I first met the game in 2007, when I tested three different full conversion Quake III Arena modifications: OpenArena, World of Padman, and Warsow. Out of these three, Warsow stood the farthest from its predecessor. I found playing it fun, but it wasn't convincing enough to stick around, and the player base was so small I was certain that this game had no future.
Four years passed with me being mostly away from the competitive gaming scene until, in 2012 I returned to Quake Live. It was my first week of playing when I heard that Warsow is still kicking and growing. I looked at some gameplay videos, but once again it failed to convince me, so I stayed away from the game. Since I started playing Quake Live, all I saw was players whining about Quake being dead, about id not caring/making bad decisions, and that we need a new game that will unite all the fast-paced FPS gamers and will become "The FPS". To all these comments there was that one guy who replied: “try Warsow”. Then two weeks ago, after seven years of development, Warsow 1.0 was released. We got a sweet new trailer, a handful of cups organized, even some small LAN, and a sudden growth in activity, so I thought it was time for me to give it a new try after all these years.
A lot of things changed since I’ve last seen the game. One big change is that the weak/strong ammo system was scrapped. I don’t remember it, so it’s very possible it was introduced after 2007, however, reading comments about it gives me the impression that it wasn’t a big success. This might actually be a good thing if this means the developers listen to the community. The graphics didn’t change a lot, except the cartoon gibs were replaced by some sort of Lego blocks falling out of the dead bodies (still not sure what to make of it), and that the player models now have a hunchback. Though competitively graphics might not matter, it is a big talking point as many say one main reason why Quake Live is not attracting huge masses are the 13-year-old graphics. Although Warsow looks pretty decent, it is even behind Quake Live graphics-wise. On the other hand, it’s highly customizable to the point that you can even change floor and wall colors, and the cartoonish setting can work as an excuse why the graphics are pretty minimalistic.
The game is completely free-to-play, and the website states it will always remain that way. I do believe that freeware games are the future, as you can see with the popularity of League of Legends; however, if you don’t have a huge player base it’s very hard to maintain a profitable freeware service.
It is not browser-based, but the game client works like a special browser (much like QLPrism), it has basically everything that a modern competitive FPS game needs including a news section, a demo viewer, a built-in IRC client, and even statistics if you register an account on Warsow.net. One good thing is that your in-game name can be different from your account name, and you can change your name in game anytime.
So far so good, but let’s talk about the game itself now. Many people say Quake Live doesn’t attract more people as a result of the skill gap. It is true that, as a beginner, it’s very hard to enjoy the game since there are so many aspects of the game you need to master besides the basic combat skills (aiming and dodging), which makes players overwhelmed and they leave to play easier games (like League of Legends). These things like timing, strafe jumping, or even config commands and HUD customization are hard to pick up for newcomers. Warsow does somewhat better in this aspect, as there is a competitive defrag gametype, where you can practice trickjumping. However, with the introduction of wall-jumping and dashing, the overall gameplay is heavily movement-based, even more so than Quake Live, that makes the skill gap even larger. In spite of this, wall-jumping is a great feature, something that in my eyes Warsow needs more of: originality. Unlike in Xonotic, the weapons are pretty much the same as in Quake III Arena, only slightly weakened, and with a different name/skin. The only problem with this is that it does not offer more than Quake Live, it’s just a slightly modified, slightly faster version of it, that has some needed features, but its player base feeds entirely on Quake players, unlike Shootmania, which draws players from a number of different games, including Quake Live and Counter-Strike. Still, for an indie game, I say Warsow is pretty impressive, and the only department where it does badly is the sound effects. That’s the only area where you can really feel the lack of money that went into the making of this game.
To close things up, I would say the developers did a very good job, my hats off to them, but it’s just not enough to become the future of FPS, nor to even succeed Quake Live. Despite this I urge everyone to give this game a shot, as it fully deserves it. It’s great fun, it grew a lot throughout the years, the movement with the wall-jumps feels awesome, and if you’re a sucker for cartoon-like graphics like me, you’ll love how this game looks. Although the player base is still very small, you can always find a couple of servers to jump into (even in locations like Japan). I know it wasn’t the last time I played it, even though I’m sticking with Quake Live for now.
To answer the main questions:
Does this game have a future? Definitely.
Is this game the future? I’m afraid not.
Edited by xou at 03:41 CDT, 13 August 2012 - 34586 Hits