Return of the WAR

As I think the majority of readers here knows, I took a bit of a break from WAR and have recently returned to playing more regularly with my little Warrior Priest (who dies a LOT thanks to a sea of Choppas, and contrary to popular belief!). Was talking with Spinks this morning about just how many positive things WAR had going for it, and rather than writing about it on Nerf the Cat, I thought I’d list some of  them here.

Not waiting around for looting (bags, choices, etc)

We were discussing how one of the problems I have with raiding in other games is the stopping and starting for loot, whatever choice of loot distribution the raid uses, and that’s when we realised that WAR really doesn’t have this problem because of the loot bags in PQs, dungeons, oRvR, etc and the way the need/greed system works. It’s so much better to have loot selections on offer, and to also have stuff that’s directly relevant to your class. I don’t think I realised how much I like the system, because previously I’ve focused on just how crappy my rolls have been, or how unfair 1 gold bag per keep used to be, and stuff like that. In the end it allows for some seamless play where looting doesn’t get in the way of the experience. It’s certainly not perfect, but it fits in well with the frenetic pace of  Warhammer Online.

Variety

Ok, a lot of this is due to the Slayers/Choppas and server merges, but for whatever reason, the server feels pretty damn busy at the moment across all tiers. I hear of fortress and city stuff going on via guild chat (merged guild, so new faces to learn and get used to also), while someone also mentioned Tier 3 is very busy and I know for myself that Tier 1 and 2 are. The general number of people and the spread have highlighted the variety of things to do in WAR, and I’m omitting crafting because I don’t feel any urge to do it at all!

But with public quests, scenarios, normal questing, capital city quests – there’s a lot to do to get from A to B, levelwise. Spinks and I spent a good portion of today doing PQs while waiting for scenarios to pop in Tier 2, and once the afternoon kicked in, we barely had time to hand in the scenario quests before another one popped. It was this variety that appealed from the start, and it’s great to see it there and being shown off so nicely. I hope this continues, though I fear it’s inevitable that the action eventually move firmly to Tiers 3 & 4.

Scenarios

In and of themselves, scenarios are great fun. Though, it interesting that people seem to like whichever the latest one is. I know I really enjoyed Reikland Factory and the Twisting Tower, but maybe just because they were new and fresh and after a while the others can get a bit frustratingly samey. But, having said that, something that takes you out of the normal run of the game and transports you into a fun 15-minute mini-game is to be applauded. It’s a bit like the solo instances in LotRO, something I can do that adds to my experience but doesn’t take too long. Of course, scenarios are desperately dependent on other people signing up… so they have a bit of a downside. But overall, still loving them and the concept of them!

Casual Hardcore

One thing that I’m enjoying about my return to WAR in contrast to other games, is that everything is pretty fancy-free and unstressful. If I want to try and get a group together to do something, I can give it a go. If not, I can toddle around doing random quests via red blobs, and just exploring the world and the game. Dying means very little to me, it’s too quick and easy to die when the odds are against you. It might be a pain during a dungeon, but in every other situation, I just shrug, get up and get on with things. The game is quick to pick up and also to put down, so it can be treated as more of a pastime and less of a chore. Of course, if I cared enough about the endgame, the ward armour, completing all the content or collecting every title, I might not feel this way, but at the moment, it’s a perfect game for me to decide on a daily basis if I want to be casual or hardcore or a mix of the two.

Questing

The normal quests are often shrugged off as being a sideshow to the main attraction (the RvR, which we all know and mostly enjoy!). But actually, they’re not half bad at all. The red blobs might make questing fast and easy-ish (location-wise), but the areas have great flavour and interesting storylines to follow through, so that even when blasting through you get a good sense of them. I quite enjoy WAR questing as another fairly unstressy way of enjoying the game.

Anyway, a quick overview of things we were discussing today, and of my very basic feelings after not playing very seriously for a while. Feel free to add others, or disagree at will!

Advertisements

Expectations

Quick warning, this may be my first wall of text for a while and it’s very much based on my own personal journey…

I got very down about Tier 4 when I was new to it, my class kind of sucked at soloing from 31-33 (more than normal), and that was a big shock to the system. Plus, I don’t want to have to choose a levelling specline or have to choose gear for various purposes – I’m stubborn like that. And open RvR was quiet, Serpent’s Passage hurts my eyes after the 3rd consecutive run, etc etc. And I read around the place that others were having similar ‘fun’ problems. And then I had an enforced 5-day break. And I thought about it quite a lot, especially when chatting to my sisters and to a WoW gamer I spent some time with.

I got out of my funk. I love the game, I really do. That doesn’t mean I don’t wish open RvR was a bit more perky – but honestly, on our server there is open action in Tier 4 every day. It may not be at the perfect time for me, and some of it might mean taking empty keeps and waiting for defence and then scooting around to try and nudge control in various zones while many want a big fight… but it’s there. And that comforts me.

