Waging WAR: Taking the stand

In this installment of Waging WAR, Greg makes it personal and sticks up for himself and Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. He draws his sword and board, holds the line, and explains in no uncertain terms why he still enjoys the game.

Recently, a few readers have suggested that my columns have essentially been slanderous. And while I'll admit that my writing about WAR hasn't exactly been all kittens and rainbows, imagine if it were. Would you be able to take me seriously if every week I came across as though I were a starry-eyed, adoring fan wearing rose-tinted glasses and playing the game through an internet connection made out of candy?

Although I recognize my responsibility for the game as a relatively well-exposed writer, I also recognize the ability of my readers to think critically about the things I say and to avoid knee-jerk reactions to the first sentence that doesn't exactly fit with their particular jigsaw puzzles of expectations. The simple truth is that, like many of you, I am simply a long-term player who cares very much about the future of WAR. I am affected by the same things that you are when you get frustrated by the games you care for. Sometimes, that care becomes concern or frustration. Sometimes, the truth hurts. Either way, all I ask is that if you choose to read this week's column, stick around to the bitter end, and save your comments until then.

So, in my defense, I'll take the stand and try to explain why I still enjoy the game, regardless of my recent frustrations.

If you take Maslow seriously (and if you do, hopefully with a grain of salt as well), you could offer the theory that MMOs are so popular because they fulfill some essential human needs, such as safety (through anonymity) and a sense of belonging to a community. MMOs fulfill some people more than others and different needs for everyone, but it is undeniable that, on some level, it all comes down to whom we play with, not what we play. As a gamer, I've been around the block a few times. Some games have outstanding communities; some don't have any community worth mentioning at all. WAR is one of those games that have great communities. But what about it, in my opinion, makes it stand above the rest? In a word: focus. I can't say with any confidence that I've met or mingled with a group of people more dedicated to friendly competition than the people of Warhammer. Whether your name is red or blue, I know that you're there because you enjoy the spirit of PvP. To take Maslow just a little further, as individuals in a community, we all find respect of self and others in the game we play together. Warhammer's RvR gives us all a chance to find dignity and esteem through our realm's victories and the achievements that we share with each other.

As I've said before, I'm just a person who plays the game, just like anyone else. The only difference is that I happen to write about it as well. And you and I, as people, also have real lives to live with real responsibilities. This brings me to my second point about why I still enjoy WAR: it offers me the kind of session flexibility that I need in my day-to-day life. If I have only a little while to play, I can jump in for a few quick scenarios. If I have some time on my hands, I can find a warband and knock down a few D&Ds (destros and doors). I've often been lucky enough to get into the city as well. Goodness knows I don't have the time to sit around all day waiting for a city push, but city pushes happen with enough regularity now that I can usually count myself in at least once a week. And thanks to Mythic's undying effort to make the RvR ever-better, city pushes involve more than just hugging mailboxes and watching countdown timers these days. Some servers have it better than others, but generally speaking, the RvR is active, with people out in the lakes fighting on both sides. WAR is flexible enough that I can feel secure in the knowledge that, whatever time of day I happen to log on, I can find some action, somewhere.

Finally, the PvP itself is a major attractor for me. I would be ignorant to say that the PvP is perfect, because it isn't, not by a long shot. There are balancing issues and bugs that can, at times, be quite frustrating. But let me ask: What game doesn't have those very same issues? What makes or breaks the PvP for me, though, is the group-oriented focus that truly makes Warhammer unique. Scenarios aren't just free-for-all death-matches. The same organization and team-effort is found in the smallest skirmishes right up to the largest RvR battles. There are roles to be filled and objectives to be taken. Every drop of digital blood spilled means something. It still excites me to think that tanks actually have abilities that are meaningful in PvP and PvE at the same time, like taunting or guarding for instance.

The bottom line is the RvR. It's accessible, fun, competitive, and socially fulfilling. No matter what, I can take a break from WAR and always return, knowing that I'll find one thing that I can't find anywhere else with the same quality and attention to detail that I can find in WAR. The RvR is the sole focus of development and continues to be re-evaluated at every step -- now, and into the future for as far as anyone can see. I find solace in the fact that I know Mythic has dedicated itself to making WAR the best possible RvR game available. And in that regard, the company continually fails to disappoint. I love the game; I always have, and I always will. Long live the Emperor! Long live Karl Franz! On this topic, I have one last word that sums up all of my feelings for WAR with perfect eloquence: WAAAGH!

But for all the words I have, none can describe the praise and adoration I have for the game better than simply offering you a chance to understand it from another perspective. Without further ado, I present to you: Universe's Tribute to Warhammer Online! (Witch Hunter, Volkmar.) Rock on, brother!

As always, your comments are welcome and encouraged.
Every Saturday afternoon, Waging WAR hits the cover of Massively with the latest and greatest in all things Warhammer Online. From patch news to career reviews, Greg Waller writes about it all. Email comments and questions to greg@massively.com.
This article was originally published on Massively.