Sunday, May 24, 2009

Warhammer: Age of Reckoning

A review from a self-avowed non-PVP guy.

I occasionally play MMOs. I've tried several now and PVP has always been something I've loathed. Usually it ends up being players griefing players and there's no balance to it. You go out in to an unsafe area and if you're flagged for PVP, some guy way more powerful than you (or a band of players) mugs you for your lunch money. That or some high level dude wanders in to your safe zone and starts killing off all the safe area NPCs just waiting for someone dumb enough to heal an NPC (which flags you for PVP) or attacks the offending PC.

This week I got to finally (after almost a year of putting it off) try out WAR.

I admit, I was hesitant. It's just another MMO. Yes, it's Warhammer: my baby. My favorite setting of all time. It's also geared towards something called RvR: Realm vs Realm. That tells me it is Players fighting Players.


So I jumped in, created a few characters and got in to the spirit of it.

My assessment?


I get it now.
I play a lot of FPS multiplayer games like Call of Duty Modern Warfare and World at War.

RvR takes the best of the PVE MMO and the Multiplayer FPS and combines it in to something that REALLY works.

Think of it like this:
You have a Multiplayer RPG, with all the nifty trappings of the Warhammer world, then add a sort of zone combat that has clearly delineated RvR areas. In those areas you have stuff to capture and hold. Think of Headquarters or Capture the Flag games in FPS games. You take the objective and hold it.

If you problem. You resurrect a safe distance away (something the Call of Duty games haven't sorted out yet) and run back in to the fray. You get a lot of XP for RvR as well as goodies. There are separate tracks for XP. Regular XP for levelling etc. and Renown. Renown gets you better gear and stuff. It's truly amazing.

I can't believe it was so hesitant about it. I think part of the difference is that RvR is divided up in to Tiers, so your newbies can fight newbies and Uber Characters can fight Uber Characters.

As far as the PVE's pretty typical fare. If you've played WOW it's more or less the same except the setting and the look of it. WAR looks FAR better. Where WOW is very cartoony-looking, WAR has the gritty look of the Warhammer World (appropriately so). The nice thing is that PVE and RvR nicely dovetail in together. They complement each other in a way that WOW can't reproduce.

WOW does some things better. Some basic gameplay elements like collision *you tend to get hung up a bit more on enviromentals in WAR but not so much in WOW. Critter and NPC respawn times are far shorter in WAR so you can't camp an area as easily because they bad guys do come back quickly. The crafting and all that in WAR is a little unclear and some of the loot you get is not readily disposable, making it a little awkward to find out what it's actually for. WOW has a LOT of built in crafting and grinding bits (which really turned me off). WAR has a bit, but that's not what it's about at all.

WOW does PVE well. WAR does it almost as good, albeit a little differently (which is fine IMO). Crafty/ Grindy bits WOW does far better...but really I care less about that in game. PVP in WOW sucks and there's no RvR. WAR pulls far ahead in PVP/ RvR as that is a core focus in the game.

Essentially, what I see is that the developers at EA/ Mythic made a choice: stick to what you want to be important in-game, and let the rest slide. It ends up being a focused game, good at what it does (where WOW is good at some things but tries IMO to do them all.) I dig the focus.

Overall, so far I have three toons: A White Lion, a Swordmaster and a Witch Hunter. They are bad-ass. RvR rocks. To me WAR does the things right that I really disliked in WOW (and CoH/ CoV, etc). My wife is playing and she's digging it as well.

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