War of the Roses Beta Roundtable

It’s a rare event in today’s world to find yourself surprised by a new game. More often than not, new game experiences tend to be less than satisfying. You’ve usually heard a heap about the game you’re yet to play months before you play it, and when you finally do, it rarely turns out to be the game you wanted it to be, and you’re left feeling used and dissatisfied, with yet another notch on your Steam list that you’ll probably never think about again.

We know, because it happens to us, too – more and more each year. Though, thinking about it a bit, we’ve come to realise that it isn’t so bad, because when that game comes along that completely blows your mind, the head explosion is often a lot bigger. Such is the case with War of the Roses, an upcoming Medieval Combat Simulator like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Part Mount & Blade, part pure awesome – WOTR has blown us away in spectacular fashion, and we’re dying to talk about it.

Cody: Medieval Combat Simulator… sounds so dry when you say it like that, and War of the Roses is anything but dry. It’s wet, dripping with awesome from every one of its gorgeous, blood-stained orifices. It’s actually difficult to write about, because the more I think about it, the more I just want to get back in and headshot some dudes who forgot to lower their visor.

Oh yes, you can lower your visor – among about a hundred other incredibly realistic and satisfying features WOTR offers with impeccable grace and style. You’ll probably hear a lot of nay-saying soon, now that the Steam Pre-Order offers access to the Call of Duty noobs, but you can take it on high authority that with the exception of a few balance tweaks and irritating interface gaffes, this game gives you control over your medieval avatar like no other before it, and it feels so… damn… good.

Tob: Good is a relative term. I suspect people looking for a Call of Duty clone – or anything resembling modern shooter mechanics – are going to have a tough time getting used to the way the combat works. Aside from the comparatively slower pace, attacks work the way you’d expect them to in reality: a poorly angled strike can deflect off of a steel-plated head dealing no damage whereas an arrow to the unarmored knee could end an adventurers career- *dodges a bottle*

What I’m saying is that, as gamers, the mechanics go against everything we’ve spent years training ourselves to do. Add the other shooter-esque elements we’re used to like progression, unlocks, spawning, scoreboards et al, and you’ve got an initially confusing experience for a lot of players.

Dan: It’s definitely different, in that refreshing sort of way – hell, it’s (one of) the game I have been waiting for the most. Generally, While I’m knee deep in MMOs, I always have a shooter for those quick 20 minutes of gaming here and there. After playing this brilliant action game over the past few days, I have no doubts that this will be my new one. The combat system is extremely fun, but also offers a lot of depth for those who want a more hardcore experience.

I am interested to see what competitive players emerge, timing perfect parries and utilizing innovative tactics on 7 historically inspired maps that are designed nothing like your normal map. It’s all very interesting, and epic.There’s a lot of potential here for both parties, and top that off with a million ways to customize your weapons and armor – it’s all very overwhelming and impressive so far.

Cody: They’re right – and we haven’t seen the half of it yet. So far, we’ve been limited to a traditional server-based battle scenarios with two game modes; Team Deathmatch, where two teams fight one another until one reaches 100 kills, and Conquest, where five capturable points must be held by one team longer than the other to win. But just around the corner, we’ve heard of a Persistent World Server, and personally, I couldn’t be more excited.

Battles in WOTR are some of the most enjoyable I’ve ever experienced, and the incredible level of design will keep me playing for a while, no doubt at all. But like all games in this style, it’s missing that element of actual progression, a void that cannot be filled by progressive weapon unlocks which have a hard skill cap after simply grinding for a certain number of hours. It’s my hope that a persistent world scenario, perhaps utilising castle siege elements, survival mechanics and permadeath, could turn WOTR into something I play daily for years to come. That said, I’m speculating a lot here. So far, all we know is that a persistent world server is on the way – here’s hoping it morphs WOTR from one of the best action games we’ve ever played into our Game of the Year.

Tob: WOTR seems to have a lot riding on this persistence element. From what I’ve seen so far, it stands on it’s own nicely as an arena-style slash ‘n’ stab that should hold a reasonably sized audience. The real potential for success hangs on the depth that the persistence servers provide. Will there be castle sieges? Will attrition factor into it if they do? Constructing siege weapons and barriers using supplies gathered by players? Or will it be just an endless, larger version of the arena matches we have now to allow people to farm coins and exp to their heart’s content?

If these servers can somehow emulate the kind of political power struggles that Mount and Blade managed so well in their single-player I think WOTR could set a new standard for all games with persistent progression.

Dan: The potential for War of the Roses is mind blowing, and it will be very interesting to see just how far FatShark want to take it. Besides siege maps, a persistent map, and other various nice to haves – I wouldn’t mind seeing some form of 1v1 gladiator style arena. Just playing the game gets my imagination running wild, and that’s exactly what a good game should do. While there are still some kinks to work out, and some tweaks to be made to the mechanics – overall I think we have a winner here.

The only question that really remains for me is – when are we going to see a War of the Roses MMO? The combat system has really put action MMORPGs to shame, and it’s making it kind of difficult to play anything else. I mean that as well, I am finding it hard to start up a game without sighing and returning to War of the Roses five minutes later – it’s just too damn epic. I hope I’m not the only one having dreams of slaughtering those filthy Lancastrians – and Tob whenever I can find him.

Cody: Oh wow – a 1v1 Gladiator Arena would be incredible. This is exactly the kind of combat system that could see true, skill-based duels carried out in spectacular fashion. Just imagine joining the stands as a spectator, placing bets on your favourite hero and throwing rotten food at his opponent. That’s a recipe for win if I ever saw one.

All in all, there’s a lot of win going on in WOTR, and we’re still in the beta. I envision much gameplay in the weeks and months to come, and if you’re interested in watching us have at it, join our live-stream at http://twitch.tv/mm0games – we’re streaming regularly these days, and have a sizeable collection of gameplay videos in the archives.

Elsewise, if you’re craving more editorial goodness, read Dan’s War of the Roses Beta Preview, and of course, hit us up in-game if you’re looking for a match. Just don’t be angry if we stab you in the face a lot – it’s just how we roll.

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