(Note – if the WAR acronyms and terminology give you a headache, check out just about any of the Blogroll blogs. Many have wonderful and in-depth reviews and impressions of WAR to date.)
Back in Asheron’s Call, I grouped (fellowed) with strangers pretty often, usually for a little xp grinding since AC wasn’t really heavily quest-driven back then. (Which I rather liked – they were there, but they didn’t get rammed down your throat. Anyway, tangent.) In WoW, EQ2, Vanguard, LOTRO and the rest, I ended up only grouping when I a) had no choice or b) knew the folks involved, or all of the above. I developed a strong dislike of PUGs in WoW especially, but it wasn’t the only culprit.
A lot of that has to do with my playstyle. I like to take my time. I like to know what’s around me. I like to move by consensus, and not by whoever can run the fastest in a given direction, pulling the rest of the group along like so many brainless sheep. I don’t like being a brainless sheep, especially when the idiot running around gets themselves, and usually the rest of the group, repeatedly killed. I’m discovering that it’s not dying I mind, per se: it’s useless dying.
The point? Well, this morning Mort (the spousal unit) and I hopped on to WAR preview for a couple of hours, hoping to hit Rank 10 to go with the Renown Rank 6 we’d hit yesterday, thus enabling us to get and wear our Tier1 “Godmode” gear for a couple of levels before we got too big for the T1 arena. We hit the T1 Elven RvR area, since we had a few “find this place” quests to do there, only to discover that the place was being held — and held well — by 6-12 Destruction types. We got spanked.
By then, however, we’d been guilded up (CoWs say GeroniMOOO!). A guildie in the area joined us, and we picked up a couple more people in or near the T1 RvR Warcamp. A couple of forays back in to the RvR area saw us, again, soundly spanked.
Long story short — we made a warband, and opened it up (meaning anyone can join at will). After that, it was sort of like gathering speed on snow with a steamroller. By the time there were 10-12 of us, Destruction seemed to have given up, and we went around the area picking up each Battlefield Objective in turn. After that, at a loose end, we hopped into the local scenario (Khaine’s Embrace) for a little more hearty killing.
And it was FUN! By Jove, it was HUGE FUN! I need to emphasise this, because of my usual wariness of PUGs, PvP/RvR, and related things.
WAR isn’t flawless. Many details about it bug me, though none are gamebreaking for me (top of my list is the godawful UI and chat, though even those aren’t entirely without redeeming features, like kickass scaling). I can handle the Cons, right now, and the Pros are turning this into a game where I’m trying out stuff I don’t usually try out, and having a whale of a time doing it. Props to Casualties for being such a great bunch of people even BEFORE we all know each other — but props to everyone I met this morning, and new friends made. It’s been a long, long time since it was so easy to make so many friends in a game. And that’s really one of the things MMOs are for.
Any MMO that can make instant, no-strings-attached, easy-come/easy-go grouping so much fun is, I think, on to a winner in the long run.