Yet another Wrath of Heroes post because besides LoL, there are no other games on my mind these days. And there’s really nothing exciting going on with LoL. I basically own, except for when I don’t.
I was reading this post by Mikfez about WoH. I don’t consider myself as one of the Mythic friendly bloggers in any way, shape or form, but I did write a few positive remarks about the new EA monstrosity in my previous post. After reading the linked post I decided to reconsider things.
You see, at first I thought Mikfez simply doesn’t like the idea of a WAR-lite game. An arena based melee with three sides that basically offers WAR’s scenarios with no character progression or any involvement in a larger scheme of things. The idea of which, as you may know, I approve of. It seems that many successful free to play games are based around quick skirmishes, with little to no progress and a low time investment required (World of Tanks, League of Legends, Team Fortress 2, Heroes of Newerth, etc.).
But then I realised that what the blogger hates about WoH isn’t the idea the game is based on, but the fact that this particular button masher is basically pieces of WAR, chopped off at random and then sewn together with very little structure and vision. I wouldn’t necessarily agree that the ideas that comprise the game are bad by themselves (and I’ll argue that the basic concept of a F2P multiplayer arena brawler is always solid in today’s gaming industry), but they are implemented rather poorly. Which I didn’t agree with until now.
Even though I really enjoyed my first playtest period, having played the game for good five to six hours, something strange happened last saturday. Logging into WoH to check if there are any playtests going on (it’s easier than checking for tweets or status updates and the emails are rarely on time) I saw that there is one. But instead of playing a few rounds I decided to play a few LoL matches instead. I really don’t know why, but the fact is that after I was done with LoL and wanted to have a go at WoH, the test was over. Strangely, I wasn’t disappointed and simply went to bed instead.
To figure out why I didn’t feel compelled to play WoH I tried comparing it with LoL. Granted they don’t have an awful lot in common, but they’re both F2P, multiplayer arena games of a rather simple sort. My first find is that this Warhammer abomination doesn’t really require much strategy, planning or knowing of the game. In other, more elitist words, the skill ceiling is rather low. With only five abilities, one of which is always on a long cooldown, one with a moderate cooldown (usually) and one that is a substitute for an auto attack, even the likes of idiot-proof League of Legends seem incredibly complex. The game has a lot of hard counters, which is never a good sign (Slayers destroy any spellcaster, Witch Elves destroy any melee class), because they shut off an avenue of gameplay for the person getting hardcountered. Plus it’s no fun to play against. Granted, you can always swap to another champion but that in itself is a big problem.
Players can swap their champion in WoH every time they die. This is detrimental to team strategy and overall complexity because it encourages teams to have a few players swap champions to hardcounter the opponents.
To give you an example, currently by far the strongest champion is the Sorceress because of her insane magical damage. A lot of players play her and as a result you’ll see teams composed of 80% sorcs. Such a team usually destroys any opposition, but a more coordinated team will simply pick Slayers (they are immune to disables and have an innate 50% disrupt) and slay the hell out of those sorcs. They, in turn, can pick Witch Elves (with 50% dodge – works on melee) and destroy the slayers. I’m not sure where this outpicking war would go next (possibly Vampires), but I’m sure that this isn’t the way the game is meant to be played. Because Mythic seems to be solving the game’s balance problems by introducing hard-countering, balanced teams will always lose to fotm teams. I’m not sure if I’d rather see hard-countering or hero repicking go.
While on the topic of strategy, the maps I’ve played so far don’t require much of it. Winning or losing is largely determined by luck. The two teams that end up clashing will usually lose because the third team is left to secure all of the objectives or pick off wounded and decimated victims of the skirmishes. Because there are three sides you’d think that eventually the winning side would end up defending against the losing ones, but because the game makes it hard to determine who’s actually winning and because of the frantic pace the game ensues at, most of the time that isn’t the case. The three team concept might work in games with slower gameplay (Planetside, DAoC), but I’m not convinced it’s helping make WoH into a game that I could enjoy. My advice? Stick to your left and look for an engagement in the middle. If you go right you’ll end up losing because 90% of the teams go left first.
Then there’s the matter of the game having no back story, very little lore, poor interface, almost non-existent visual and audio queues (something that is vital for a fast paced button masher) and very little synergy between champions. You could argue that all of the above is the result of the game being in beta and I’d be happy if someone did. It would give me hope that all of it would be fixed or changed. But as it is, I have to agree with Mikfez. It’s looking like a fun way to waste 15 minutes a week, the 15 minutes you usually spend waiting for food to get delivered, Steam to get updated or your buddy to finish his game of LoL so you can play one together.
I’ll try to get a video up during the next playtest, if I’ll feel like playing.