Tuesday, February 24, 2009

WAR Tier 1 v. WoW 1-15: A Tale of the Tape

As I've mentioned before, I came to WAR after playing World of Warcraft for over three years. In that time I made a lot of alts and levelled in every starting zone. I've basically done everything there is to do levels 1-15 in WoW.

In WAR, I'm less experienced but I've made enough alts and done enough Tier 1 in destruction side that I have a pretty good feel for what's on offer. So I'd like to present the following comparison for the amusement of you, my gentle reader:

Zone designInteresting, dramatic zones that express the race's aesthetic and the conflict at play.Stylish, safe zones.
Winner: WAR The WAR starter zones are more varied and better represent the standing conflict. The detail of the landscapes and style of the art direction really draw you into the world. Some of the 8-15 WoW zones really shine, particularly Westfall and the Ghostlands, others are a bit monotone.
EngagementGood movement through a variety of war camps with early quests to explore the other pairings helps draw you into the range of available actions, and the tome unlocks further reinforce the narrative and experience. Quests are a mixed bag, but are seldom narratively powerful.Great quest flow pushes you into your race's story arc and keep you moving in a basically linear course. Zone transfering is available but can be cumbersome.
Winner: WoW in a nailbiter. Great quest pathing and simple options help to push you into your character. Some of the gain here though comes at the cost of range and option.
ItemizationYou can actually acquire gear for all your slots in Tier One, and with dyes and influence rewards, there's pretty quick gear replacement. Often times the gear you're replacing will look the same, however. Some very nice looks, that really suggest the class's style come by midway through the tier.Well, there's lots of options, if you can find them. But you'll be forced into stat-based choices with no customization available. Many slots will remain unfilled until near the end of this stage or throughout. Much of the gear is unappealing and/or dorky.
Winner: WAR Dyeing can get expensive but can yield remarkable effect. gear choices may be fewer but what you get is better looking by far.
CraftingEarly and easy access to crafting, at no cost, and easy and quick to level the early parts. Relatively low gathering requirements for what you produce. The downside is that you often can't go too far in your craft without auction house luck or an alt.Many more choices, recipes, drops. Gathering is less interesting in yield and more often a seperate task. Harder but with more choices.
Winner: WoW WAR crafting is getting an overhaul that will offset this somewhat and the difference here is by design. Crafting is less robust, but less demanding in WAR.
Group PVE Content:PQs for days. No dungeons to speak of, but so many PQs -- offering varied experiences, a feeling of earning your drops and influence rewards to supplement the experience.A handful of dungeon opportunities (Deadmines, Wailing Caverns, and SFK right at the upper limit of these levels (all marked at 16/17+) and ragefire chasm means you have a few good dungeon runs opportunites, right at the end of these levels. Most of the time your group content will come from quests against elite mobs. These can be fun but offer meager rewards. Once you get to the dungeons you are in for a treat, particularly from deadmines and wailing caverns.
Winner: WAR Deadmines is better than any of the T1 PQs by a longshot but its right at the edge of WoW's Tier One. Most of the time you are killing hogger and undead miners. Not that great.
PvPobjective based outdoor RvR yielding easy-to-earn rewards, with separate reward grinds for each pairing, three lively scenarios to join from anywhere in the world, and a renown levelling system encourages, nay demands that you PvP. You will and you will enjoy it. Oh and there's renown gear too.Ha ha ha. No. I guess you could do battlegrounds at 11-15, but it will really suck. You will be mercilessly ganked by level 19 twinks in rare gear with level 60 enchants. It will be soul sapping. Eventually you might earn some decent gear, but you can't wear it until level 18+. There's some world PvP on open servers, if you leave the protected zones, or seek it out, but it will be horrible as well. Level 80s will loiter around to corpse camp you (yes it happens).
Winner: WAR No, it's not really even close.

So the take away from this is don't worry about the buzz, don't worry about the company. Don't buy into the hype that there's no PvE, that half-empty zones are a death knell for WAR. There is PVE, the early zones and experience is still fun. Enjoy the game. Make up alts and replay tier one if the later game is that bad. Tier One WAR trounces level 1-15 WoW. It's not even close, and unlike WoW, the early parts of WAR are still getting better.

