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First Impressions of Warhammer Online – Part 8: Innovative Features

by: J. F. Amprimoz ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

While touting such things as Zone Control and Living Guilds; is WAR really breaking new ground?

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    How to Control Zone Control

    Zone Control, fundamentally, is brilliant, and the mechanics are well implemented. Every thing you do, whether in PvP or PvE, counts towards a total for your Realm (Order or Destruction) in that racial level area (Tier). More blatant successes, such as taking and holding Keeps in Realm vs. Realm areas, do contribute more points however. When one side picks up enough of a lead, they are said to take control of the Zone. This conveys a variety of bonuses to the winning side. Furthermore, the control of Zones contributes to overall control of the world map, eventually allowing the sacking of the enemy’s capitol if there is a large enough lead world-wide.

    The problem relates to the balance issue we discussed in the previous article, Order is pretty well outnumbered on the overwhelming majority of servers. This not only creates the issues mentioned before, but if one considers that seizing and defending capitols is the pinnacle end-game content, half of it won’t come up.

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    Living Guilds

    The guild features are, in a word, great. Organization is like never before: ten member ranks for which you can set the names and permissions; even an in-game event Calendar as of rank 2.

    Your guild gains ranks not by time, but by tracking players’ contributions throughout their play. Whatever you are doing, it helps your guild. The ranks aren’t just for bragging rights; you get a wide variety of interesting rewards. In addition to traditional perks like a guild Vault, you get, amongst other neat stuff, access to special merchants, a tavern in the capitol city, and most elaborate, Standards.

    Your guild’s Standard is a flag that can be carried into combat by designated members. Though their hands are full, they get a speed buff and, as your guild rank increases, other abilities, such as an Area of Effect knockback. More importantly, the Standard conveys benefits to those in range. Better still, your guild chooses which benefits. With every rank after you get your Standard you get a point to spend on tactics; a wide variety of all kinds of buffs. The Standard initially has one slot for a tactic you can lock in for 24 hours, but you unlock more slots as the guild progresses. At rank 10, you get Heraldry features, allowing you to put a rather broad range of boarders, patterns, symbols, with a wide colour palette, on your Standard. At rank 15, members can have the Heraldry displayed on their capes.

    The only thing holding back the guild features is that some of the basic ones, like the Vault and Alliances, are still pretty bug-ridden.

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    We Still Have to Wait and See?

    That is the great irony of the MMO launch: it usually creates more questions than it answers. Though the features are great, they are limited by bugs and that population balance albatross pendant. The time taken to address these and skill with which they are addressed remains to be seen.

    One other feature worth noting, and this one is a total success, are Open Groups. You can leave your Party or Warband (raid group) open. People looking for a group can click a button (upper left of the screen) to get a list of Open Groups in the area, along with their distance from you, and their general activity: PvE; RvR; or Public Quests. Public Quests are another innovative feature in WAR. We discuss them further in the next article.