As a first for me, I’ve been playing an MMO in its launch phase. I have very limited experience with online RPGs. Crucially, I never played World Of Warcraft.
I have reasons for not playing WOW. First is the risk of addiction. Both professionally and personally, I can’t afford to get stuck with a single game. I go through a couple of games each week – sometimes more, if there’s a review deadline approaching. (Some games I’ve played in the recent couple of weeks, but haven’t had the time to blog about: Brothers In Arms: Hell’s Highway, Lumines II, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Pure, Burnout Paradise, Viva Pinata 2, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09, NHL 09, Madden NFL 09, Buzz! Master Quiz, Buzz! Quiz TV, Castle Crashers, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, Stalker: Clear Sky. Speaking of which, Pure is all kinds of great if you’re after an arcade rush.)
Second is that from what I’ve gathered and based on my own limited exposure to the genre, MMOs haven’t really been for me. The basic structure is just wrong: I want to give them my money, but not when the game is geared towards a person who only plays that one game. I want to have a good experience with just one or two nights per week. Grinding is anathema – it’s a waste of my time, much like fighting PC hardware in order to get a game running. The whole idea of building up the experience towards an exclusive club of hardcore guild gamersat the expense of all those who grow tired before that is not appealing.
Warhammer Online does not set out to change what the genre is about, but based on my initial steps in the game, it’s commendable for several changes. I’m making steady progress, so far not feeling like I’m sent out on meaningless gathering and slaying quests, all the drama of heroic questing becoming just so much accounting. I haven’t really noticed my experience bar. It’s literally out of the way, but I was enjoying myself so much that I didn’t think to check it for the first few sessions.
They have put a lot of thought into the (opening) quests. It doesn’t feel all that much like a tutorial, it feels like I’m accomplishing stuff and being of use to the community. Because even though I’m very much of a solo gamer, I have already fought alongside dozens of comrades and slain dozens of my mortal (human player controlled) enemies. The way the game makes your actions count from the first public quest you stumble into is extremely engaging. I’m much more interested in my faction’s standing against our enemies than I am about my own leveling. The realm versus realm instanced brawls are great fun. Fighting people instead of robotic AI makes all the difference.
This is the sort of thing that many games have held back as “end game content”. Bringing it within reach of the player who’s still learning his way around the user interface is exactly what I’ve wanted from these games.
The technical performance has been flawless. Framerate is great, it looks good, and so far there’s been zero bugs. Add to this the extremely appealing fantasy world of Warhammer, which – for me – is so much richer than anything else out there, and you’ve got a very compelling package. I’m currently playing a human witch hunter, and am eager to check out a Squig Herder.
We’ll see if it sticks beyond the initial one-month subscription that comes with the install. For now, see you in EN_Zhufbar.