Interesting article in the UK PC Gamer:
Has World of Warcraft finally met its match?
The time has come to take off the training wheels. Massively multiplayer roleplaying games, from EverQuest to World of Warcraft, from Guild Wars to Lord of the Rings Online and everything in between, have become the definitive PC genre.
Yet most of the new ones feel like clones; merely the next incremental step. We've yet to see a truly next-generation massively multiplayer game - a game that binds epic quests, amazing landscapes, deep and rich character development - and really funny hats - with the potential for huge battles between opposing factions.
Here comes a game with an incredible licence: a game that looks set to explore the richest, silliest and most entertaining fantasy world that exists. It's going to remain absolutely faithful to the tabletop games, books and comics it descends from, but let players run around their favourite places, meet their favourite characters, and kill and crush their most hated enemies. It sounds like an almost certain success.
But the developers of Warhammer Online are taking an extraordinary risk: one that could draw players to their game in droves, or scare them away. Warhammer Online is all about the War at the front of its name - an unremitting clash between two factions that impacts absolutely every facet of your time inside its world.
The risk: will players brought up on a diet of soft cuddly progress and happy fun dungeoneering parties adapt to unremitting warfare? The draw: if and when they do, they'll never stop playing, never stop competing against each other, never resting. And do you know what? This could be the best thing to happen to MMO gaming since orcs.
This article has revived my interest in Warhammer Online. You really get the impression that Massive is trying to forcibly evolve the MMORPG from isolated quests completed by individuals and small groups into - dare I say it? - something more along the lines of a wargame. If they can pull it off, that would be something truly different (albeit, to be fair, EVE has been slowly moving in this direction with ad hoc corporate battling via fleet engagements in strategically located systems).
This sounds really nice:
That could make it real fun!It has, however, a very big hammer to wield: it builds on Mythic's battlefield experience, bringing a sense of meaning and purpose to the endless grind of monkey fingernails, honour badges and equipment upgrades that MMO gaming is so cursed by - via a system dubbed realm versus realm....Every quest you complete, every battle you win, every dungeon, every enemy player you stamp on, contributes to your faction's current 'victory points' - an overarching persistent battle that ends with the winning side sacking their opponents' capital city.
A definite plus for the older crowd of gamers who don't have hours of after school free time to invest in their favorite game.Why go to all this trouble? "We want to make sure that the game is accessible to casual players," says Josh, "so they can show up, take part, and interact with other players in large groups without committing huge amounts of time. If I only have half an hour to play the game each night, I don't want to spend 20 minutes putting together a group before I can go do something cool."
There were two interesting follow-up questions to the article:
That would be cool!Dear Sid,
I've been playing my favourite MMO for near three years, and I've got all the best armour, equipment and weapons. But so does everyone else - I'm wearing exactly the same as all the other hardbitten warriors. It's so embarrasing to turn up to a raid in the same outfit as someone else. Is this a common problem?
Individual Fashionista, Norwich
I understand your problem. Squig society suffers from a similar issue - once you've seen, or been bitten by, one part-animal part-fungi fleshball, you've seen them all. Warhammer Online offers a solution - every player can adorn their armour sets with trophies: the dessicated skulls of their opponents, the still-pulsing heart of a vanquished foe, flowers, that kind of thing. Even better, you'll be able to dye your armour. Raiding Orc lands? Blend in with a green tabard. Sacking a Chaos city? Avoid clashes with a simple black cloak.
And I like this idea as it certainly gives Warhammer Online a more realistic edge:
If Massive can pull all this off, Warhammer Online will definitely be a winner. Sign me up!For years, I've enjoyed the thrill of standing at the back of a group as a mage and hurling insults and fireballs at angry young men in orc suits. I've always reasoned that the warriors at the front of the party should be able to protect me. However, in every MMO game I've played, those angry young men I've insulted have been able to walk straight through the forward defensive line as if they didn't exist, and punch me in the face repeatedly. What should I do?
Transparent Liar, Cardiff
What you're suffering from is a case of 'lack of collision detection', a common problem introduced by MMO developers who don't want players to be able to block each other into tight corners. That lack of substance has been fixed in Warhammer Online. Enemies are obstacles to be avoided, rather than gaily lept through. That should fix your ethereal issues. Unfortunately, I have no cure for your need to hide behind stronger friends and snipe from afar. You coward.