I'm on a blogging spree! I've had lots to say over the last couple of days, but couldn't stop playing the game long enough to do it. Now I'm away from home on my laptop which can't run the game, so this is the next best thing :p
So, Crimson, myself and 2 friends all shipped our computers over to Crimson's place for the weekend. There we proceeded to consume large amount of pizza, diet coke, and most importantly, played a lot of Warhammer Online. Here are some thoughts:
1) Open vs Core Server: We chose an Open server for the thrill, and, let's face it, for the potential to return to low level areas and pwn noobs who have no chance against us ;)
We were happy with the decision, and did not get ganked much at times that we didn't want to. When we did get ganked, it was often a 1v1 with a similar level.
And the times that it was a significantly higher level it was quite fun. For example, a level 10 was chasing me and some others around while we were around level 5 trying to complete a PQ. We snared him and teamed up to beat the snot out of him a couple of times. Most fun.
One time I was standing near a town and a level 20 jumped me from a cliff (me level 10), only to splat to his death without me lifting a finger. Lol.
No experience with the chicken mechanic yet, as we haven't gone far enough in the game.
2. Order or Destruction: Play whatever your friends are playing. I'm on the only Open oceanic server (Anlec or something I think it's called), and the scenarios and RvR are fairly 50:50.
I also don't feel as though there are any glaring imbalances between the 2 sides. I'm sure this is in large part due to the mirroring of each class on the other side.
3. UI and controls: Pretty easy to figure out how everything works from reading the tooltips, even if you haven't played WoW.
If you have played WoW, well, everything's pretty much identical in terms of UI and controls. In general, I hated WoW's controls, being a Guild Wars fanboy at heart.
In Guild Wars auto-attacking is a breeze and your character will automatically chase others if you tell it to melee. In WAR and of course WoW, you need to manually micro-manage your character to move every time. Don't get me wrong, this requires its own measure of skill, but I find the way that Guild Wars does it allows me to pay much more attention to what skills myself and my opponents are using. It also involves me pushing a lot less buttons, which makes me feel less frenzied and out of control in combat.
I guess one way is more the strategical player's way, and the other way is the reflex player's way. Both systems have their merits, it's just a matter of getting used to it.
One useful note is that players don't show up on the map or if they're hiding behind obstacles. This introduces a new level of tactics in terms of sneaking and ambushes, which we absolutely loved. Memorable moments include sneaking out behind hills with enemy RvR players ringing the town, stealth ganks to capture scenario objectives right behind the enemy, a seemingly impossible to destroy tank (due to the healer above us on the roof that we could barely see), etc.
Guild Wars is completely opposite, enemies can not sneak anywhere. I actually prefer the WAR way of doing things just for the extra tactical depth.
3. Starting areas: Quite well done, plenty of interesting quests. Just as you're getting the feel of the game, you'll likely end up in your first public quest. More on those below.
If you want to join with friends in a different faction, you need to find flight masters. These are located in all the starting hubs (and many other towns) and look like a blue and gold sphere on your mini map. Additionally, they're always located somewhere up relatively high, with a platform where you might imagine a little dwarf helicoptre thing would have room to land.
It took us several hours to find them, and it was only in chapter 2 that we managed to hook up to actually play with each other!
4. Finding NPC's: Kind of a pain. The issues with the flight masters as noted above extend to finding specific npc's such as career trainers, renown trainers, and renown merchants. Often we were able to find 2 of the 3, which was never the one we were looking for. The reason it's so hard is that, even though useful npc's have different icons to the other things on your map, the icons are so large in relation to the map that you can't see what's happening in many major hubs (or if a party member is standing on top of an npc).
They need to add more sorting options for the map (there are already quite a few which is a plus), or allow a zoom feature so that it's less of an issue.
4. Public quests. Lots of fun. Lots of problems and exploits. Interesting to see where Mythic take this, I hope they fix the problems. If they don't, I'm sure future MMO's will.
Basically, all PQ's work like this:
A) Several quests that you obtain in town will lead you to the vicinity of a PQ.
B) There's a separate status/goals display for the PQ which pops up.
C) Progressing each stage of the PQ earns you influence points. Talking to the Rally Master (located near the PQ, or in the nearest town) allows you to obtain gear based on the amount of influence you've accumulated for that chapter. There are 3 tiers of rewards, and once you reach a certain amount of influence, you get to pick 1 thing from the applicable tier.
The more you contribute, the more influence you earn. It's advisable to do a PQ 3 - 5 times (depending on how much you contributed) until you max out your influence for the chapter, to get the best gear.
