Saturday 31 October 2009


Kill Frenzy had a greenskin night last thursday. Any guildies that only had lowbie greens were apprenticed up and summoned... Summoned to the WAAAGHMAGEDDON!

HD version here:


GJ Durtbocks on the vid ;)

UPDATE! Another of the guys (Lotusblade) made a vid from the night's fun. This one includes some audio from our ventrilo, which includes me getting a bit sweary trying to organise Orcs :P So don't watch it if you're overly sensitive.

Comedy :)

Wednesday 28 October 2009

There and back again

City sieges are quite probably WAR’s weakest point. Which in my humble opinion makes it rather strange for Mythic to use the 1.3.2 patch to put such massive focus on them. Yes, city sieges are MUCH improved from their past (almost) pure PvE incarnation, but they’re still not exactly good.

Limited gameplay
The cities limit your gaming options far too much. Unless you’re there at the start of the siege, you’ll find yourself stuck with either PUGing the 48v48 instance (which is almost always a terrible experience), or having to log off for hours, because there’s simply nothing else to do. I’m sure we’ve all experienced the tedium of joining a guild warband that’s already inside a city and then having to sit outside alone for ages, all with the vain hope that a spot in the instance will become available… That’s not fun in anyway or form and I’m simply never doing it again, instead I’ll just log off and go to a lower tier, or play a different game. We need more things to do. Scenarios perhaps, so that if we do get online a bit too late and can’t get in our guild/alliance warbands, we will at least have a chance to do something.

The 3 BO capture, 48vs48 instance
Actually this first large scenario/PQ is quite good. The scenario’s simple objectives provide an entertaining and at times even tactical challenge. So why am I listing this as a problem? Well, continuing from the issue of limited gameplay, the problem is that it’s a bit shallow when it’s the only thing to do. The simplicity is great when you don’t do it often, since it lets you get straight into the action and it is fun, but as a regular event it lacks longevity. Same 2 cities, same 3 flags, every night… Familiarity plays the field a bit, then breeds with contempt, only to end up marrying boredom.

The stage 2 PvE raid content
It’s buggy and there’s a problem with the whole concept. As every MMO veteran knows; PvE raid bosses that require tactics to beat, also require practice and a united warband working together. On a competitive server like mine neither side gets to stage 2 often (plus the victory points are often bugged anyway), so the practice does not happen. Also because of the whole city instancing experience, by the time you get to stage 2 it’s very likely you will no longer have a full guild/alliance warband left online (if they got in with you at all). Sods law now decides that you end up with some random bastards who are determined to ruin everything.

Now Mythic, if by chance you read this, please do not see this as me saying we should get to the advanced stages of city sieges more often. We shouldn’t. It should be rare and be a big deal (more on that shortly). Likewise I don’t think the raid itself should be dumbed down. It should be challenging, but it needs to be fair, it needs to be something realistic for people that don’t farm the instance every night. Is that careful balance too much to ask for? Regardless, whatever happens it should be completely bug free. Getting to stage 2 and then have bugs ruin everything is utterly unacceptable. Plus any bugs in this part of the game are a sure way to generate bad feeling.

And further more, does it have to be PvE? When you look at all the buggy instances, PvE hasn’t exactly proven to be Mythic’s speciality. Maybe some sort of more interesting PvP based Public Quest would be better?

There and back again, and again, and again, and...
However, the biggest problem of all is not the city itself; it’s the path to getting there. WAR’s campaign system as a whole is the worst thing about cities…

A while back zone locks became much easier, which was both good and bad. Then with this latest patch and the removal of forts, the game has taken a huge step towards all sense of drama being removed. City sieges are now the norm, something you’ll get to do multiple times a day, every single day…. Getting to a city used to be an achievement, a moment that actually meant something. Alas this is no longer the case and now the whole feel of the game has changed. A friend of mine summed it up well the other day when he said, “they’ve turned the campaign into a death match”.

He’s completely right. WAR needed changes and the forts were almost universally hated, but they did add a speed bump, something that gave the campaign at least a bit of longevity. Without them and with no change to the campaign’s core system, there are no stumbling blocks. A dominant faction becomes more so and more balanced servers turn into a game of table tennis. It’s kind of like the campaign isn’t really a campaign anymore. If you think about what you expect from the very word “campaign”, it implies something long term, something that requires planning, thought and effort. Unfortunately that doesn’t quite work when we ping pong back and forth through the ENTIRE campaign structure in an afternoon. All of the “epic” has gone.

Now this post may have seemed very negative, but I’m not trying to be, I’m just trying to be realistic. In their attempts to improve the campaign experience, Mythic have actually weakened the whole concept of it. This is most definitely not what I wanted, nor is it wanted by anybody else I’ve spoken to. Perhaps that’s because of the server we’re on, but seriously, who wants to play WARlite?

Having said all of that, perhaps Mythic aren’t a million miles away from something great. With some tinkering they could slow the pace right back down, add/change a few things to provide more variety and give us the “epic” we're missing (and add a third faction! HAH Got it in there!). The game today feels small and for me this is mainly down to the small RvR enabled areas and how we blast through them so damn quickly. As I’ve said before, I really think Mythic need to expand the size of the oRvR zones and stop wasting so much space. That’s probably quite a lot of work to do, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be done and there are easier to implement short-term solutions in the meantime.

The easiest and most obvious is to make it so you have to lock all 3 pairings to access a city. This can still be quickly zerged through, but it would make it a little bit more difficult at least.

A more entertaining way would be to make all zones active at once. Allowing people to attack in different places and apply some more involved strategies and tactics. Each BO and Keep would be worth a certain amount of “control points”, if you want to lock a pairing you’ll need to capture 75% of those control points in that pairing… Now that’s more like it. In fact, I think I’d be happy with this. It could even lead into a system for reintroducing the other cities, hah!

In the end
I’m glad forts are gone, they sucked royally and I have to say that the decision to remove them is not the only factor in the watering down of WAR’s campaign, but it is a big contributing factor. I’m kind of surprised to find myself saying this, but I miss the days where locking a zone took hours and getting to the enemy city would take effort over many days. I don’t miss what we actually had to do to lock them, but I do miss the feeling of zone locking being an achievement. Actually, that’s not correct. I think I’m missing any feeling of achievement in WAR’s campaign. It’s just too damn quick. All too often lately when I log in, if we’re not already in a city, it’s only an hour or so before we are. And then, the moment a city becomes available, people start logging off.

It's a real shame because right now I'm really enjoying the combat in WAR, but the campaign is total meh.

