Warhammer Online Review:
The Preview Weekend …Almost hits the mark

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Introduction
Well, its not that Warhammer is needing any more hype, but on August 22 Mythic inc opened the doors to tens of thousands rabid MMO fanatics (yes I said rabid, you better get some shots) for the WAR Preview Weekend.

For those of you who do not know about Warhammer online because you live in a hole, or live in Georgia (which Russia just turned into a hole), Warhammer is the latest MMO to (finally) be released by Electronic Arts / Mythic. These companies are known for such previous games as Dark Age of Camelot, Ultima Online and Leisure Suit Larry 8: Larry in space explores Uranus (ok, just kidding, thats from Sierra). Warhammer is based on the often played (for 25 years...Gah, I feel old!) Warhammer miniature game. As such, Warhammer Online joins the overpopulated genre of fantasy MMOs.

The game design of WAR has many elements from the (still fun) DAOC. Two sides (Order and destruction) , 6 races, large muscles and skimpy armor and lots of places to "go hard or go home!". The game world looks and feels so much like World of Warcraft, I guessing someone from Mythic hacked a Blizzard laptop. However the truth is that World of Warcraft based its game off the early models of Warhammer. In truth, Warhammer is not trying to look like WoW...it is WoW that tried to look like Warhammer. If you can get past its resemblance to WoW, Warhammer is HUGE amounts of fun.

The preview weekend is occurring while WAR is still in closed beta (It will be released on Sept 17th for all you Georgians). As such we go in expecting to find server instability, client side crashes, bugged quests, bugged abilities, lag. Happily we found little even at this stage.

Into the Game
Loading does take a few minutes the very first time you run the game. After that, however, getting into the game takes only a minute. The character selection process is smooth. Mythic makes the very strategic decision to only allow you to play one side on any server. This will allow for realm pride to develop, and even after 1 weekend I can safely say that it does (Order sucks). As expected everyone and their grandmother seemed to go to Destruction initially (grandmothers generally play marauders). However by the end of the weekend both sides had evened out

I will save all my best material for the Main review which I will write closer to the release date. However Several things to note about the preview.

Solo Quests: Most solo quests worked well. Very few bugs. They were mainly the standard “Hi, I’m a farmer, I hate rabbits…go kill 10 rabbits. Good! Now I hate skunks, go kill 5 skunks. Good! “. No voice acting like in AoC (the first part) ..a few grunts and catchy phrases and your on your way.

Public Quests: A few public quests were bugged. These are a great addition to MMOs. Basically a “come in a join the party kind of event…Dude! BYOB”. However if there isn’t enough players then your kind of screwed. Also some of the NPCs would get bugged on occasion and despawn. Leaving us to sit on our heals feverously searching for the last required NPC… which no longer existed. In the end, we slowly waited for the event to reset.

RvR Minigame: This is why Warhammer exists! This is why we are here! It did not disappoint. The RvR was fast, fun and enjoyable for each type of character I played. Unlike DAOC where range is king. Range in WAR is more like a 10 of spades. It’s a nice high advantage, but not anything that couldn’t be overcome with a suicide jack. No obvious overpowered classes in my opinion, each realm balanced out well. However I will say that because level caps were set at 20, things may (and likely will) change at higher levels. Overpopulated Destruction has to wait a while, underpopulated Order is immediatly send to their doom.

RvR Zones: The main RvR zone was fun but somehow seemed less intense than the minigame. Eventually turned into which zerg was bigger (Mine of course ...I wear Magnum zergs). The objectives were capturing a flag (yet again) and holding it. No destroying castles or pillaging villages until you get into the second tier (Lev 12+). The zones were big enough to move around and no annoying Mobs to agro. However sometimes the zones were deserted. I do worry that the Efficiency mongers may claim "minigames are the Best way to go!" and thus everyone just lines up for minigames over and over. The placement of objective buffs or realm buffs for victors will likely prevent that. The RvR is what draws you into this game...As this well written paragraph by Sparklehorse

"What I saw one night from the top of a keep (a keep which we defended for a solid 4 hours and never lost) was incredible. Wave after wave of chaos doing their best to survive the artillery fire and burning oil. As the night went on the number of red name tags increased until there were at least 150 of them (maybe 200 or more), all trying to take the last keep in the empire zone and running up against a steadfast group of defenders intent on keeping this last bastion of order from falling into the hands of evil."

However, Cannons ,while very fun to use, are generally too slow to be anything more than an annoyance to the enemy.

About once every 30 seconds you recieved a new survey from the game. Although it was very annoying, it does demonstrate that Mythic is deeply vested in playing input. I just wished they would not keep sending me the same survey over and over again..."OK OK! I will buy the game...Alright, I will recommend the game to a friend! ...JUST LEAVE ME BE!"

And so I came away from the weekend knowing that, although there are still bugs, the Game play of Warhammer is intact and ready. When WAR goes live, it will be ready. If you can get past the Post Traumatic Stress flashbacks of World of Warcraft, it will be playable and enjoyable. I had no such flashbacks (Now SWG Post NGE, that’s another issue). In fact if there is one measure by which I can gauge this game its by the fact that I lost time playing it. Before I knew it, I was online for 6 hours and its 3am. Smiling (and yawning) I force myself to turn off the computer and go to bed…yes, its like that.

Notable Bugs that were present
***Numerous Geometry bugs
***AI pathing of mobs was erratic
***A lot of abilities (especially melee) had bugged animations or no unique animation
***Selecting your target in order to hit it, if you somehow didn’t select it or deselected it you did nothing but smile and take punishment (Thank you sir, may I have another!)
***I had just one client crash once the whole weekend. Although crashes are bad, only one was a pleasant surprise.
***Please, Please, Please!!...people, stop using WAAAAAGH! in forum every post...its annoying!


Some helpful hints to prepare for Warhammer
From Dinga: Don’t tell your wife that WAR is now closed for two weeks. Earn some good-will points whenever she asks 'You going to play your game?' you reply with 'No. Lots to do around the house'...or..'No I just want to spend the time with you.'

From ProfRed: Just start playing WAR in your head. Debate with yourself about which class you will be, how you will make them look, and what you are going to do when the servers open. Eventually you will be walking in circles in the super market talking to yourself.

From Balthaazar1: Be ultra clever and get your lady to play alongside you. Damn near unlimited WAR time then. (Of course, that almost never works)


Summary
--Warhammer stays true to its RvR premis
--The servers seem stable and they took the load of 1-2K players well
--Minor bugs that still exist most should be easily flushed out before release or soon thereafter. Nothing that seems gamebreaking
--This game seems as highly adictive as WoW was when it was first released...prepare yourself.

For more in depth guides for leveling you quickly to 40, PvP and crafting.
Take a look at this Advanced Strategy Guide

There is also an Warhammer 1-40 Leveling guide that may help you get a jump when the game's released.

All sorts of Free leveling, gold, class and strategy guides are at the Warhammer strategy Guide Portal

Hope you had fun reading. Have any additional thoughts or info, put them in the boxes below or send me an email at Admin@TheBurialGrounds.Com

Level Quickly! Class specific PvP Tactics!
Warhammer Class and Strategy guides!
Make your Age of Conan life easier by using the Warhammer Leveling Guide


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