Friday Night with Señor Syp – Preview Weekend Edition

August 22, 2008

Heyyy… nice to see you! How youse doing? Get comfy… pull up a chair… let me buy you a fruit cocktail and talk about all that matters in love and WAR.

This Trailer Is Not Yet Rated

With the NDA drop, Mythic officially fired the starter pistol to the publicity race leading up to Warhammer Online’s launch. As nervous as they’ve got to be without the leash of the NDA restraining beta testers from yammering on, they’ve got to love all the free — and overwhelmingly positive — publicity that’s surged down the pike. They’ve got a full month of being in the spotlight, as most major MMOs do when they get to this point, and believe you me, they’re going to milk it for all its worth.

And so will we, to get the extra hits, eh?

Big Brother Blizzard might be feeling the sting of a stolen spotlight, so they finally unveiled the last major weapon in their Lich King arsenal (at least, that we know of): the cinematic trailer. Blizz has always had high production values on all their products in this regard, but a funny little thing happened. The trailer… is kind of dull. It’s a lot of Lord of the Rings narration, ice, and the color blue, but very little goes on during it. Even die-hard WoW fans have expressed disappointment over it.

And they don’t even have the monopoly with that — also this week, Mythic lifted the curtains on the nearly five-minute WAR trailer that’s been rumored about long before you were a baby. I know I’m a pretty staid fanboy at this point, but… c’mon. That trailer is simply breathtakingly cool.

Preview THIS, baby!

We had a couple days of downtime this week, as the beta was taken offline in preparation for today’s start of the three-day Preview Weekend. Tens of thousands of new players were invited in along with the current crop of beta testers to give WAR a whirl — good thing the NDA is down, hm?

This all gives me a good idea of what launch day (and head start day) is going to be like in WAR: hundreds of brand-new characters clogging up the newbie zone, the general chat spiraling out of control with identical questions and heated responses, PQs where you get, like, 1/2 influence per run because of all the people doing it, and general glimpses into what careers might be September’s flavor of the month. Bright Wizards and Chosen, baby!

Actually, I’ve been hearing a lot about how there’s Chosen EVERYwhere on the Destruction side. I guess that could be true, although I’ve seen a lot of everything at this point. I can’t imagine this one tank class being the overwhelming favorite at launch — but then, Warriors dominated WoW, so why not? Just not for me, not right now at least.

Servers Galore

Preview weekend this might be for us, but for Mythic, it’s stress test central. They’re introducing more players on these servers than have ever existed before, and since the Herald keeps announcing new servers being brought online almost hourly, I’m guessing it’s going to push them to the limits. How many servers do you suppose Mythic has in stock for WAR? One of WoW’s greatest failings at launch was lacking enough server capacity and numbers, but servers aren’t cheap, and you don’t want to have to buy more than you’ll need.

I don’t want to list all the servers right now, I’m sure someone more bored than I will help you with that, but they all seem to be named after places in Warhammer. I even spied with my little eye an Oceanic server. Why can’t they call it Pacifica? New Zealand and Associates?

Whiners Incorporated

You take the good, you take the bad, you take them all and then you have the “I don’t LIKE this!” comments in evaluating WAR. Two of WAR’s biggest features — Public Quests and the Tome of Knowledge — have gotten knocked around in the past few days, which kind of boggles me.

PQ’s have a couple persistent complaints: one, that the higher level PQs take forever to do and even longer to grind out enough influence to top the meter and get the best loot, and two, that the loot bag rolls (which are random) coupled with the contribution scores (which are fixed but reported to be manipulated) are rarely fair to those who put in the most effort into winning.

It’s a loot system that takes a little of column A (your character’s contribution) and column B (a random roll to offset potential manipulation or dps/healing domination), and leaves nobody entirely happy. Personally, I’m just ducky with it. It’s a bit random and a bit predictable, and since I view the influence rewards as what I’m primarily going for with the slot machine loot roll as an occasional bonus, it’s water off my feathery back. Trust me, people would be complaining a LOT more if it was 100% contribution and nothing else — certain careers would simply own PQs, and there would be no end to the fighting, arguing and gimp-calling.

The Tome of Knowledge complaint puzzles me even more. The reasoning behind it goes that some players just don’t care for the achievements, unlocks, lore, expanded quest text and so on, and they’re pretty annoyed that the Tome keeps chiming in all the time (especially during your first few days of play, when you’re racking up new Tome unlocks every other minute or so) with info they don’t want. Personally, I love the Tome. It’s a bit eye-opening to see that there will be three factions in the playerbase: those that love it like I do, those that are ambivalent, and those that are irritated by the popups. I think once you strip away the Tome and lore and flavor text and fluff, you end up with more of the system than the game — you strip away the soul, in other words.

But that’s how some folk want to play, and along those lines, I don’t think it’d hurt Mythic to put in an option to disable the Tome popups, as long as the Tome kept doing its thing anyway. Make them happy, fine. I’ll still pity them, however.


Lots of folk, including half of the blogroll over to the right there (it seems), have been recording and uploading gameplay videos this week. They’re popular, particularly with the “We can’t play yet!” crowd. That’s understandable — it chafes you can’t play yet, or you don’t have the time to explore everything, and watching videos becomes an addicting little pastime.