Sunday 25 October 2009

This one goes out to people crying about Mythic fixing the AP regen bug


It was broken, it got fixed. Gameplay has gone back to people having to actually manage their action points. No more blindly spamming buttons. This is a good thing. There are reasons why people have potions, abilities, tactics and morales that effect action points... That's right, those ones you removed from your action bars ;)

Though it does suck for Black Orcs who just had their abilities costs increased, so I'll let them off :P

Not had any problems on my alt addicted wide range of characters though... Maybe people need to watch their screens instead of rolling their face across the keyboard? ;)

Saturday 24 October 2009

A few quick comments on the latest live event

The daemon moon has risen and with it arrives the latest live event. And it's a good one too, unless you are like my missus and scared of masks. In which case you're buggered, unlike my... uhm... yeah... you get the idea. Lots of masks, LOTS!

If you cant get in game right now, take a look over at Werit for screenshots of the task list. It's great to see this is almost entirely PvP based.

The murder ball PQ is very cool when players from both factions are present. It's like a demented game of rugby/capture the flag. Not so good if no enemy are there to fight, but then that's the case for anything PvP wise and makea no sense to complain about.

The masks themselves are an amusing little distraction. Yes it nerfs your DPS/whatever, but who cares, it's just a bit of fun. I'm not so fussed about loot anyway and have to say I've not even bothered checking my event influence rewards properly yet. As for masks, I think I've got about 6 so far, each of which give you a different blessing style ability when you wear them. Rain of Squigs gets points for the best name ;)

Has to be said, I'm liking the character of this event generally. Probably my second favourite after Night of Murder.

 A HUGE plus was when IC was under siege earlier we could still do the live event scenario. Aaaaand it was popping every couple of minutes. Take that point on board pls Mythic ;)

Oh and here's me in a mask. Oh so handsome...

Thursday 22 October 2009

Mythic comment on players concerns with 1.3.2

There's a good post on the US forums by Andy from Mythic:
I hope we'll get more of this kind of post, it's always good to hear player's concerns acknowledged, it gives us more faith that those concerns will actually get addressed. Of particular note is the Chosen bug being fixed quickly, this should further add to performance improving.

I've spotted a few people complaining about the AP regen being fixed... uhm... It seems to me just like it used to work, before it was... you know, broken. :P Helping to get rid of face rolling button spam and getting people back into the habit of using items, abilities and potions that effect AP, surely is no bad thing?

For those that cba to click the link, via the power of copy and paste here you go:

I wanted to take some time to let you know what the Community Team is currently conveying as important issues to the Dev Team and what the Dev Team is working on. Please keep in mind, this isn't a complete list, but rather a compiled list of things that we consider "Hot" issues since the launch of 1.3.2.

Our goal is to provide players a steady stream of information regarding these concerns in the coming weeks. This information may come in the form of our future/immediate plans for these concerns or informative posts/articles to help educate the community on what was changed and why we did it.

  • Tier 4 Campaign: We understand that the frequency of City Invasion is a primary concern for the community. We're accutely aware that the amount of times that cities are being cracked right now is, to put it bluntly, high. This was not an unexpected result of the removal of Fortresses, and there are positives to this, the least of which is exposing more players to WAR's endgame. That being said, we plan on having more details about the much anticipated Underdog System soon. Also, please be assured that we understand that these concerns go hand in hand with population balance concerns in general.
  • State of the City Siege experience: We hear the players concerns about the city siege experience. There's number of concerns about parts of the City Siege ranging from the Stage 1 Lord encounters to players becoming disinterested after the first hour of the City. We're actively investigating solutions to this and want to have more information to you soon. We've also been looking into player concerns about the City Siege VP, and yes, we did find some issues making the transition from Stage 1 to Stage 2 more difficult than it should be. We should have some fixes for these issues very soon.
  • AP Regen: We understand that many players right now are having a difficult time adjusting to the recent changes to AP regen. Over the coming days we plan on giving the community greater insight as to why we made this change and how we feel it will effect gameplay moving forward. For the immediate (coming weeks) future, our plan regarding these changes is to observe, report, analyze and react.

    We are not making any immediate changes nor will we make knee jerk reactions. As has been our approach with all of our recent Combat and Careers changes, we have a set plan of attack and we are sticking to it. So far, player reaction to this change has been mixed, skewing more towards a positive reception than otherwise.

    Again, please watch the forums and the Herald for more information and educational posts regarding this change.
  • Chosen Aura Bug: Watch the Herald tonight for some Hot Fix notes that include the following:
    "Fixed a bug which could occasionally prevent Chosen auras from toggling off."
  • Client crashes and data corruption amongst Trial Client users: We have identified the cause of this issue and it has been addressed on our internal test servers. This means it should be live soon, if it isn't already .
So these are just some of the issues that we've identified as areas of concern to the Community since 1.3.2 went live. As always, we're reading these forums night and day, spending time playing side by side with our players and overall enjoying all of the amazing performance enhancements introduced in 1.3.2. This patch cycle has been an exciting one and we're equally excited about what the future holds for WAR and all of it's players.

We're well on our way to making WAR everything it has the potential to be and we couldn't do it without the support of you, the players.

We'll see you on the battlefield.

Please keep conversation civil and polite. We will be heavily moderating this thread.


Andy Belford
Community Coordinator
Mythic Entertainment

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Joy! Glorious joy! (but no expansion news sorry :P)

A wave of positivity is sweeping across the WAR battlefield. And why?

Because today, bless their cotton socks, Mythic fixed the AP regen bug. This festering bug basically meant people had unlimited action points, now that may sound good, but no... It sucked royally, since it allowed people to constantly spam abilities, which only served to emphasise the AoE bombing of doom and was generally dumbing down the game.

That fix alone is not enough to bring such joy, but when combined with WAR running much, MUCH, MUCH better now and, well… we’re finally starting to see the oRvR gameplay many people hoped for.

If Mythic follow this up by quickly fixing the new bug with Chosen (and I believe KotBS) auras, where the graphics for the buff icon don’t fade and you get millions AAAAAAAAND millions (ok up to 16) icons for the same buff over and over, which then causes lag, then I predict yet more eruptions of glee and splendiferous excitement.

Also we’re seeing people returning from Aion. Not everyone returning ofc, but a fair few it seems. Grind filled bubbles bursting at just the right time for WAR. It is a good time to come back and will only get better as more bugs are squished over the next few weeks.

As for my concerns about the campaign, yes they’re still valid. It is lacking the old epic feeling and I’m bored of city sieges already. However, the game is running SO well for me, that for now I’m fairly happily distracted. That said, I’ll be getting back to what needs to change with the campaign later. The game deserves better.

But right now, the thing that was WAR player’s biggest complaint, the poor laggy performance, has actually been fixed! Apart from the chosen bug, but hey, credit where credit is due. GJ Mythic.

