Thursday, December 18, 2008

Going to see the mistress

Like every Wednesday since the dawn of time, the EU WoW realms had their weekly maintenance yesterday. Since I was bored and didn't have anything to do, I decided to take Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning out for a spin. With one day, 5 alts and 2 making it all the way to level* 7, I figured I'd write a little "comparison" post. For those who aren't really interested, feel free to skip the rest of this post, but don't worry - I'm not leaving WoW any time soon.


Starting the game for the first time, you get to the server selection screen. Nothing special there, except that when you choose an RP realm, it pops up a screen with the RP Realm "code of conduct" and you have to agree to it. Other than the obvious annoyance (only once per server, so it's not really that bad) it gives me hope that RP realms will get better treatment than they do on WoW. From there we move on to the character creation screen. You choose one of two sides - Order a.k.a Alliance or Chaos a.k.a Horde. You can't have characters of both factions on the same server, regardless of whether it's a PvP* realm or not. Each faction has 3 races, each having 3 or 4 unique classes* to choose from which are sometimes limited by gender as well.

The game basics should be familiar to all of you - a lot of mappings are the same, and the basic fighting/casting mechanics are also similar. Characters all have Action Points, which are similar to a rogue's energy or pet's focus - skills use Action Points and they are regenerated fairly quickly throughout the fighting. On top of that, each class has its own distinguishing "mechanic" -
Squig Herders have Squig pets, Witch Elves have Combo Points*, etc. Leveling up you get to train new skills* - so far it looks like you get access to one new ability per level, which is nice since it gives you a chance to learn how to use it instead of dumping 20 skills on you and leaving you to figure out what to do next. Starting at level 11 (theoretically - haven't gotten there yet), you start getting talent points*, which are put into one of 3 trees*. From what I can tell, they're not actually trees, more like lines - everyone who puts the same number of points in a certain tree should have the same bonuses. At least that's what it looks like, I guess I'll know more if and when I actually make it to 11.

Phat Lewts

Items in the game are split into several categories (no surprises here):
  • Quest items - these items have a tab of their own in the inventory screen, and don't take up bag space. Yay!
  • Equippable - Armor (that you can dye), trophies (little adornments to your shoulder armor or belt that have no effect but are still nice) and jems*. Basically anything you can put on in some way or another.
  • Ruined Armor - From what I've seen you don't get actual "working" equipment from looting mobs. Instead you get ruined armor that you can repair at any merchant giving you the actual equipment.
  • Potions.
  • Trade Mats.
  • Trash.
The armor works more pretty much like in WoW, too - random drops are usually BoE, quest rewards BoP. There doesn't seem to be any craftable armor/weapons, which takes us to the next part - Trade Skills.

Trade Skills

Every character in WAR can learn one crafting skill and one "gathering" skill. Two crafting skills to choose from - jewelcrafting and alchemy* (also used to create dyes. Did I already mention that you can dye your armor? Yay!).

Gathering skills are also split into two types. Butchery and Scavanging allow you to "skin" animal and human mobs, respectively, after they're looted to obtain trade materials that can be used for either crafting skill. Cultivation lets you grow herbs (for alchemy) out of seeds and spores that you can loot from mobs, and (Magical) Salvaging lets you turn salvagable items (also looted from mobs) into items used for talisman making.

So, all in all, not as much variety as in WoW here, but I don't have enough experience with this yet to figure out how useful the trade skills actually are.

Moving Through the World

Finally, we get to the really interesting stuff. Each character has a "book", detailing the quests you're on, your achievements, all the usual stuff, but also tells the game's story from your character's viewpoint. Each zone is actually a "Chapter" in the story of one of the races, and they are added to your book as you progress in the game. I think this is really nice - it lets you those who are really into the story go read it at their own time/pace, while not burdening those who just want to get to the level cap (which is 40, BTW).

Each chapter has a Rally Master - an NPC that serves as WoW's innkeeper and faction quartermaster at the same time. Every chapter has its own reputation*, with its own rewards - so far, the first tier lets you select a potion, second lets you select a piece of socketable armor and the third gives you a choice of green armor (much better than other quest rewards in the same chapter).

As for things to do, you have the usual quests and BGs* (for which you can queue up anywhere. Too bad that although I was queued the whole time I didn't get to play any. Not enough people, I guess), but you also have Public Quests. Public Quests are quests that take place in a certain area of the map, where any player can contribute to their progress while they are there - for example, killing 100 whatevers in that region. Killing mobs for the quest grants reputation for that chapter, and when the objective is completed the quest advances to the next step in the quest chains. If any step is failed, or after the quest chain is complete, the whole quest resets and goes back to stage 1. Of course, completing a PQ chain nets you loot - one chest that is rolled for by everyone who took part in the quest (basically, it's like a scoreboard of who contributed the most with another random roll thrown in for the fun). All in all, they were a lot of fun so far, even though I couldn't complete most of them. Additionally, practically every zone has World-PvP objectives that grant certain bonuses to anyone in that zone, but I still didn't get a chance to check it out and figure how exactly it works.


The game UI still has quite a few bugs and issues, although they are fairly minor ones (no crashes or anything that actually "stops" you from playing), and I'm sure they'll all get fixed eventually. The general interaction feels a little clunky and not as smooth as WoW, but that could be psychological. I would have liked to see some more players, but I'm already used to being all alone especically in the middle of the week. All in all, it was pretty good, and definitely has potential as something to replace WoW if I get tired of it, but we're just not at that point yet - neither me nor the game (it wouldn't have hurt them to wait a little longer and polish things up a little more).

* I figured I'd write this post in WoW lingo. For the appropriate WAR terms, see the list below.
  • Alchemist - Apothecary
  • Battleground - Scenario
  • Class - Career
  • Combo Points - Frenzy
  • Jem - Talisman
  • Jewelcrafting - Talisman Making
  • Level - Rank
  • PvP - RvR
  • Reputation - Influence
  • Skill - Ability
  • Talent Point - Mastery Point
  • Talent Tree - Path


David said...

I'd give WAR a whirl if I was in college or unemployed. WOW is enough gaming for me at the moment with all my RL stuff.

It sounds foreboding that you weren't able to find any BG's. But then again, if you qeued for WSG in at level 10 or 20 in WOW, you would not find any except for twinks who wipe their rears with ungeared players. So maybe you need to get closer to the level cap to find a battleground match.

In any case, thanks for flinging your body on that grenade, for the rest of us back in WoW :)

Tal said...

Yeah, I probably wouldn't have tried out myself if it wasn't for a co-worker talking it up.

As for BGs - while there's usually no problem getting into BG's even at low levels in WoW, I don't know whether WAR lets you play with other servers. And again, it was the middle of the week, in off hours, for a game that's relatively new and still doesn't have as many players as WoW, so I'm not reading too much into it for now.