Way back when, in the yonder days of early 2007, I pre-ordered Lord of the Rings Online and got into their “founding fathers” program or whatever they called it. The biggest incentive for me to do so was their promise that founders would be granted early access to the live game client, a head start of a week or more (I forget exactly how many days). There was a level cap of 15 put into place for that time period, but it was one of the most exciting opening days of a MMO I’ve ever experienced, and yes, I include WoW’s launch day in that.
The joy of it all was that, for that period of time, I felt like I was bumped up to the first class cabin — I got a bit of extra legroom, some more space between me and my neighbor, and the privilege to sample the goodies before anyone else. Guilds used that time to form, players started earning some money by gathering and crafting, and the level 15 cap made for a very interesting “end game”, which also encouraged you to try several alts in that time period.
Ever since they first announced the Collector’s Edition, I’ve been buzzed at the thought of the promised head start program. Having seen Warhammer Online’s newbie areas just swamped with players during the preview weekend, I’m looking forward to a short breather where it isn’t quite so nuts. Today, it looks like Mythic (or at least GOA) has announced the two head start dates: September 14 for Collector’s Edition pre-orders, and the 15th for Standard Edition pre-orders. Everyone else, including those who pick up the game off the shelf, will have to wait until the 18th to play.
Four days doesn’t seem like a lot, and in truth, it isn’t. I guess if you’re a mad, mad gamer, you could push yourself to getting to a decent level (I’ve yet to hear concrete “to level” times, so I’m not going to even speculate on how high a person might rank in four days), but for most people, it’s going to spread a good chunk of the initial playerbase between tier 1 and 2 zones, and get some good open world RvR going by that Thursday.
For me, the head start is important for two reasons. One, I want to reserve my favorite names, and I know I’m not alone in this. I wouldn’t be surprised if some folks had pre-ordered for the sole purpose of reserving names and nothing else. The CE head start is on a Sunday, which is a pretty heavy work day for me — I’m going to log on, snag names, and log off. The second reason is that I’m a completionist, and I like to explore and complete a zone before moving on. This’ll be easier to do in tier 1 without a million other players running all willy nilly all over the place.
And to be honest, I feel like I’ve been waiting on Warhammer for so very long that I hardly remember back when I wasn’t anticipating the title. Four days might not be much, but it’s four days sooner than it would otherwise be.
The only question I’m left to deal with is whether I’m going to take that Monday off work, or just wait until my typical day off — Thursday, WAR’s launch day.