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Ask a WAR Beta Tester: Laying the groundwork

Michael Zenke

Last week we turned to you, the Massively community, for questions about Warhammer Online. We've been in the Beta for a while, and we've got lots of information about the game just stewing in our brains. Hopefully features like Massively Speaking #19 and our State of the Game piece have conveyed some of the ways we're thinking about the game.

But your questions are really what we want to get answered. Today we're going to take a first crack at what was asked last week. We're going to take care of some of the most basic questions, clarifying things like server balance, armor differentiation, and whether the game is any fun at all for non-Warhammer IP fans. We're betting that these answers will prompt even more questions, and that's good! Every time we put up an "Ask a WAR Beta Tester" article, we want you to throw us more questions in the comments. Click on below the cut to read our answers, and to give us even more questions!

smoke2000 asked "How bad can imbalance between order/destruction population be for a server? Could players of the least populated side get bored or irritated to the point they'd leave the server for another one?"

I won't lie. In Beta, the servers have been very Destruction-heavy. That said, as more and more people have entered the Beta Order has gained more and more players. It's this blogger's belief that the majority of players are going to want to play the 'heroic' Order races – just look at launch World of Warcraft's tendency to side heavily with Alliance over Horde. Additionally, don't discount the tendency for players to pick the human race over others – the human player race is invariably the most popular when it is available.

Justin asked "One thing that's important to me in an MMO is a feeling of progression visible on the character. Does Warhammer look and feel more progressed as you level? Can you tell the difference between a level 5 and level 45 by how they look?"

Very much so! Starting armor is fairly utilitarian, but as you gain in power there's a very clear change from the basics to more elaborate gear. You'll even be able to tell the difference between a level 1 and a level 10 character by their gear – the level 10 will look like sort of a 'variation on the theme' begun with the level 1 armor. By the time you're talking about the difference between a level 5 and a level 40 character, there's going to be a world of difference in your gear. Want something more concrete? Here's a level 1 character vs. a level 31 character:

kamolahy asked "I think one of the things people can look over with WoW is it's unique take on fantasy with a very stylized art direction and very outrageous looking things that make it an escape from realism. How good is WAR with this? Does it try to get more realistic or believable? How is the atmosphere and the environmental animation? Are the colors bright or vibrant in some areas and drab, yet communicative in others?"

There is definitely a lot of variation between areas, and the game is just as stylized as you'd expect from the Warhammer IP in general. As many people have been quick to point out over the course of WAR's development, World of Warcraft is something of an homage to Games Workshop's venerable intellectual property. What's interesting is that this blogger has found the game to look much better in motion than in screenshots. Really seeing the world come to life before your eyes has a profound effect on the art design's believability.

Generally speaking, each area of the game has a specific theme. It's ultimately going to be up to you as a player to determine whether the themes in a given zone are to your liking. For example, the Greenskin starting area is almost entirely brown, mud, dirt, and stone. There are very few bright colors, unlike the starting area for the High Elves. That zone features a number of deep blues, marble whites, and (of course) the vivid purples of Dark Elf opponents.

Adriatic asked "I know this game is a pvp-centric one, but is there enough pve content to keep pve minded players entertained such as anything akin to instances or dungeons? Is there any pve content after you hit the max level or is it all PvP?

We partially addressed this issue back in the Massively Goes to WAR series, in a post all about this subject at the endgame. As far as leveling, there's a ton of PVE content. In fact, the amount of PVE content can actually be a little overwhelming. Thanks to the Tome of Knowledge, though, there will be lots of hand-holding opportunities to get you through the content. There are tons of dungeons, several instances even below max-level, and even the high-end PvP content actually opens up opportunities for PvE players in the form of Public Quests!

coprolit asked "Where is the focus in terms of gearing up and levelling? Is the stat-wise progression something that comes almost automatically, merely as a side-effect from playing (play for fun with progression as reward)? Or do you quest, PvP and so on to 'grind' power to participate in a meaningful way in RvR battles (progress to play)? Or are play and progression seamlessly integrated?

Play and progression are pretty well seamlessly integrated. Obviously gear plays a big part in every encounter, be it PvE or PvP, but even level isn't that important when it comes to the game's scenarios. You're level-adjusted to meet the minimum expectation for each instanced experience. By participating in the quests for your zone, doing kill collectors, taking part in the public quests, and generally playing the game to its fullest, you should be sufficiently geared for pretty much everything that comes at you. There really isn't, as far as this blogger has seen, a need for any grinding.

Yaisha asked "From the screenshots I have seen it looks like members of the same race/class look very similar. Putting things you get in the game like armor and the trophys aside, How many types of faces/ hairstyles/etc. do you get at character creation. Also, what other types of things are available at character creation such maybe things like height?"

Essentially all of Warhammer's character customization comes from gear. Character creation is fairly limited - I'd put customizable elements at just a little more varied than what World of Warcraft offers. Unlike WoW, though, there's quite a lot of good looking gear at all levels. This is one element that WAR definitely followed through with; much of their concept art has been translated directly into in-game items at high fidelity. Add on to that the trophies and the possibility for unique-looking gear from Public Quests, and you've got a lot of gear variation between characters.

Stefson asked "The last couple of days i've been viewing lost of beta videos, and one thing that seems common during big RvR battles is the lag. Do you think this will get fixed before launch?"

I can honestly state that I've never had lag problems playing Scenario RvR. I've had very little experience in open world PvP.

That's it for this week ... be sure to toss us some more questions in the comments below, and look forward to more questions answered as the week rolls on!

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