When the WAR NDA drops…

I was on vacation last week, which only exacerbated my summer doldrums blog-posting drought. A trip to Niagra Falls, followed by a week at home, the July 4th vacation weekend, and then a week in Las Vegas, really removed me from my obsessive blog-reading, commenting, and posting habits. If I haven’t visited your blog lately, it’s not personal. I think I’m just enjoying the summer, and enjoying my break from my usual MMO obsessions.

There were a lot of Warhammer-related announcements in the past few weeks, and I haven’t commented on them very much. Part of that is due to the doldrums. Mostly, though, it’s due to my experiences over the past six months in the WAR beta, and the improvements I’ve seen in the game since I first got the chance to play.

I still can’t talk about it specifically, but I can say that I’m not going to get worked up about any changes before the game is released. This is the right time to make changes, and I think I trust Mythic to make changes that will better the game at launch. Obviously, if they decided to remove RvR three months before launch, I’d be freaking out, but I don’t think the removal of some classes and some cities is going to make the final WAR product unenjoyable. Different, sure, but I’d rather see the changes now instead of two months after launch.

One thing I’ll say about the beta; I’ve never participated in a beta that solicits so much feedback, has such active beta forums, or appears to react to the opinions of the testers. I’ve beta-tested a lot of major MMOs, and Mythic really seems to have a solid testing process. If they felt like they had to make major changes, a good portion of the input had to be from players and from testing. This wasn’t an off-the-cuff decision, or simply something EA told them to do to meet a deadline.

I’m not all fanboy here, claiming WAR is going to be the best MMO evah. It definitely carves out a niche in the genre, but it has very different gameplay elements than most MMO’s. It’s possible that a lot of PvE players won’t like it (although Mythic makes PvP more accessible and fun and meaningful than any other MMO developer). It’s possible that people who love PvE endgame raids in EQ2 or WoW won’t find enough of that in WAR (I’m not sure, that’s not how I play the game, and I haven’t gotten a sense of the WAR endgame yet…just a thought, not an informed beta opinion). It’s possible that the PvP will be too restrictive for AoC-type players, or Eve fans.

That said, hopefully removing any fanboy accusations from my opinions, I am pretty confident that Mythic will release a very playable game, and they’ll continue to make improvements beyond the launch date. The game I’m playing right now is quite a bit different than what I saw when I first entered the beta. The basic gameplay has been consistent, and consistently fun, but there’s serious refining and polishing going on. Whatever state the game releases in (and I think it’ll be pretty good), I’m confident that Mythic will continue to improve the experience, even after launch.

I’ll be able to talk openly about the changes I’ve seen in the beta once the NDA drops. Until then, I’m not going to worry about the state of WAR. I think Mythic’s got a pretty good handle on what they want to present, and how they want to present it. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun for the people who enjoy the type of game Mythic has designed.

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