Warhammer Online mindlessly bashed by rival, Blizzard.

I can’t believe Blizzard had the nerve to open its mouth about WAR, especially in this way towards an MMO that’s only been out for 29 days.  The following is a direct quote of the review.  It was a review for Warhammer that includes commentary from Blizzard regarding Warhammer Online.

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Blizzard lols at Warhammer, says WoW subscribers coming back

By Frank Caron | Published: October 17, 2008 – 09:30AM CT

In spite of the strong impression Warhammer Online has made on the MMO community, the game is not without its problems; problems that need to be overcome if EA hopes to contend with Activision-Blizzard’s giant World of WarCraft. If Blizzard is to be believed, the battle may already be lost; the company claims that WarCraft players who left for Warhammer are already coming back in droves.

COO of Blizzard Paul Sams spoke with Games Industry yesterday, discussing the state of Warhammer in relation to WoW. “We’ve seen a significant number of people, well over half, that cited Warhammer as their reason for leaving—they’ve already returned,” he said frankly. “We respect [Mythic] a lot and certainly wish them well to succeed, but having registration troubles, having server troubles, these are things that come with the territory.”

Aside from the inconveniences of life and work, both my play time and my interest in Warhammer Online have yet to subside. Mythic continues to roll out patches on what seems like a weekly basis, and RVR is still a joy to play in the end-game as the battle on my server is fierce. As was discussed in our report, server balance seems to be the one main issue driving players away from the game. Mythic has begun offering players bonus XP to join the short-handed side on specific servers and many guilds are beginning to uproot upon seeing the potential for expansion.

Alas, it’s becoming painfully clear that the balance issues at present are driving away some players—and that’s something that many won’t be able to tolerate once Wrath of the Lich King arrives. EA Mythic has got to think up a better plan than the XP bonuses if it plans for its game to stay relevant moving forward. And while the outlook may not be as bleak as the underhanded comments from Blizzard itself, Mythic still has its work cut out for it.

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First off, of course Warhammer has problems, it’s only been out for 29 days!  I played WoW from its release date,  and 3 months after release they finally decided to address warrior rage generation issues and actually make the class half decent, instead of a plate-wearing meat shield that could barely use any abilities since rage drained so quickly.  The warlock from WoW is another prime candidate, which had negligible damage output and survivability until long after the warrior was fixed.  I remember being in Molten Core and Blackwing Lair on my warrior when Blizzard FINALLY fixed warlocks — SIX MONTHS after release — and made them something more than a “raid toolbox”.  I was honestly very happy when the one warlock I would usually do WSG with in our guild premades was actually able to kill people, and not get wtfpwned by everything anymore.

Considering how much money Blizzard has made with its other games, there’s no surprise that its release of WoW was one of the smoothest, and out of all the MMO’s I’ve played/tried, Warhammer is definitely up at the top as well.  Mythic isn’t Blizzard, they don’t have the vast stores of funds from game series such as Diablo, Starcraft, and the RTS Warcraft games.  They honestly don’t have room to talk when addressing the smoothness of the release of an MMO, or how many problems it does or doesn’t have.

Hey Blizzard, players may be coming back in droves, but guess what?  Your PvP is still complete and utter garbage compared to Warhammer’s!  PvP was never the main focus of WoW, and it never will be.  Let’s start at the beginning.  Shortly after release, if you hoped to have a chance in organized PvP in vanilla WoW, you had to raid to get decent PvP epics.  I remember walking into WSG games on Firetree with MC epics and stomping heads into the dirt for hours on end with my guild premade, due to our combination of leadership, organization, and gear advantage.  It’s definitely not a good thing when you have to mention gear quality when discussing PvP, but it was the sad truth of pre-BC WoW.  My Obsidian Edged Blade dominated in comparison to the Arcanite Reaper, and that was just the way it was.

Gear plays a significantly smaller role in WAR, where teamwork and opposing group class balance determine the victor.  A group with tanks, dps, and healers will beat a group with only dps and healers.  The same goes for other group combinations lacking in either tanks, dps, or healers.

Later, when the honor system came out, the one with 14 ranks and the illustrious High Warlord and Field Marshall ranks, it was the first time that good PvP gear was available to the player who DIDN’T have access to a guild deep into end-game raid content.  Of course, it was an all-out battle server wide as to who would get top honor for the week and thus gain in rank.  It was not an easy task to become HWL or FM, and yet with every new end-game raid instance that came out, from BWL to AQ to Naxx, PvE epics still had just as much utility as the purples from rank 14 PvP.

