing battle.Â PvE is designed to segue into RvR and thus is designed to require the bare minimum of effort.Â Grouping in WAR serves almost no purpose – in fact a big complaint that many have is how much players are punished for grouping – and almost everything worth doing can be done in the game solo.Â Â Â This is why people say “No one does PQ’s” and “No one every talks in chat”.Â That’s because no one needs to talk in chat.Â No one needs to do PQ’s.Â The world in WAR is truncated and broken up into tiers and as a result players are disconnected from each other and the sense of contiguous exploration is gone.Â No one needs to socialize with you because, for the most part, they’re just here to do their time so that they can move on to bigger and better things (high level RvR).Â There are exceptions to this but I would have to say this is how it is for the most part.
What is the result of this?Â If it’s not clear already to those of you who have experienced it, it’s the diminished experience.Â You get to the end and do not feel satisfied.Â You feel unfulfilled and as if something is missing.Â It’s that incomplete feeling you get in your gut when you look back at what you’ve done in the game and you almost can not recall any adventures you had on the way.Â I see this as an enormous problem for Warhammer Online and perhaps as its greatest flaw.Â In striving to provide a fantastic RvR game experience they forgot, or chose to neglect, the sense of belonging to a world and all the benefits that come from it – passive or otherwise. Maybe I’m still comparing apples to oranges still, but wouldn’t it be nice of a game could accomplish both the things Vanguard did with its world and what WAR is doing with RvR?
Something for you to think about for a second is whether or not this is the players’ fault or Mythic’s… or both.Â Has this industry been so dumbed down by the demands of the players that we’re now forced to endure the “give it to me now” mindset?Â I don’t think it has, but it is definitely moving in that direction.Â Is the lack of chat because of the age of voicechat(ventrilo)?Â Honestly, I don’t think so.Â Have people been playing these games for so long that they no longer stop to appreciate things?Â I believe that many have but not all.Â My conclusion here is that it’s both the players (In WAR and in all MMOs) and Mythic’s fault.
We’re starting to pay the price for the genre turning to a casual-friendly, solo-friendly, mass-appeal market.Â This is what happens when a lot of people make the concept of not needing to interact with others popular.Â I want the next generation of MMORPGs to return to Vanguard’s sense of world.Â I want the adventure, the investment, the immersion, the interaction, the community, and all the other benefits that come from an immersive ROLE PLAYING GAME.Â Games are fun, but MMORPGs have proven they can be more than just games and I want to experience that again.
Note: I am still playing, and immensely enjoying, Warhammer Online.Â I do not plan to cancel my subscription any time soon.Â Those who are familiar with my style know that I seek out the good and the bad in my games with hopes that future games will improve upon their predecessors.