I don’t have a long and storied history in MMOs, but what history I do have consists mainly of World of Warcraft (WoW). I went through a couple different WoW stints before finally swearing off it a couple years ago. I’m not going to WoW bash here; it is without a doubt a superb game. It’s hard to argue with the masses of subscribers that have made it a runaway success or the excellence that is Blizzard – hey, I’m waiting on Starcraft II like the rest of us! And I had a good time with the game while it lasted.
That said, I think that while WAR borrows heavily from the proven WoW formula (much as WoW did from games like Everquest), I feel WAR has some specific differences that attract me to it over WoW. I will go into more detail on my impressions of these features in later posts, but the following are brief descriptions of the areas in which I feel WAR excels.
1. Realm vs. Realm (RvR) – More specifically, player vs. player combat made more interesting when viewed through the lens of the Realm War of Order versus Destruction. This was the main selling point of WAR, in that it claimed to offer an exciting PvP experience on a level not before experienced. It’s arguable whether or not Mythic Entertainment has accomplished this goal, but the RvR aspect is definitely compelling and well done for the most part.
2. Public Quests – Simply put, I think public quests are an absolutely superb, revolutionary idea. PQ’s allow an unrelated group of players to come together and complete a semi-epic set of tasks together for a chance at loot based on their contribution to each stage of said quest. There are definitely some implementation questions to be solved, but at its core public questing is an awesome innovation. It’s a matter of time before other MMOs blatantly steal this idea and probably do it better.
3. Open Grouping – For the lazy, like me, open grouping is a gift straight from the developers. I hate looking for groups in LFG channels or regional chat. With open groups, I just click on an icon to see who in the area could use additional players in their current group, hit join, and be on my way earning xp and making friends. This is also excellent when trying to band together a force for taking keeps in Open RvR.
4. Scenarios – Scenarios have become a source of much controversy as many players try to min/max their way through the game by doing nothing but queuing for these instanced battles all night. Nonetheless, scenarios provide a quick, fun way to have a PvP skirmish that doesn’t require the organization or travel necessary to get a good Open RvR battle going. A player can join the scenario queue from almost anywhere in the world, and in a matter of minutes be playing a game of capture the flag, kill-the-carrier, territories, or some other objective style Team Fortress-type game. At most, a scenario can last 15 minutes – perfect for the player who doesn’t have hours on end to hop online, play a few scenarios, then go mow the yard.
5. It’s not WoW – I just got tired of WoW in the end. I’m not sure why, and it’s not like I even played it that long. It’s just that once I got to the low 30’s (with a couple different characters), I started to realize the game was a seemingly never-ending stream of plateaus (plus I really disliked the zones around that level). Maybe WAR will turn out the same way for me, but I think the Realm War and different styles of play available (PvE, Open RvR, Scenarios) will keep it fresh for me for a while.
So that’s my introduction to WAR – not as brief as I had intended. WAR is far from being without flaws, which I’ll get into in later posts, and I definitely miss some things that WoW does much better than WAR (dungeons, for example). But the above reasons are just a few of why I have enjoyed my time with WAR so far, and look forward to continued adventures. I’m subscribed through mid-January, so I’ll give it a shot until that runs out, then reevaluate how much fun I’m having. So far though, it’s been an enjoyable experience.