Shortly before the release of the Burning Crusade, the new honor system was implemented.  Now anyone who wanted to pwn face in PvP just had to grind something else in a game full of grinding.  I remember being on winter vacation and spending two full weeks in Alterac Valley grinding honor, and getting full PvP epics on my newly releveled Tauren warrior.  It was funny how little time it took to get the rank 14 items which it took the original HWL’s and FM’s months upon months of incessant battlegrounding in hopes that they could claim their rank 14 gear, worrying whether they had gotten enough honor to go up another rank.  You didn’t even need an end-game raiding guild to get decent PvP gear.  It was just another grind.

Then, BC came out.  Whoopee.  Arenas.  Good idea in concept, absolutely terrible idea in practice.  In my opinion, arenas totally ruined what was left of WoW PvP.  With the addition of resilience and making certain classes’ stats scale in a different manner than others (rogue base crit rate vs warrior base crit rate at 70), they single-handedly destroyed the class balance of pre-BC WoW.  Of course, that was easy to see with the recent announcement of Starcraft 2, which would require the attention of all of the developers that had more than half a brain.  Patch after patch, the flavor of the month class shifted from one to the other.  I remember when dr00ds could mangle spam in bear form in the middle of 10 people and kill a plate wearer easily before dying.  What perfect balance.

One of the big mistakes was making arena gear more powerful than common honor grind gear.  This made the rich richer, and the poor poorer.  Give some 12 year old full season 4 arena gear/honor epics and pit him vs a highly skilled player in season 2 arena gear/honor epics and guess what, the highly skilled player will still win regardless!  So why should the top arena players be graced with better gear when it takes no real play skill to hit Gladiator anyway?  However, the big discrepancy comes when you compare the top tier of WoW players with ones that are above average.  The top tier has a Gladiator team from the previous season, netting them a bunch of arena points to start with (5000), and full arena gear from the last season.  Then take the above average player with honor epics to fill every slot, and try to hit the top.  Guess what?  You won’t.  Know why?  The gear differential is still too high.  From two teams of completely equal skill and class makeup, the team with better gear will still win.  Class balance is also highly laughable, especially when arenas are involved.  The top 2v2, 3v3, and 5v5 teams were simply the best combo of classes stacked with the last season’s arena gear.  It wasn’t skill at all.  Warrior/druid teams dominate everything in sight, and still do in 2v2’s.

Of course it’s difficult to balance classes, but it’s literally impossible trying to balance 8 classes in a 2v2, 3v3, 5v5, and XvX situation all at once.  When I say balance, I mean “stand a chance against every single other class if played correctly in a group situation” not “LOL warriors totally PWN priest face ROFL” or “rock paper scissors is such good balance”.

However, beyond all of this, PvE gear STILL came to be better than full arena/honor gear in high end arena content in WoWTBC.  Black Temple geared with dual warglaive rogues did exceptionally better than a full PvP geared rogue at high rating arenas, due to the astonishing difference in dps among weapons and attack power on gear between BT gear and arena PvP gear.

So, once again, Blizzard shifted back to making high end PvE items better than high end PvP items.  I see a recurring theme here: Blizzard obviously values PvE more than PvP.  Arenas plus 4 different BG’s versus HOW MANY instances, 5 man and raid?  Also, you never got anything from PvP that helped you to level up.  Nothing.  No XP.  You got to endlessly grind quests to level 70, instead of PvPing if that’s the way you wanted to play the game.  It forced people to play the game one way, instead of making both paths equally viable and appealing.  Both ways work well in WAR.

“We’ve seen a significant number of people, well over half, that cited Warhammer as their reason for leaving—they’ve already returned,”

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I leave a game and they ask me why, I don’t bother to fill it out, because when I want to cancel my subscription, I cancel it, not mess around and respond why.  By not making the reasoning explanation mandatory, Blizzard ruined their chance at having sound statistical evidence for how many people left in the first place for WAR, let alone how many are coming back.  Even if it was amndatory, there was no way to enforce that you’d actually answer it truthfully.  Also, since WAR is a PvP-minded game and WoW is a PvE-minded game, anyone who actually enjoyed WoW will obviously be going back after they try out Warhammer.  It’s not that it’s a bad game, it’s that it’s unlike what they’re used to, and therefore they return to what they enjoyed more.  Players that enjoy PvP more will tend to stick with WAR.

