Whoops! I thought I posted this before my post on scenario slanting. My bad, interwebz. My bad.

This week, I shared my feelings on how my experiences in the game are going. Since I put the negative out there, I thought it’d be good to let you know the positives I’ve found in the game. You didn’t think it was all bad, did you? No, definitely not and despite my proclamation that I’ll be giving the game another 2-3 months, I have no intention of giving up on it. As potshot put it, there’s the core of a great game in there.

1) RvR– WAR is an RvR game and in this area, I believe that there is a lot of fun to be had. In all honesty, I’ve had more fun doing RvR than I’ve had doing a lot of other things in my MMO experience – and this is coming from a PvE fan. There’s nothing in gaming quite like the finding yourself in the middle of an epic battle and even more so if you turn out to be the victor of the day. I’m not even referencing pure ORvR either. I’ve had a lot of fun in scenarios to boot despite the negative ones I’ve also had.

Scenarios have gotten a bad rap. In part, this is because of inequitable design when the game first launched. However, things are improving. Mythic listens and responds more than any game company I’ve ever seen. We’re a month and a half in and the emphasis is skewing more and more towards ORvR, which is great because that’s what this game is about. That doesn’t mean scenarios are no fun though. They can go either way and don’t always lean towards the team that picks up the idol first. With that being said, scenarios require organization that is generally absent from PuGs. My advice is to find a guild and work together as a team. WAR is not the most solo friendly game in the world, outside of PvE, so if you try to go that way you’ll probably lose more often than you’d like.

There is a big caveat to scenarios, though. Some maps are designed so that one side has an inherent advantage over the other. I’m looking at you Tor Anroc. This doesn’t mean you can’t win, if you’re the underdog, it just means you’d better have a team that knows what they’re doing. Personally, I feel that scenarios should be fair across the board – stay tuned today for a post on this.

2) Socialization – I have to say, even though some people feel WAR isn’t social enough, I don’t feel this way. Now, I’m not saying that regional chat doesn’t go by the wayside sometimes. I’m not saying that scenario chat is filled “Hi, there Old Boy!” or “Cheerio!” ‘s from good hearted Englishmen. Or even that you’ll always be talking to people you meet on the battlefield – or even those you’re in an open-group with. What I mean is that WAR has taken down some of the walls when it comes to team work. You no longer have to have a set of epics and a rap sheet of bragging rights to do things with guildies, or even strangers, that may be farther along than you. All you need is initiative and a willingness to work as a team. This applies to RvR and PvE alike (although in PvE, you may be at more of a disadvantage).

Breaking down these barriers helps players to feel like they’re making more of a contribution to whatever their group is trying to do. Likewise, if you’re in a group going for a keep take, the chances are that someone will be shouting directions (hopefully in a polite manner, otherwise they’re on their own) and people will be responding. “They’re flanking the west side!” “Fall back!” “The door is down, rush in!” don’t do much to help you make friends but they help you learn the names and skill levels of your fellow citizens. They help build recognition and therefore build the sense of community you’re going to feel when you play. Will it happen overnight? No, but it will happen if you let it.

I’ll tell you this much, when you’re in an organized group and find yourself tearing through your opponents, flanking them, rushing them… slaughtering them, that’s a good feeling. You feel like your team is a force to be reckoned with. You get a sense of pride and, really, a sense of power knowing that you’re doing so well. That’s where the skill vs. equipment argument comes into the light and you see why equipment should matter so little. In those moments, you’re Death on the field, not the guy who got a lucky AP drop.

3) PQs – When I did my first PQ, I was immediately enamored. It was extravagant and downright awesome. To me, it seemed like they brought the best parts of WoW’s dungeons out into the open world. So, I tried to keep on doing them. Unfortunately, you can’t do PQs alone and, on my realm at least, the rush to get to 40 left most of these quests undone. I sincerely hope this evens out. I love PQs, I love loot bags, and I love the team work. This system is wonderful, so if you’re a PvE fan take advantage of these whenever you can.

4) Zones – Now, I’ll admit that my experience here is limited. I’ve spent most of my time in the first three tiers of the DE/HE pairing. Out of those though, I’ve really enjoyed their design. My thoughts here are on the zones themselves and not necessarily the content that fills them… usually. What I’m trying to say is that the zones are big, fun to explore, and have a lot of potential. I mean, hell, a lot of what you’ll see in WAR is just darn epic. At the current time, they do seem just a little flat though. The NPCs are placed but they don’t really do anything. They don’t feel alive so much as they feel like automatrons. I can see you thinking, “But Raegn, they are just automatrons! The whole world is a bunch of automatrons!” and you’re right. But, in Avelorn for example, you’ll see mobs rattle off the same scripted line every 10 seconds. You can almost hear the “beep, beep, beep” of the server every time they do it and this kind of thing is in every zone and is in more than just scripted speech. Am I concerned though? Not so much.

The way I see things is in phases. The first phase is to get the content built and looking pretty. We’re in the second phase, which is to put the NPCs in the zones and make the content useable. The final stage will be to add the polish to make things alive, dynamic, and downright cool. This is the stage when I hope they make the game more of a “world” than it currently is. I think WAR is a step ahead of the game because the zones are neat right now but I sincerely hope that they polish everything up to a blinding glare. Or at least make them seem more alive. This is the stage where I hope to see more dynamic scripting in both actions and speech. It’s where I hope new quests will get added and old quests will be changed so there’s a little more variation. Right now, Mythic’s focus is on fixing the bugs first, polish second, and develop totally new content third (apart from the live events). This is as it should be.

There’s more that I like about WAR. I mean, truthfully, it’s a really good game. I think it’s easy to forget how long it’s been on the shelves though. That’s why I’ve stated that, after 2-3 months, I may be taking a break and not outright quitting. Hell, even if I take a break, you’d better believe that I’m still going to be keeping a close eye on the game. I’m even toying with the idea of keeping my subscription active just so I can check in and experience things first hand. So, no worries on the state of the blog. We’ll be here for a long time to come.

I digress. In a year from now, WAR may well be the most appealing game on the market. Sure, there’s Wrath and some players will remain there for a long time. Despite that, I’m of the belief that Mythic is going to work to continually update the game and make it what their players want. In the span of time between now and then, so much could, and probably will, change that many of the complaints you’re reading on the blogosphere could be rendered irrelevant. At that point, it will be up to Mythic and EA to advertise the game enough to get lost players to come and to pull new players into their wicked web.

All is not lost. People are annoyed because we had unrealistically high hopes (not necessarily by our own fault) and now we feel let down. It’s easy to feel that way but let’s counter it with some positive thought and a reality check. It’s too early to know where this game will end up. Anyone who says so has either a) been following the game for a long time, so they’re forgetting that the game’s only been live for 10 weeks; or b) a pessimist. Maybe that’s harsh. Regardless, both people aren’t looking at the bigger picture. So let’s you and I do that. You’ll feel better than you do now, even if you’re ecstatic about that game.