My wife and I have been back playing World of Warcraft, and having a pretty good time doing so. We took a nice break to go play Warhammer, but after the new kinda wore off, we found ourselves logging in less and less. But if you read my prior post, you already know that, so I won’t belabor the point. With the end of the Halloween event and the upcoming expansion release, we have found ourselves completing some of the achievements and going back and looking at old world content. Part of this is due to me hitting 70 with my undead warlock, and having him pretty well geared in a few pieces from Kara, some of the undead purple scourge epics, and the frozen shadowcloth set. Tack on a blue cloak and bracer my 70 blood elf mage made, and my new 70 is geared pretty dang good.

So other than running stuff I’ve already seen for soon-to-be obsolete gear (or badges) to do ?

I really have always enjoyed soloing or duoing instances, they can give a player a challenge and allow
you to see content that perhaps you might not be able to see with other players, due to lack of interest, difficulty finding a group, or the old “been there done that”. There’s plenty of instances that are still fun, long as you make them fun. And with the achievement system, now you can have a little feather in your hat for doing so.

So the other night I went into Stratholme looking to see how my warlock would do in there. I know with my mage, who is geared much much better than my warlock, I got overwhelmed by the trash just do to sheer numbers. My warlock is specd 9/52/0 Demonology, so I have the Felguard to tank and dps with, and he does fine long as I keep him up. Well, he was able to handle the groups just fine. I would send him in to tackle the elite, preferably a caster, then let him get some aggro, then just throw Seed of Corruption and AOE the group. SoC goes off, and either kills most everything or brings it down to almost dead. After some trash clearing, I managed to talk my wife into coming along with her 70 frost mage, which made it even easier. We cleared the instance, killed all the bosses, and had fun. She had never even been in Strat.

Fast forward to last night, I wanted to get the key to UBRS just for the heck of it. So we ran LBRS following a guide I found online. Much of the trash mobs could be skipped as they wouldn’t aggro on a 70, and we downed all the bosses, got the key and the gems, then made our way out to Duskwallow Marsh to fight Emberstorm to get her to breath on my key to fuse the parts together. We didn’t manage to do it the first time since I got too weak after dismissing my pet too soon before using the mind control device, but 2nd time it went fine, and now I have a new UBRS key. Going back in, I grabbed the quests for the Smouldering Spider & Warg pet, and did those on the way in after resetting the instance. So, for a nice evening of play I have two new pets and a key.

So, if you are looking for something to do, try your hand at running those old 5 man instances with your 70. Its a whole different skill-set doing content designed for 5 people with one person. I’m about ready to try my hand at a few of the outlands instances, just to see how far I can go.

Brad

Well, I’m done with Warhammer Online.

Overall, its a decent game. It did “work as intended”, and like many games give it six months to a year of players beating on the servers and Mythic patching/fixing/adjusting, it will be very nice. I think my problem with it, is besides being just a jaded, grumpy old gamer – is I’m primarily a PVE player. In WAR, at least to me, much of the PVE content feels the same from area to area. Now of course this sounds a bit crazy, since there just isn’t that much difference PVE-wise from one game to the next. You either get a Fedex quest, kill 10 rats quest, kill mobs for drops, etc. What I found was that as I went up in levels, the PVE content felt like I was doing the exact same quests in each area, and the Public Quests (which I enjoyed) became empty, as players discovered the best “bang for the buck” was to run scenarios back to back.

So what you have now is at the flightmaster towns where the scenario quests are located, you will see tons of players standing around in queue. Go outside that area to quest, its just empty. Public Quests in the T3 areas are only used to grind the first stage for gear, and then abandoned. I’ve seen only about 2-3 players at a time hitting those Public Quests. Everyone else is just running scenarios back to back, which in itself turns into another type of grind. Open RVR is empty except when it becomes a zerg, even then it usually is not opposed much by Destruction. Players tend to only want to do RVR when they have overwhelming numbers and can zerg. If I want a PVP scenario based game, I’ll just fire up a Half-Life 2 mod. I can PVP in a balanced game without needing to level.