Now get cracking chaps, seize the moment! There is still much to do.

Fun, a ding and a Magus? Surely not...

Had some entertaining oRvR tonight and no bloody city sieges! YAY! ;) When Praag is good, it's really, really good. It's still my fave pvp zone ever, more so than the legendary Emain, which is high praise indeed.

Also dinged 40 with my 3rd character, a Magus. Yes I am indeed a glutton for punishment :P Now I've just got to get her through the renown ranks and geared up. Magus damage is pony at the best of times, but when poorly geared its very ugh... I like the class though, which is why I've stuck with it. I'm hoping for a proper buff one day ;)

Plus it's a nice challenge playing the official worst class in the game. I just have to avoid getting in any solo situations or it's a brief, hideous and bloody affair. Even so, fun to play and they do look quite cool.

Monday 19 October 2009

Producers letter, info and stuff

Well my friends not only is the 1.3.2 patch out, but now we also have the Producer's news letter to go with it.
Lets see what's interesting in it then...

It mentions the new features like the IMHO excellent new user experience and the apprentice system, which I've not really seen much from yet, so wont comment.
Then it all goes a bit Pete Tong....
•Fortresses no longer gate ownership over a pairing. LET THE INCREASED CITY SIEGING BEGIN! Don’t worry if it’s your capital city under siege—rewards await you and your Realm for putting up a good fight.

Sweet mother of Tzeentch! A celebration of the worst thing this patch brings us! Delusional :P We wanted fortresses FIXED, or REPLACED with you know, something good... not bloody REMOVED! Ahh misery our campaign has been turned into a bloody deathmatch! To quote a friend just now, "there is now something worse than Epic Fail.. MYTHIC FAIL!" lol people sssssssure aint happy :P

Anyways, onwards...

I do have to agree , I'm delighted with the game performance improvements. GJ Mythic.

And the real highlights are clues for 1.3.3:

1) Server response time optimization (From mounting/dismounting to abilities to moving things in your inventory, all response time has been improved.)

2) Ability to walk and sit. (RP players rejoice!)
Pardon? Is this seriously in here? Surely this is just flame bait? I bet the guys on the European RP server are over the moon... oh wait..

3) Various UI fixes, such as making sure timers synchronize properly on PQs.

4) Graphical enhancements (Bloom, improved weapon trails, heat shimmer, etc…).

5) Pet and monster pathing improvements.
Good! Oh wait my pets don't move anyway. Damn :P
Where are the new forts?
“What is this Underdog System all about?” Basically, it’s a system that kicks in on any server to help aid the Realm that’s consecutively being pummeled. It’s a handicap system, so to speak, for the T4 campaign. VPs needed for zone control and domination timers will lessen for the losing side. What’s nice about this system is that it ramps up and down on the fly, thus opening up opportunities for the losing Realm to get back on its feet. In my next letter I’ll go over this in more detail.
Hmmm... Could be good, could be bad, who knows? Wait and see for more info.

Sunday 18 October 2009

WAR 1.3.2 patch. I don't wanna say I told you so, but...

I told you so...

Log in... City siege
Log in... City siege
Log in... Not a city siege! Oh wait, 1 zone locked and the other.. oh damn :( City siege
Log in... City siege

In-game, on forums, on vent, wherever you go, people are not happy and being vocal about it. I know I'm not pleased. It's already turned into exactly what I was worried about. Maybe in a few days it will have changed, but I don't know how...

Though the game runs well now, mostly anyway. There's some kind of server lag problem in city instances. Which is a shame as that's what the majority of the game is right now.

Why Mythic thought this was what we wanted I just don't know.

Friday 16 October 2009


So last night Praag was the place to be. Blood, murder and mayhem. At a critical moment Destro was trying to take Martyr's Square and with my 3 groups of Kill Frenzy I yelled on vent for us to stop Order reinforcements making into to our fellow Destro. Turns out Durtocks was frapsing at the time... WAAAAAGH!

Oh yeah baby. Great times :)

HD version here:

And patch day! I'm hoping for the best :) I'll post about the patch once I've had a proper go.

One quick thing... I've had a quick go on WAR and the game performance has had a vast, and I mean VAST, improvement. I cranked all the graphics up to full, put on specular lighting, etc aaaaaaaaand... It ran really well, in combat too. Looking forward to trying out some large fights.

I've read a few forum posts where people are mewing about the game crashing when they had a 300vs300 fight in a keep... Well duh :P As if anything can handle 600 players in one doorway ;) OK, perhaps we need reasons not to have everyone in one keep, but even so. I think Mythic need a bit of slack there.

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Tango in the night?

Personally I prefer Rumours, but rumours are we may end up tangoing in the night anyway. A dark, vampire filled night and without an albatross in sight.

Putting my ropey Fleetwood Mac word associations aside, the rumours of an expansion have been a little, uhm, expanded upon. As you may have seen Radishlaw comment on my last post, the thing people have found is a name “The Blood Hunt Expansion” within some of the files included from the test server. Also I’ve read elsewhere that another file which zones which includes numerous zone names not currently in the game. Amongst which was Sylvania, homeland of the old world’s vampires…

First lets get this in perspective. The only things we know for sure are:

  • Some clever techy people have found a handful of words in some files.
  • Mythic have declined to comment.

That is all it is... We know nothing else. It could be the findings are from a possible live expansion or live event. Or perhaps and more likely they are just the remains of things removed during development, things never destined to see the light (much like vampires…). As such anything else that I, or anyone else, says is purely speculation and should not be taken as any more than that. But since speculation is fun and it gives me something positive to write about, here I go talking probable bollocks and making 1+1=3! :P

I suspect it’s completely real and Mythic are planning on adding the Vampire Counts as an NPC controlled third faction.

The reasons I think this are as follows:

  • Mythic have mentioned that they have some kind of realm balancing system being created. No details have been provided, but if I recall correctly when it was mentioned they implied it was something cool…
  • Aion has a NPC third faction, who I believe are meant to assist with balancing, so the idea is already out there in game developer land.
  • Warhammer Undead will not work as a playable race, but they are bloody awesome for NPCs.
  • The game desperately needs a third faction to balance things out. Ideally a playable one, but this could work too and is probably a lot easier to implement.
  • It could actually be pretty damn cool and I want to be in a happy place.

So that’s my thinking and I know I’m not the only one to have thought this. Of course I could be talking a load of old cock, or maybe, just maybe, we could be onto something…

Whatever it is or not, I imagine Mythic are happy to have a bit of a buzz going around. I hope so, because it’s got people talking a little more positively about the future.

Monday 12 October 2009

The WAR Expansion rumour

Is there nothing in it? Are we reading too much into it, or is this the start of another Mythic viral campaign?

