If you only have 45 minutes to review a game…

Dan O’Halloran takes on the very dangerous task of playing Warhammer for 45 minutes at Comic Con, and then attempting to write an article about it for Massively. It can’t be easy. Even with someone from Mythic attempting to point out all the highlights, there’s simply no way you can get a feel for a MMO in 45 minutes.

I want to give my impressions of the game from the perspective of a long-time MMOG player with little time to play these days and even less interest in PvP.

I think this qualifier probably set the tone for some of the commenters. I think it’s a setup to expect a negative article, and the entire article isn’t negative. I have issues with the way he phrased a couple things, but let’s not lose the forest for the trees.

Dan says his reasons for considering WAR, despite those above-mentioned objections, is his desire for “revirginization”; he wants to recapture the magic of his time in earlier MMO’s, before he perhaps became jaded from constant leveling.

I can understand that, but I don’t think 45 minutes is enough time to see what Mythic has developed to address that very common complaint of leveling treadmill weariness. Perhaps when Dan gets more time with the game, he’ll discover that Mythic has attempted to evolve PvE advancement somehwat. It’s no revolution…it’s a level-based MMO. However, Mythic’s take on PvE does advance what we’ve experienced so far in other MMO PvE. I hope Dan finds something to enjoy there. I definitely share his leveling weariness, but I’m enjoying Mythic’s take on things so far.

Dan summed up his dislike of PvP:

As I stated earlier, I’m not a fan of PvP. I hate the ganking, the trash talking and the very idea that my limited game time can be ruined by someone else looking to stroke their e-peen by ambushing someone else. Also, I suck at it. I don’t have the twitch skills or reaction times to prevail.

I can agree with his reasons 100%. I dislike open PvP for the same reasons. However, I was surprised to see him making these claims about a Mythic game. The reason I liked DAoC so much was the elimination of much of those PvP complaints. The enemy couldn’t talk to you, and therefore couldn’t trash talk. They could trash-emote, but I think most of us are thick-skinned enough to weather an unkind emote. Plus, I was lucky enough to play on a server where that kind of behavior would get you scolded from your own realm. Percival didn’t dig e-peen strokers.

Plus, Mythic’s PvP had a shared purpose, and it was always easy, even for a committed solo player like me, to find groups for RvR. I rarely got ambushed alone, and if I did (like, if I got whacked while running alone out to a keep or mile gate, trying to join my group), there was plenty of incentive to dust yourself off and try it again, and perhaps to run out there with a realm mate also trying to avoid the solo gank. And individual 1 on 1 PvP suckage (a trait I share with Dan, unfortunately) is somewhat ameliorated in a group PvP situation.

I’m expecting the same sort of attention to PvP detail in WAR. I can’t see any reason why Mythic would suddenly say “Let’s make this more like EQ Zek servers”. I don’t think Dan has to fear that type of PvP experience in WAR.

Predictably, Dan’s getting killed in the comments for not jumping up and down for joy after getting a little time with WAR. Let’s try to remember that he only had 45 minutes with the game, though. To his credit, he does seem recognize Mythic’s major goals for WAR.

While the PvE game looks like most other fantasy MMORPGs, the RvR game looks like the real winner. The fact that they train you to play the PvP endgame is big draw for me and the reason I will be keeping an eye on the title as it approaches its September release date.

There are nuances to the PvE game that you need more than 45 minutes to uncover. Mythic has definitely added some fun to leveling. Perhaps when Dan has more time with the game, he’ll spot those improvements. I can’t blame him for not noticing everything that’s new or different after such a short time with the game. I am happy that, as a person who isn’t a huge PvP fan, he’s interested in Mythic’s approach to RvR.

I think Dan’s biggest faux pas was this statement:

WAR strikes me as WoW mechanics wrapped in different lore plus a couple of new features.

Keen has already addressed that in the comments for the thread, and I agree with Keen that it’s a weak sentence. Calling it WoW mechanics is giving Blizzard way too much credit. It’s simple MMO mechanics, and Blizzard doesn’t own ’em. Mythic was doing it before Blizzard, in fact. Each game increments what you can do within the MMO genre, but no one has re-invented the wheel yet.

I think Keen was right to ask if Dan felt the mechanics were the same because they were a clickable interface. It’s akin to someone saying that Battle for Middle Earth is just Warcraft III mechanics wrapped in different lore. Real RTS fans expect more in-depth comparisons, and so do we as MMO fans.

In fairness, though, no RTS or MMO fan can manage to gain enough insight in 45 minutes to give you that kind of depth.

I’d like to take away a positive feeling from the article; someone who’s not a PvP fan is intrigued by what Mythic is offering. And I hope that those of us who disagree with the “just like WoW” statements can take some time to offer reasoned arguments why we disagree, and can avoid “You’re wrong! You suck!” rejoinders. That’s not going to help win any new fans 🙂 It’s difficult to see what’s different in an MMO until you’ve played it for a bit. There are going to be “Eureka!” moments for people playing WAR, but we can’t force those moments upon them. They’ll have to experience it themselves before they’re going to understand what those of us in beta (and who can’t talk fully about our experiences) are so excited about.

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4 Responses

  1. I think the problem here is trying to figure out what is up with Massively. They took some WAR critics deep into Mythic’s HQ not too long ago and came out jumping for joy about WAR.

    Now, every other posting, whether WAR related or not, is sniping backlash at WAR. That makes no sense for a website given the ins and outs of nearly the entire game by the developers themselves.

  2. Really, we’d all better get used to the comparison. The mass market is going to make them. The media is going to make them. It’s not avoidable one bit.

    So like you say, it’s best to just bite your tongue and SHOW them where it differs from the 800lb. gorilla.

    As for Massively, you have to remember… it’s blog where the writers are paid to report news with their own editorial slant. Michael Zenke is very enthused with the game, and he was the one who was shown the ins and outs by Mythic. The others, are likely still on the fence or (and more importantly) simply have differing opinions.

    They’re bloggers before they’re journalists. Like Kotaku or 1-Up, they’re simply doing what they’re paid to do. No reason to get defensive about it.

  3. Comparisons are fine. Misinformation is not. HUGE difference.

  4. I think a “news” site needs to be held to a higher standard than a blogg. Even a niche news site such as massively. I certainly don’t think well informed write ups on MMOs are too much to ask for on an MMO news site.

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