Tobold's Blog
Friday, October 10, 2008
Tug of WAR

On November 13 me and many other MMORPG players will have to make a decision: Do we continue to play Warhammer Online, or do we go back to World of Warcraft and the new Wrath of the Lich King expansion? So somewhere in my head there is a little virtual decision gauge, which looks like this:As you can see I'm currently tending towards leaving WAR and playing WoW / WotLK instead. And when I think what influences that decision, I find that curiously Blizzard has nothing to do with it. I'm not even following the pseudo-news of the various WotLK beta developments any more, they change and reverse too quickly. I simply assume that I have a pretty good idea of what Wrath of the Lich King will be: More of the same, an opportunity to play my characters for another 10 levels, and a bunch of tweaks and changes which cause some people to hyperventilate, but don't really change the way World of Warcraft plays. So my decision on which game to play is based on mentally comparing the WoW I know well with the current state of WAR. And the reasons why that decision tends against WAR are as follows:Don't get me wrong, nothing on this list is unexpected, or would make WAR unplayable. I'm still having fun, and I'm certainly going to play WAR for another month. But as I said, at some point there is a decision to be made. I believe that Wrath of the Lich King will have the usual Blizzard quality level, and that playing WotLK will be most fun if I level from level 70 to 80 when everyone else does it. So unless something causes a major change to my decision gauge, I'm going back to WoW mid November. Maybe I'll be bored of WotLK after three months and switch back to WAR then, but for the time being WoW wins.
This is almost exactly how I've been feeling. My highest level char is a 29 BW. If it isn't a scenario grind at higher levels it's a PQ grind. You can not quest to 40 and will be grinding something.

I am hoping for a miracle though. I would rather play WAR because I want to play something new. Developer feedback, road map, or time line for future developments would be awesome.

Even if WoW does take me away. I will keep my eyes on WAR for at least the next six months.
You hit the nail on the head for me.

I am also mostly a PvE player and i hit LvL 17 and i did not log on for at least a week.

The levelling felt like grinding at the last 2 levels allready. I had to switch to Chaos to Chaos Tier 2 to be able to Quest on.

The Qeues on the Destruction side then just made me log on to WoW.

Maybe some stuff will change and i might get bored with WotLK, but i guess Blizzard will add enough stuff to keep me occupied for another Year.

Same as you i do like the game itself and the Quests are sometimes hilarious and funny. I still laugh, thinking back to the Tier 1 starting Quests of the Greenskins. (where you first "free" the stunties from the Barrels and later find out why they were in those Barrels)

maybe i will retry it after a few patches.
I can sign this too. I like WAR, the mood, the fights etc....but it just isn`t able to kick me.
On the other hand i love i can hardly wait to get my deathknight to 80 ;)
The tier 2 PQs are really bugging me too. In the last three days I've mostly been doing PQs, and have only been able to finish one of them. Usually there's 0-2 other people around, hardly ever any tanks. This is after waiting in queue to get in.

PQs are my favorite type of casual PvE yet, so I'm really disappointed they don't seem to be "working."

I don't have a problem with the focus on scenarios as I really enjoy them.

On polish... looking at my inbox it appears I've reported 28 bugs since release. The lag is horrible. The game doesn't feel responsive at all.

I'm still leaning towards WAR though. Despite the problems I think it's more fun. I guess we'll see if the frustrations start weighing over before they're fixed though.
I recognize most of what you are saying, but to me WAR is still so fun that I will continue to play it. I will probably subscribe both to WoW and WAR for a while when WOTLK is released but I doubt I'll play WoW for long.

Regarding the PQs, yes it's too hard to get enough people to do them. I'm pretty sure this at the moment because there are just too many of them. In my opinion there shouldn't be more than one PQ for each chapter, while there are now three in my current chapter 10. The same problem actually exists with scenarios. There are in tier 3 too many of them, 6. Half of them are basically unplayed. I'm not sure if I've played two or three of them although I've queued to them all separately for a while to try to see them at least once, but some just never start. Tor Anroc is of course the most played. In my opinion it would be enough with 3 per tier, one per race pairing. That might change at level cap though when more and more people start to get there.