So now I’m back to bouncing around MMO’s again. My wife and I prepurchased the expansion to LOTRO – Mines of Moria and have been playing that with our guild, the Valar Guild. I’ve been grinding up my metalsmithing and knocked out Book 9, along with exploring Forochel a bit. I don’t care for their faction system, as some of my riding points that I used now require faction to travel to/from. But its not too bad to get to the aquantence level to use the travel ability. Its a much more casual game feel that I notice, and with our lifetime subscription, I don’t feel like if I don’t play I’m wasting a subscription fee. With WOW’s 3.02 update and the Halloween event, its actually got us back to playing some with it as well. I always enjoyed the events on WOW, and the achievement system is another “carrot on a stick” that for some reason I want to chase a bit.

Wonder how long I will last in each of these games, or which I will play when each expansion hits the shelves.

Lemme preface this with you have to play whats fun for you, and I’m well known (even to myself) for being kinda a old, crusty, jaded MMO player. To me in WOW, as they say, the real game starts at 70. You work hard getting to 70, then you gear up to either raid or PVP in the game. You keep running that same content, and either accumulate points/marks or wait on that drop that you need to do even more content. The whole point is getting to that end-game where the real game starts.

WOW’s expansion tack on only additional high end content. You get another 10 levels, some more dungeons, more area to explore, etc. But pretty much, its the same thing you did in BC. Its a straight upward expansion, not outward. What would happen if they released an expansion with no additional levels, but put in player housing, guild halls, flying mounts in Azeroth, heroic old world instances, new battlegrounds, etc ? Rather than just more of the same, give the players something truely new. Other games out there (Everquest comes to mind) do just that.

Where WOW’s PVP system was tacked on, WAR’s was built in from the start. There’s no difference in PVP vs PVE gear, its just gear. There is no ganking, since you can only do PVP/RVR in your appropriate Tier of area – if you try, you get turned into a chicken. When you go into one of these PVP areas, if you are a lower level you are brought up to within 2 level of the level cap, making it a bit more fair of a fight. Classes aren’t balanced against one another so that anyone has a fair fight on anyone, as some classes do better against other classes. WOW’s arena system has done more to hurt the game in my opinion by making Blizzard try to balance classes based on what happens in the Arena. For example, my Archmage (healer/dps – kinda plays like a priest/warlock combo) can do well against mage types, but get a melee dps on me I’m toast. WOW seems to want to make all classes equal for the arena for some reason, and that intern goofs up your PVE roles.

Standard PVE quests are just your standard PVE quests, really nothing special in any MMO other than the symbol above their head. Public quests are similar to fighting a raid boss, save that you do not have to wait till 70 to do it. Some fights can be done with a small group, others need a full warband (24 people) – and this is even in the low levels, not just endgame raiding. Once the PQ is done, a huge chest drops and it rolls for loot. Depending on your participation and a dice roll, you may get a bag (or maybe a gold/blue bag). In each bag is about 6 items, usually a green (blue/gold will have purple/blue gear), crafting items, or just straight cash. And it will be for you class. Each mob/section of the PQ contributes influence to that chapter/area/zone of the game, which earns you green and blue gear. So regardless, you will earn yourself some nice gear.

In T1 (1-11) and T2 (12-21) areas, each race has their own battleground. So right there at level 1 you have 3 different battleground you can play. Move on to Tier 2, you get 3 more. At Tier 3, there are two per race, so now you have 6 to play. They vary from a WSG style capture the flag, a fight for the item in the center, to an EOTS capture areas in a graveyard. While in each one you earn money, items, XP, and renown (pvp rank). With the renown, its similar to how honor/rank used to work in WOW back in pre-bc days. Once you get to a certain rank, you can buy gear. So if you decide to skip PVE and just PVP, you can get equivalent gear. Or, do both and get the best of both worlds. Your level going into these will also be adjusted up to near cap, so it won’t be like a L61 going into AV with all L70’s in epic gear.

