PC Gamer June 2008

Warhammer Online gets a small feature in the most recent copy of PC Gamer (available in the UK).

Though I take most of their comments with a pinch of salt, the reviewer does make a comment that the first ten minutes of the game are “abysmal”. He goes on to mention good points, such as the tome of knowledge, public quests and RvR, but the overall opinion is that it needs a fair bit of work to draw players in from the start and draw on its obvious potential.

He’s being a picky, annoying reviewer. While I’m no fangirl for the game, willing to overlook any problems just because I love it (and remember, I’ve not played it at all!), it just seems quite negative considering all MMOs start a little slowly in terms of skillsets and quest intrigue. From what I’ve read about it, interesting quests start a lot earlier than in some games, and that’s the kind of tweak I’m looking forward to. Of course, this is a very small preview really, and they have time to write a much more in-depth preview nearer to release.

Warhammer Alliance have a thread to discuss the article, which includes some screenshots of it in case you want to read it word for word.

PC Zone has a slightly older, but more in-depth preview of the game where the reviewer seems to ‘get’ the game a lot more, even though he states a previous reticence towards PvP.

[Quick note to all: PC Gamer and PC Zone come from the same publisher, along with Next, CVG, Edge, Gamesradar and some console titles]

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16 Responses

  1. I think he is being picky, but it’s true that the first experiences new players have with a game has a big effect on if they want to keep playing it.

    So probably useful feedback for Mythic and hopefully they’ll have time to tune up the starting experience for players before they go live. As an experienced player, I’m so happy that they are spending more time on the endgame but hey.

  2. Or you could read this – which was the cover feature I wrote about Warhammer Online some months before. http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=180578

  3. Pish: hit post before finishing the post.

    I met Paul Barnett a few weeks ago, and we talked a little about my criticisms. He mentioned that EA Mythic had taken them to heart, and were redoing a lot of the starting zones. At the cost of many late nights.

  4. I’ve been reading PC Gamer (UK) for years, and while it’s one of the better written magazines out there, their reviews often need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Blame it on internal bias, or perhaps the high pressure publishing deadlines, but their reviews are often lacking in balance and perspective.

    I remember that their LotRO review was obviously written by the biggest WoW fanboi on their staff, and it’s only recently that someone has actually spent more than a few hours with the game, and consequently they have reappraised it (to their credit).

    Regardless, I suspect that the WAR preview may well have highlighted a genuine issue, so let’s just hope it’s something EA Mythic can sort out before release. I mean, even AoC had a very well implemented starter area…

  5. Passing since Tim E and I was chatting about this, but Unwise says something I’m connected to: I wrote that LOTR:Online review. I’m not a WoW fanboy. I am, by far, the person connected to PCG who least likes WoW.

    (I gave LOTR:Online 80%, I believe. I’d have only had given WoW a few more percent when it came out. In fact, for Eurogamer, I gave it 8/10.)

    The reason why unwise is saying I’m a fanboy, since people won’t have read my review, was noting that the whole thing stunk of fear of not being a hit and was too close to WoW to interest me too much. But I liked it a lot, which is why I gave it the mark I did.

    KG

  6. Ah, well, maybe my fanboi comment was a little harsh! (in my shaky defence, I didn’t really expect the writer of the review to respond!) I must admit, it’s been a while since I read the review, so perhaps my perceptions of it were clouded by the fact that I was most certainly a LotRO fanboy at the time 🙂 Mea culpa.

    However, I do still think that 80% was a harsh score for LotRO as it was at launch. It was an exceptionally polished product, similar to WoW, yes, but also an improvement in many areas. The biggest criticism that could be levelled at it was a bit short on content, but not every developer has pockets as deep as Blizzard. I guess it was the discrepancy between WoW’s and LotRO’s review scores that rankled.

    Taken in the context of the fact that you weren’t actually a WoW fanboy, the LotRO review does seem a little more justified, and I’d also like to say that although I don’t pay much attention to who writes what in PC Gamer, it’s quite likely that I’ve enjoyed much of your work in there at some point!

  7. I just re-read the review actually, since it’s been a while, and I while I was aware of what I thought I wrote, I wanted to make sure. To my eyes, it reads as someone who’s a little disappointed with mainstream MMOs generally, in terms of a fatal lack of ambition. LoTR was and is a really good MMO*, but I didn’t think it reached for anything more than just being a really good MMO, so got a score which reflected it. 80% in gamer is a good mark, at least in my book.

    (Can definitely see why the discrepancy in scores would rankle but reviews are different people’s takes. Any magazine which claims that any review is something they all agree with… well, it’s one which is in denial about human nature.)

    KG

    *Can’t think of an MMO I’ve liked more since, certainly. I’ve yet to give Conan a crack though. And I’m looking forward to WAR.

  8. (Actually, I lie: I liked Tabula Rasa more than LOTR:Online. Which was far from perfect, and I wish had found more of an audience)

    KG

  9. Well, I guess Tabula Rasa is a perfect example of where ambition gets you in today’s MMO market!

    It would indeed be great to see some more brave innovation from MMO developers, but these things cost a mountain of cash to push out the door, so you can certainly understand why they tend to take a more conservative approach.