Then, at 33, my Rune Priest (not specced for Rune of Burning!) got better at soloing. Not great, but good enough for a primary healer. Which satisfies me there. In fact, my biggest concern is finding people to group up with to quest and do PQs (PQs are a bit pointless for influence rewards, but I see them as socialising with some free xp attached!). Even that is changing, I’m changing, I’m asking for help more. And trying to make myself more sociable and willing to help also. It’s a process, neither slow nor fast, but one that depends on mood.

So what really struck me about Warhammer Online while I was away? It’s a very different game to those I’m used to playing (DAoC, WoW, LotRO). And I asked myself the following:

  • How did I play my last MMO? (ie. level fast, solo/grouped, etc)
  • How many hours per day did I grind traits/influence/reputation/gear?
  • How many hours did I raid per week?
  • How many hours did I PvP?

WAR is a totally different kettle of fish for me, and for everyone. There’s a certain levelling ‘grind’ but I say it in inverted commas, cos it’s nothing like the grind I had in other games (I played WoW before they upped the lower level xp, I left before Burning Crusade). I have been known to play 12h straight in Dark Age of Camelot, whether in Caer Sidi or tree groups! All day is and has been pretty common for LotRO. And yet, when I try it in WAR I get a bit edgy and miserable.

Why, then? Well, the best I can do at describing it is that I’m finding WAR a completely different kettle of fish as an MMO. It’s the kind I like to dip in and out of, which is something I’ve never done before. And one of the reasons I’ve never had two MMOs at the same time before now. To me, MMO has always been a bit like a part-time job, occupying all hours to get all the things I want and need for my character while grouping up with friends to complete some fairly hefty challenges, or to just hang out and have some fun. Now we have WAR, where in a few hours I can take two or three keeps, or jump into scenarios while questing. For me, anyway, it’s not a game I want to spend 12h straight – and that’s the big difference.

Since coming back, and recognising this, I’ve been a much happier bunny. I log off when I’m tired or when I want to go watch TV or hang out with the cats or my husband. I play less, but I enjoy it more. I’ve reached rank 35 and renown rank 32 (well, I’m 95% there, and will be by the time this is published). I have titles for taking keeps and for restoring keeps. I am beginning to help people with their quests more and have recently seen Bastion Stair for the first time. All of this has been more fun than a couple of weeks ago, when I hit the Tier 4 doldrums.

I think the game still needs tweaks at the high levels, the influence rewards for PQs are lousy after ch16 and this has led to a desertion – one that makes questing where there are PQs quite tricky. Going back to help lower level characters has giving me a sense that my character is powerful and also, it’s more relaxing than trying to solo stuff. When these guys catch me up, we’ll all group and do ch18+ together. So I’m kind of fixing it myself, and the levelling curve is flattening all-round.

No solution to Serpent’s Passage Syndrome yet but I have faith Mythic will work something out. They’ve been very responsive and let’s face it, they know they have a problem with Tier 4 at the moment, you can’t fail to notice the threads and blog posts about it. But it’s not all down to the game company, we do have our own responsibility to do what’s fun for us.

For me, it’s to dip in and out of PvE, RvR, scenarios and dungeons and not to try and play WAR as if it’s LotRO/DAoC/WoW.

[And, as Syp said in a comment recently ‘great minds think alike’ – it would be remiss of me to leave out a link to Stylish Corpse whose words on the same topic I greatly enjoyed and who I totally agree with!]

Stage 1 – Insert Title Here

Wotcha everyone,

Public Quests. Warhammer Online’s big new toy.

When I first heard about them, I wasn’t that impressed. Despite Paul Barnett’s enthusiastic podcast about them, they just seemed to be a messy combination of outdoor instance and raid-size grouping. Even worse, it sounded like you wouldn’t even be able to solo them. You’d most likely be pugging it.

I hate pugs.

I first got involved in a Public Quest in Nordland, with a couple of guildmates. We were exploring the area, found the location, and in the grandest traditions of Beta Testing, got involved in one to see if it needed fixing, rather than thinking it would be fun.

Three complete circuits later, we decided to see if we could find another. I was hooked…

It’s not even innovative, when you think about it. Kill an absurdly high number of regular mobs, interact with certain items, and tank-and-spank bosses. How can can something so simple be so fun?

Well, they’re relaxing, for a start. Because you don’t need a fully balanced group of 6 people to start one, you don’t start with the hassle of finding a group. And people who log on later can just join in – they don’t have to sit outside and wait for their mates to come out of the instance. You can just bob in and out, as you feel like.

