Aug 21 2008

Warhammer’s NDA Dropped

Published by at 10:24 am
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Which means I can talk all I want about the game now. Of course I didn’t have time before to talk much about the game because I’ve been so damn busy. BUT, now I think I’ll take a few minutes to talk about it Noted this review is from a Wahammer Fanboy, one that is as big as you can get. Although I am a Fanboy, I am also realistic about MMOs and take my MMOs very seriously. I will talk about the things that are bugging me but I’m just going to say these are MINOR Things. Minor things that no MMO to date has gotten perfect at launch. So, with that said, let’s get to the meat.

Graphics– No one can doubt that Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is a perfect representation of the Warhammer universe. It almost makes me want to cry how beautiful the game is to look at and feel. The towns and epic size of everything reminds me of EverQuest, while the general flow of the zones reminds me of WoW. Textures are as good as you can get. Even though it has a dark feeling to most things, they are colorful and real. Not the dark brown palette of Age of Conan. They aren’t cartoony like WoW. I think they fit the good natural, dirty, but epic looking art style that Games Workshop has been famous for.

Sound– The game sounds and feels like Tabula Rasa did for me. WAR really is everywhere and you’re reminded of that fact with the sounds of canons, rifle fire, stampeding horses (happens in some scenarios when a giant cavalry charges into the field), and all the other amazing sites and sounds of the game. The music is really well orchestrated and transitions well from place to place. Sound effects are appropriate and don’t sound cheesy at all.

PVE Gameplay– Quests are well organized and drive a complex, well written storyline similar but even more well done than WoW. Additional quest types have been added to the genre like “Christmas quests” and kill collectors. Public Quests are so amazingly fun that they can’t really be described. You have to experience it to really understand. Quest reward still need a bit of work in my opinion, it’s something they are working on fixing. A couple of patches ago quests rewards were horrible, now they are good. So by the time the game launches it should be worked out and I’m sure they’ll continue to tweak itemization, but it’s mostly there. Did I mention Public Quests are awesome? Really, they replace the need to even have instances in a game in my opinion. Although once you get up into the higher levels and start doing instances, I’m sure I’ll change my tune.

RvR– Take old school Alterac Valley from WoW, put it on steroids with no limit to the amount of people engaged in the battle, add seige warfare, add more relevant quests that are repeatable and rewarding, and that’s open world RvR. RvR is fun, engaging, and right now a bit laggy, but I think a lot of that has to do with the debug code running behind the beta client. Siege capture is TOUGH. Defense might be too easy. We’ll see I’ve yet to take part in a successful siege capture. Scenarios are fun, but some are a bit confusing. They could add better descriptions to them when you enter the first time or something. Many people have no idea what they are doing. Might be a side effect of beta. RvR gear is reasonably easy, but not too easy to get for the effort you put in. If you RvR as you level and do leveling and RvR you should be able to buy RvR gear to augment your quest gear as you level. Right now I’m Rank 14 with a Renown rank of 9.

Immersion– The Tome of Knowledge, big cities, huge world, what else can I say? Seriously this game wins on immersion. I feel like part of the Warhammer universe and in a way I feel like the since I’m focusing on Chaos/Order that I’m missing out on the other aspects of the game world. The lore and storytelling is fantastic and the Tome just makes it that much better. The first time I explored the Inevitable City, it took me an amazing total of 2 hours to fully explore it. Of course I was wrong and found other places I didn’t know of a week later. The game is seriously huge and you can easily get lost in it. While there are zone lines between Tiers, it’s not a huge deal. You will only cross one of these zone lines a handfull times in you entire character game play.

Balance– This is where things need to be worked on the most. Order in general feels more overpowered than destruction. Bright Wizards are stronger than Sorcerers. Engineers are more powerful than Magus. White Lions are more powerful than Squig Hunters. Witch Hunters are 20 timers more powerful than Witch Elves. Warrior Priests destroy people and never die, but Disciples of Kain are kinda… meh. Runepriests can’t be killed but Zealots are leathery at best. Dwarf Tanks have more CC like abilities than Black Orcs. Chosen Hold aggro and are beefier than Black Orcs. Overall even within a pairing, ranged DPS is more powerful than melee dps. Tanks have the same dps but more survivability than melee dps. Healers have amazing amounts of survivability plus have ranged combat. Above everything else Witch Hunters are melee dps’ers who are also ranged. Bright Wizards, Witch Hunters, and Warrior Priests are the most overpowered classes in the game. I’ve seen 3 patches in the game and in my time I’ve seen the balance sway this way and that. I don’t think anyone knows for sure that Mythic has up their sleeves, but they are changing the balance rapidly and I think there is a method to their madness. Hopefully in the end, it will balance out.

Overall– This is a fantastic, well polished game of which the biggest complaints that people have are little teeny tiny bugs and balance issues. Structurally they have more meat at pre-launch that WoW did in the first 2 years. They have features implemented and implemented well that WoW hasn’t even come close to implimenting even in their 2nd expansion. The UI out of the box has amazing amounts of customization. Their add-on support is amazing. The community is insane (see www.wardb.com). This game has the potential to de-throne Warcraft.

Grab your marshmallows. The Age of Reckoning is at hand.

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