I've already seen and understood that it will probably be hard to level alts after some months. PQs will be very hard to complete, much more than now. Scenarios will probably be limited to one per tier that is played. Quests might not be enough and the open RvR areas will be deserted.

Of course Mythic will improve the experience with time and we will see how that works out. Who knows, they might even patch it in a few times so it's possible to complete PQs solo? That would be great further down the road probably.

Btw, the queues seem to be much better now. Two or three more weeks and we will probably almost never see queues, at least on my server.
And don´t forget, that on the 13. of November the Population on the War servers crash down and it will be even harder to find some People to do some PQ or scenarios.
Hmmm, suddenly I see "PvE and questing is too slow" posts everywhere. Like on Seriously Casual or more from The Greenskin. The main issue appears to be that you can't advance from chapter to chapter in the same racial pairing, because sooner or later you'll have finished all quests you can do, and the next chapter is too high in level for you. You MUST do scenarios, or grind PQs, or visit the chapters of other races. Visiting the chapters of other races diminishes the replay value of WAR. Scenarios and PQs are great if there are other players, but become impossible if there aren't, which is the case more and more often.

Are the server population caps simply too low?
I don't know if it's just my server, but I've had far fewer problems than you outline, Tobold. I'm still only in Tier 2 on Darklands (Aus server), and find PQs in action pretty much whenever I log on. At the moment, the balance of PQ, scenarios and questing means I consistently have to abandon areas to resume getting any kind of serious xp. I don't know whether grinding scenarios will become a problem for me; personally, PvP is one of the main draws of the game.

One possible solution for alt levelling would be something like a lfg channel or faction wide pq recruitment; I already use the open party tool to find PQ groups routinely, and while it's OK now, I agree that there will be problems later.

As for leveling, most of the people here, I'm sure, know a thing or two about super fast WoW leveling... but this is not the same game. Maybe quick(er) leveling is available, but the problem is that people either haven't yet reached Jame's guide levels of efficiency, or don't like the requirement to PvP as part of leveling. As for being forced to go to other zones to level, thus diminishing the replayability... well, Ungoro crater springs to mind as a place I would rather not see again. Just to be clear: I think that this is partly a question of taste (rvr or pve?), and partly a question of balancing: and changing pve exp rewards does not strike me as the most difficult game change Mythic could try.

Anyway, I'm still enjoying the game very much, for all its flaws. I'm prepared to give Mythic at least another couple of months, at least partly because, atm, I have almost nothing invested in WoW - one retired 70 alt on servers to far away from me to be fun, and that's it. Warhammer, even in lowly tier 2, still feels like a mmorpg - and not the deserted wasteland of most of pre 70 wow.
Server caps definitely seem lower than ideal for gameplay. They do seem to be based more on a technical limitation (lag gets bad prime-time on high pop servers, especially in scenarios).

Presumably that's fixable; the tricky bit will be avoiding bad publicity from the consequent server merges.

The game is very fun as long as you can avoid a race mentality. The menu of things to do is pretty long:

3 sets of racial solo quests
3 sets of PQs
capital city solo quests and PQs
tome of knowledge unlock searching
kill collector grinding
keeps and objectives

As a rule, you can get through tier n by doing n things from that list: tier 1 is the only one you can get through solely by doing solo quests from one race, and if you literally never do anything but quest, reportedly you run dry somewhere around level 35.

Obviously, for anyone racing, the concept of a menu of options is an impossibility. One option will be most efficient (currently scenarios with an organised group so you win quickly), that option will be taken over and over again.
This is almost exactly how I've been feel. good post
This is what I've been telling for months now. It could be a fine game, but they made very poor design choices. Most people will get bord of it after a couple more months, especially as PVE content is thin and of low quality.
You have missed the boat on the game, unfortunately. The game is designed around groups and RvR, and you want to level as a solo player, hoping to find the odd pug to do PQs, and avoiding scenarios. I don't see any description of the attraction of RvR in this blog post. Based on your playstyle, you should be playing WoW.
100% agreed Tobold.

