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Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes


Today I shall break my train of posts for a very special reason – Mythic has announced its big announcement – Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes, and of course the Producer’s Letter fresh off the press specially to coincide with the WO: WoH announcement (the Producer’s Letter also has pictures of 4 more classes for the new vanity sets).

First of all what is WoH? In a nutshell it is a 6v6v6 Free-to-Play scenario game. You log in, chill in a lobby while you queue up (solo or with friends), and get launched into a scenario joining either the Red, Green, or Blue teams and fight your enemies. You get to choose from an assortment of ‘heroes’, familiar faces taken from Warhammer Online, and duke it out in the scenario with this hero; if you die you can swap to a different hero. The heroes are pretty much pre-designed level 40 toons with 5 abilities – no armor or weapons to grind, no renown, no exp, just kill. You can progress through the WoH system and acquire tactics, but I would not say the tactics make or break your gaming-experience. The scenario ends, you queue up all over again to seek another experience. The lack of a gear/renown grind is rather nice. Some misconceptions I have already read on the forums –

  • 3 teams does not mean 3 factions. You can be a Shadow Warrior fighting with a Shaman fighting against an Archmage. Anyone can be on the team.
  • This is not ushering in a 3rd faction for WAR. Yes you can play a vampire, but this in no way is hinting at the rise of the Vampire Counts in WAR.

So that is WO: WoH in a nutshell, fast-pace scenario action not based on gear, but on skill and coordination. Now that the ‘facts’ have been laid out, time to delve into Eka’s analysis and opinion…

With the announcement of WoH I was kindly released of my NDA, yay! It’s rather difficult to know something that everyone keeps asking you about and not be able to tell them a thing when you really want someone to discuss the matter about, but now I can! So when I visited Mythic’s studio along with the other bloggers back in early July we briefly discussed Warhammer Online and the future patches, and then jumped into the main presentation – WoH (which at that time was under a working title that was different). To be honest, my curiosity was peaked by the new project, yet I was somewhat disheartened to learn that WAR was not to be the focus of our discussion. When the project was presented among the first thoughts to coarse through my mind were: how will this affect WAR? how does this fit with lore? and how will this be received by the community? I proceeded to ask those questions – the lore question was sufficiently answered by citing Warhammer Skirmish, a small-scale take on table-top gaming. I was ok with that reasoning but the other two questions were the important ones – how Mythic was going to win over the community and how WoH would affect WAR. What this project boiled down to me was a matter of two issues – demographics and economics, so lets take a look at my analysis of said issues.

Demographics
Warhammer Online is predominantly now populated by players who solely remain with WAR for the PvP. People can argue what they want, but the fact is WAR is primarily driven by the PvP players. In WAR there are two main forms of PvP: ORvR and Scenarios. Since 1.4 ORvR has turned into a rather stale experience – keep sieges are about as riveting as pulling your nose hairs with tweezers. In most cases (on my server) keeps are taken undefended, or the defense is so light its not worthy of the title ‘defense’. Often times the most exciting moment in a keep siege is to see who will land the killing blow on that lone Squig Herder plinking away at everyone from the third floor. Who killed him??? Did he take the free-ticket-flag back to his warcamp??? Did he catch the last copter out of Saigon (manticore/griffin = Saigon helicopter)??? Locking zones use to be terribly tense as the timer ticked ever closer to 0 seconds and you were hoping the enemy wouldn’t ninja a BO. Sure people hated waiting for 2 hours, but there was certainly more tension that is fitting for a war atmosphere. ORvR is truly enjoyable only when there are large scale open skirmishes, but those grow rarer as the population grows smaller.

The other PvP option exists in the form of scenarios (with cities just being a big, long scenario). Due to the lackluster ORvR scene, the primary PvP action many players pursue comes in the form of scenarios. Of the many types of people who queue for scenarios, there are two groups who stand out as finding WoH attractive – those who are tired of going up against 6-mans of RR100s and seek an even playing field, or those who play exclusively for SCs and don’t care about anything else. However, what that boils down to is that WoH has the potential to bleed the player-base of WAR even more. “SCs aren’t popping in WAR? Meh lets go to WoH” and as more and more people go to WoH, people who normally poke their nose in the RvR lakes in between SC pops, the population of WAR grows thinner. This is not a prospect I like at all.

