Monday, October 27, 2008

Warhammer Online (MMORPG PC Game 2008)

The last MMO that people have been waiting for finally arrived a month or so ago. After testing it out for 30 days, I'd have to say that Blizzard does have its work cut out for them. Most of this review will be in direct comparison to WoW since that's what most people want to know. Although the two are very similar, this game is inevitably better.

Story
The main story is pretty old school since the major factions were written about back in the 80s. This game is all about the story, as opposed to WoW, where the quests seemed to be more disconnected with the gameplay. Many hours can be spent reading about the history and lore of this world via the built-in encyclopedia called the Tome of Knowledge. For people who don't care about the story, then this fact is a null factor.

Cinematics
The intro was pretty good, but I still think Blizzard can whip out better ones.

Gameplay
The gameplay is very very similar to that of WoW. That familiarity is good while all of the following tweaks make this game the better of the two:
  1. Soloing is very possible everywhere. Most of the time if there is a group of 3 mobs, you can pull each, one at a time. In WoW you were usually screwed unless you were a mage or a tank. This was one of the major annoyances in WoW, so it's good that they made it easier to level.
  2. Mobs res much quicker than in WoW so again, it lets players get things done in the swift manner.
  3. If a quest wants you to click on an object, where your toon kneels down and interacts with an object, this usually does not auto-trigger the mobs around that object. This wins points with gettin' quests completed with a minimal amount of hassle. I think in Tier 3, I did come across one quest that did activate a mob, but it was only one.
  4. Public Quests (PQs). These are very fun because everyone contributes and you don't need to be grouped to make it happen. PQs are major quests that require a bunch of people in order to complete every stage. They are all in open areas and are not instanced. While it does pose a problem if you play when few people are online or if your server sucks, it is a quick way of getting better loot when people are active, like Friday or Saturday nights.
  5. PQ "rolling" for loot. This is a fantastic way of splitting up the loot without having people ninja-ing them. The more you contribute to the PQ, may that be through damage or healing, the higher the chances are for you to get a good loot bag. Every PQ has a certain number of bags, and out of those, some may be better than others. This means that if a PQ gives out 1 blue bag and 5 green bags, 5 people will be guaranteed some sort of loot while one lucky person gets the best loot from the PQ. The game even keeps track of how many times you have attempted a PQ without receiving a bag. So if you try and try but still don't get a bag, each time around a bonus will be added to your score because of your persistence.
  6. Tome of Knowledge. This is more of a random fun feature, but it's very LOTRO-esque in terms of keeping a record of kills and giving your toon special titles and such. The title thing is blah, but you are also able to get abilities and special items from killing more PvE mobs. At least now you will actually get something for killing 1000 boars.
  7. Traveling from zone to zone is MUCH faster than WoW. There is just one short cutscene of you leaving your area and then the next zone immediately starts to load. No longer do you have to waste a bunch of time watching your toon sitting on the back of a griffin.
  8. PvP anytime via scenarios. Scenarios are the Battlegrounds of this game. You have a button that allows you to join every queue of a tier of scenarios. You don't have to be in a capital city for this to happen. It means that you can be happily questing, get thrown into a PvP scenario, and then when its finished, continue questing where you left off. I personally don't like scenarios because it's the same thing over and over again, but if you're a Counterstrike fan, it will probably be up your alley.
  9. A whole lot more greens and blues are random drops, so getting loot is not always a one-process deal.
  10. When not in a fight you regain your HP, MP, and Action points much quicker than that of WoW.
  11. Finding a group is much easier. Their interface shows you what groups are in the current zone and what they are doing, may that be RvRing, PQing, or PvEing. It also displays how much time it would take to get to the group, so if you see a close group doing a PQ, all you have to do is click a button to join their group and then get to where they are on a map. Nothing like this ever worked well in WoW even though they had a similar feature.
Graphics
The graphics are pretty toony and very similar to that of WoW. I like it much better than Conan.

Sound & Music
I've muted the music and have turned down the sound to a very low level. It's more efficient in terms of time to be listening to NPR or Soundtracks while gaming.

Community
In order to get your full in terms of RvR or PvP, you have to be with a large guild that actually does stuff. After jumping around a bit, I did manage find one, so it has been fun to play, but it's all about finding one that doesn't have a bunch of highschoolers in them.

Bugs
There are still a few visual bugs, such as a spell effect staying active on your screen when it no longer applies to your character or an odd Crash to Desktop bug that occurs with no error message at all, but I'm sure these will be ironed out in the coming months.

Overall
This game took a lot of the annoyances of WoW and improved upon the gameplay to make having fun be a "faster" option. I haven't experienced all that the game has to offer since I'm only Rank 32 out of 40, but it has been a lot more fun than WoW. The developers have tried their best to cut down on the grind so that players can get to the real PvP action. This is the first game where I've experienced RvR and it has been a blast. Taking keeps, defending them, or having open-field brawls are all insane. As long as you have some guy healing you, it's a fantastic time to kill a bunch of peeps. After you get to Tier 4, supposedly you can take capital cities and such. If guilds become organized, that feature could eventually turn into something very grand.
Rating - Mid