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!

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Awww, there is some Choppa love too

Snafzg over at The Greenskin has got his package from Mythic, and it heavily hints at the Choppa class. So go read up on it over at his blog.

Have heard there’s quite a few bloggers being asked for their addresses, and we heartily approve of such freebie marketing (we love freebies, whoever is getting them!). Go get ’em Mythic!

The Joy of Trez

Wotcha everyone,

Trez. It’s all shiny, and sparkly, and makes us face unspeakable odds, for just the chance of getting it.

Warhammer Online is no exception to the rule that online games must offer shiny trez. However, it does handle it slightly differently to the accepted norm.

And those exceptions were obvious from the start. NPCs were doling out quests, but they weren’t offering a choice of items that were seemingly picked at random from out of the ether. I didn’t get a choice of light, medium or heavy armour, with a variety of bonuses focused in the general direction of one or more classes. No. My Warrior Priest got offered some Warrior Priest armour, as worn by fashion conscious Warrior Priests. And very much in a “take it or leave it” fashion. So I took it.

It didn’t even strike me as odd that I didn’t get a choice, though. Maybe it was the shininess of getting in the beta, or the bewilderment of a brand new game, but I only started wondering at the restricted choice a long while later.

And then realised that it wasn’t restricted. Pretty much all of the time, I have a choice of Quest Rewards, Influence Rewards, and Renown Rewards. These are guaranteed, put the work in and get the item, items. I can check them out ahead of time, and decide which I would prefer. And on top of that, there are random Trez drops, from mobs and Public Quest chests.

Quite often, from Influence rewards for example, I’d get a choice of *what* item I’d like. Boots or gloves, Cassock or Warhammer, that sort of thing. But they were always from the Warrior Priest wardrobe.

I like that. I don’t have to worry about ending up wearing the epnymous World of Warcraft “Clown Suit”. I get really cool outfits, because the outfits are designed with my class in mind. Not for everyone’s class. So I’ll *always* look like a Warrior Priest. And if I’m not a fan of the outfit, I can dye many of them. It’s not just the stats that are important to me. It’s the looks.

I also love the way that random monstie drops can be any quality, at any level. From grey, through to epic, from level 1 onwards. It’s brave, but great. And the drop rate was far more generous than in other games I’ve seen; maybe this was because it was the beta, but I felt the drop rate was good enough to mean that characters got to play with nice items whilst levelling, rather than just at maximum level.

Cheers,
Hawley.

{Spinks: I agree! I never understood why NPCs in some games were so keen to offer me gear that I obviously can’t use. In fact, I don’t really like the idea of drops at all. I don’t ask my games to be hyper-realistic but why exactly would a pig be carrying(?) a mage’s staff ? And wouldn’t I be more keen to find out about its hapless former owner than grab it and run? The PQ influence system and renown gear vendors were pretty much tailor made for people like me. It’s great. I do the fun things I was going to do anyway and eventually I get to go buy some nice gear which is tailor-made for my class and all matches. And best of all? I don’t feel forced to rely on random drops.

There is one problem though. Despite all this, I have a love/hate relationship with cool random drops. I love it when I win them and I hate it when I lose them! But I can be quite happy with the occasional green/blue/purple that I can use or send to my guild or sell, as long as I don’t feel that I NEED that drop to do the stuff I want to do. So I’m pretty happy with WAR’s loot system, at least from what I’ve seen in beta.}

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.