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First Impressions of Warhammer Online – Part 6: User Interface

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

The game has solid graphics, sound, and writing, but it is a game, not a movie… How good is the UI?

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    Pretty Standard Stuff

    Someone who has played an MMO before will recognize most UI elements immediately: Hotbars for skills and consumable items across the bottom; Map in upper right corner; Health and Action Points at upper left, with group portraits and info below that; Chat at bottom left; Menu icons at center top; the absolute top edge of the screen is an XP bar.

    A quest tracker is below the map stating completion status of objectives. Being able to mouse over these and get an expanded quest description, or click on them and go right to the full quest text are nice features. The mini- and full-sized maps have quest areas bordered in red, which makes them easy to find. As you close in on them, key NPCs will come up as orange dots. Unfortunately, there are some obvious lack of completion issues regarding the maps, such as mailboxes and party members sharing grey squares for icons. Some Scenarios (Realm vs. Realm instances) also have the grey squares up for important capture points, and include blank pop-up tips if you mouse over them.

    The UI is fully customizable; elements can be moved, resized, and have their opacity adjusted. Though this is nice, it is also considered de rigueur for a top-shelf MMO.

    Crafting itself is covered in a later article, but from a UI perspective; while its own UI is quite good, accessing it takes four mouse clicks.

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    Fancy Features

    WAR has some innovative game play features which we look at in later articles, but we’ll cover how they fit into the UI here. Progress in Renown Ranks is measured via a purple bar just under the XP bar in the left corner. Progress through Public Quests is measured by a short blue bar under the XP bar to the left of the mini-map. The area underneath the blue bar contains the Chapter area and, when you are actually in a Public Quest area, information about the status of the Public Quest.

    A bar above the mini-map keeps you informed of zone control. The blue bar advancing from the left and the red one from the right reflect Order and Destruction progress towards controlling the Zone, which grants the wining side bonuses.

    The Tome of Knowledge is supposed to roll your quests, achievements, maps and so on all into one well-organized, in-game book about your character. It is a noble goal, but there are still a few bugs, and it just isn’t as easy to use as it should be. There is promise, though, and this could eventually be a real winner if they fix the bugs and make it a bit more usable.

    The button that allows you to queue for scenarios is also a little tricky at the moment. Furthermore, if you happen to be in a loading screen (because of death or travel) your place in queue can come up and vanish before you can get to the game screen and confirm the invite message.

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    The UI is Decent Overall

    The basic functionality of the UI is very good, as it has to be. You can see and do everything you are used to seeing and doing in an MMORPG. The UI, along with the game in general, also tries to bring in more innovative features. In a certain sense though, some of these Interface features, at least for now, have a reach that exceeds their grasp.

    The UI of course tied closely to the game’s mechanics, which we examine in the next article.