First Impressions – Black OrcSeptember 1, 2008
Destruction? Finally? Finally! Time to be bad, baby! Bad to the bone! Put on my Sunday shoes and cut footloose! Well, that, and making a giant green Orc named Chopparip (Choppa R.I.P.) who looks a LOT like Shrek, only with less homicidal impulses.
I think that in my fear of going “too deep” into the game before launch, I’ve gone the opposite route and been overindulging on the starter areas to the point where they’re starting to run together. Good thing that I got a switch – thematically, at least – to the Greenskin starting zone. I don’t know what I was expecting, but mud pit + radioactive green sewage water wasn’t it. Not to say that it didn’t have its charm.
Speaking of charm, one of the criteria I’ve been testing for in WAR thus far is the game’s personality. It’s an oft-overlooked aspect when it comes to reviews, but it’s critically important that a game just reeks personality, because that’s where a lot of long term connection to the players will be. For instance, WoW has a lot of personality, but I’ve always thought their Orc areas, characters, quests and whatnot were blandly barbaric. Not so with WAR’s Greenskins (and their one and only Orc class) – there’s just a messy, boyish enthusiasm about them that makes you love them, even when they’re trying to chop the world in half.
Chopparip, big green nearly extinct lug that he was, stumbled out into the middle of a warzone with nothing but a long rusty blade to tame the locals with. Although the Black Orc class definitely has a unique flavor, it’s coating the same mechanics that I’ve experienced in the Swordmaster class – do skill 1 to access skill 2 to access free skill 3, then start all over again. Obviously, as you go up there’s more and more tricks to the tanking game, but this simple 1-2-3 combo offers a solid approach to sword-and-board fun. At level five he got a “War Bellow”, one of many that he could activate for a permanent buff. I like how WAR gives you options on how to play under different circumstances.
I hurried past two orcs pounding out a mad beat on some drums, and leapt right into the area’s PQ. This PQ in particular is pretty well-known, due to a lot of write-ups featuring it back in the day. There’s a giant, and you kill squigs to calm him down, then feed him beer so he’ll take a giant sea mine over to the dwarf door and blow it up, then defeat all the dwarfs. No sweat. I did this all the way through a couple times, and rolled second place both times – netting me a green belt and green shoes. I also used the influence to buy a nice suit of chainmail armor.
I’ve also been spending more time exploring. In Chopparip’s case, I saw a little telescope up a cliff and wanted, very badly, to get there. It took a little bit of work – eventually I had to jump on a log and climb it up – but I got there and was rewarded with a Tome unlock giving me a bit of a story. Then I climbed the path even further to the top of the dwarf fortress, where I found the expected dwarf sentries and cannons, but also an unexpected lagoon and ironclad dwarf warship. What’s even better is that I could go into the ship and poke around, although I didn’t find anything noteworthy in it. However, I discovered a memorial plaque outside that netted me another Tome entry.
My last couple hours with Chopparip was spent wandering over to the chapter 2 area and engaging in a PQ there – my first chapter 2 one. At first I thought the stage 1 quest objective was bugged: “Kill 80 Forest Sprites”. 80!?! But with some help, we got it done in under ten minutes, then chopped some trees down, killed a boss dryad or whatever, and called it a day.
- There’s a lot more in terms of facial animations than you might expect – check out your and other characters’ faces when they bite it.
- I found out more about the “Killing Spree” mechanic. It is meant more for groups than single players – you have to kill a monster pretty fast to trigger the first killing spree 5% XP bonus. Then you have 10 seconds to down the next guy, which bumps it up to 10%, with a cap at 20% at stage 4.
- When you’re hurting and near death, you cannot run – only walk.