Throughout WAR’s life Mythic have regularly promoted rumours through the internet to hype the game. The Choppa and Slayer teasers being absolute classics; when Bloggers were posted parcels containing orange hair dye and an electric shaver, or a DVD of Predator with a note marking the time when Arnie yells “get to da choppa!”

This one though is merely 2 brief comments on their forum.
“I found that in the PTS client there’s a big accidental inclusion – information on the next expansion.
Is there anyone in specific I can contact with specifics on the issue?
Nobody wants info leaked before it’s anywhere near finalization.”
Marty (Forum Moderator)
“Guys I’m locking this as it’s not realllly something to be discussed on the forums.
Edited to add the info has been passed uphill to those who can check ‘er out ;)

This essentially says nothing at all. It could have been a misunderstanding on Fozee’s part. Having not seen what he found, we don’t know. The thing that makes this interesting is the Mythic response. It’s the first time we’ve seen them not deny the existence of an expansion and you could interpret this as confirmation. You could, maybe, perhaps… Or not. Whether there is any truth in it or not, people are still latching onto this nugget of possibility.

And as such, I will now grab hold of the nugget, fondle it lovingly and explain why I hope it’s not just a rumour based on bugger all…

With the current state of WAR we are in dire need of a big announcement. Something to spark interest, something that delivers a giant slice of hope. For a long time many people have said that Mythic should be focusing on the current core game, not adding things like Land of the Dead. To their (eventual) credit, Mythic have now started to do this, but the problem is it’s too late. By the time they get the existing game balanced and performing well, the population drop we’re all now seeing may well have gone too far. Just fixing the basic game is no longer enough. WAR needs an injection of excitement, a giant dangling carrot… WAR needs an expansion announcement.

This would draw people’s attention back to WAR, get the media hype going and give Mythic an opportunity to right the wrongs in the game’s original development. Yes, WAR now NEEDS an expansion.

But not just some new zones and additional races for the existing factions, that would do nothing to address the problem that is the root of all WAR’s issues...

 Come on, you know what's coming... it's not like I haven't said it looooooooads of times before, but reviewing Aion has blasted my brain with repetition, so sorry....

WAR desperately needs a third faction announcement. It has gone beyond just people like me wanting one for our own gaming dreams, WAR needs one to stand a long term chance. Otherwise the one side dominating thing will continue to grind down player morale and people will continue to quit. Even if the game’s finer detailed balance issues like AoE, CC and all the intricacies between careers are fixed, it doesn’t matter. The one dominating and one underdog thing doesn’t work in an MMO. When it’s 1v1, there’s always a winner and loser. People will only tolerate consistently losing for so long. However, with 1v1v1, it’s entirely different. If one faction dominates for too long, then the others combine to attack it. The game self-balances, exactly how DAoC did. The people that have left the game know all this. They won’t come back just because we get given some different textures to play in, as this would mean the core problem remains. Yet I can state with abso-bloody-lute confidence that they will come back for a new dynamic 3 way campaign.

I’ve heard people say that Mythic didn’t go with 3 (or more) factions because they didn’t want to make DAoC 2. I don’t know how true that is, but regardless, it’s worth mentioning because that concept is wrong. DAoC2 is EXACTLY what WAR should have been. I honestly think that if WAR had 3 factions then it would roar back upwards in subscription numbers and become a genuine contender. Take a moment to think about what it would mean. Imagine Mythic’s marketing machine go into overdrive promoting the arrival of an unholy alliance of Skaven, Beastmen and Nurgle. Watch your backs people, there’s a beastial horde of diseased and decay scum on their way…. Awesome eh?

However I worry that if there is an expansion, we would just get Lizardmen vs Skaven as additions to the existing factions. Nice, but not enough... It’s the easy expansion, the same old same old. As I said above, we’d get new textures and models, but have all the same problems. Do you think that would bring anyone back for more than a month or two at best? If at all?

Is adding a new faction just too damn big a task? Perhaps… but when you look at what Mythic did with DAoC’s expansions you’ll see they did pretty huge changes. For example, look at the new frontiers update. It was a truly massive change. The entire (yes all of it) oRvR landscape was ripped out and replaced. Yes, this could be one of the biggest changes to an MMO ever, but Mythic could actually pull it off, they have the history and they have the experience. I seriously have faith in their ability to do it.

The question is, do they have the balls, financial backing and sense to do so?

Sunday 11 October 2009

Aion - hardcore or hard labour?

Just over a week ago a friend of mine gave me a copy of Aion and asked me to review it. He also challenged me to time how long it would take for me to want to log off… Never being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I agreed and began mentally preparing myself for a land of pastel colours and cutesy eastern style graphics.

I knew it was going to be grindy and having played games like Lineage and that crappy one with robots (name escapes me), from a gameplay perspective I wasn’t keen at all. But to be honest I was still somewhat intrigued by Aion, purely because of it being an oriental game. I’m very interested in far eastern culture, if you’re interested particularly Japanese history and also films by the likes of Kurosawa and Park Chan-wook. However, I like it gritty and real, not anime, or airy-fairy FF cuteness. And God no pokemon pls, but give me Sanjuro any day! So in that respect whilst the game’s setting intrigued me, I was at the same time very put off by the look of it.

Yet I was very aware that I had hated the look and lore of WoW, but I still ended up playing that for a few years. My long and sometimes arduous journey since Ultima Online has taught me that a MMO can grab your attention when you least expect it. So as I watched the installation progress bar fill up, I decided to put my preconceptions aside and give Aion a fair chance to impress.

I made it a whole 17 minutes before I first wanted to log off.

Character creation is a farce. At first I was quite impressed by the character creator with it’s many options, but then I got into the game itself. Everyone looks the same unless you are right next to them, or they’re some kind of bloody mutant from a hall of mirrors. It’s one of a few things that totally kill any immersion into the game world. It’s not good when you keep seeing people that look like a distorted reflection thing from Twin Peaks dream sequences.

I’ve seen many people talk about how this game was a cry back to the glory years of MMOs, how it brought back memories of Everquest and Asheron’s Call. Yes Aion does bring back memories, but its all the bad things from that era. It’s not dumping you in a wide dangerous world and leaving you to explore, it’s putting you in a linear grind with a ropey storyline and crap dialogue. They have taken the old grind mentality and combined it with the linear progress that WoW introduced. Honestly, the first 10 levels PvE questing experience is hideous. Run there, kill 8 of those, run back to claim bugger all, run there again, kill 10 of those, run back to claim bugger all, run there a-bloody-gain and collect 6 of these... AGGH!