D) PQ's are very repetitive in their formula. There are always 3 stages. Stage 1 is always untimed, and requires killing of LARGE numbers of easy enemies that can be sought out at your leisure. Completely possible to solo, but doesn't give a ton of influence. Feels kind of grindy unless you have a large group, but the influence to be gained keeps you going.
Stage 2 always involves a timer, in which you have to interact with a certain number of things in the game world. For example, lighting some barrels, or talking to some people to free them. These things are always guarded by monsters, which you must kill, but the monsters themselves don't give any influence. Gives fairly decent influence rewards.
BUT stage 2 is easy to exploit if you want to leech from people. Basically, let the others in your group kill/distract the enemy while you run around clicking on whatever you need to click on to gain influence. Your allies get NO influence for this stuff. I had this happen to me a few times, and then I started doing it as well (better me than them!). It made my influence gain a lot faster, and fails a LOT. Mythic need to fix this so that the influence is shared a little, or perhaps give influence for the monsters guarding the things as well (preferably both).
Stage 2 can often be completed with, say, 3-4 people (the groups can be sought out at your leisure, within the time limit).
Stage 3 always involves some uber boss and associated minions. The boss hits hard, and lots of people often die. Lots unless they're quite a high level. Preferably at least half a dozen people are needed, sometimes less for easier PQ's if you have a good group. The nearest res is usually a 2 minute run away, sometimes more, sometimes less. This can cause problems if you die right before the boss does. You'll still get the reward, but if you don't make it back within 2 minutes of the loot rolls, the PQ is reset and you can't reach the chest to get your loot.
I watched (and lol'd) as Crimson missed out on a nice bag of loot by literally a second or two due to this, after contributing heaps on the PQ. Definitely needs to be fixed.
In general, PQ's somewhat fail because you don't want a large group of people doing them, since it dilutes the influence too much. On the other hand, too small a group and you won't be able to finish the thing (especially the boss). The leeching (especially in part 2) is annoying. And the whole formula is quite repetitive (although the monsters fought and scenery etc looks sufficiently different to make them fun). I like PQ's much more than regular quests, but this stuff should be looked at.
E) According to how much influence you gained over the course of the PQ, you get a score. A roll is then made and the winners get loot of various degrees of goodness depending on where they placed. I get the impression that the faster the PQ is completed, the more rewards are available for more people. It's possible to contribute heaps and miss out on loot, but this only happens occasionally and doesn't feel to bad since you know "in your heart" that you rocked the PQ.
5. Scenarios: Scenarios are instanced team PvP. Anyone less than a certain level is boosted to almost the max for that tier (eg level 8 for the first tier, which allows levels 1-12). You can enter as a party, and will get formed into makeshift parties with other people that enter. The best thing of all is that you can queue up a scenario at any time. When enough people have queued, the scenario is started, and you teleport there. Once finished you teleport back to where you were. No running to a particular town and ruining whatever else you were doing. Full of win.
The queues can be longish at times, but often you want a bit more time to finish an RvR objective, or a PQ, so it's not a big deal. Usually I found the queues to be very fast, often instant.
The scenarios and real-world RvR both give you renown points. Renown gives you access to better gear than usually available, and some different skills. You definitely want to level up your renown rank along with your regular level.
Each scenario consists of some points to contend over, with the object being to do something at the point, ie capture it, to improve your group's score. First to 500 wins. I *think* kills contribute to this points score, but it's much more effective to actually capture points rather than kill the whole time.
Scenarios are way fun. They are often quite contingent on getting a healer who knows what they're doing. Crimson and our group were able to dominate fairly effectively since we always had 1 healer in the team, 1 tank, and some dps characters.
The unfortunate thing about scenarios is that even though your health/stats are boosted to a competitive level, your armor and weapons aren't, and you're still stuck with your regular crummy skills. Twinked out max level characters can steamroll scenarios pretty effectively, and a twinked out tank can often take 5 lesser players to take it down.
They should work to reduce this effect of twinking in my opinion. Again, I come from Guild Wars where everybody gets gear of the same power. You grind for looks/bragging rights. But then again compared to WoW, WAR seens to involve much less of a gear grind.
6. RvR: In each zone are a couple of control points, that allow you to advance the war effort. I'm sure these are tied into sieging of keeps etc, but I haven't seen this occur yet so can't say too much about it. The benefit I have noticed is that a lot of renown points come in when you advance the war effort far enough (even if you're standing somewhere in the general area and thought you hadn't contributed much!).
When enemies are around/capturing points, npc's in the town give out repeatable quests to put you out there doing things so that you're rewarded handsomely for beating back the invaders. It's fairly fun to run out and beat on some people while waiting for scenarios to queue. Definitely like the RvR so far.
That's it for now. Next post will give some strategies for levelling/always having the best gear you can, as well as a breakdown of the classes that we've had experience with so far.