I’ve been glancing at my blog bookmark for a while now, contemplating dusting off the old rune carver. Over the past few years the need to chisel something down has always been counterbalanced by the shame of completely abandoning the blog and the fact that I simply don’t have anything constructive or fun to say. You see, I only blog about subjects that I find enthralling and exciting – subjects that I believe could sustain those feelings for quite some time. Subjects that could keep me actively blogging as opposed to tweeting a few tweets here and there. Warhammer Online made me feel like that. And you wouldn’t be reading these lines unless Warhammer Online awakened those feelings again.
Behold Return of Reckoning, a project aiming to revive and improve the long-dead Warhammer Online. And by my beard, it seems to be well on its way.
You know me, I’m a cynical soul. You won’t see me jumping on the newest MMO bandwagons or getting excited about the new Warhammer Fantasy RTS (omg I love it!). But I couldn’t help but squeal with murderous glee as I logged into WAR for the first time in years. Everything was so familiar and nostalgic. The Elfs were still cross-dressing nancies, the dwarfs grumpy, drunken balls of vengeance and the goblins looked like they needed a good smushing. I was home.
I have to say that I’ve been thoroughly enjoying every minute of playing WAR on the RoR servers. Although the dev team have had to remake everything from scratch, they are doing an amazing job. And the best of it is the fact that they are restarting the game from the ground up, as it is being developed. They gradually remade the tiers from T1 to T4, the latter is being playtested right now. No overpowered LotD pocket items or talismans, no disgustingly imbalanced Sovereign or Warpforged. The strongest available set at the moment is Annihilator, which means we get to experience the game’s birth again, only better! Since this isn’t a mere reboot of the game the devs wowed to perfect Mythic’s once-jewel. That means balancing the careers, addressing power creep, fixing the ORvR system and more. If you took the time to go through this blog you would find dozens of major complaints I had about the game, the same complaints that were addressed and fixed by the RoR devs. I might not agree with all of them but the fact that they have a clear vision of this monumental project, that’s what excites me the most.
If you’ve ever felt like Mythic wasn’t listening to feedback, were putting up test servers just to say they’ve done it or held discussions just for the sake of it, you really should get in touch with the RoR community. Admittedly it’s much smaller so the job is easier, but the communication between the devs and the players is superb. Most changes are documented, there is a balance forum where big balancing decisions are discussed before being implemented and anyone is welcome to suggest such changes, as long as they are sensible. Major bugs are fixed instantaneously and there are patches being applied several times a week, sometimes even several times a day, depending on what phase of testing the project is in. You might not see that as a good thing (we all remember Mythic patching in the middle of EU primetime on a Saturday) but since this is a work in progress, devs responding to unwanted changes quickly is extremely important. I don’t mind being one-shot because of a well-meaning change to the outgoing damage of an underdog realm, as long as it’s patched within hours.
However there are a few drawbacks to this heaven of ours. The devs don’t have complete control over the client yet (their own patcher that will give them more power is soon to be finished), which means their hands are bound in some areas of development. Shaping the game world is limited to moving around NPCs or doadds, adjustments to game abilities aren’t reflected in tooltip changes and more involving mechanic modifications aren’t possible yet. The majority of Public Quests and a lot of the quests are broken and instances aren’t available yet, although nearing release. Not a huge deal but the Warhammer world is full of amazing atmosphere and PvE is part of the immersion that makes WAR all the more exciting. Even one of the greatest requests of Warhammer fans, implementing the long-forgotten cities of the other factions that never made it into the game, might never be possible according to the devs. One can hope though.
There’s also the developers’ stance of “development first, playerbase second”, which I personally agree with but might upset some people. Those would be the same self-entitled twats that expect everything to be handed to them and see everyone as a servant, duty-bound to please them. You’d think they’d all be playing WoW but you will encounter them all across the web, including on RoR. However any sane soul will acknowledge that if the RoR crew focus on development, instead of performing costumer service and support, we will all benefit greatly from it. Don’t misunderstand, the playerbase is taken care of, given support and the GMs are doing a fine job. You just can’t expect to be treated as a costumer, because you aren’t. We’re testers that are lucky enough to play the game while it’s being developed.
One can also wonder about the legality or feasibility of this project but to be perfectly honest I am turning a blind eye to those conundrums for the moment. I know that this attitude tends to lead to disappointment but I simply don’t care right now. I just want to enjoy playing and help much as I can in making the server a better place. I’ll place my trust in the people in charge of the project to not disappoint the playerbase.
I implore anyone that has ever remotely enjoyed WAR to give Return to Reckoning a chance. Let’s get back to bashing heads and drinking ale (or blood, if that’s your fancy)!