There’s a piece over at Tobold’s place today about whether the many WAR players will be skipping out to return to WoW within the next several weeks. He himself is leaning toward doing so, and his reasons are solid, even though I myself don’t really see much in them that would lead me back to WoW. But then, I don’t see much of anything that would lead me back to WoW at this point.
It’s important to note that I’ve had a wonderful time with WAR, thanks in large part to the excellent camaraderie from the Casualties. But it’s also worth noting that it was partly due to certain prodding that I was motivated to even try to sign in last night, and I didn’t try so hard as to bother checking after a couple of hours to see if the servers were back up.
The bottom line is that I’m bored with Warhammer.
Now, maybe I just dumped too much time into it too quickly – that’s very possible. Maybe this will pass. Maybe I’ll come out of the weekend swinging for the fences for Emperor Karl Franz. But since Sunday I have been far more motivated to sign into and play EVE than I have Warhammer. I would like to stick with it; I’ve made excellent progress so far. But the nature of a subscription MMO is that you’re either in or out; either you’re getting enough play and enjoyment in to keep paying the monthly fee, or you’re not. And I’m not one of those that lets subscriptions continue on games I’m not playing. Ever.
The fact that Destruction and half the class options in the game became unexpectedly unplayable is part of the problem. I love the Bright Wizard and the Ironbreaker but every other class I was interested in was on the Destruction side, and the failure of the game’s delicate balance across faction and tier on Thorgrim ensured that the part of the game I was most enjoying – the RvR – just didn’t happen there. It’s not unplayable in an absolute sense, of course – but it was and is unplayable for me.
Also, and I’m being blunt here, the game lacks depth. Something I’ve been praising it for is the fact that it drops you into the main thrust of the action almost right away when you start playing. This is a wonderful way to keep low-level players interested and involved after the early adopters have moved on, but it has a downside, too; the game doesn’t evolve much as you move up in rank. Play in Tier 3 is pretty much the same as it was in Tier 1, and if there are more scenarios to play, it doesn’t really matter if two thirds of them never fire. All of Warhammer’s positive innovations in open grouping, Public Quests and living guilds mask the fact that its PvE play is really quite shallow – nobody is going to stick around with WAR if their experience depends on this aspect of play, and balance problems insure that for many, RvR doesn’t happen right.
WAR depends on balance. Balance between Order and Destruction, between different Tiers, and between PvE and RvR. It turns out to depend very much on balance in all these areas, and that balance turns out to be very delicate. World RvR just doesn’t happen every night, even in prime time, so you start playing more scenarios. This drives more people out of world RvR and into Scenarios, and the next thing you know, scenarios are all anyone is doing. Scenarios get boring after a while – you’re clearly intended to play a mix of scenarios, world RvR and PvE/PQs, but this is dependent on a mix of population doing all three. If the population shifts into one of these (as it has done,) the others become untenable, and the only alternatives become pure PvE questing or farting around with crafting. WAR’s PvE (outside of PQs) is good but shallow and its crafting is both good and deep but very narrow. It’s just not enough to keep people playing, and it’s certainly not as good as the PvE questing in EQ2 – or even in WoW.
Warhammer is a terrific game that launched well and appears to be moving in a good direction post-launch. It’s better – flatly better – than Age of Conan – and that game was itself much better than its detractors made it out to be. It’s better than World of Warcraft in my opinion, and it’s a wonderful addition to the hobby. But it needs time to smooth out a lot of issues, many of which are more than strictly mechanical, and therefore more difficult to fix.
I just don’t have it in me to shell out $15 a month for a game I’m not playing – or even for a game I’m only playing a little bit. I need to be able to get at least one good session or two a week in, and if I’m not enthused to play, I won’t get that. It has a little over a week to sell me again. A dedicated PQ group starting at the bottom of Tier 3 could do that. But without that or something like it, I’ll end up somewhere else after the end of the free month.