I’ve been following and supporting the Warz since it’s alpha debuted in October, I’ve stayed throughout allegations of fraudulent advertising, PR disasters of using language that no one should ever use, the game’s removal from Steam after only one day, and the horrible former moderator rubbish.
Despite the game being extremely flawed in more ways than should be allowed even in a “foundation” release I stuck with it. I gave my support to the devs and the community, I participated in heated debates about game features and kept telling myself and others that this game would come around sooner than later. I reached my tipping point when trying to do a charitable act for Christmas, let me explain.
For the holidays the devs put Christmas themed items in the game which included various hats and a conspicuous bright red sack. I had the brilliant idea to grab a santa hat and sack then sit in a safezone and hand out loot to anyone who wanted free stuff. I purchased my lovely bright red had and bag and started looking at my inventory to see what I would be willing to part with. Now, because I split my limited gaming time between several games I didn’t have much of an inventory to give away so I created a Santa Claus character and headed into the world to gather up some treats for my fellow players and this is where it all went horribly amiss.
I won’t bore you with the details but long made short I had been clearing a building quite successfully even finding a new gun I hadn’t seen in the game yet. I was working my way down to the bottom of the building to offload carefully clearing each level as I went and almost immediately after clearing a level and going down someone spawned in on the floor above me and shot me dead. I chalked it up to the fact that I had made the mistake of going into a well known pvp zone and loaded another character up to try and salvage what loot I could from my other corpse. On the way back to the building I was intercepted by a horde of zombies and pushed into a large market. I managed to find some decent loot so I took my time carefully clearing out the place then headed out to continue gathering goodies. Without warning I was shot by another player who seemingly came out of nowhere (because you don’t make sound when not walking on certain surfaces) and then given the reason that this player had just acquired a pistol and wanted to test it, he was also out of ammo in his primary weapon and wanted mine. That was the moment when my Christmas spirit towards this game died and reanimated to gnaw at my entire view of the game.
Now before you think to yourself that I’m just no good at the game and I’m just whining because I was killed I want to say that being killed by other players legit or otherwise isn’t what caused me to abstain from the game. My issues with the game fall into the categories of overly slow development. I firmly believe that this game was rushed to market and the devs seem unwilling to stop selling more keys to the game when some very basic features and functions are missing from the game. Some of these contribute greatly to the current in-game climate.
Lack of “Things to do” or None of the sounds are right:
A recent patch to the game increased the number of zombies making them more of a legitimate threat and was a great start but ultimately this game has nothing to “do” in it other than killing fellow players for their kit or just the fun of it. That in itself is a valid “goal” for the game as it is meant to be a survival game, but the problem lies in the poor sound design. Overly loud music and environment effects mask what little sound other players make. On top of that only a select number of surfaces actually make noise when a player moves on them. What compounds this issue is one of the most prevalent surfaces in the game is grass or natural ground and it makes absolutely no sound at all when a player walks on it. Unless a player is playing in a group they cannot watch every angle of attack at once.
Players have been complaining about terrible spawning locations since alpha and while they have improved somewhat, dying immediately upon spawning in is a common gripe. Additionally players can “ghost” by finding opposition, logging off, logging into another server, moving into a flanking position, then logging back into their original server and suddenly being behind a player as was the case with my first death. This problem has existed since day one of alpha and to date has not been fixed but a solution is “promised”.
Lack of variety:
The layout of the “colorado” map doesn’t utilize its terrain effectively. The designers have chosen to funnel players into roughly one of three areas for the most part. There are new portions of the map that have points of interest to divert people but in large portions of the map there is literally nothing to see or find. There are supposed military blinds that have good loot in them in the far off places on the map but sadly those I’ve found rarely have anything better than a bag of chips or some oatmeal, neither of which replenish the hunger you gain trying to reach them. The layout of this world funnels players into conflict zones if they want to get even decent loot, and while that would be an interesting concept to force conflict or interaction in heavily populated servers it simply results in rewarding those who have the patience to sit in place for long periods of time with their clan to kill those who try to exist in the world as peaceful survivors. This funneling is a failed mechanic in my opinion as there is no alternative, increased population in the game leaves the outlying areas that used to be a decent source of loot stripped bare by players who just want to stay alive and avoid the pvp fest that exists in the cities.
Lack of features:
When the game was initially advertised it boasted friend lists, play with friends functionality, private servers and strongholds (smaller maps that exist more as player bases), and a skill tree that would allow you to customize and enhance your survivor over time. At the time of writing this, none of these features have been implemented. I want to be clear that I understand that sometimes games can get bigger than anticipated and sometimes things fall behind. The problem exists that even though the devs have acknowledged they can’t get these features out soon they still advertise them as in the game and these are some of the “other things” to do in the game. To further frustrate they continue to market and sell the game even though the game clearly needs some more features before it can be considered a full featured release. The senior producer Sergey Titov found a solution in calling it a “foundation” release to explain away why these features weren’t in yet but nowhere is it actually said they aren’t available.
The dreaded hackers:
In any sort of competitive multiplayer game there are bound to be hackers, it is a common expectation of any gaming experience but the problem exists that the Warz doesn’t seem to be stopping them effectively. They made a lot of noise about banning a massive wave of hackers (in the thousands) but they clearly have missed some as there is one particular hacker who continues to stream himself playing the game with hacks and more examples like this coming out daily. The latest problem is now they have found a way to kill players within the safezone, but I was not able to verify this personally so you’ll have to take that one with a grain of salt. Irregardless of the claims, they are but symptoms to the serious problems this game faces.
I want to be clear that I’m not abandoning the Warz, when the game is working right I have a lot of fun and enjoy exploring the environment and the addition of extra zombies has made the game more tense and exciting. I am simply choosing to wait until private server rentals are available so that I can play this world without the annoyance of hackers, griefers, and anyone else who makes it their mission to ruin other players’ day. The Warz is a terribly flawed game that could very well be a diamond in the rough but it needs a hell of a lot of polish before it can shine enough that I will spend any more time or money on that particular product.
- WarZ New Player Survival Guide (mrghosty.wordpress.com)
- WarZ: Heart of Darkness (mrghosty.wordpress.com)
- An open letter to Hammerpoint Interactive re: Clans (mrghosty.wordpress.com)
- Maybe The WarZ Is More Fun If You Use Cheats… (kotaku.com)
- Fans Rage Over War Z’s Misleading Steam Description, But Devs Say ‘93% Of Our Customers Like The Game’ (kotaku.com)
- Why I defend War Z (seanmalstrom.wordpress.com)