reviews { Warhammer: Age of Reckoning - initial thoughts

I picked up the WAR collector's edition last night. I picked it up because it was only $20 more than the base game and had some in game extras as well as two, hundred+ page, beautifully bound books. One a graphic novel providing a prequel to the game and the other artwork and developer sketches.

I installed it and had 204MB of patches to install (not unexpected).

I had been a little hesitant at first pick this up after hearing they eliminated roughly half the careers and classes in the game. But enough remains (Warrior Priests, Witchhunters) remained to make me want to give it a 30 day try.

My initial reactions is that its good...but, not WoW. Of course you can't really compare the two. WoW is an established, matured, behemoth. WAR still has bits of after-birth on it.

Graphics: very good, I'm running fairly smoothly maxed out. The art style is more realistic and less cartoony. It works well for the genre, however the models look and your toon feels a bit robotic. It bends awkwardly and seems, well a little wrong. I'm going to give this a bit more time. Its not as bad as Deus Ex II.

Sound: rich, supports EAX, but still needs work. Stereo-positioning of the sounds are off, especially if pan your camera around. Sometimes the ambient sound cuts out. Other times it still sounds like your walking on stone when you're in a field, just minor stuff like that.

Lag: very good. I chose Middenheim as my server, its a medium order/medium destruction population server. There were occasional lag spikes, but nothing too bad.

UI: here's where it both is different and the same as WoW. From a UI perspective, it looks and feels like WoW, bars, toon and party icons, minimap...all in the same default position. Even some of the default hot-keys are the same. This isn't bad, it makes adjusting to the game easier. Quests are easy to pick up, and the areas where you need to quest are highlighted on your world map, if you've uncovered that portion of the map. You can actually accumulate goals in quests without having the quest. When I picked up the first quest to kill five Chaos Marauders, I had already killed one before getting the quest and it gave me credit. The public quest system is great and encourages group play. I was wandering through an area and suddenly it said 'Entering Public Quest: Foo'. Was good fun and I maxed my reputation for the area and gain two levels just doing my first Public Quest.

Careers/Classes: Here's where it gets a bit awkward, tho I suspect its only because I'm not used to how WAR works, and forgive me for equating some of this to WoW-speak, since its really the only way I know to relate some of these comparisons. At rank (aka level) 11 you start being able to develop a Class Mastery, think of this as talents in WoW. At the start you have Core Skills. You also have a couple of other Masteries you get via RvR (aka PvP) of both the instanced and world variety. You flow into these naturally as PvP and PvE dove-tail into each other seamlessly. I was wandering around and suddenly I became flagged for RvR (I play on a core ruleset server) and found myself in the middle of a pitched battle for world PvP objectives. It felt natural. They also level the playing field a little. If you are a under-ranked for an area, it gives you a temporary stat bolster to a comparable level for the RvR area. I was rank 4 and entered the world RvR area in Nordland and it bumped me to an effective rank of 8. You get the stat bump, but its still balanced in that you don't have the skills and abilities you would get at your effective rank yet. You can also get Professions, similar to WoW. You get one crafting and one gathering. I ended up, rather by accident with scavenging (gathering items off corpses) and apothecary (like WoW Alchemy) but since I either didn't read or couldn't find info on the professions, I haven't figured out their synergies yet or which one goes best with which Career. So far I've only really used Scavenging and that was has been just for money.

Gameplay: Some minor annoyances. You can't swim like in WoW. You can swim, but you only skim the surface, and you can't fight while swimming. Without the ability to dive, you remain vulnerable to surface attack. All your standard movement is there and most of the world is interactive with right-clicking. Like I stated before the models feel robotic, but at least the world feels big. The clock isn't on a 24 hour cycle, but rather an accelerated day/night where it felt like it changed every 30minutes. The right-click loot interface needs a bit of work as its clumsy and can lag. The Tome system was kinda nifty. Its a quest log, story log, achievement log, title log all rolled up in one. From here you can check on quests, review achievements and select your titles as well as customize your armor look (I assume, I haven't unlocked an armor set yet). You also start with a flight point to the capitol city right off the bat.

What stood out the most for me was a bit of a negative. With a limited selection of careers, and the fact everyone has limited customizations to their toons, everyone looks the same unless you are right up close. All the warrior priests, save for the female toons, are bald headed robe wearers. All the witchunters have a rapier and pistol and purple shirt. Since dwarves and Elves start in different locations, that's all I saw in the human starting area.

But the world feels big, looks pretty good, and the Public Quest system was a pleasant surprise (we had to fight off waves of cultists, warriors and then fight a Chaos Giant). I like my Warrior Priest of Sigmar, though I was a little dismayed its classified as 'healer', but you can actually kill stuff fairly easy as a healer. In fact for a Warrior Priest, if you're not up front smacking things with your hammer, you'll run out of juice to heal people and you need to watch healing threat, coming from a melee dps background, I had problems initially gauging that.

I made a Witchhunter (melee dps), a Shadow Warrior (ranged dps), a Swordmaster (tank/dps), and Ironbreaker (tank) to try over the next month or so. I'll have to find another server to try out destruction as you can only be a member of one faction on a given server.

All in all, its been a nice break from WoW. It won't replace WoW for me, but it will help with the little bit of burnout I've been feeling (mostly tired of Outlands).

1 comment:

GeekGoddess said...

Thanks for the review! Avindair and I have fallen off the WoW wagon. We usually stop during the summer. In the last couple of weeks we have recommenced our "cheap date night"!