Cody “Micajah” Bye, Managing Editor
WAR is upon us. Hundreds of thousands of players wait at the gates of
Mythic Entertainment’s href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/88"
target="_blank">Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning,
eager to jump into the fray, cut down their enemies, and build a pile
of bodies larger than that of their opponents. Blood will fly as gamers
scramble to snatch up their weapons and leap at each others throats.
Long lines will form outside of local computer stores as gamers vie to
be the first to take a copy of the celebrated game home to their
computers and binge for a few hours before passing out in a sugar and
caffeine induced coma.
That moment won’t be occurring until September 18th, 2008,
and gamers still have a little while to wait before they officially
wage war upon their friends and neighbors. But what about
those players that are still hanging on the fence? While around href="http://www.warhammeronline.com" target="_blank">800,000
individuals signed up to be a part of the Warhammer Online,
there are certainly thousands more players that are interested in the
game yet don’t know exactly what WAR is about nor whether or
not they should be excited about this upcoming game.
800,000 people have signed up for the WAR closed beta test.
That’s where the Ten Ton Hammer staffers step in. Throughout
the rest of this article, I will try to paint you a solid picture of
what to expect in target="_blank">Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.
Don’t expect me to be overly critical of any aspect of the
game; the game is still in the beta phase after all. However, I will
try to be realistic with my views on the gameplay and hope to answer
any questions that “undecided” folks may have.
These are pure observations generated from time spent in the Warhammer
Online beta test. If you have any concerns or questions, feel free to
talk about them on the forums.
Sticking to the Formula
Unlike the developers at Funcom and their recently released MMOG href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/115"
target="_blank">Age of Conan, the crew at Mythic
Entertainment seemed to hold to a very simply strategy throughout their
development of Warhammer Online: Evolution rather than revolution.
Although many of the “veteran” MMOG players
complain about the lack of creativity when it comes to the combat
mechanics and character advancement within MMOGs, the formula that was
originally constructed by MUDs (and later adopted by href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/38"
target="_blank">EverQuest and href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/41"
target="_blank">World of Warcraft) really works
for online gamers. Most gamers that have had any sort of experience
playing a previous MMOG will feel totally at home in Warhammer Online.
However, there are a few differences in the way Warhammer Online
operates. First, Mythic has really focused on making sure the combat in
WAR feels like it’s actually happening underneath your
fingers, even while the game still uses the auto-attack / hot key
methodology. As I took my High Elven Swordmaster into my first RvR
battleground, I couldn’t help but feel a little tingle at the
way my sword sliced through my opponents. With cooldown times that are
in the single digits for many of the abilities, most gamers will be
actively using their hotkeys to try to carve up their enemies; this
isn’t a click and wait sort of game.
That said, a number of the classes have actually adopted some mechanics
from earlier games and actively evolved them to work with WAR. One of
the most profound moments I had in the beta was when I discovered that
the Chaos Chosen could “twist” their Aura
abilities, much like what the Bards in EverQuest can do. While the
Chosen is definitely more bad-ass than any Bard, it’s still a
cool mechanic for those of us who used to specialize in twisting Bard
songs during combat.
The starting experience for Warhammer Online – and the
general PvE combat that I’ve engaged in thus far –
has been highly enjoyable, to say the least. Most of the quests seem
finished and complete, and I’ve yet to see any truly
immersion-breaking bugs or discrepancies in any of the environments.
While some of the abilities still need some fine-tunings (and I imagine
Mythic will continue to tweak well into post-release), each of my solo
characters was more than capable of taking out low level monsters and
completing the introductory quests.
However, the whole introductory experience is a bit more... hostile in
Warhammer Online. Although the tongue-in-cheek humor is still all
around the players as they march through the landscape, the sheer anger
that many of the NPCs hold for their opposing race / faction is almost
visceral. It’s certainly a different dialogue style, and one
that I did enjoy, even without the fancy voice overs that are seen in
EQ2 and AoC.
Nothing Like a Good Punch
in the Mouth
As Paul Barnett and Jeff Hickman have stated over and over again, WAR
is everywhere. While that may be uncomfortably true in our real world,
it’s also true in the world of Warhammer Online: Age of
Reckoning. From the very moment you touch down among your chosen race,
you’ll be pushed towards passionately believing in the enmity
between the target="_blank">races of Order and Desrtruction.
Although there was a definite hostility between the Horde and the
Alliance in World of Warcraft, it pales in comparison to what you see
in the battle between Order and Destruction in WAR.
is definitely a high point for Warhammer Online.
For example, the very first quest I received from an NPC in Warhammer
Online was to help gather bones in order to fire a Hellcannon
– a dreadful weapon of mass destruction that was to be turned
against the races of order, specifically the humans in the Empire. You
see, I was one of the Chosen, a class that specifically comes from the
Chaos race whose hatred for the Empire has seeped into their very core.
From there on out, almost every quest I received was written in that
particular style: “Do this to help kill our enemies in the
Now I know many of you are asking: “But why is Warhammer
Online so focused on the conflict between these two factions (Order and
Destruction) and why should I care?” By engendering this sort
of hostility towards the various other races in Warhammer Online, the
developers are hoping to really inflame the passion of gamers
worldwide. They want them to have a favorite faction. Even in their
online advertisements, EA asks players to “Declare Your
Allegiance” and then points them towards one of the two
factions. Just like sports fans with their favorite teams, players with
their favored faction will be more than willing to stand up for that
“team” and defend them in any way necessary. And
that is exactly what the developers at Mythic are hoping to achieve.
This hostility strikes at the very core of what Warhammer Online is all
about, and that is Realm versus Realm combat and competition.
Realm versus realm combat – or RvR as it is typically called
- isn’t your standard take on player versus player combat.
It’s all out war. Rather than simply jumping into a scenario
to try to take out opposing players or randomly ganking a newbie from
some hidden vantage point near a new player city, gamers in Warhammer
Online are encouraged – from the very beginning –
to enter into contested areas of a map and fight to the death with
players from the opposing faction.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Warhammer 40,000: Storm of Vengeance Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Game Page.