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Waaagh!

Posted by Chris Jones
On August 14th, 2008 at 14:57

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Squig HerderBecky and I finally got to play Warhammer Online (WAR) last night. Initial impressions include:

  • The artistic style is quirky and fun and well done
  • The game has significant polish
  • The most fun we’ve had with it so far is when playing Greenskins. Other races we’ve tried have more serious storylines and starting areas.
  • WoW Hunters might be looking forward to the White Lion, but that should really be for people who miss playing their Beastmasters from EQ. The closest WoW Hunter analogue is the Squig Herder. No kidding.
  • Low level Demonologists play like Animists from DAOC
  • Public quests can be a ton of fun, but quest mobs for unrelated quests should be moved outside the public quest area (they may not respawn until after the public quest is complete)
  • We’ve had two client crashes, one each, and one zone crash. This isn’t too bad considering that the game still has five weeks before release.
  • Character customization is in, although the slider IDs aren’t necessarily matching the character body part, and there are some very gory choices available
  • The zones feel, overall, smaller than WoW zones, more on par with starting zones in DAOC (which makes some sense)–Becky described it as a very urban feel in that she was constantly rubbing elbows with other CE closed beta players
  • WAR has the hands-down best map implementation we’ve ever seen in an MMO. CoH/CoV were good, but this is better.
  • The characters we’ve played don’t feel particularly weak, even in my case where I rolled up primary healers. Becky has no complaints about her Squig Herder.
  • High Elves don’t have enough money to train all their skills at level 5 or 6. Greenskins don’t run low on money.
  • There’s an interesting mechanic to some “green name” drops before making them usable. I had pretty good luck with drops on my Shaman.
  • As always, big races are a pain to see around or click NPCs
  • There are (or were) queues to get into the lowbie RvR. It looked like you could start that as early as level three simply by following quest lines.
  • The quest tracker has a great implementation, definitely a step up from WoW
  • The Tome of Knowledge takes a little getting used to for navigation and isn’t always obvious–it made more sense to me than to Becky
  • On the other hand, I was more likely to get lost and not be able to find my quest mobs or locations (at least without the help of the map) than Becky who pushed through the quests (all new to her too!) about half-again as quickly as I could
  • There are a lot of bottleneck named mobs with three to five minute respawn times, and a lot of players who don’t understand grouping for that kill
  • We’ve still seen other graphical bugs, such as channeled spells that have the termination end prematurely for the player but continue indefinitely when seen by other players
  • You need to watch your message log, such as when logging out–there are few popups

The game runs better and is more fun than Age of Conan, which is a much more serious game. Becky’s overall impression is that WoW doesn’t have anything to worry about in the long run, and the however much fun WAR is, it’s tempered by the density of players and how difficult it will be to start a new character and complete quests in the first few months. On more than one occasion, we’ve missed named quest mobs who weren’t up because they died within seconds of spawning or had to fight with crowds for even relatively common spawns.

Becky believes the Dwarves and High Elves were the most popular races she tried, although the server population skewed 5:3, Chaos to Order (the opposite of a typical WoW server).

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