Another plus with renown is that even though the level cap is at 40, renown cap is at 80. A vendor is available in your main city where very high end/legendary gear can be purchased at those high levels. That gear can be used for the high-end raids/dungeons as well, not just PVP. So overall it doesn’t have the massive difference in PVP/PVE gear WOW does.

The grouping system is very nice, one of the best parts. How many times have you seen folks standing around a spawn waiting for it, and it turns into a whoever shoots/dots it first. Once a group is formed (or you flag yourself as open for group), anyone can join or leave anytime. You can run into and area, click a button and see what groups are there, what they are doing, and join one. Its caused folks to group up that never would, myself included. I’ve seen where folks are grinding influence on stage 1 of a public quests, when it hits stage 2 (kill elites/hard stuff), now you have a group of 6-20 players. I’ve even grouped with my wife for something and end up having 4 others join in. No more LFG channel or begging for a group, and with most classes being able to do some type of hybrid activity (as a healer I can dps well too), you can pull off somethings that you might not be able to in WOW.

Graphics wise its pretty nice. I’d say its better than WOW, but its not Age of Conan nice. A beefier machine is needed to run it than WOW, but you don’t need super high end like you would with Conan. Art style is not as stylized as WOW is, just has its own feel to it. The gear on the characters looks nice though, it all matches and doesn’t look like a bunch of leftovers you scavenged from the battlefield the way most of WOW’s armor looks as your leveling up. A lowbie looks “put together” just as much as someone in a full set does.

If you are into RP/Crafting/Chilling, I think you might look somewhere else. This is more of a game of doing things, and if you are looking to do some RP or sit under the tree and ponder life’s mysteries, you may want to go elsewhere. Just not much atmosphere for that type of thing. There are titles you can unlock that are pretty fun (such as things done with no gear/clothes on), but thats about it. You get one crafting and one gathering skill, and the crafting portion only makes potions or talismans (like gems in WOW). That’s it – no making weapons/armor/etc. Hardcore crafters might better go over to SWG/EQ2 for their crafting fix.

Best thing I can say so far is the RVR. I’ve been in a 50+ person siege on a keep, dropping artillery pieces down, battering down the door (and having boiling oil poured on me), and taking over the keep. Then, defending against the enemy in our newly taken keep. All the time I’m still getting XP, money, and gear. So you constantly earn something to help you regardless of what activity you do. Biggest main expense is getting your mount, which unless you are spending all your money on the AH, won’t be a problem. It costs 15g at level 20, and at that level I had 55g on me. I’m 23 now, and sitting on right under 100g.

Some folks may disagree, but I’d say its pretty casual friendly, but being in a large guild helps. There are guild ranks where stuff opens up at various levels, and you need to be in an active guild to get that done. I’m in one with about 200 real folks (we are active on both Order and Destruction), so its easy to form groups for quests/scenarios, and then in the evening we usually go take a keep or two. There is always something going on in Casualties of WAR. Most of us are older and jaded, being a guild full of bloggers/podcasters, so its pretty relaxed. You still get the occasional person (not us so far) in a scenario yelling about healers sucking are needing more O or D, etc.. but nothing you can do to avoid that.

You may want to give it a try, if anything put it in WOW terms. You’ve payed $15 a month (give or take) for the same content for the last 2 years since TBC came out. In that light, $50 for a month of something new isn’t that bad. Its a good solid game, servers are pretty stable, and so far hasn’t sucked. I can’t say the same for some of the last MMO’s that were new that came out, but so far I’m pleased. I’d probably still play WOW as well, but I really don’t care for the direction they are taking it, or the decisions they are making regarding the whole arena point issue. Only real BG I loved in WOW was AV, and even then I prefered the old school 2-4 hour AV matches just for its epic feel of it. Its not as fun with the 10-15 minute zergfest. Where WOW tends to be about me me me, WAR has really turned it into an us vs them.

Sorry this was so long, and I really wish I wasn’t so turned off from WOW. I hope this gives you a better overview of Warhammer, and maybe in a few months they will have a free trial of it available, and then you can give it a shot. Times are tight for alot of folks and perhaps you can’t budget out for two or three MMO’s to play – not even counting the time needed to put into each one. We try to limit ourselves to just one MMO at a time, though some 3-6 month subscriptions do make us overlap. But for now, Warhammer has subscription.

