Thursday, August 20, 2009

Warhammer Online - MMO Battles at an FPS Pace

I logged into Warhammer for a couple hours yesterday to test out the new patch. Throughout the entire session, I didn’t do a single quest, or spend a lot of time traveling, and I still got two levels, some sweet loot, and bunch of new friends.

Upon entering the world I immediately joined a scenario queue. Within 30 seconds I was prepping for battle against the forces of destruction (Literally.. they’re called “Destruction”). The battle got intense real fast. I was casting a heal spell every other second. Constantly switching targets, and timing my cool downs perfectly, I was able to breathe life back into our team.

The side of Order hit the 500 point mark well before the scenario time ran down. I looked at the clock. Ten minutes?! I had only been playing for ten minutes and I had already logged in, found a battle, played a key role in bringing us to victory, scored some loot, and put some impressive notches on my experience bar.

And this was just for starters. Next I went to test out the map updates from the new patch. The new map updates in WAR allow players to pinpoint areas where combat occurs at more refined level. I popped open the map and sure enough it was littered with combat icons telling me where players we fighting and how many of them there were. I made for a smaller eight person battle in the RVR battlegrounds, no more than a minute away.

Again, I quickly found myself immersed in intense PVP combat. Reinforcements from both sides began to pile in, sometimes flanking us from behind. Before I knew it, I was right in the middle of a massive engagement. Players we dying left and right, I was spamming heals like a madman, and the loot drops were filling the screen. There was even one point where I had to roll on five different items than had all dropped in a two second period.

By the end of it all, my bags were full, my experience points were plentiful, and my index finger was sore. This sure didn’t feel like your average MMORPG experience. It felt more like a fantasy action game with enough instant action to satisfy an FPS gamer. No waiting in line, no preparation time, just get in and fight.

Now I realize this sounds like you would lose some of the MMO social experience during this type of gameplay, however this was not the case. While fighting, I received several compliments for my quick heals and soon found myself invited to a scenario group. Running through the battles with this interesting hodgepodge of characters turned into a very rewarding experience, for both for my money bags and my friends list.

All in all Warhammer is becoming a much more appealing game than I had initially thought it would be. The instant action game mechanics are finally refined enough in latest patch to offer gamers an immersive action experience right from the start. It took a little while to find my stride, but now that I have it, I can see WAR being something I will enjoy even if I can only spare twenty minutes.

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