Essentially all modern MMOs follow this same format with their questing, but at least they try to mask the grind, at least they try to limit the repetition. Aion makes no attempt to do so. Quite the opposite, it revels in repetition. Other than some of its imagery, the starting experience is utterly without imagination. It is a big step backwards and not in a good way. It was a truly horrible experience and very nearly stopped me from going any further at all.

Combat starts of diabolically bad. Your abilities have huge cool down timers, which means you spend the majority of your time watching your character auto attack. Obviously it gets more engaging as you level up and get more skills, but the levels and abilities do not come quickly. Combining that with the foul decision of going back to having to sit down and rest up ALL THE BLOODY TIME, and it means you spend a huge amount of time feeling like you’re logged in just to watch your character, rather than actually interacting with it. This does nothing to build any attachment to your character. Once you get to level 10 and choose your class properly, it does get better with more abilities and a bit more flavour to your character, but it’s still rather uninspiring. You’re also theoretically freer to explore, but because of issues with the flying, in reality you’re not.

The graphics are good, but not as wonderful as they are made out to be. In particular I was gobsmacked by how the skies are god awful, with completely static images ruining any feeling of being in an actual world. The game’s textures are very varied in their quality; with some being beautiful and some being total crap. It’s surprising to see a game with both moments of utter beauty and pixelated hideousness just a few yards from each other...



Animations are pretty good, particularly in combat, but running (which you will be doing a LOT) looks dodgy. However, on the whole the graphics are solid and the mobs have some very nice detail, it’s just a real shame about those bad textures and the terrible sky.

There were a lot of things I found irritating; the currency is stupid, the PvE carrot and stick balance is wrong, it’s got that stupid choose your class at level 10 crap, the dodgy cut scenes… I could go on for a while to be honest.

One thing that is a huge turn off is the in-game community. It appears to have attracted a lot of youngsters and/or people with attitude problems… Every time you log in, and this is no exaggeration, region chat will look something like this:

[ashjakiykhl] Power levelling much cheapness from 1 million gold only 300 Euros!
[kjklkjsdfsdl] Power levelling much cheapness from 1 million gold only 300 Euros!
[fdsffuuuool] Power levelling much cheapness from 1 million gold only 300 Euros!
[RandomJoe] This is like my Warlock
[RandomBob] **** OFF BACK TO WOW
[RandomJoe] I was just saying.. **** tard
[RandomTom] ***** care bear *** **** noob
[RandomJoe] ***** WoW was win! **** noob ****
[ashjakiykhl] Power levelling much cheapness from 1 million gold only 300 Euros!
[kjklkjsdfsdl] Power levelling much cheapness from 1 million gold only 300 Euros!
[fdsffuuuool] Power levelling much cheapness from 1 million gold only 300 Euros!
[RandomPat] WoW is the best you *****!11!1 m8 12 million subs you ****
[RandomTom] **** WoW **** subs can *** *** *** *********
[RandomBob] Are we angels?
[RandomJoe] ****
[RandomTom] ***** care bear *** **** noob

Now that’s not the game’s fault, but it gives you an idea of the type of people you’ll be subjected to and like it or not, that’s part of the game experience.

Where the game excels is in performance. Aion runs incredibly well. I was playing it with everything set to maximum and I was getting an average frames per second of over 100. The lowest it ever dropped was 25 (in Pandemonium, a fancy city and it was only a brief drop) and the highest it reached was 198 FPS. That is when moving around and fighting at the time too. For this I give it’s developers massive credit, the game performance is truly glorious.

Aion’s unique selling point was the winged characters. Yet for some strange reason once you get your wings you find yourself only able to fly for 1 minute. I struggle to see why they’ve done this, other than creating more grind opportunities. You’ll find this limited flight also limiting how far you feel you can explore and it makes the game feel strangely linear for something where you have wings… It’s hugely disappointing, because the flying is quite cool. It’s not amazing, but it has potential for some great PvP moments once you’re able to fly longer.

Regarding PvP… Apparently the PvP is good at 25 onwards, but I’m afraid I can’t confirm or deny that, because there’s just no way I can face levelling that far. I’d rather nail my scruttock to a door.

There are 2 key areas that an MMO developer needs to get right. Those being both the starting and end game experience. Your first hours in a new MMO need to grab you by the short and curlies, make you love the experience and drive you forwards towards the level cap. It needs to be good enough that we ignore any mid level grind, our subs happily staying active all the way until end game. Then the end game itself needs to have enough quality and variety that we still want to log in and keep our subscriptions going. Unfortunately Aion’s starting experience is so immensely dull; the idea of continuing through to the level cap is a horrible, horrible thought. It could have the best end game ever, but why go there if the journey is an epic chore?

I saw someone ranting in game how Aion is a proper hardcore MMO. What a load of old poo. Aion is not a hardcore MMO. Just because it takes ages and has costs attached to bloody breathing does not make a game or it’s players hardcore, it just means it’s a time sink. Hardcore? Hard labour is closer to the truth.

I think Aion got lucky. It’s not a bad game, it’s just an old game in new clothes, but it has come out at a convenient time. A time when many people are disappointed with WAR, where the Age of Conan shambles is in it’s death throes and a lot of folks are getting tired of WoW. Up strolls Aion covered in hype from the beta, with a different look and using a game engine that runs like a whippet whacked out of its mind on PCP. If WAR’s poor performance was pissing you off, then this alone could lure you in. Then over time as you start to notice the tedium; there are still no other major alternatives right now. You’ve already invested lots of time, so perhaps you subconsciously convince yourself it’s not dull as hell. We all do this with the products we like, for example it’s a contributing factor to people like me that are sticking with WAR. As we justify ourselves sticking with WAR that is to be honest a bug ridden, badly supported game that lacks direction (amongst things)...

Aion has demonstrated quite how well a MMO can run and is a lesson for other developers. But the game is without any doubt a dated throwback. If you played games like Everquest, Asherons Call, Anarchy Online, etc, etc, then levelling your first character in Aion feels like you’re just levelling yet another alt for one of those old games. Grinding out the same old shit, to get to the (in this case presumably) good stuff.

Maybe grinding is new to a lot of people. That’s quite possible; you only have to look at the old grinders sub numbers to see it’s mathematically impossible for all of today’s MMO subscribers to have played them. Maybe there are a lot of sado masochistic gamers out there that like paying to have their face’s sandpapered whilst listening to Vogon poetry. Or maybe it’s me? I paid my dues grinding up in the old MMOs, perhaps I’ve just burnt out on MMO grinds. There is no escaping that’s what Aion is. Whatever the reasons, I find it hard to comprehend why people are getting so pant wettingly excited about Aion.

If I were to choose two words to summarise Aion it would be: Pretty tedious. All the connotations you can get from those two words are correct.

