“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.” – Patton
I’m not sure what made me resubscribe to Warhammer Online yesterday, but a few minutes of doing dailies in WoW and then staring at a screen feeling absolutely no compulsion to continue, had me hauling out my credit card and punching the details into into my account profile. After a hefty 900 meg patch to 1.3.1 I logged my Tier 2 Black Orc – Skurm – and proceeded to spend the entire day embroiled in a constant, non-stop roaming battle for control of Tier 2 Empire – versus -Chaos.
A few hours later and I knew I was hooked, again. Even with the game’s persistent faults – primarily hitchy performance when scores of players are battling it out (which is understandable), I was having fun. This was the Warhammer I’d been waiting for. I spent maybe half an hour on PvE and Scenarios and the entire rest of the day in Open RvR. This is where the game positively shines.
So what’s changed? While a lot’s been fixed, it’s still largely the same game but there’s something below the skin, something not immediately visible that makes Warhammer an amazing MMO experience.
To be blunt – the motivation to do battle now exists. Players have very rewarding reasons to level via ORVR as opposed to PVE grinding. The combination of medallions (think Emblems of Conquest in WoW) and RVR influence grant good gear, repeatable keep defense quests as well as repeatable ORVR quests in the warcamps give players very good reasons to hang around in the RVR lakes and it has resulted in a sort of gravity well pulling players into these areas. In the lower Tiers, ORVR has become a resounding success thanks to a a simple formula, one we see echoed in other games: even when you lose, you win. While winning grants you great rewards, even if you don’t win a keep or objective siege the XP and Renown gains are as good if not better than PVE grinding or Scenarios. For the first time since I started playing way back at launch, ORVR is extremely lucrative – whether I win, lose or draw.
Finally, WAR is about war. Getting in there and getting your hands dirty is what it’s all about. WoW can’t offer me this. It tries, with Wintergrasp, but ultimately it fails. WG is a timed 15 minute zerg every 2 hours, whereas ORVR in WAR can be a 3, 4 or more hour long game of tug of war as Order and Chaos push and pull between keeps and objectives.
While Scenarios and PVE questing exist, they are now 100 percent not the focus of the game. At launch and for a very long while thereafter, they were the fastest way to get xp and gear, and human nature dictates that we take the path of least resistance. In WAR’s case, this path was also not the focus of the game, not the reason for it’s existence. Now, it’s all about ORVR. This does mean that when you aren’t engaged in battle versus the forces of Destruction or Order, that the game can get a little…dreary. The trick is to only use PVE and Scenarios as short bursts of XP/Renown grinding when there’s no ORVR happening. It also means that being on an active server is the single biggest difference between enjoying a great experience and being subjected to a terribad one.
Of course, this is from the perspective of a Tier 2 player, where none of the problems of City Sieges, Fortresses and Land of the Dead ‘RVE’ exist. I’m well aware that I might very well reach level 40 and be left, once more, with a sour taste in my mouth. But for now, the lower Tiers are inordinately fun, and if the new and improved Mythic can fix ORVR in Tiers 1 through 3 and make it all so dang enjoyable, then I have high hopes for what they may be able to do with Tier 4 given a little more time.
Looking at the other options available right now – Champions Online looks like too much of a PVE experience, and Aion too much of a Korean mob grind. In WAR, running headfirst into a slew of enemies and bashing a few skulls before I get mine bashed in is the grind. Tier 2 ORVR feels like I’m embroiled in some massive PVP endgame, yet I’m nowhere near the end. And WoW…let’s just say if you aren’t enjoying raiding, there is very little reason to keep working at it. I tried to PVP in WoW, even enjoyed it for a while, but once you’ve tasted the epic battles of WAR once more, it pales.
So it seems that while everyone else hops onto the new flavour of the month – Champions, Aion, Fallen Earth, I’ll be spending my time out-of-WoW battling for control of Saphery, Praag, and the Chaos Wastes.
In a world of MMO’s, many failed, can this new, largely reinvigorated game succeed? All I can offer is my own personal gut feel which is that, right now, I am enjoying it tremendously, and even if this rekindled fascination lasts for but a month or two, it’ll have been worth it. So, like Snafzg, Skurm rides to WAR once more.
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