Maybe there are other, better tier ones out there in the MMO world, but too often people say WAR isn't doing well enough, so it sucks. This is a major logical fallacy. The game I'm playing is a lot of fun. More fun than WoW, the gold standard for MMO success. So don't piss on Mythic for not conquering the world. They made a good game, and are making it better. It's up to players who enjoy the game to spread the word, to recruit and to support it.


  1. Well done, sir.

    I was actually thinking much of this but never really posted on it. I'd be curious to see a T4 comparison (I won't do that because I'm a T4 sourpuss right now).

  2. I'm sure it gets a lot less lopsided (three L combo!) as you get closer to endgame, as WoW has had years to tweak and enhance its endgame. But I realize that is cold comfort if you're not enjoying T4.

    oddly enough, given the complaints I've read about leveling and the xp boosts they've been trotting out, my suspicion is that the critical mass at endgame has come too quickly. On my WoW server it was almost a year before more than a handful of guilds had made real progress into raiding Molten Core and Onyxia, by which time they'd already gotten out more endgame content.

  3. I find it hard to believe that WAR's PvE is better than WoW's - and that's coming from a WAR fan.

  4. Actually, I never said WAR's PvE was better than WoW's. I said the group PvE content for t1 was better than the same content in levels 1-15.

    I also said that WoW's engagement, which includes the character narratives and questlines, was slightly better than WAR's in the same time frame.

    But really it's just one of those things: your mileage may vary. There's no real condorcet winner here.

    I will say again that I believe WAR's PvE gets a bad rap. PQs and influence meters are good things, the tome of knowledge is a very good thing. The quest interface is actually fantastic, and for my money, lots of the quests are quite good too.

    Are you doing all that stuff? It's hard to in WAR and that I suspect is the reason people diss on the PvE ... they're too busy doing RvR to complete many quests, to follow the storylines.

    I'm curious if there are more specific complaints that people have. I'm trying not to be a jaded WoW player or a WAR fanboy here, but I just can't come up with a decisive win for WoW even in a pure PvE contest.

  5. Great post, the problem with WoW sometimes its so close to a single player game, without actually being a single player game. It's like pulling teeth trying to see instance content when your not max level.

    WoW PvP is always gear-centric, or rock-paper-scissors. WAR PvP is team centric, my group of rocks going to crush your scissors.

  6. The instance problem with WoW is a sort of corollary to the WAR problem with RvR. Dungeons are in many ways the creamy filling of leveling in WoW, but they've sped up leveling to such a degree that there's really no time to do the dungeons. So the game has become super end-game heavy.

    The rock-paper-scissors thing is a very interesting facet of PvP. I think there's still a bit of it on the individual level in WAR, but they've done some smart things to undercut it (such as interrupts from taunt, armor avoidance for melee dps etc.).

  7. Right off the bat you mention you're biased, which is not great.

    Despite that, though, I've also tried both games. In fact: I just finished Chaos tier one. To be fair it was a pretty good experience. But, there were a lot of problems. WAR seriously suffers at a mechanical level by being hefty hefty hefty. I was lucky if things I killed died smoothly, let alone get a decent overall framerate.

    Next is the actual game play. Which there really isn't any of outside of RVR. The god-mode regen for energy made my Zealot nigh-undefeatable in PVE.

    Which is the next thing. The Chaos storyline was not great. "BAHAHAHA Tzeentch; BAHAHAHA let's go gank those Empire n00bs," got old real fast.

    Love how you compared PQs to instances. The former being grinding the same fifty villagers so that you can go burn twenty carts and then kill some elite for phat lootz. The latter being a series of unique encounters in a unique setting with a valid storyline.

    I could go on. But my point is that WAR's really only good for the RVR. It has visual gorgeousness and some interesting concepts, but doesn't trump WoW. After all, there's a reason why one game is considered the best.