My wife and I have been enjoying our new life in Warhammer Online. I have to say when I first tried it on the preview weekend I was less than impressed, with my opinions falling in line with those of Brent of VirginWorlds. I didn’t care for the combat, character movement/graphics, and just overall feel of the game. I played two melee classes, did some Public Quests, RvR, and standard PVE quests, and it just didn’t grab at me. I was actually disappointed in the fact that 3-5 years of work, 40 million dollars, and this was what they came up with ?

Of course there were a good bit of folks loving the game, so when Open Beta kicked in I decided to give it a try again, and I decided to try out several classes, see if maybe it would be better. For some reason, this time it grabbed me. I rolled up about 7 characters of mostly casting/ranged dps classes and had an absolute blast playing it. My wife did the same, and it hooked her this time as well. We got on Amazon and re-ordered the game (that we had previously canceled), and couldn’t wait until the headstart began.

We’ve been playing it pretty much non-stop with the exception we’ve made in the evenings for watching Heroes Season 1/2 on DVD (which we’ve now finished). I rolled up an Archmage, and my wife rolled a Witch Hunter, and we have been enjoying our time with the Casualties of WAR guild on the order side of things. I know playing Order we are a bit of an underdog since it seems that everyone and their brother has rolled Chaos, but I just didn’t fine a class (didn’t try any of the Dark Elf classes) that fit well with me. For some reason, the Archmage just clicked with me. I’m really really squishy, but I like being able to keep folks alive and have them finish the quest/instance. I always got tired of having to look for a healer in every other MMO, and in some of my more recent MMO’s I’ve played I’ve tended to roll some type of caster/healer hybrid (Druid in WOW, Mystic in EQ2, Shaman in Vanguard). Its nice to be able to DPS to some extent like a mage, and then switch it up and heal like a healer. Playing a healer is no longer the snore-fest I’ve heard it would be.

If you haven’t giving Warhammer a try, its a blast. Even the PVE carebear content is fun. Its nice to have an alternative to WOW that is fun to play, isn’t too buggy, and has a great community to boot.

The Warhammer NDA has dropped, and the blog-o-sphere has been overcome by the comments/rantings/ravings of the fanboi’s, those who like it, those who don’t like it, and those who hate it. Commenting on how you feel about this game in one way or another seems to turn friend against friend, father against son, brother against brother.

I’m not sure what it is with MMO’s, but whenever you say you don’t care for someone else’s game that they love and hold near and dear to them, they go insane. Only thing close to this might be a sports team, but whereas sports team are in competition with one another, MMO’s from a players perspective really aren’t. You can still play as many as you want, and get the same thing from them. Unlike a sports team where there is only one winner of the superbowl/world series/etc.

But you don’t see this with any other product, like a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese. No posts about when someone doesn’t like it, that perhaps they didn’t eat enough of it, or perhaps they need to slow down and savor it. Perhaps it will be better cooked next time, or it had too much ketchup on it. But if they don’t like it still, then obviously they are an idiot and can never be satisfied.. get my drift ?

This same nonsense happened with Lord of The Rings Online, Age of Conan, Tabula Rasa, and now Warhammer. I thought the AOC fanbois were pretty bad, but I think the Warhammer ones have edged them out. Who really cares if someone finds one game fun and exciting, and another does not, for whatever reason. Does it really matter ? If someone doesn’t like your game you play, does it really impact your life or gameplay ? From the fanboi’s comments you would think that it makes their life a living hell because someone doesn’t like their game.

Whats interesting to me, is I still run a MUD. Yes, one of the old text based online games, predeccessor of the MMO. I have friends of mine that play there regularly, and even though I have given them free trials to nearly every MMO I have played on, and yet they tell me they don’t like it. They say the graphics take away from the immersion, and I guess in a sense they are probably right. What you can come up with in your head is at this point 100% better than what you can create with an MMO. There are limits on what the PC can do, but no limit on the imagination.