    There is no doubt that Turbine aimed LotRO squarely at the disenfranchised WoW player market, but hey, it’s a ripe market, and its growing day by day. EA Mythic have made no bones about where their prospective market is, and Funcom are certainly reaping the benefits of Burning Crusade burnout at the moment.

    There are a heck of a lot of people that want WoW 2.0, but with more of what they like and less of what they don’t like, and the majority of post-WoW MMOs will be trying their best to oblige. WoW itself was essentially the best bits from a load of other MMOs, and while Blizzard are probably in an ideal position to push some real innovation in their next MMO project, is anyone really expecting them to? Bioware or Bethesda, perhaps.

  10. Wow, thanks for the replies guys, it’s really interesting to hear a little more about the reviewing process. I’ll set up a post today quoting some of this, if that’s ok. If a review gets us better starting areas, I’m super happy – because honestly, I’ve yet to be wowed by any MMO in the first 10 mins, other than by graphics.

  11. To be honest, if it points the developers in the direction of areas to work in, it can’t be a bad thing. Being very much on a casual side of gameplay/style and attracted by kind-of easy gameplay, an initial look really has to grab me. I think I got to level 2 of DaoC if that. WoW was much more instantly compelling.
    I think criticism can be interpreted as constructive and there’s no need for MMO players to expect anything other than immersive and inclusive play immediately.

  12. Unwise: Absolutely get that too, but it depresses me a bit. It’s the path of diminishing returns. Still – it’s a good game. I do keep on coming back to it.

    arbitrary: From the main thread, I’m generally in Noah’s corner. He notes a number of MMOs which started with something a little more griping that what apparently Warhammer started with when Tim played it. You may not have been blown away by the first 10 minutes of any MMO, but there are some which have managed something to at least get you in the mood (LoTR:Online is a good example. Conan, from what I saw, did okay too). If I literally walk up to the first guy and he tells me to go and kill ten monsters, my heart just sinks.

    (Not the opening 10 minutes, but when I first played EQ2, I reached the citizenship quest where you had to go into the forest to kill a number of enemies to prove yourself. Looking around the woods, vicious crabs were too low level to be any fun to fight. The Dryads were too high. So the only thing in the area which I could prove my heroism with was… Small Deer. If you’re trying to sell an atmospheric fantasy world, that sort of stuff is just laughable.)

    KG

  13. (Er… I mean “Keep on meaning to come back to it”. Haven’t had a chance yet.)

    KG

  14. Kieron – agreed, LotRO was a good example of an opener. I think I haven’t played many games that didn’t appeal to me anyway, so I could forgive the dull start DAoC had because I wanted to play the game and knew it got better. Same with WoW which I played most of alpha and beta of, so I kind of forgot what it felt like to be ‘new’ to the start. The cinematics helped, but after that it really was ‘go kill 5 wolves’, etc.

    Of course, I’ve not had any contact with Warhammer Online at all yet, but have played enough of these to know that I shouldn’t judge it too quickly – though I guess as a reviewer you really have to consider how a newbie to the genre and to the setting would take to it.

    I’ve made a follow-up article to incorporate Tim’s comments and to promise to dig a bit deeper next time I look at reviews of the game – will go live this afternoon.

    As for WoW, unwise and some others recently persuaded me to take another look at it, but after playing the new Burning Crusade starter zones I quickly lost interest, I have to say.. it just didn’t grab me anymore.

    Also, Kotaku have a very interesting article (and the links from it) about the whole review process (http://kotaku.com/5014394/towards-a-better-game-review-structure). I’ve added it to our weekly ‘interesting links’ which we’ll post sometime.

  15. […] reviews Tags: PC Gamer, review Tim Edwards who wrote the review I commented on in this post has stopped by to reply and we’re very glad to have heard from him. First of all, he points […]

  16. The problem with “innovation” that everyone seems to be looking for in the MMO market right now is the RISK it involves. Lets take a look at Vanguard for example? Fairly innovative in some areas combining three distinct areas of play in to a fantasy setting. It just failed miserably. My experience made it overly complex and it put me off. I felt I couldn’t dabble in all of the three main areas and be remotely successful at any. Tabula Rasa fell in to the same category for me though less complex the setting I just couldn’t cope with. I suppose that makes me a traditionalist when it comes to MMO’s. If I don’t have swords and spells I feel out of place. Not that I don’t enjoy a bit of sci-fi. I think if any innovation is going to come it will add new depths to old cloth probably backed with your fair amount of technology. We need new ways to interact with our avatars and new ways to interact with one another. The concepts are out there but getting it in to the games is going to take a long time. At leasts voIP seems to be mainstream now.

    Ultimately though as I have said to many people before any MMO tends to be made better or viewed in a different light if you arrive with a bunch of dedicated friends. Guilds and their members tend to give you a buffer that keeps you going even when there are bumps in the road.

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