After playing MMO’s for 4 years, it’s quite easy to view them with a critical eye.  The black box of game development and maintainence quickly fades away and you start to track when updates are actually occuring, and you expect everything to be perfect because you can see exactly what needs fixing, regardless of whether it happens or not.  In the beginning, I played MMO’s and enjoyed it, without questioning or analyzing it critically.  After being immersed in the MMO universe for so long, it’s second nature to be able to pick out the problems and short-comings of any MMO, and how long you’ve been seeing the problems before they get fixed.

“We respect [Mythic] a lot and certainly wish them well to succeed, but having registration troubles, having server troubles, these are things that come with the territory.”

I haven’t heard anything about registration troubles.  Out of the entire guild, no one has yet had problems registering for WAR.  One or two had problems downloading the client in beta, but release was fine for everyone.

Regarding server troubles, Blizzard is one to talk when they release new servers every few months to allow the chronic rerollers to get their elitism fix by leveling to 70 first.  But that’s besides the point, the main thing he seems to be addressing is the population imbalances on some servers.  For PvP in WoW, there are battlegroups used for battleground queueing.  In WAR, it’s one server only.  Also, since WAR actually has world PvP — known as RVR in WAR — it actually matters that a server has a balance or imbalance of Order and Destruction.  I’m not sure if EA-Mythic plans on implementing battlegroups aka multi server scenario queueing, but that’s not the problem.  The main problem lies with natural population mechanics for servers.  When I roll on a server, I research the population and faction balance before I even start a character.  Most people probably don’t do this, and just magically expect for their server to be perfectly balanced faction-wise, with a lovely population that has the maximum number of active players without a login queue time.  So if you’re rolling on a server without researching it first, shame on you.  Did you buy the game without researching it to see if you’d even like it?  Population issues with servers will clear up sooner or later, either when more people start playing, or all the crybabies leave.  Unlike WoW, WAR actually offers something to players if they play on the low-pop recommended realms.  A 20% boost to XP and renown gain while playing on that server.  Unbelieveable.  What does WoW give you for rolling on a “Recommended” server on its server list?  Nothing.  In addition, since not all players of a given faction are logged on at the same time due to any given player having a different RL schedule, RvR is balanced in faction population for the most part.  If one guild wants to log on their alts in Tier 1 and steamroll all of the objectives, don’t cry that the server’s factions are imbalanced.  You just got out-strategized and out-played.

As for the frequency of patches and hotfixes, WAR has already beaten WoW.  Throughout my entire time playing WoW, major class balance issues, new dungeons, new quests, etc, were all at least a month apart.  Major updates to both the UI, graphics, and game stability have been implemented every week for WAR since its release.  The fact that brand new MMO can release content 4 times faster than one which was released 3-4 years ago speaks volumes.

Basically, Blizzard had no tact in what they said in this article.  They just threw some false, moot points out and tried to impression readers about how their MMO, which has been out for 3-4 years, is somehow better than WAR, which has been out for 29 days.  WAR appeals to a PvP-minded player, while WoW appeals to a PvE-minded player.  For a Blizzard representative to speak that way about another MMO without considering simple things such as relative differences in release dates and the large differences between the appeals of the games screams ignorance and stupidity.  I suppose they have to do SOMEthing to make Wrath of the Lich King look appealing.  They want to get some more money to make their parent company happier.  Greed is such a better reason for game development than actually wanting to make quality games, isn’t it?

Probably the only problems I’ve seen with Warhammer are the mail system, the number of flight paths, and some class balance issues.  However, I feel that the class balance issues could be easily rectified by increasing the base health pool of all classes across the board, since health (and therefore survivability) does not scale as fast as damage output or healing output.  Even with these few problems present, I have been enjoying the game IMMENSELY more than I ever did in all of my 3+ years of playing WoW.  The rest of Evincio is enjoying it as well.

I don’t plan on buying Starcraft 2 or Diablo 3.  Blizzard’s games have gone to absolute trash since they were bought by Vivendi, and they certainly won’t be receiving any more of my money.  It’s without a doubt true that their games are “safe” games, simply repackaging old gameplay mechanics and features in a shiny, new release of the series.  Change the graphics, sell the game again.  Get some creativity.  Try thinking before mindlessly bashing a rival MMO next time.