Saturday 10 October 2009

The Pit of Lost MMOs

WAR and I stand there hand in hand, teetering on the brink, the ground crumbling away between our manky toes and falling slowly into the dark and festering depths below. For today I stand before the Pit of Lost MMOs. A lonely place of lost subscribers and missed potential, a place where MMOs go to die. If you listen carefully you can hear them screaming. Peering over the edge I see other poor souls desperately clinging to the slippery walls, subscribers slipping through their fingers, but it’s too late. Once you’re in the pit, there’s no way out. Yet I can still make out shapes in the darkness… Is that Dark Age of Camelot, Everquest, Anarchy Online and Age of Conan gazing forlornly up at our silhouetted figures? Wait! A faint whimpering echo, barely audible now.. Asheron’s Call? Tabula Rasa? Those shapes still clinging on shudder at the sound of it, they all know what it means. Abandon hope all ye that enter here.

My server has gone from high/high to medium/medium (at best) in just a couple of weeks. Please note this is after an entire other server transferred to us. Karak-Norn, the once busiest server in Europe is haemorrhaging players at an alarming rate. It’s not one or two leaving, it’s established and respected guilds crumbling. People are citing two main reasons for their leaving; Other MMOs (not just Aion) and AoE. Meanwhile forum trolls and ego-monkeys gloat it’s purely down to their uberness, they’re so hardcore and everyone else is an EZmoder. They’re missing the bloody point. People are quitting from BOTH sides, people that have in the past weathered the storms of being the underdog, they’re not EZmoders, they’re tired and fed up. Today the game revolves entirely around just 2 classes per faction, everyone else is merely a buff for them, someone who can tag along and leech. If you’re not playing a Bright Wizard, Slayer, Choppa or Sorcerer, you’re just there to buff, heal and make life easier for them, you’re a buff. Either that or you’re there to do things they can do FAR better anyway, if you can at all. Why oh why are Ranged DPS the most powerful melee range classes in the game? Why does AoE do more damage than single target? Nobody’s AoE should do more than ANY single target nukes.

Mythic are not even acknowledging the AoE problem and as an obvious result, people are losing faith in Mythic’s understanding of the game. And of course, bugs remain rampant. Including ones brought in by the last PATCH.

I already expressed my concern that the latest patch notes wouldn’t be enough and showed Mythic were missing the game’s biggest problem. I’m now very concerned about what state my server will be by the time the patch is released, as it turns out the notes have just prompted people to leave early. Once it goes live, if the patch doesn’t work out well (God forbid we have a repeat of the last one), I’m not sure I’ll have any English speaking European server left to play on at all (plus the foreign language ones are even less played). I've stuck by this game since the start, I'll stay with until the end, but if someone like me, who has always supported your efforts is getting this worried, then Mythic you need to act fast.

WAR has such potential, it really does. I want to post positive things, but how can I? I see my server dying, friends and respected enemies leaving. There is nothing positive to say. This is my most negative WAR post ever, but what choice do I have? If I posted anything positive it would be blatant lies or just plain unrealistic. People know that I've always tried to be fair to both the game and Mythic, and that's what I'm doing now.

Mythic are not saying anything to reassure us. GOA are not saying anything at all (shock horror). They need to address this now. It's time to put up or shut up.

We are standing at the edge of Pit of Lost MMOs. We’re not in it yet, the game is still saveable, but barely. It will only take a little push to send us spiralling into the dark.

I should have said one other thing. Of course they could announce an expansion with a third faction... That would change everything.

And what is this all about...

Thursday 8 October 2009

Vulture no go

Yesterday I planned to rampage through Tomb of the Vulture Lord, alas this was not to be. Order, damn their pointy ears and fluffy beards, decided to keep beating us to the resources and by the time I could get into the sodding place it was too late to start. Such is the way of things :P

So instead I stayed with a couple of guild groups for an evenings RvR. It was a very up and down night. We got bloody humbled in a scenario by Black Company and another Order premade (didn't catch the guild name), with some horrifically effective bombing wizards, invulvnerable healers and a amazingly lethal Witch Hunter. We to be honest were a bit of a shambles for the first 10 minutes and were facing a 500-5 loss, but thankfully (kinda) we got our shit a bit more together and at least managed to get our score into treble figures. Still a bad loss though, which put me in a foul mood. I don't mind losing, but I loathe it when we're crap. :P That Witch Hunter I discovered was RR80, which explains a few things. I met him 1v1 a few days back and I was quite confident I'd crush him, as I don't lose 1v1 often. Oh no... I got maimed worse than I have in months :P The guy is obviously good but also hits like a truck.

Thankfully that loss woke us up and things for much better from then on, with us dishing out some scenario and oRvR pain. One low point was when in a scenario a filthy dirty cheating wizard was hiding inside the ground and nuking us, only moving out when he wanted to ninja the bomb (Howling Gorge scenario). I'll not post it up here, but needless to say it's screenshotted and being reported, for what little that's worth. We still won the scenario despite his cheating.

I also got my Magus out of retirement. A mere level 37, but having been bombed to crap earlier on, we figured we'd give back the same for a bit. Respecced rift bomb and, well, the rest is obvious. Easy mode tedium, but what can you do :P

Anyways, enough rambling. Time for work :(

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Devs pimpin

Saw this linked on our guild forums. I've flirted with EVE many times. LOL this just makes it tempting again, yet for no sensible reason at all :P

Comedy gold :D

Meanwhile back in WAR... I might be visiting Tomb of the Vulture Lord tonight, not been for ages and I hoping the instance will play ball. Last time I went it was in buggy lag hell mode, but that was close to the last patch. Crossing fingers...

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Open the gates!

Land of the Dead… it’s a great looking and very atmospheric zone. It’s also, and excuse the lame pun, utterly dead.

Other than a tiny number of people power levelling alts up on PQs and people inside Tomb of the Vulture Lord, there’s nobody there. Why? Numerous factors. The primary one being that there’s nothing to go there for! You probably won’t find any enemy players, the PQ loot is poor, PQs as an experience are only worth doing once anyway and other than that there’s nothing to do outside of the instances.

I think that sparking the zone back to life would be relatively easy. First remove the gated access, so that LotD is available to both factions all the time and then add a wide variety of Battle Objectives. Majority control of those BOs could give a realm wide 10% renown buff. Much like relic control used to do similar realm wide buffs in DAoC. If there was plenty of different BOs, then that would mean people can’t just zerg them all and people have to spread out, which would make for better widespread small scale fighting.

This would reinvigorate the entire zone and as an extra bonus, would give us something else to do during city sieges. They could even add a funky 6vs6 desert themed scenario to the zone.

There you go Mythic, a little bit of tinkering and the Land of the Dead expansion would no longer be something to look back on as a mistake.

