Prima Guides – Why Won’t I Ever Learn?October 5, 2008
Don’t look at me like that. I can’t stand it — those accusing eyes. That harrowing look. That glare that says, “Syp, you’re a 32-year-old gamer who really should know better.” I might as well have a scarlet “Epic Fail” hanging on my chest.
For I, yes, I, bought a copy of both the Warhammer Online Prima Strategy Guide and the Atlas. I knew what I was doing, I knew it was stupid, and I have paid $30 for that stupidity.
Here’s how it went down. I drove down to Gamestop on September 17th to pick up my Collector’s Edition — which, wonder of wonders, the register monkeys didn’t lose. The clerk actually tried to convert me into playing World of Warcraft as he rung me up a completely different MMORPG — “Yes, I’ve heard of WoW,” I said, my eye twitching. “It’s only been out for four years.” Perhaps I was distracted by his constant attempts to sell me crap I didn’t need — a one year subscription to Games Informer! pre-orders for Madden 2017! a Dreamcast! — but I saw a bundled copy of the Prima Strategy Guide and Atlas and was told that, if I purchase them now, they’d oh so kindly knock off $10 from the price.
They knew I was being taken, as I paid for it. I knew it. Even the clueless mom buying GTA IV for her toddler gave me a patronizing “tsk”.
So as I continue on in this article to tell you just how much these guides suck eggs (that’s the third grader in me coming out), you must recognize that I knew better and still did it anyway. You can’t blame me for being caught up in the “WOOHOO Warhammer’s out!” frenzy of excitement.
Hopefully you all know that hardcopy strategy guides are just about worthless in this day and age of the internet, and if not, here’s Penny Arcade to reinforce that message. MMO strat guides, even more so, since whatever information the books might contain will be outdated the second you purchase the guide. Literally, that second. I figured there might be a tidbit or two of useful knowledge therein, so I got them anyway, but it ended up being $30 of fluff and filler that will certainly line the darkest recesses of my closet for the rest of time.
Forget the Atlas, because about 100% of its maps are contained in the Strategy Guide. So it’s the Strategy Guide, just dumbed down even more. And here’s the thing, none of the maps in either the Atlas or the Strat Guide are useful for anything. They label PQs, quest hubs and RvR objectives. That’s about it. There’s no big arrows that helpfully point to “HUGE SECRETS HERE!”, or warnings about what to avoid, or, really, anything more than you’d get in game as your map autocompletes. My mind reels at the sheer wastefulness of these maps, but I shouldn’t even be surprised after reading the introduction to the strategy guide.
Let me paraphrase. The strat guide begins with the Prima authors essentially going, “We’re all SUPER excited to be writing about this TERRIFIC game! Mythic’s really nice to us and was excited to help us too! But we realized that you can’t have a strategy guide to point out all of the quests and secrets of a game where everything might change with the next patch, so we’re trying something DIFFERENT. We’re just going to SKIP all that stuff, and focus on RvR strategy instead.”
Let me paraphrase that paraphrase: it was just too tough to try to cover a MMO, so the authors flipped up their hands and went “Naw”, then scribbled down strategy sections for each career that’s written in some pseudo-fictional voice (good luck trying to read 10 pages of Greenskin writing without developing a migraine). I’ve never actually seen a strategy guide admit defeat before it ever began, so that was a novel approach, at least.
The only semi-useful part of the strategy guide are the career sections, mostly because it’s the only place with charts that try to detail abilities, morales, tactics and mastery paths. Of course that’s all out of date in several places, but it’s there if you want a quick offline reference to give you an idea what a career has to offer.
As for the touted “RvR strategies”, it mostly boils down to common sense. If you’re a healer, heal and be friends with a tank. Tanks should tank. DPS should DPS. Cheerleaders should do a half-spring somersault. Syp should die. Then you get to the scenario strategy sections, which are even more patronizing: “You really, really need to get to the flag before the enemy!” the guide will say in a slow, sing-songy voice.
Like the phone book, the hardcopy strategy guide is obsolete and yet still in production, possibly because of people like me who knew better but dropped a third of a C-note on them anyway. If a store clerk tries to push these on you, just say “BAD TOUCH! BAD TOUCH!” and run from the store immediately.