I've made no secret about this fact: I have been incredibly bored and I have no faith whatsoever that any MMO will save me in 2011. However, things got a little bit sunnier this weekend when I got my hands on Warhammer: Wrath of Heroes, the new 6v6v6 MOBA.
Caveats: This was one beta weekend. There was only 2 maps. There was a limited number of heroes to choose from.
I started out by doing what I always do: roll a healer and hope to keep people alive to win. In this case, my only choice was the Shaman. I used the Thursday mini session to break into the game, learn the 2 maps, and do my best to master Shaman--which was only successful in the event I had a second competent shaman with me. Otherwise, good players/teams made my life hell. After a few hours, my overall first impression seemed be the same as most: holy heck the game is smooth. After the clunky/clumsy/choppy experience of Warhammer Online, I was expecting more of the same. This was an absolute pleasant surprise and made for an enjoyable first night.
Friday, I went back to the shaman, however I formed up a partial warband with some friends who also had beta access. My time as a shaman was much more effective when I had a shaman partner with whom I could work. The game really took a nice turn as we had a really good time watching out for each other and developing strategies. After a few hours, we leveled up enough to open up various tactic slots and obtain some of the starter tactics to improve our odds. These tactics work exactly the same as Warhammer Online, and as you can change Heroes upon death, you can swap between 1-4 pre-loads depending on strategy and class.
Saturday, it was more of the same. And I mean that in the best way possible. We enjoyed ourselves so much Friday night, I woke up ungodly early (read: 9am) so I could mow the lawn and take care of the house in time to meet up with everyone when the servers went live at noon. However, things shifted dramatically at 4pm when everyone logged and I was solo. I knew there was no chance I was playing a lone shaman again; it absolutely wasn't happening. So I started trying out DPS classes until I fell head over heels for the Sorc. In fact, I'm pretty ticked off I only had a few hours playing her because it was a beastly DPS class. Even in the worst of PUGs, I could control the battle enough to earn high scores and advance to nearly level 25. The class lacked a bit of utility, which is never good when one has to rely on PUGs for those elements, but it was an irrefragable riot blowing people up for that brief window.
As the game is 6v6v6, communication among your warband members is absolutely key. However, the third faction is a boon because you always have a fighting chance as you can allow the other two sides to distract each other. Even down 1-2 people due to disconnects, we were still incredibly competitive. I hate to sound contumacious, but what I hated most about scenarios in Warhammer Online and BGs in WoW is that two faction fights often deteriorate into blowouts and people rage-quitting mid fight. Three factions--like DAoC--allows for the playerbase to overcome the obstacles of its own creation.
There's a ton to be added to the game (it needs many more maps, more *support!* Heroes, Hero customization, elements for the store, perhaps a guild/clan function--just to name a few) but it was a very promising start. I'm only bummed out I just spent 10 minutes typing this because the beta is no longer available to play.