Even if you’re playing solo, it’s easy enough to get involved. Open groups make life so much easier. If there are people already at a Public Quest, just check if there’s an open group. If there is, just join it, say; “Hello” (or “Wotcha”, if you’re me), and get stuck in. No worries, no messing. And most often, at the end someone will ask if everyone fancies repeating the quest, or finding another. More often than not, the ad-hoc group will stay together and do more Public Quests. That’s almost obscene. I’ve never been in a pug in other games that has continued past the original stated objective…

They’re also a fun way of achieving a number of things at once. Your Influence rises as you do them. So does your XP. And if you do the right Public Quests, so does your Renown. So instead of having to grind them in three separate places, you can grind them all at the same time. It doesn’t remove the grind element, but it masks it surprisingly well. Quite often, the local Kill Collector will reward you for kills you make as well. Bonus!

There’s also the Trez element. Each of the mobs drops cash, and items. Including chances of rarer items. And when your Influence reaches one of three thresholds, you get to go and choose an item from the appropriate NPC. And at the successful resolution of the Public Quest, you get to find out how much you contributed, which can give you a bonus to a 1-1000 roll, to see if you get one of a random selection of Trez bags. Trez! Fantastic!

I really like the contribution list. The server takes the amount of damage you’ve done, the amount of healing you’ve done, and then awards extra points for doing specific things the Public Quest wants you to do. It puts that information through a formula, to get a points total. That then gets you your position in the chart. Get high enough, and you get a bonus to your roll. It can seem a bit random at times, with the odd bug, but it’s great fun for me seeing where I came. And unlike damage meters and suchlike, it doesn’t rely on being close enough to the person with the meter. And maybe it’s because at the moment we’re all part of Beta Gang, but I’ve not seen anyone complained at for being low down the listing. It’s not a punitive thing. There has been humour involved, but it’s been good natured, and normally people deciding the server is broken, no way could they have been so low… But they make me want to see if next time, I can get closer to the top. They make me want to play better, smarter, and get the most out of my class. In a good way.

The trez at the end is a lovely bonus. You’re guaranteed the Influence items as long as you get enough influence, and they’re good items. So anything else is gravy, really. There’s some lovely gravy, though. From the first Public Quest you do, there’s the chance of purple items. Willing yourself a good roll can be almost as addictive as wanting to get higher in the chart, especially when you can see a purple bag in the trez options.

Will I continue to be an active participant in Public Quests at launch? Yes, yes I will. Maybe in 6 months I shall scream at the thought of having to do “the same” Public Quests, but that’s just the same sort of fatigue that makes me think certain instances in World of Warcraft were designed by the devil. Everything can lose it’s charm, if done enough times.

But until then, Public Quests are my group PvE activity of choice in Warhammer Online.

Cheers,
Hawley.

Chipping at the NDA

I love exploring, many of the people I regularly game with love exploring. I’m fairly sure Spinks and Hawley do too. In fact, we’re the kind of players that like to see as much as we can. So we were delighted with the most recent article on Gamespot UK about lairs:

These will be out-of-the-way areas where exceptionally powerful and rare foes hide out of plain sight and guard exceptionally powerful loot.

One of the things I remember reading a long long time ago about Warhammer Online was that there would be all sort of cool places to discover, with puzzle locks and stuff. I’d forgotten about all that until I read this article again and now I’m really excited about it all over again. Continuing on the puzzle theme:

none of the game’s lairs will have any kind of duplicate content or puzzles, so there will be no one-size-fits-all solution to unlock all of them.

It’s nice to see that in an RvR-focussed game, there is still some PvE candy for players to enjoy when they want a different pace. I hope to discover and conquer as many lairs as possible!

In other news, Ten Ton Hammer has a short write-up of Mount Bloodhorn and the Greenskin starter area.  We haven’t been linking to every little bit of news coming out, but this one is well-written, amusing and takes you through some of the things you get to do when first emerging into the game on the Greenskin side.

Meanwhile, Massively continues it’s slightly sterile overview of the elves of WAR. They’re going through the spells/skills you get from 1-5 and then 6-10. I’m not really reading them, because hrrm.. I can generally wait to read spell descriptions (plus yeah, am in the beta as Spinks just pointed out to me, so I don’t need to). However, over at Player vs Developer I was alerted to one comment in a Massively guide that’s a little naughty. It comes in the Archmage 1-5 guide and says:

Just drop a DoT (or two) on every single mob in the PQ area. If there are enough people there, all mobs will die too quickly to even take a swipe at you. With your ability to DoT multiple mobs, your total damage output for the PQ will at or near the top.

Sigh. Please note – they say ‘if there are enough people there’. This may not be the best solo tactic! And this may not hold for every public quest you come across. And hey, don’t forget you can heal too.