Friday, September 12, 2008

Should you migrate to Warhammer?

Well Warhammer Online is lining up to be the big man on campus this month and it looks like a lot of people are at least going to try out the game. Sales predictions for the game expect it will do at least as well as Age of Conan, which sold around 700,000 boxes in it's first two months. Of course demand for Warhammer Online is expected to be much higher and some people estimate the game can easily move 650,000 units just in September. I'm more of a subscription precognitive myself and I see the game pulling in around 2 million players by the end of the year. Still just because the game is going to pick up momentum doesn't mean you should jump ship just yet. This is especially true if you are new to World of Warcraft

Warhammer shares a lot of similarities with World of Warcraft despite what some people will claim, but it's not an exact clone. Just because you like one doesn't mean you are going to like the other. In fact, the entire gameplay emphasis is very different in Warhammer Online then World of Warcraft. It's much more oriented on accomplishing goals in groups or at the very least an organized mob of players. The closest thing I can think of as a comparison are the Sunwell Island quests that Blizzard required players to do to open up Magister's Terrace. However, Mythic is much better at this type of gameplay and even has a loot system that rewards everyone who helped out.

On the other hand I have a feeling that World of Warcraft is going to continue to produce superior quality dungeon and raid content in the next expansion. Warhammer Online doesn't have introduce a dungeon until its midlevel and I believe it will have a much smaller emphasis on single group content. This hasn't exactly worked out for games like Lord of the Rings Online in the past, but then again Warhammer Online has much more PvP content. Indeed there actually 80 PvP levels in the game which control the distribution of gear in the game. These levels are objective goals and not subjective like the arena ratings find in World of Warcraft. Theoretically this mean everyone should be able to earn them eventually. This is much more acceptable to the casual PvP crowd though it may disgust classic PvP fans from Ulitima Online.

Also factor you might want to take into consideration is that Mythic seems more against so called "fluff features" then even Blizzard. While World of Warcraft has long avoided implementing player housing, its at least finally allowing the customization of avatars by creating the barber shop. You're unlikely to ever see anything similar in Warhammer Online though there is a system where war trophies can be place on an avatar's armor. Still the lack of player housing and crafting professions in the game reveals Warhammer Online is more about player made conflict then player made content. I doubt the game will draw many fans from games like Everquest 2 and Vanguard who enjoy complex crafting systems and other detailed sub-systems like diplomancy. Indeed a lot of the people I know who aren't that impressed with Warhammer Online favor games which could be considered more complex.

There's a simple pattern to Diku based games which sort of groups games like the following.

PvE with Player Content: City of Heroes >> Everquest II >> Vanguard >> LOTRO
Classic PvE: Everquest >> Final Fantasy XI >> World of Warcraft
Classic PvP: Ultima Online >> EVE Online >> Age of Conan
Casual PvP: Guild Wars >> World of Warcraft >> Warhammer

It's very basic but you can get the casual correlations between the games. In general World of Warcraft has the broadest appeal, but mostly because it has made enough money to implement the best features from other games. I think their attempts at early casual PvP was greatly influenced by the success of Guild Wars. Other PvE games like Everquest II and City of Heroes have successfully used crafting and content creation tools to get some of the appeal that social games like Second Life and Habbo Hotel have going for them. These types of games often have complex sub-systems which can confuse new players, but experienced players find it more rewarding then simple hit-to-combine gameplay. The classic PvP games follow a more free-for-all style that some players feel is more exciting and interesting. It however does give the least amount of value to items (least DIKU) which can turn off a lot of potential players.

In general if you have liked more then two games in a category you can follow the chart to get a good guess about how you will feel about Warhammer.

PvE with Player Content: No depth and plays too much like WoW.
Classic PvE: Good for a short period of time until all dungeons beaten.
Classic PvP: Too easy and dependent on gear.
Casual PvP: Perfect until I tire of the same scenarios and RvR zones.


Shalkis said...

I'd add "PvP with Player Content" into those classifications.

Relmstein said...

You could consider Ultima Online to be a classic PvP game with player content since it had extensive housing. However, I've found people who are of the Killer archetype generally prefer development time to be spent on more PvP systems rather then content creation tools.

What games would you classify as PvP with player made content? Maybe Pirates of the Burning Sea because it allows players to make flags and sails?

Shalkis said...

IMHO, EvE Online qualifies as classic PvP with player content, because the conflicts between player-created alliances are fought around player-created outposts, mining facilities and fortresses. The majority of star systems in the game is reserved as the players' sandbox. And even in Empire space there's the contract system, which can be used to make simple "quests" (bring me this, deliver that etc). Granted, players don't have many personalization tools available, but they can design their own corporation and alliance logos, which after developer approval become a permanent part of the game.

Openedge1 said...

This goes real good with my post about PvE and PvP..
PvE vs PvP

I honestly believe that WAR will do well, just as you have stated. It offers a reason for players to continue to login.
The competitive feel of PvP for one.

WAR is not niche like Vanguard, LOTRO or EQ2, as it offers a wide range of features.
But, for a PvE player WoW will be more appropriate.
The story is slightly more involved for one.
But, I guarantee WAR will pull in a big crowd and gives players of the older MMO's that had forced group mechanics some deja vu.
I know WAR could probably be played solo, but that is not it's fun quotient.
Grouping is the major key to having a successful play session in WAR.
PvP players at least finally have their next game.

For now, PvE players still will have to live with what is out and continue waiting for their next game.
Maybe Aion...who knows.

I also think WAR will garner a few changes in Dev's eyes, and make them think twice about what type of game they wish to make now.