Saturday 3 October 2009



In this case it's Sod, not Zod. Sods law that is ;) (or Murphy's law for you folks across the pond)

Mythic, bless their lovely cotton socks, feature my blog in the community spotlight of the September WAR newsletter and by pure sods law... they send the mail out on the exact bloody day I put up a Champions Online review :P With 95.76782% of my posts being about WAR, that was rotten luck.

I've noticed a bit of a leap up in people visiting as a result of that newsletter, so to those new to my little corner of the interweb, please be assured most of my rambling posts are actually about WAR and will continue to be so ;)

And thanks Mythic, most appreciated :) Of course now that I know you keep at least the odd eye on my blog, you need to implement all my oh so uber ideas! Ok maybe not. :P

Friday 2 October 2009

Mythic, Obi-wan and the role of healers

Leading up to the release of WAR, Mythic’s marketing machine was in overdrive. Quite a bit of what was said by a hyper-excited Paul Barnett & Co turned out to be just that; hyper-excited. If it was just marketing spin or a misunderstanding of their own product I don’t know (I’d guess the former), but regardless of the reason it set expectations impossibly high.

One of the things many of us were looking forward to was how in WAR healers wouldn’t just sit at the back watching health bars go up and down. Oh no sir! In WAR healers would be in the middle of the fight, dishing out pain and destruction, which through magical funkiness would in turn heal their allies. Unfortunately this premise turned out to be based on rather Obi-wan Kenobi style statements from Mythic, because what they said was true… from a certain point of view.

WAR’s healers do have abilities that deal damage and heal at the same time. You can purely play as a damage dealer that auto heals if you so wish. It’s just that if ALL your healers play that way, then you group is doomed. The healing from damage is not anywhere near potent enough. There is just no escaping it, you have to have some traditional dedicated backline healers if you want to live... But whilst that maybe the case, we still have the option to play differently (and get our arses kicked) should we choose to. So technically Mythic didn’t lie, they just stretched the truth a wee bit.

When Obi-wan told Luke that his father was “killed” by Darth Vader, he was just selling a dream to an ignorant farm boy. Mythic are no different to Obi-wan, they’re just selling their dream like every business does, and we are the ignorant farm boys (with potential for greatness ofc)… Or we’re suckers with cash to burn, one of the two. ;) But this is just the nature of advertising and building up the hype for your products. Everyone twists the truth. Apart from Barry Scott obviously, he is the real deal. No, honestly.

With this particular dream, “the loads of fun to play healer”, the problem is probably that it’s very hard for a developer to get the balance right. I’m sure Mythic tried bloody hard and there is more to their healers than those in most other MMOs, but they still didn’t quite manage to break the mould.

How do you make a hybrid healer that doesn’t over balance on one side of the scale? If their DPS and healing is both excellent, then nobody will play other classes that can’t do both. Then if you over balance on one aspect you get other problems. If their healing isn’t potent enough to cope with the damage dealt by high DPS classes, then they’re useless as healers. If their damage is not as good as other DPS classes, then they’re no good as DPS, particularly in PvP where spike damage is often important. It seems like no matter how you set up the scales, it just won’t quite balance right.

It’s a tricky one for sure. If there is a way of becoming significantly better at one aspect, then that aspect becomes their focus, because playing jack-of-all-trades so rarely works. When you look at how people actually play, almost everyone that uses a so-called hybrid class ends up assuming a set role of tank, healer or DPS. Sure by respeccing they can change their focus, but it’s not the same as actually performing a hybrid of roles at the same time. Some poor sod will still end up just watching those health bars.

Of course guilds will often keep one or two DPS specced healers around, but not often because they need to, it's more likely novelty value or just due to people being nice. Yes it’s true that they do have their uses, WoW’s Shadowpriests being a prime example, but you can’t have every healer specced like this. It would be pixel suicide. If you’re a tank or DPS by trade, be honest, wouldn’t you rather they were all pure healers? You know you would really; it’s more reliable...

So is it even possible to make a true hybrid healing class while we remained locked in the MMO mindset of everything requiring set roles? If our MMO games continue forcing people to assume their role of Tank, Healer or DPS, will it ever change or will there always be some poor sod stood at the back watching health bars go down and up, down and up, down and…zzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

To be fair Mythic had a good crack at moving things forward and they’ve made the most fun PvP healers I can think of. I'm enjoying my Shaman and look forward to getting him into the big leagues. OK, perhaps they shouldn’t have gone all Obi-wan on us, but I think there was a genuine attempt behind it. So at least they tried eh? Not that Yoda would approve of just trying… But then that picky little git failed miserably and ended up stuck in some crappy swamp. Maybe he should have tried.

About the missing forts

Ok I thought a bit more about the patch notes and the empty forts. On reflection changing the campaign system and leaving the forts to another patch is probably a good move. This way Mythic will get to see the impact of the campaign change without distractions. Which is surely a good thing?

Thursday 1 October 2009

Bootae goes on a Spandex Frenzy

I wasn’t expecting to like Champions, I really wasn’t. Early beta feedback from friends had been extremely poor and in the past I played City of Heroes/ Villains, which I really wanted to like, but unfortunately the games just were not good enough. Whilst the CoH/V game world looked cool and the character creation was the best by far, it lacked longevity. I found the game to be a shallow, PvE grind fest with limited character customisation (apart from visually of course), and very repetitive questing and instances. With both versions of the game I got into the mid levels and then finding myself bored, I quit. As such it was a huge surprise for me to find myself enjoying Champions Online.

So what’s changed with Champions Online? Not a lot actually, but it’s seems better made and feels more casual play friendly. Make no bones about it; this is City of Heroes 2, but there are quite a few points that make this a more enjoyable experience, at least if playing from a casual perspective.

You get your Travel power after completing the starter/tutorial zone, which will be at around level 6. This is a lot earlier than in CoH/V, which is good, but the huge difference is that this time your travel power is actually decent from the moment you get it. In CoH/V until you powered it up at much higher levels, you flew/jumped/etc at the speed of a crippled sloth, which completely ruined the feeling of being super powered. Being Superman is cool, being his lame twin, not so much… When I first activated my jet boots in Champions Online, seeing them roar into life and get faster as I flew upwards was one of those “cooooool” moments. They have also animated the characters movement rather well, which I discovered as soon as I twisted myself around in mid air. Since then I’ve tried out a range of travel powers (there are a lot to choose from) and so far they have all been a lot of fun. How you travel in MMOs is one of the least talked about, but most important things for a developer to get right. After all you are going to spend an awful amount of time just going from A to B. Cryptic have absolutely nailed it and I would log in just to leap or fly about. Oh and super jump and swinging are FULL of win.

