Well, I did have a couple of videos to show you, including a nice clip of a bunch of elves against a hydra in one of the early public quests, but I’ve had problems the last two days getting them uploaded. But I didn’t want to hold up this train anymore. So, some insight into the starting areas and classes of Order:
The High Elves
Going into preview weekend, the plan was for my little gaming trio to go High Elves. My brother enjoys tanking more than anything, and the Swordmaster was his first choice. The White Lion’s motiff drew our friend, and I, having a propensity for playing elves and fighting at a distance, figured I’d either land on a Shadow Warrior or an Archmage. Add to that the fact that I play High Elves in tabletop, and it seemed like a shoe in for first choice.
I saved them for last and intended only to try the Shadow Warrior briefly to see if it was cool enough to outweigh the need/desire to operate a healer with the Archmage. My brother picked up a Swordmaster, not having the hesitation I do about overplaying my main class at launch. And I have to tell you, the High Elf starting area was by far the most disappointing of all the opening areas. The opening quest was nonsensical to the storyline – “Hey these sprites are annoying our mourners. Could you kill a few of them before your go help the Prince. Yeah, I know, he’s getting his butt kicked and the city is overrun and he needs reinforcements to hold..blah blah blah…seriously though, these sprites are super annoying.”
Strike two was the bizarre bottleneck just down the hill leading to the main quest series for the area. Its the tutorial for seige weapons, as every area has, but for some odd reason – there is only one seige weapon. Yeah, so you have to wait your turn while someone shoots down six harpies, and waits 5s or so between each shot as the bolt thrower reloads. That’s a griefer’s dream. They can stand around spamming the thrower and lock down the quest and annoy the heck out of alot of people.
This winning combo of loreplay disconnects and area design flaws continue throughout the first set of levels.
I played a Shadow Warrior and a White Lion up through level 5, and both were the most buggy classes in the game. Every stance in the SW has its own set of toolbars, meaning you have to reset the toolbar for each stance with the abilities you want in the order you want. Honestly, the option wasn’t worth it, as I see the SW as a class that will be stance dancing for most conflicts, and thus will need a standardized set on the toolbar to cut down on player hesitation and mistakes.
The White Lion has received much press for the broken pet mechanics, but I’ve been scratching my head a bit on this. Even with my broken pet wandering around killing nothing during the first public quest, I placed fifth out of a dozen people. So…either the pet is not going to account for as much of the classes DPS as I was anticipating, or this is a very high DPS class once its done and polished. Add into that the ranking points you would get for the hate aggro that the pet can put out…wow.
Overall there’s just alot not right with this area yet. This makes some sense to me, as the Elf classes were the last to be announced, and really have been developed only in the last year. On a side note, I hope there is more dye options for the robes – again, it’s boring to have the same white robe on for 40 levels, even if your mantle does change colors.
I didn’t intend to spend as much time in this area as I did. It was a little too reminiscent of WoW’s opening human stages, but that’s probably one of the few knocks you could level at it. Outside of that, its pretty good. There’s a good variety of quests, some interesting lore bits, the semi-hidden named mobs for good measure, and what has to be one of the best opening public quests in the game trying to defend the local priest against marauders, champions, and then finally a giant! The lore here is great and really draws you in quickly and the progression from one area to the next is logical and flows well.
Also, this starting area had, by my count, more options to upgrade your gear than any other. By the end of the first segment, you will have gotten at least two weapons upgrades. Other starting areas it feels lucky if you get one!
I played a Bright Wizard and a Witch Hunter both to around level 7, which was again, more time than I had intended with either. I was not going to do anything in Empire but the Warrior Priest, and I still regret not having seen it in action yet (10 days to Open Beta!). But my brother suggested the Witch Hunter when I had fun trying the Witch Elf, and I played the Bright Wizard for our friend, who was not in on the weekend, to give him some feedback.
Both were good classes, and I enjoyed them both, but I don’t think either will be my main. The Witch Hunter, while sold, just kinda feels blah – like you’ve been there and done that before. Plus for being a DPS class, it clearly plays second fiddle to the Bright Wizard who seems to put out damage several orders of magnitude higher than the WH does. Also I found it a bit humorous that your pistol has a DPS stat attached to it – since that has nothing to do with your ability damage (a good move given the RvR/PvP nature of the game) and you don’t seem to attack with it in hand to hand.
The Bright Wizard really capture my attention as I didn’t expect it too though. The class mechanic makes for some great edge of your seat decisions about when to clear out your built up Combustion. Still, our guild has attested to their squishiness in RvR as there was a thread going on everyones BW kill count over the weekend, with some numbers that were frighteningly high. As someone new to RvR and with not a whole lot of PvP experience, I’m going to steer away from a class that seems to need some definite expertise and finesse to play well.
The public quest, while awesome, highlights how much that tank is missed in this area. The waves of enemies usualy die quickly to the front line of squishy WH and BW, with WP healing in the mix, but there tends to be a lot of death as well because there is no one to pull an enemy off of you, and sometimes you are one spell resist away from visiting the graveyard and losing out on PQ loot!
I spend very little time here, playing with what I thought would be a favorite class coming into the weekend, the Engineer. Again the starting area was very blah, and laid out in a much more confusing manner than other starting areas. There was no real flow to the quests, which would send you sprinting in a number of different directions as opposed to walking you down a starting path. I have no problem with quests doing that, but its something that should be saved for higher levels and not for new players still trying to learn the areas.
The Engineer was very disappointing. The Ancient Gaming Noob said it best: “How to describe him… If you crossed Rip Taylor, Herve Villechaize, and a warthog then had him run around in my grandmother’s night gown carrying a bronze pipe wrench… that is about what I ended up with.” The class is just plain ugly. And I thought it would be fun to play with, but…
The static nature of his pets (gun turrets) are nice for defensive RvR play, but they are a nightmare in PvE quests that that require alot of movement – a double knock in this starting area with its “put out fires in every direction” mentality to quest location. So you end up with a class thats ugly and not fun to play. That’s a double whammy.
The Rune Priest is the mirror of the Zealot, which I’ll talk *alot* about in the next update, so I didn’t spend any time with it, thinking that if we do go order, that’s probably the class I’ll play (that or an Archmage, if the elf-lands improve).
The Ironbreaker may get significant play time in Open Beta, as my plan there is to pick one class and level the heck out of it while playing alot of RvR/PvP to get a feel for that side of the game, which I essentially ignored this time around.
If I seem down on Order, its not because things were terrible here, its just that it never seemed to quite shine the way the Destruction starting areas did. My brother noticed that as well, and its created something of a delimma for us that we will have to resolve in Open Beta. Of the two sides, Order definitely needs the most development/polish time. But…that may mean that come launch, Order is in better shape than Destruction. We’ll see I guess.
Next up, Destruction in all its twistedness.