I don't expect to spend much time in Warhammer's open beta; realistically, I can mess around with low level characters now, or I can do it after the head start begins and actually get to keep the guinea pigs. That said, a few very early impressions:
- Maybe I'm getting old and suffering eye strain, but some of that flavor text in the chat window can be hard to read, especially the lighter grey color reserved for NPC's background chatter. I dunno if it needs better contrast or a larger font (or if the game's default UI can be configured to provide these things), but it's a bit annoying.
- I rolled a High Elf White Lion, a melee DPS class that comes with a cat as a pet. This was actually just about my first choice of classes in the game, but the constant pattering noise from the cat's feet has caused me to reconsider that plan.
- As Rohan noted a while back, it's possible to accidentally click on yourself and/or your pet while attempting to loot corpses (or, indeed, target foes if you're relying on the mouse for that). Not fun.
- Public quests are interesting, but they're not without flaws. I had actually outleveled the game's second PQ (i.e. all the mobs were below my level) by the time I reached it. Also, it is VERY annoying to come in 1st on the contribution chart and not even get a crappy white loot bag due to an unlucky roll. I'm not sure whether I'd rank that above or below doing the same PQ four times to finish out my influence bar and getting white or no loot on the other three times too.
- I picked the lowest population Order side I could find for this day 1 test, but the character select screen does seem to have the threatened separate login queues per side. I've probably said this before, but having to wait in a queue for a server that has the physical capacity to take more players simply because my side is too popular will get old really quickly (like the first time it happens).
- The UI seems to be good; generally, if I can't figure something out, it's because I've failed to notice the on-screen directions. (E.g. you have to right-click on your unlocked titles to actually wear one.) Both the quest tracker and the minimap are pretty useful.
- Scenarios: As promised, the first words I saw when I zoned into a scenario were "if you can heal, you have to heal!" That said, this was not really my problem since I took my own advice and didn't roll a healing class, so I was free to try to learn to play. (Aside: You get a group health bar UI, but I suspect that the learning curve may be a bit intimidating if you haven't healed before AND are a priority target.)
The T1 Elf vs Elf scenario seemed reasonably evenly matched, well-designed, and fun. As I said with PQ's, perhaps my biggest regret here is that you permanently level past scenarios and can never go back on that character, no matter how nostalgic you are. Still, I'd rather play the one scenario I've tried than any of Blizzard's current battlegrounds, so that's definitely progress.
Also, at least the early stages of the Reknown grind (players have a parallel PVP level to their character's actual level) were very quick. I picked up a title and two ranks in a single scenario.
- Quests: Kill X baddies, loot Y items off the ground, or use Z quest item. The non-public PVE quests aren't exactly ground-breaking (though the game's map screen will give you hints on where to go next), but, as Rock, Paper, Shotgun says, this is not necessarily an insult. One quibble is that quest items are stored in their own secret tab of your backpack, which you can forget to check and then wonder why the drop is taking so long to find. Ah well, I guess it's worth not having to worry about the bag slot your items are occupying.
- Combat: Well, the game does still have some pathing issues, which may have hit me harder than usual because I was playing a pet class. That aside, combat is good. It's definitely a notch slower paced than WoW, with a greater emphasis on your abilities instead of auto-attacks. Also, I don't know how well this scales, but it seems like my health and mana/energy equivalents regenerate very rapidly, which means minimal downtime.
So far, so good. I may not bother to log into this thing again until after the open beta character wipe, but that's actually a good review. Obviously, I haven't seen much of the game, or any outdoor RVR yet, but the actual game content that I have seen is pretty good. I may just have to get used to the concept of not being able to finish large to massive amounts of content every level, but I guess there's no real harm there since it seems like the scenarios and public quests are generally more interesting than the solo stuff anyway.