The hope is that players who like WoH will seek to expand their experience in the Warhammer universe and thus play that, but the truth is that WO: AoR isn’t exactly like WO: WoH… You can take a bite from a hamburger and you can take a bite from Betsy the cow in the pasture; while both are beef, your experience will be rather different. WAR is a MMO, while I enjoyed my play-testing of WoH, it did not feel like the MMO experience I wanted… it felt more like a FPS. You had your 5 abilities… your handgun, your rifle, your grenade, your knife, your binoculars, and if you died you could swap out your rifle for a bazooka or a machine gun or a chainsaw. I like playing my toon and progressing with him and killing other people and making them go ‘damn it, that crappy SW killed me’, I don’t feel like that experience translates over to WoH.

Economics
The second question in my mind which I posed to the producers was “What will this do for WAR? You guys have got to anticipate the WAR community asking that very same question and being up in arms that you are producing a new game and not new content for WAR.” The forums are already displaying this sentiment, people I have spoken to have already displayed this sentiment. The answer I got was twofold: “WAR players will receive a stipend for WoH” and, “Content we develop for WoH can be then used for WAR”. To the first I replied “A stipend for another game is not new content for WAR, you’ve got to show directly that something from WoH is coming to WAR, and you’ve got to do it soon.” The stipend included with the WAR subscription is also meant to entice other people to sub for WAR just so they can get the in-game cash for WoH, but if all they’re doing is subbing for cash in another game, their population will not be reflected in WAR.

As for the second point regarding content from WoH spilling over to WAR we have to accept that only two forms of content can come out of WoH: scenarios and monster-play. New scenarios are great, but if the population leaves for WoH and the queues in WAR are low, experiencing this new content will be rather difficult. Monster-play… well I think this thread summed up how people feel about monster-play. People want to have their own skaven toon and level it, not play a monster-skaven. People want new zones, new races, new content – WoH is not likely to bring any of that. In the end the only thing WoH can do is get people from other games to sub for WAR for the WoH cash-shop, and thus increase WAR’s revenue.

Conclusion
So when asked will I play WoH? Unlikely, I am too committed to my toons to abandon them for a scenerio game that is akin to a FPS. If I want an FPS there is a far better market for that. Do I want WoH to fail? No, on the contrary I want it to succeed so that WAR may grow, because to be blunt the fact is simple – the future of WAR’s growth depends on the success of WoH. However, I do not want WoH to succeed at the expense of WAR. If people start leaving WAR to play WoH then it will be the final nail in the coffin. I approach WoH with great suspicion and uncertainty – I fear it will bleed WAR’s population more, either in the form of players leaving WAR to do SCs in WoH or in the form of players leaving WAR because they see no future for it. On multiple occasions with different producers/devs I told them that the community needs to see the flow of content coming back to WAR for them to be satisfied. I hope WoH will succeed at the expense of other MMOs and not at the expense of WAR, because of WoH succeeds at the expense of WAR then Mythic will have an excuse to not use the money they’ve earned from WoH on WAR and instead invest it on something else. I hope Mythic begins to display a more direct stream of content from WoH to WAR and soon, Mourkain Temple was one thing, I’m willing to bet Grovod is another, but rehashing old scenarios so they fit in a 6v6v6 won’t cut it.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. August 19, 2011 at 9:41 AM

    “I am too committed to my toons to abandon them for a scenerio game”

    To be honest, this is exactly why people will continue to play WAR and why some people will start playing it that were introduced to the experience via WoH. The ultimate thing we all are concerned about is whether or not the incoming players > outgoing players. The vocal forumites seem to not be willing to leave WAR for WoH. Only time will tell what the actual WAR population decides.

    • August 19, 2011 at 11:34 AM

      My main concern now is that the people who have essentially rage-quit because “there is nothing new for WAR, Mythic has put all its eggs in the WoH-basket” come back… I’ve already had a number of friends unsub in a bout of anger. Perhaps when their tempers cool they will return.

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