Once more unto the breach of reviewing that which is many ways unreviewable… This time around, I’m taking a sober look over on Eurogamer at the Euro-state of Mythic’s MMORPG Warhammer Online, nearly a year on from its high-profile launch. You’ll find my ruminations lurking over yonder, and including chin-scratchy nuggets such as these:
Mythic don’t want you to waste your time saving up money for a bigger rucksack. They just want to you to fight – ideally, to fight other players. The game’s greatest triumph is a largely seamless blend between punching NPCs and punching real people – no need for different skill sets or alternative armour. The enemy is the enemy. That row of number keys and a few team-mates, be they anonymous or known chums, are all you need. The sad side-effect of such single-mindedness is a glaring loss of personality.
A few bonus thoughts are below…
Two things I didn’t really get into in the review itself. Number one, I don’t personally know anyone still playing WAR, whereas I know a ton of WoW players and a few LOTRO ones. Simply a reflection of the massive disparity in player bases, perhaps, but the key is that I know a feckload of people who did play WAR when it launched. They’ve all since drifted away. Even the WAR-playing housemate I mention in the Eurogamer piece gave up on his latest sojourn into the game after less than a week.
Population is a big problem for the game – yeah, there’s often enough people in the instanced scenarios (though I’ve experienced far too many that have closed themselves down after a few minutes because there’s only a couple of people in ‘em), but the persistent world itself is almost a wasteland in most zones. There’s a chicken-and-egg dilemma here – is the game’s purely combative, rather one-dimensional nature to blame for the people-drought, or is the people-drought responsible for how lifeless the game environment feels?
Secondly, the score. Well, frankly a number’s a number, and I’m generally past caring about that personally. The words are what matter. That said, it was very nearly a 6 rather than 7, and I very seriously considered a 5 at one point. That 5 would, however, have been based a little too much on the population problem rather than on the game itself. The latter may be responisble for the former, but the fact remains that the game would be much more fun if there were people everywhere, amplifying the intended sense of global war: I know that from experience of the launch month. I figured that, even though Mythic have made a right pig’s ear of the game’s atmosphere, they do deserve respect for WAR’s corking PvP systems and some mighty generous free content updates.