Perhaps that is why in old-school games like the Infocom ones (Zork, Planetfall, Enchanter, Wishbringer), the story really had to pull you in. They had to do a knock-down, drag-out job on the immersion. It had to pull you in like a good book. Whereas with a FPS, its more akin to firing up a game of Centipede, Asteroids, or Robotron 2024. How many hours did some of us of the arcade era spend dropping quarters in an arcade on the fast action of these games ? I’d say FPS games are appealing to the same gameplay style.

But where does the MMO have to go now to take the next major step ? You take tabletop D&D, then the mechanics were pulled into DIKU mud, which then sprang all the offshoots of that type of MUD. Then came more-or-less a merging of the single player graphical RPG game with the online mud aspect, ala UO or EQ. What would be the next logical major evolution ? Is it a merger between the FPS world and the MMO world ? Somehow getting rid of the grind but still making you earn your way to the top somehow ? Is it bringing in a greater immersion ? How would you do it, how would the game companies do it ? I’m sure they would like to know how to make that jump, but it may take someone with some real vision and drive, like a Steve Jobs, to push the platform in the next big step.

But for now, we have what we have, all the different flavors of MMO’s, but for the most part its still the same wheat based cereal. It may taste different, but underneath most of them are in the basic form, still about the same. Just pick your favorite flavor (or flavors) and enjoy them, and don’t be standing in the cereal aisle to make sure that everyone who comes thorugh only likes your cereal.

I will give Mythic (and ArenaNet) this – they are smart to NOT have official forums. I’d say that the smartest move both of them have ever made game-wise.

Well, Warhammer preview weekend starts this Friday, and my wife and I both got in. Least now we can see for ourselves if the game is full of suck, is just fine, or kicks serious booty. Kinda puts a cramp on my WOW weekend of powerleveling our Refer-A-Friend accounts, but oh well, I guess they can wait a day or so.

Greetings!

It is our pleasure to invite you to the Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Preview Weekend taking place this Friday, August 22nd thru Monday, August 25th. Join thousands of your fellow players and experience the Age of Reckoning for the first time as you adventure through two tiers of content across three campaigns.

This is an invite-only event, so don’t delay in preparing for WAR and be one of the first to engage in the thrill and glory of RvR combat before the rest of the world!

Hopefully they will drop the NDA today, and everyone can see what those in beta think about it.

No, I’m not in the closed beta…

But, I have decided to drink the Mythic coolaid and get on the Warhammer bandwagon. 
Perhaps it will be the great game that will free us from the grasp of MMO tyranny. Perhaps the NDA will drop soon, open beta will kick in and we can all get a taste of the game. I sure hope so, I’m really looking forward to it (along with trying Ryzom out too). Once I made the decision to go buy a copy, I spent the weekend watching some of the official podcast videos, and overall it looks pretty fun. I do think it will put some hurt on WOW and a few of the other MMO’s out there if it is successful, but not enough to make any type of major dent in them.

In any case, if you are looking to order it now, you might try going through Amazon (I suggest using Virginworlds.com website to order it on to give them a little kickback). I ordered two copies and got my open beta/gift keys within a few minutes. It can be a little tricky to find, as its in the download section of “Your Media”, so its not going to get e-mailed to you. You could also hit up Target, they had the boxes for $.99. At least then you would be in on the head start and open beta, and then if you decided to buy it (from Target) you get a $5 off coupon. But the better deal Amazon was running is that if you order $50 you get $10 off with Bill-Me-Later, or $100 you get $20 off. Course you need to tack on a cheap game since these are 1 cent off from being $50, but you might be able to save a bit.

In any case, to play in the open beta or even head start I assume you will need the client. They (EA/Mythic) are hosting it on a torrent, and if you did around you can find the link. Its a bit slow cause there are a good bit of folks who don’t know how to configure their client right, or they are being greedy and not sharing. Mine took about two days total to get, but even I had to fiddle with my settings to get it optimal. If you have a mind to, might be a good idea to download the client, then you will be ready to patch up to the current one when it goes live. Least it will save you some time now.

Brad

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