Personally, I feel they spoil the game, especially pre-launch. Ever since starting to write about WAR, I’ve dug into all sorts of articles, interviews and so on… but I’ve never been too attracted to gameplay videos. Watching clips of someone else playing a game is weird, like watching movies of other people driving before you get your license. It’s not the same thing, and it steals away a bit of that newness, that first time experience doing something. You may want to be spoiled, and that’s your choice, but if you come back a month or so from now feeling like WAR is a little… less… than you’d anticipated, and you don’t know fully why, perhaps it’s because you’re playing something you saw on TV once.

I’m not bashing my fellow bloggers/amateur filmmakers — they’ve put in a lot of thankless time doing these videos for the community, and for some, they’re very much of a godsend. I just want to advise restraint as well… I think there is such a thing as too much information, especially when it’s concerning something you’re anticipating.

That’s all that’s bubbling through my head tonight. Time to log on and test out the Magus a bit more!



  1. Both trailers are good, the problems some of the WoW community had with the LK trailer was that it actually had some lore basis.

    For a gamer who has repeatably played through the Warcraft3 RTS just to watch the cut scenes for the story telling element (repeatably because I have upgraded my system several times since i originally bought the game), the WoW cinematic gave me that thrill i get from seeing something that may seem boring to someone who dosn’t follow the thread of this story, but for someone who’s watch from the start gets that feeling of potential.

    Which is a complete contrast to the WAR cinematic which is technically on par with the blizzard entry just not relying on the need to understand whats been before, its very much the action movie of the 2 trails.

    But hey its all down to personal tastes, some people see the blizz trail as boring and other see the WAR trail as all flash and no substance, most will fall somewhere in the middle ^^

  2. I see the disk is calling you!

  3. I’ve watched a fair share of gameplay videos and now I regret it. It’s just not very exciting watching someone else play and I have now ruined a lot of the game for myself. I wish I had your foresight =[

  4. I thought Blizzard’s trailer had the higher quality, the graphics are just amazing, unrivaled in gaming, but the Warhammer one was just action packed, just plain cool, and some humor in there. Perhaps though Mythic will release an HD version of the trailer like Blizzard did with theirs, because the quality might be more on par.

    The servers this morning were insane. It was just crazy. This whole weekend is going to be crazy. I think Mythic should get a lot of good info from this big weekend. But it’s been a blast. Even with the over population, I’ve still been able to do my quests with fair ease. So that’s been good. But I outleveled most others on the Marauder, so it started to suck later when I had no one to do PQ’s with. But the Chosen suck, personally, I feel. They need a lot of work. Black Orc is a much better tank from my play experience.

    Any one who complains about the PQ’s and ToK have some mental problems. They aren’t perfect, need some minor tweaking, but they are so far beyond anything I’ve seen before. They are what make WAR so great, along with the RvR, which has been a blast. But I hope those that don’t like it do leave and go back to WoW or LotRO or whatever they are playing. Good ridance, because WAR is going to be a smash success with or without them. It rocks hard.

    As much as WoW was a leap over EQ, I feel WAR is a leap over WoW. It really fixes so many of the stupid leftovers from EQ that serve no purpose and just distract from the fun (hearthstone timer, weapon skill leveling, durability). WAR is about constant action and fun, and it’s been nothing but fun so far.

  5. I got into preview weekend (a thanks to you in that regard, if you didn’t mention the new site was up and to sign up on it I think I would have lucked out) and WAR is amazing. I did end up playing chosen, but only because Orcs were down when I tried…didn’t really like the Chosen. Just didn’t ‘feel right, though I love the Orc even though they basically play the same way. And then I go make a Shadow Warrior (to appease the lovey-dovey girlfriend…and they were the only Order side I was itching to play) and ended up loving ranged attackers. Then tried the evil gothy version a la Sorceress and love it too. A tank at heart loving ranged classes? Blashpemy!

    As for the trailers, one of the main things WoW did for me was lore, the stories were great and WC3 really had me going and WoW sucked me in. The intro to WoW was all action with breif narrative. (This is what we got from WAR this week, only with an extra level of humor WAR is known for) And it was good. BC had some lore, Illidan being emo crazy in Outland, we’ll end up fighting him, but with action of other classes duking it out. Then this vid…meh. Only reason it did *anything* for me was because Arthas was always my favorite back in WC3 and seeing him trump the fan-favorite Illidan always made me giggle, and the music. Blizzard always did have a great musical track, but I think in this video if you took the music out you’d have nothing. Big ‘ironic’ speech from his dead father, only we never heard the speach before, so it was obviously tailor-made FOR this video. In Spider-Man you heard “with great power comes great responsibility” before he got uber, so it made sense and fit. With this it’s just a weak attempt at humor and great graphics to fill the gap of actual entertainment. I’m not going to march with torch and pitchfork that it’s terrible, but it certainly was lack-luster.

  6. “Big ‘ironic’ speech from his dead father, only we never heard the speach before, so it was obviously tailor-made FOR this video”

    It can’t have been made for the wotlk video, the voice actor’s been dead for a couple of years. It was taken from warcraft 3.

  7. The king was only in two videos for WC3, the scene where he talks to a certain wizard, and when Arthas comes back home for his crown. Google “Death Knight intro”, it’s the same voice. If they recorded that intro years ago they could easily have recorded the Arthas cinematic voice at the same time, and as it was never used in WC3 I’ll stick with what you quoted above 😛

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