People are spreading thin already although the game is in it's prime. It make me sad to see all this development effort being unused (notably PQs and open RvR). Less could have been more.

I'd love to participate in some open RvR but apart from the Humans / Chaos Tier 1 it's always deserted. :(
I'm not a player of WAR myself, but what I know the devs said something like "90% pvm and 10% pvp in the beginning, 10% pvm and 90% pvp at the level cap".
Sounds to me like your problem is meant to be a feature.
I'm not sure why it has to be a binary decision. Games should not require 100% of your free time.
Are the server population caps simply too low?

Definitely. But then again that's also true for basically any game out there. The servers have to be able to handle it too.
Good points. I do not do many scenarios as most (only one or two a play session) so I also level slower. However I know there is NO reason to rush to end game. I feel a sense of accomplishment and having a blast mix-up PvE/PQs and RvR.
WoW is a great game . . I think it a case of “grass is greener” with WoW and WAR. I know I’ll get back to WoW and folks will power level to 80 and get into niche groups that hate PUGS. And I do not like raid gear grinding or WoWs PvP.
So it’s a choice of what ride I want to take and I prefer WAR ride at this time.
to quote myself about Wrath of the GrindKing:

"More of the same: a 10 level sight seeing trip with pretty colors ending with grinding and worthless PVP that doesnt matter.

As a bonus you get more E-PEEN purple gear earning in raid guilds that look down on people that cant play 24/7.

Enjoy your expansion."
When playing the open beta I did not realize how completely different player behavior is in a beta when the character will be wiped and level is capped, than it is in the real game. In beta, PQs were full, rvr went on all the time, scenarios popped often even on destrubtion, groups were easy to get into. I thought "this is what I've been waiting for this is awesome"

Then the game officially launched, and it's like a wasteland. No one does PQs, people refuse to group, I can only get scenarios on my order character on a med-high server, and world rvr is a pve exercise and usually only if your guild decides to organize it.

Maybe people only did the fun things during beta because during a beta when you know your character will be wiped, fun is enough of a reward. But apparently not anymore, when there are 40 levels and 80 renown levels to blaze through.
I absolutely love WAR (not so much tier 3 though, damn Tor Anroc) but for some reason I feel like when I play WAR I want to play WoW. It's very very strange...
This post mirrors my own experience perfectly, and I too have made the same decision to go back to WoW in a month. Maybe I'll come back to War in 2009, we'll see.

It really is a game with excellent potential, but I think they were forced to rush it out the door a month-or-three before it was really finished.

Anyway...keep up the great work Tobold.
A game needs a balance.

PvE and PvP need to both be intact.
This is why WoW does the business the way it has.
WoW offers both realms of play.
WAR is so focused on the RvR and PvP, that PvE was thrown out..
AoC, Vanguard and LOTRO are examples of games where the PvE was the focus and PvP was an after thought.
It does seem odd to see AoC in my list, but I think and still feel PvP was tacked on, and if they just would have focused on PvE more, and fixed PvP after, then they would have kept a higher subscriber rate. They would have been a true "niche" game.

WoW has cemented itself as the king of MMO's, and we must continue to live with so many more mediocre titles coming down the pipe. There are no further contenders for 2009.

But, wait...I thought you had a "free" that running out? They only gave you one month?

But, wait...I thought you had a "free" that running out? They only gave you one month?

The one month thingie is on the European servers. The free pass is for the US servers. As my main problem with WAR seems to be that it is only fun if I can find people to play with/against, I'm not playing on the US servers, where I would only be online during low population times.
It's becoming more and more difficult for me to choose between WAR and WoW.

Right now, I'm having lots of fun in WAR, but I'm also starting to notice annoyances and bugs that make it a little less exciting to log in.

I level almost exclusively through scenarios. Both because I find them fun and because the PVE game can really suck at times. I haven't found a full group to do a PQ since chapter 2 and have since had to just grind out the influence myself through stage 1. Of course, the grind isn't bad- nothing like rep grinds in WoW, so that helps.

