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It's No WoW, That's Why I'm Playing It

Why I think it's safe for someone like myself to jump into Warhammer Online when WoW is still alive and kicking.

Games in general tend to skew towards the old fashioned business sense of my childhood games: a full price game should hold your attention for months, maybe even most of a year.  But as my game shelf is chock full of about seventy console games (and I am not seventy years old) logic must conclude that I play several full priced games at once.  

 I don't finish games anymore unless they're great, and I don't stick with a multiplayer game unless its outstanding.  To that end I don't even play Call of Duty games consistently anymore.

So the smart thing for a developer to do would be to develop a game with this in mind; hit  lower pricepoint and produce less content.  Of course there is a problem with sustainability and its corollary, profitability.  But it's probably better than making a full price game that has to live up to the AAA standards that exist nowadays.  That is, not only live up to but exceed the others and convince players to move to your game rather than play it alongside their other games. 

This is why I can't play WoW anymore.  Its gargantuan presence denies other games playtime.  Plus, I've hit the end game several times, and they keep extending it by upping the level cap.  This means I'm stuck with the character I picked three or four years ago now, and I'm most of the time playing the game with the understanding that I'm not geared well.

So recently I've been busying myself with the Warhammer Online trial.  It's been an interesting affair.  The first time I saw the game up close was at PAX 09, where the booth was rather lonely when compared to the Left 4 Dead lineup that spiralled the exhibition floor or the consistent and slow moving wall of players at the Blizzard booths.  It looked rather bland to me then, and I dismissed it.  Although I was still entranced by Mythic's apparent competency and Paul Barnett's enthusiasm, I figured it would be like all the other post-WoW MMOs I'd tried -- vomit inducingly sub-WoW.

But it is in this area that I was most surprised.  Warhammer Online isn't just post-WoW in the gaming timeline, its design is post-WoW.  Better yet, it does not feel like a competing product.  When I think about WoW, this gigantic mass of predictions presses in on my skull, and I can't keep doing it.  That world is huge, its level cap and related gear towers over me, and I feel like a peon until the day I've done so much I'm bored.

WAR has a level cap of 40.  After three "days" consisting of two to three hour play sessions I've gotten my Orc Choppa to the top of some PvP damage charts, gone through every zone allowed to me in the trial, and hit level ten with a good amount of green gear.  In that time I have switched armour and weapon sets about three times.

I do not feel like a peon, the world is not imposing, and there are players here.  I was expecting a vapid wasteland, but it is a small town to WoW's big blustering city.  It's quaint.

But then it is also, ahem, a man's fantasy world.  When I was a seven year old boy I was drawn to Chris Metzen's sketches of orcs beheading elves and...well, lots of other things beheading other things.  That happened a lot in those sketches.  I had no idea what Warhammer was, but I liked this world.  Come Warcraft III and a strange new world erupted.

Clearly, it had moved on.  It was no longer my childhood world of Warcraft, but it was soon to become THE World of Warcraft.  The Alliance is full of Shamans and Deathknights and space aliens, and the Horde is (until recently) bereft of goblins, full of Paladins and big funny looking cartoon orcs.  And the trolls are Jamaican now.  I felt disenfranchised.

But stepping into WAR and creating my orc Choppa made me a giddy little kid.  This guy looks MEAN.  This is, undeniably, an orc.   

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