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Warhammer Online's New System
The world of MMO gaming is not always known for its innovative qualities. The best MMOs are the ones that take established systems and perfect them - see World of Warcraft's success for a great example. So it is always exciting when we get a new idea that actually works. Warhammer Online has implemented several of these new ideas - the ability to level through PvP being one of them. If you so desire, you can take your character from 1-40 in scenarios alone, and this is a viable and valuable way to do it. Before you roll up a character and head to Nordenwatch, lets take a look at the pros and cons of this new type of leveling vs. traditional PvE.
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The pros of PvP leveling are obvious, and I'm not going to dance around the topic: I am of the opinion that (especially in WAR) it is significantly more fun. This may not be true for everyone, but the WAR is extremely well balanced and has an abundance of content and support for its PvP scenarios and keeps. In addition to being able to do real battle against real opponents from start to finish, you will advance in RvR rank a lot quicker - this gives you access to new tactics, abilities and gear. This can be invaluable in both PvP and PvE, so it is my suggestion that no matter what you choose, you do at least a little PvP - the rewards are pretty hefty.
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There is, of course, a downside. PvP leveling is not fast, compared to PvE powerlevelers and dedicated group instancing and Public Quests. Mythic has done a good job of making sure that there are scenarios up as often as possible, but even on a full server you might have a hard time finding PvP to be engaged in as often as you want. Even if you do manage to be in a scenario or keep siege every time you want to be leveling, your experience gain is much more sporadic than in safer, more consistent PvE. You might well spend the entire scenario being rolled by the opposing team, or you might just be too low level to participate successfully. And while PvP is generally more fun, being on the losing side consistently can get pretty irritating.
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The PvE pros are actually quite considerable, even keeping in mind that WAR PvP is billed pretty heavily by producers and players alike. The most significant pro of PvE is the abundance of lore surrounding your leveling experience - you are made to feel like a soldier in a larger war for the very survival of your race. The Tome of Knowledge is absolutely overflowing with lore and interesting tidbits to help keep you immersed. Public Quests are also an extremely well implemented system - they have varied and unique stages and can be participated in as an individual or a group, making PvE questing streamlined and easy.
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Unfortunately, after even a cursory look at the WAR PvE offering, it is clear that not as much work was put into it as was the rest of the game. Quests are unfinished or unrefined, classes aren't as universally useful as they might be in PvP, and most importantly, there really isn't anything in WAR PvE to distinguish it from all of the other high fantasy MMOs on the market. Even the most dedicated Warhammer lore aficionado will eventually have to admit that Warhammer Online is first and foremost a PvP game.
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I'm going to take the easy way out on this one and say that you should probably do a little of both PvP and PvE in Warhammer Online as you're leveling to 40. Most certainly you shouldn't jump into a scenario at level 1, even if you can. Take the time to get to level five or six at least, and get the feel for your class. Both your friends and your enemies will be more forgiving if you work the kinks out before taking the fight to human opponents. Likewise, if you choose a PvE route, make sure to stop at or near the level cap for each scenario (12, 21, etc.) and see what it feels like to be a PvP powerhouse for a little while. Mythic has tried hard to give benefits to each leveling method, and you should try them both - you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you didn't.