Character development works well. When you first create your character you can choose from preset starting powers, or pick and choose any combination you like. You can make anything from a sword-wielding lunatic that shoots fireballs out of its face, to a telepathic Shark-man with guns. As you level up you then find you’re almost totally free to choose anything from the wide range of power sets available, this gives you a HUGE amount of options. You only get to pick whole new powers every few levels, but with each ding you still get to choose other methods of progression. These range from major stat increases, to enhancements for your powers. These enhancements (called advantages) improve or add new abilities to your existing powers, for example giving a life drain power a group heal effect or removing cooldowns, that sort of thing. Advantages can dramatically improve the impact a power makes. There’s also equipment to be worn, which drops from bosses or as mission rewards. It doesn’t display on your character (with a few exceptions), which you wouldn’t want it to anyway, instead it just provides stat increases and in some cases extra abilities. In the very early levels all power sets feel a bit samey, but this changes as soon as you start picking up more powers (level 6ish, straight after the tutorial).

A brief mention of the much lauded character creation system. Like CoH/V before it, Cryptic have once again delivered the best, most flexible and diverse character creator ever. It’s bloody awesome. Some of the things people have created are incredible. There’s no need to look like anybody else, for once in an MMO you actually can be unique. I’ve made loads of different characters, from a giant Rat Ogre covered in chains, to an Ironman style robot, and then across to a super sexy spandex costumed hero with gravity defying boobs. It really is great stuff and the best thing is I’ve not yet seen anyone that looked anything like my characters.

Combat is very straight forward, but fun. I’m not convinced there’s much skill in it, but frankly I don’t care, it’s easy to get into and the powers have a great feeling of oomph! If you hit someone with powered up force/fire/lightning/fists/etc, it makes a satisfying THWAP! Champions features the most fun knockbacks ever…

The main difference with the game’s combat system is that whilst it has the normal powers consuming energy lark, this time you get energy charged up by attacking enemies with an energy builder ability. These energy builders normally take the form of very fast firing attacks. I have to say I wasn’t convinced by the energy builder system at first, but once you get the hang of timing it, it actually works very well.

As for the mobs you’re fighting, shock horror, they’re the usual MMO fare. Shortsighted, deaf and stupid… where do they get these villains? Brain taxing it’s not.

I thought PvP in CoH/V sucked royally so this couldn’t get worse and from what I’ve seen so far it hasn’t, but it’s not even close to dripping with uberness either. PvP so far has just been cage fighting. Compared with WAR it’s laughable, but it’s not trying to be meaningful, it’s just something to fool about in. Seriously, don’t expect much from it and it you may find it mildly amusing now and then. If you want some amusement, read the official forums and see the whining about power set balance. LOL! As if it matters in this game :P If you’re playing CO for serious PvP, then tbh you probably need your head examined.

The user interface is pretty solid. It’s clean, looks nice and has some good features, but it’s not without minor irritations either. That said, they really are nothing huge and are probably not worth mentioning. I think I’d be nitpicking for the sake of it. Particularly as for once I don’t feel any need to mod my UI at all.

What I must mention is the way the friend system works. When you create your account, as well as setting up your log in info, you also choose an account name. When you add someone to your friend list you add their account name, which then shows whatever character they’re logged in with. Saves some faffing about for sure and makes it a lot easier to ignore any abusive twats you may meet. Not that I have met any yet, the community seems quite chilled out so far. Lots of roleplayers… which can be fun for all kinds of reasons :P

Graphics... You will love them or hate them. Cell shading is not everyone’s cup of tea, though I’m told you can change the settings quite a lot and make it look more traditional. I’ve not tried changing it much myself; so don’t take that as gospel. I like the look of the game myself, visuals are very smooth and it does feel like being in a comic book. It also runs extremely well on my PC with fairly high graphic settings (for reference my basic spec is: Quad Core Intel 6600, 4gb RAM and a GTX260 gfx card, so nothing special). Barely any lag and high frames per second, regardless of how many unique looking characters are next to me firing off big spell effects… A lesson for a certain other game perhaps…

XP loss on death is gone. In most MMOs I denounce the lack of consequence, but this game is, in my mind anyway, a much more casual MMO. Being able to play very casually and not having to worry about something going wrong, means exploring is much more forgiving and also makes levelling an entirely more relaxing experience.

Which is what I see this game as. A relaxing experience to mess about with. It’s not a serious full time MMO, it’s still just a load of PvE grinding and basic instancing, but it works really well as a secondary game. I’m much more likely to keep this active playing it on the side, than I would be if it was my only or full time MMO. And this is the key to me liking Champions Online. Accepting that this is not a game to compete with your subscription to WoW, WAR, Aion or whatever floats your boat, will make a huge difference to how much pleasure you get from Champions.

Now then, now then! I need to temper my enthusiasm with a major concern. I’ve not seen the end game content yet and won’t do for a long time, however there is one thing already very noticeable and a puzzling dev decision. There are bugger all different zones in the game. That does not bode well for longevity at all and I suspect there is real risk of people getting bored before they get to level 40. The zones are pretty good and quite large, with more variety in their theme as you get further into them, but at times they’re a little lacking in atmosphere and on occassion feel like the collection of spawn points that they are. Millenium City is probably the best I’ve seen, particularly when you’re down at street level. Flying above it makes the buildings look a bit boxy, but once you’re in the streets throwing lamp posts at people, it gets a lot more involving. I don’t think it really compares with the atmospheric impact of zones from other games; places like Praag, Salisbury Plains, Zangamarsh, Feralas, Connaught Valley, etc. Those are zones with real character; where as Champions Online’s Canada and the Desert often feel rather sterile in comparison. That said, there are golden moments to be found. Leaping to mind is the Westworld influenced robot cowboy town in the desert, which was a real classic.

In fairness, I’m only in the mid levels. The game could have as of yet unseen depths and perhaps I’m doing it a disservice calling it’s instancing basic. I won’t know for a good while. What I do know is regardless of that; I can play this in short bursts, care free and have fun. That is no bad thing.

For a mere £17.99 from I would say Champions Online is well worth trying out. If you measure the cost against playtime, then you’ll get your moneys worth just making and messing about with characters. Is the game worth subscribing to long term? I honestly don’t know. For me in the short-term yes it is, but beyond that? Hmm. Impossible to say. But I’m not worrying about that, because right now if WAR is quiet or I need a change of pace, then I can log on to CO, leap buildings in a single bound, throw forklift trucks at baddies and swing through the streets like spiderman… with a machine gun and bunny ears.

Plus I have to say; there is one huge selling point. I’ve got a super sexy vixen of a super hero that shoots lasers from her boobs. Now that is classy…

About Me

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Half man half pixel. Music obsessive, likes a drink, occasional bastard.