I know I'll be playing Wrath when it releases, but I will probably continue playing WAR as well. Time will tell of course.
Very valid reasons and several good points. The more that I think of it the more that I think WotLK is at least worth playing one character up to 80. By then it should be around January or February and WAR will have had several more months to make improvements.

I too find myself running out of solo quests and PQ groups somewhat sparse. After finishing up a chapter’s solo content in a few hours I then fire up the music player and zone out to a podcast or music while I mindlessly hack away at stage one PQ mobs to max out my influence before moving on.

It’s 2008 for crying out loud. Why am I standing in one spot grinding on mobs for an hour or so? I thought this sort of game play went the way of the dinosaur?

At least you are Order so grinding scenarios is a viable option. I FINALLY made it into a T3 scenario after about 20 hours of game play in T3. I was actually in the queue for TWO HOURS on that play session just to make it into one.

The bottom line is that I WANT to play Destruction and I WANT to not have to leave my own races pairing to progress. Right now Mythic just can’t or won’t deliver on either of my two wants. (Yes I know that pop imbalance isn’t entirely their fault.) So I agree with you that WotLK for several months seems the most enjoyable option.

I just plan on keeping my eyes peeled for news of new “fresh” server launches for WAR around February or March of 2009 and see if things are better at that point.
I think it's pretty obvious at this point that if you prefer pve then you're going to enjoy WoW a lot more, and if you prefer pvp then WAR is the game you've been looking for all along.

WoW has a lot of pvp options, but it has felt forced and tacked on from the beginning. All of the crowd control they put into the game has been problematic from day one, and it's just impossible to balance classes for pvp when they also need to be able to withstand 20K unmitigated blows from a boss or be able to chew through 7 million hitpoints in less than 10 minutes. They've improved that balance slowly patch by patch and done about as well as they can, but it's still obvious the game was designed from the ground up to be a pve game. No amount of tweaks or patches can change that.

WAR, on the other hand, was clearly designed from the ground up to be all about pvp. There are a few class abilities that exist solely for pve, but every class and spec has multiple ways to be effective in pvp and numerous abilities with which to do it, even tanks. The downside there is that WAR's pve components feel forced and tacked on. There's clearly not enough pve content if you prefer that play style, and outside of their unique public quest mechanic the quality isn't that great either. Even the PQ's are looking to be a 1-shot deal that only the people who started at release will be able to enjoy.

Personally I think WAR is fantastic, bugs and all. I'm constantly checking out every keep that's being contested to see if there's a real battle going on, and queuing up for every scenario I can. I can't get enough of it. I'm leveling up without even trying, and I only really go do quests or PQ's when my renown gets capped. For me there's way too many quests because I'm constantly having to abandon them. I usually out level them before I can get them completed.

Overall WoW is definitely way ahead of the game. Their pvp is much better than WAR's pve. However, assuming WAR does get the population caps, lag, and UI bugs figured out, then I think which game you choose will ultimately depend on what you like best, pve or pvp. I think each game will try to please everyone, but really only be great at what they were designed for.
I can't say I'm all that surprised at your present feelings about the game, Tobold. I have only been reading your blog for a few months, but did you ever play Dark Age of Camelot? In that game Mythic had a great but WAY unbalanced RvR game coupled with a fairly crappy PvE game.

It sounds to me like they have made some improvements in their PvE mindset, what with the PQs and all, but it still will probably never be their real focus. If you love PvP, you'll probably love WAR, but if PvE is what you crave WoW is the game, bar none.

Here is a post of mine that goes a into slightly more detail of what I expected when it came to WAR.

I do hope to be able to play it myself soon to see, as I'm no WAR basher. (I did play DAoC for 2+ years.) I just don't have the cash to buy anything right now. :)

I've been feeling the same way. I had originally thought that I would stick with WAR but now I'm doubting. It may be in part that I have a large social network in WOW.
It'd be nice if there was just one standout game that was an obvious choice. Who has time for two MMORPGs.
The server caps are definitely too low. That's my biggest gripe with the game right now -- there need to be more people playing concurrently.

