Friday, September 26, 2008

Forging into Warhammer

A few disjointed comments about Warhammer, now that I've finally gotten around to taking a crack at it:

Population Balance:
Perhaps surprisingly, the bulk of servers seem to favor the Destruction faction by a substantial margin. This is fine by me, as I'm just as happy to play Order and not have queues. There's been speculation on why exactly this happened (see Relmstein for some), but my best guess is that all the people who play Night Elf Hunters read all the posts people make calling them immature Huntards, and decided that playing the bad guys would be a step up in the world. The practical results of this imbalance remain to be seen. On the Order side, I get to play scenarios in a timely fashion, and it doesn't really seem to make a huge difference that zone control seems to be in Destruction hands more often than not.

Credit card required to play
My very first action upon entering my retail key was to cancel my subscription. This isn't really a statement on the game itself so much as a matter of principle. Mythic can have more of my money if they earn more of my business. I see no good reason why the burden should be on me to remember when my bill date is and be sure to cancel before then.

Of course, this is another one of these industry standard practices we all put up with; you'll get the exact same terms out of Blizzard and Turbine. I guess that requiring a credit card may make it easier for them to perma-ban gold farmers or whatnot (unless, of course, the farmers get disposable pre-paid visa cards to validate their accounts with). Still, I'd rather not be forced to give out my credit card information just to get my "free" month. (FYI, pushing the red "cancel subscription" button does not cut you off from time you've already paid for, though there is no way you could possibly know that until you've actually pushed the button.)

Class trial and error
I decided to spend the evening trying out my third and fourth classes, the Empire Witch Hunter (plays a lot like a WoW Rogue with less stealth) and the Dwarven Rune Priest (the Order side's pure healing class). The Witch Hunter surprised me; I was not expecting to like it much, but it handled pretty well, at least at low levels. Indeed, I liked it better than the White Lion (that's the melee pet class), though I'm not sure how I'd stack it up against the Engineer. (One sad point; I saw enemy Magus mobs, and I thought the much touted Chaos disc they ride looks pretty silly in motion. Guess that won't be my Destruction main after all, if the player version looks the same.)

As to the Rune Priest, well, I was a bit disappointed. The Priest's PVE soloing abilities are noticeably limited compared to the DPS classes I've tried so far. Healing in an RVR scenario was a bit more interesting, but my life expectancy was very short as enemy players made my healer self a priority target. Perhaps my actual lifespan improves as I gain more defensive abilities and the local tank population learns to help protect me, but I'm not sure I'm going to like being the center of focus-fire attention. Rohan has good things to say about the Warrior Priest so maybe I'll take one of those for a spin sometime down the line.

Wait a minute, you're playing RVR?
Yeah, it is definitely unlike WoW to be heading off to RVR scenarios before I'm even level 2. Still, all of the scenarios I've seen (all three of the T1 pairings) are well executed, and there is excellent quality reward gear to be had for the entry-level character upon completing even a single scenario. The only downside is that cash, which you need to purchase your class skills and reknown rewards, is rather scarce at that point in the game. Sure enough, I got a /tell from a gold seller spambot, and I can see where their business comes from. There's no good reason for money to be the limiting factor in obtaining your level 2 rewards and skills. Still, that issue aside, Mythic has done an excellent job of bringing the two sides of this game together, and that's a big part of why I was even considering playing a healer to begin with. Maybe I'll find a tank class I like or somesuch so that I can still provide group utility without being victim number one.


Rohan said...

Cash is really weird in this game. On some characters I'm swimming in money (my Rank 9 witch elf has an entire gold saved up). On other characters, I'm hovering at the zero mark. I'm not sure where the difference is coming from.

sid67 said...

As to the Rune Priest, well, I was a bit disappointed. The Priest's PVE soloing abilities are noticeably limited compared to the DPS classes I've tried so far. Healing in an RVR scenario was a bit more interesting, but my life expectancy was very short as enemy players made my healer self a priority target.

I didn't like the Rune Priest, but they are the best healing class by virtue of many of those spells being instant cast. That's where the class really shines -- being able to do stuff on the run.

Survivability for many of the DPS classes goes up dramatically as you learn how to use your Detaunts. Likewise, some tanks get the ability to share damage (which really really helps). Pairing a Rune Priest with an Ironbreaker is damn tough.

Xtian said...

I want to echo sid67 on this one. I feel like the Rune Priest does okay early on, but really shines once they pick up their detaunt. Also, as you mentioned, when tanks work to protect their pocket healers, good things start happening.

One thing that I noticed more here than in other games (Wow, Guild Wars, etc.) is that each of the classes takes a while to get off the ground. Has there ever been an official reason why tanks don't get their tank abilities until the very end of Tier I, healers their detaunt until level 9, etc.? Seems silly to me when you want to build early synergy, but most Tier 1 tanks can't do much of anything to really protect a healer aside from wail on nearby enemy players.

Fish said...

I think the higher number of chaos has to do with the player base. Most "mature" players think "pretty" races appeal more to younger gamers and don't want to deal with them, so they choose the opposite. Since WAR is marketed to older gamers, this is magnified.

Personally, I think its all window dressing, and I just ignore annoying players, old and young alike.

Green Armadillo said...

@Sid: Actually, I did really like the instant cast factor for heals. Part of me definitely feels like, in a game like this where you're going to be in a RVR group for comparatively more of the time than, say, WoW, it's less of a sacrifice to give up solo ability for good healing. (For instance, I'm not convinced of the value of being an Archmage since you're going to need to heal in groups.) Unfortunately, that part of me got trampled to death by focus fire. Maybe I'll find the patience to give it another shot later on.

@Xtian: I think you're looking at two factors with the slow ramp up in T1; the devs don't want to throw a ton of skills at low level characters at once, and they do want to promise a new and different skill every single level, where many other MMORPG's only dole out skills on every other level. The issue is magnified if you're a Rune Priest since you've got a single damage button to mash repeatedly if you're soloing at low levels.