Thursday, August 30, 2007

Warhammer vs Warcraft: A Pre-Beta Comparison

So I talked a bit yesterday about things that WoW has done right. And I'm still playing and enjoying the game to this day. However, I fully expect that my WoW days will come to an abrupt ending when Warhammer is released. So I thought I'd talk a bit about why I would be giving up one addiction for a new one. Well obviously, simply the idea of a new experience has some draw, as well as the fact that I'm not at all excited about Blizzard's next WoW Expansion. But let's talk about some specific areas that I hope will have more interesting implementation than their counterparts in WoW.

Note: I'm not in the beta (yet), so these are just my expectations based on the info that Mythic has given us.

Graphics: This is something that I think will be similar between the two games. Though I expect Warhammer to be a bit darker, both in coloration and theme, they also have the same tendency for over-the-top armor with spikes and skulls and Chaos Cuisinarts and such. I expect everything to be big and gaudy and fun to look at to the point that I wish I could play with no distracting interface whatsoever.

User Interface: Speaking of UI, I actually don't expect the Warhammer interface to be as developed and malleable as WoW's is, but they have said that everything will be movable in the basic UI, something that Blizzard still hasn't implemented themselves for WoW (though there are plenty of addons that open up such possibilities). Otherwise, they look to be following what has become the standard setup these days.

Heavy Lore-Oriented Content: Certainly Warcraft has its lore, but you don't really feel it while playing WoW. Perhaps if you're a Warcraft fanatic and are already familiar with the previous lore, but coming into it with no real knowledge, you're mostly left in the dark... unless you happen to memorize everything any NPC ever says to you. Certainly I've picked up some bits and pieces over the past three years, but none of it really affects me besides knowing the name of the next boss I'm going to kill. And a lot of WoW's best lore is just shuffled into the dungeons, making these ultra-powerful, god-type beings who had a fundamental impact on the world into loot pinatas for the playerbase to smack around on a weekly basis.

The whole Tome of Knowledge concept sounds extremely interesting. I've lamented before over the fact that previous quest text is just discarded after you finish a quest in WoW. After all, you're usually doing a half dozen quests at a time, many of which are completely unrelated, and many of which have no real story beyond the immediate one, so keeping track of who did what to who is a non-fun, and unessential, task. Those quest chains that do have continuing, involved plotlines are generally spread out over such a period of time that you forget how the whole thing started anyway! After a while, many people just ignore the quest text for the most part beyond figuring out who you need to kill for your rewards.

So I'm hoping that Warhammer Online will be able to do a better job with bringing the lore to life for the average gamer. They certainly have a lot of amazing background material to work with!

PvP: I expect the PvP will be very similar to WoW. At least I hope it has a similar fluidity to the action, though of course, the big prayer is that combat is not so gear-oriented. It looks like Mythic is trying to get away from the standard archetypes which should make combat more interesting. Also, as someone who typically plays the warrior types, I'm overjoyed that they're planning to have some sort of taunt-type ability that is actually useful in PvP! But where Warhammer will really strut its stuff is in RvR...

RvR: Really a no-brainer here, as WoW's faction conflicts are all sanitized and saran-wrapped to the point that it feels like a friendly match of flag football rather than actual conflict! Mythic has already proven that they have some clue about how to handle factional player conflict with their highly successful Dark Ages of Camelot MMO. But it looks like they're taking it to a new level with WAR and I'm looking forward to being part of a larger conflict that actually has consequences and an effect on the game world. Even if the war progression does get 'reset' after someone 'wins', it should be a lot more fun and engaging than the static, ineffective world PvP in WoW. And I'm hoping that they scale the overarching conflict in such a way that it becomes more and more difficult to make progress the closer you get to an enemy's capital city, making the actual sacking of a capital a major (and rare) event.


Anonymous said...

Great article... just what i was looking for; thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

Excellent article. I just recently quit playing WOW myself after 3+ years(since release). I am most definately looking to see what WH has to offer. So far it looks good.

I was comics/gaming retailing for a whole lot of years and am very familiar with the Warhammer Universe(both Fantasy and 40K). Lore-wise, they have so much material they can use, it should make for some great PVE/RvR. If Mythic pulls it off, I think they can pull a nice chunk of Bliz's subs away. Early on that will be obvious as a LOT of WOW players are looking. After the first 3-6 months will be the telling if WH can maintain enough momentum. I hope very much that they do succeed because Blizzard needs a real kick in the a$$ as far as competition is concerned.