Comparing the polish of a 4 year old game to a brand new release isn't really fair though. WAR is more polished than WoW was at release, people tend to forget how horrendous the first few months of WoW were.
I am going to agree with a few others here that rushing or even pacing leveling is not the best way to enjoy the game.

At least not for me.

I am still running about in T2 Empire, on Ulthuan, and have been able to do most anything I wanted. Now, the trick is, I don't always do it according to my initial plan. Sometimes the War fronts are quite, and there isn't much action in the lakes. Sometimes the scenarios are taking a long time to pop. Sometimes there aren't enough people around to do a nearby PQ. However, I have yet to experience all of these things down at once.

I go with the flow, and quest and read my Tome during the ebb. When action heats up near a keep or in the lakes, I dash on over to partake, and can spend many a mary hour. When the scenarios are hopping, I jump onto the wave and ride it for a while. When a band is making its rounds and doing the PQs I jump in, and we generally keep it rolling throughout the chapter.

Some of it is just the nature of people. There is a lot to do, but the crowd is generally not dispersed throughout the entire thing, but rather, they are often doing a couple of them. I also have not seen that more people are doing any one thing that much more than the other, it just depends on the time of day, or the whim of the crowd at large.

It helps that I enjoy all of these elements of the game, and it keeps it from becoming a grind. I hate doing the same thing over and over again because it is "efficient." I don't need another job. WoW taught me to hate it, and I swear I shall not do that again for my entertainment, be it arenas, BGs, Scenarios, Questing, Public Quests, Keep Sieges, Dungeons, or Raids. I am going to mix it up, and have a lot more fun.
I expected to play WAR next Spring, but I won't waste my time if there aren't enough low level players to complete all the quest.
PvE gets a boost in XP soon. See HERE

Hoping that will help Tobold and others that I know that have been struggling.

As for me, I'm Rank 24 and doing ok. PvE xp at present is a little disappointing, but scenarios generally give me good XP. I'll be staying in WAR for the foreseeable future. I am absolutely loving it :)
Yeah, that's what I was wondering...if PQs and scenarios are already hurting for players 1 month into the game, what's it going to be like for the player who starts 6 months from now? Seems like WAR gives you a short window of opportunity to get in the action with everyone else, and if you don't, you won't be able to participate in a lot of the fun things the game offers. Lack of compelling solo pve content is really going to hurt this game in the long run.
For those of you disappointed w/ War's pve and dreading WoW's grind, you may want to give LotRO's mines of moria expansion a look, also due out in mid-november. Looks to have some good features and depth. Plus moria itself is the grandaddy of all dungeons. War's pretty cool though. I agree that WotLK will be same old WoW thing. Still, revisiting and getting nostalgic can be fun, too.
I 100% agree with you on the PvE aspect of the game. Your play style sounds alot like how I like to play, so I have an idea of what you are going through.
The problem Tobold, for you, is that basically WAR is not WoW". I can feel it from all your posts.

I think at your heart you love more WoW and certanily should keep playing it for the fun you are having there.

The problem that I'm having is that all your comments are basically a comparison to WoW, nothing else, they are clearly biased by your WoW experience. What about comparing the game features and innovations against, EQ2, SWG, LOTRO, why not AoC, etc?

You may not have played all those games, but to be really fair a game can't be just compared all the time to WoW. There are many other things out there, and millions of people that like or dislike these differences.
I won't go back to WoW just yet. I'm heavy into PVP, and don't really care for arenas, and I burnt myself out with my former raiding guild. The other problem with WoW is that the character styles and builds I like to play are normally shunned endgame ( I was a feral druid before it was 'cool' and played a survival hunter and ret pally main while it still ISN'T cool ). Play your characters like the majority says it should be played, or play solo.

I don't get much of that in WAR, (except for the healers that allowed a teammate to die at their feet, so they could get one more damage spell off). I'm loving WAR atm. I also have good servers. If you're not having fun, I suggest trying some different server population balances.

I do hope there's alot they'll clean up, like putting the removed classes back into the game. For me though, it's WAR or bust...

although they have removed the level grind from Lineage 2. I could always go there again. Great PVP, just leveling was such a punishment. Now you can get to 60 in a month instead of a year.
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