UI in Warhammer – Good and Bad
The user interface in WAR has much potential, but has some severely problematic aspects
Buff and Debuff visibility
The buff icons in WAR are tiny. Until you play the game a LOT, you are going to have no clue who is hitting you with what, and whether an item is a buff or a debuff (I don’t find color-coding borders to be sufficient when the buffs and debuffs are intertwined). Similarly, for debuffs, there is no easy way to tell which ones are curable via spells or not.
Visual and Audio feedback of abilities used by and on you
(This paragraph is a different color for a reason – I personally think this is the biggest combat related problem in the game currently.)
You often are guessing as to what you need to do in a hectic RvR environment because you don’t know which abilities you have already used (and were actually processed by the server!). One thing that would help immensely, if Mythic cannot fix the other problems, is to change the animations and sounds when abilities are used.
In WoW, when you’re a rogue, you know when you used eviscerate, because the screen has a fairly bright explosive affect surrounding your character (depending on race). Similarly gouge has a very distinct animation and sound, both of which are very easy to notice. WAR’s animations (on the four character classes I’ve played most heavily – Witch Elf, Witch Hunter, and Disciple of Khaine, Warrior Priest) fall far short of the standard set by WoW. Amazingly short.
Melee characters are by far the most vocal complainers regarding the state of the combat sluggishness in WAR (yes, even in this patch, it doesn’t seem nearly as responsive as in WoW), and I believe that this is because casters at least know when their abilities have fired for non-instant spells. The cast bar lets them know that the server got their request.
Related to this, some spell animations are positively huge. Those from Bright Wizards are particularly infamous. By contrast, some are teeny. Shadow Warrior arrows are like this, as are many spells from NPCs. The result is that you can be getting shot by a few PvE mobs and not know where the pain is coming from. In RvR, it’s much easier to figure out what’s happening in combat when you’re up against a magic using class as opposed to a SW.
Character clickable on screen
Your character, on screen, is a selectable object. I often wondered why your character was not selectable this way in WoW, but now I understand the reasoning. Most of the time that you want to loot a mob, or click on an enemy (mob or player) that is in front of you, a large portion of their hit box will be blocked by your own hit box. This is doubly problematic for healers and tanks, as this sets your defensive target to themselves. If you don’t realize you’ve accidentally clicked yourself, and your tank or other ally is being wounded, any heals you cast will hit yourself instead.
Targeting is a tricky issue. I never fully understood how important it was and how hard it is to get right until playing this beta. WoW did targeting right. WAR did not. Both click targeting and tab targeting rarely seem to do what they “should”, at least, in terms of what I expect from the system coming from 3 years of WoW. It is difficult to describe the problem without experiencing it for one’s self, but it is a very strong negative in the game.
Scrolling combat text
Scrolling combat text cannot seem to anchor itself correctly above your target on roughly 50% of the targets you heal or fight. Sometimes it will appear somewhere else on the screen, sometimes it’s perfectly located, and sometimes it’s not visible onscreen at all. It’s also really small compared to the SCT in WoW, which again makes it hard to see what abilities you’ve used (according to the server).
There is no way to set the game, via its default configuration, to anchor the tooltip to the cursor. This is inexcusable considering how easy this is to program, and how many people would use this as their preferred option. If you believe this is not easy to program, get back to me after release and tell me how long it took for a mod to be created which does this.
This is a mess right now. Some keys can’t be bound (mousebuttons are problematic), some bindings mysteriously unbind themselves. Some things auto-bind between play sessions even though there’s not a command listed in the game that’s supposed to be able to be bound to the key. It’s really annoying.
- Timers on Ability Icons
Icon timers cannot currently show fractional seconds, so the global cooldown looks like it’s 2 seconds even though it’s actually 1.5 seconds. Also, you can have either the stack count on stackable buffs/debuffs, or the time left. The stack count overrides the timer, so as soon as you stack a buff/debuff more than once, you no longer have a timer built into the UI.
Tell all the Witch Elves and Witch Hunters that ask that the number of blood-lusts/accusations (combo points for them) can be found by the spikey things in the bottom middle of the screen, coming up from their Action Bars. Trust me, you’ll hear the question.
On the flip side of all these problems is the fact that as a default UI, it’s actually really good! The problems arise from the fact that WAR is competing with WoW, whether Mythic says so or not. WoW’s default UI at its release was terrible. Over the years, mods have provided some exceptional functionality to WoW’s interface, and Blizzard has adopted some of the modders’ conepts into its default UI. The WAR UI at release is miles ahead of the WoW UI at its release, but WAR is competing with a game that is 4 years old, not 0.
Also, the much vaunted “everything’s moveable” aspect to the WAR interface really is a great addition to the game.
WAR‘s interface is adequate, but barely so. The single biggest positive they have going for them is that so many people are now familiar with lua/xml coding that mod makers should have very little trouble fixing the WAR UI for Mythic.