Warhammer Online: The Wild Ride of 2008
Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning launched in September of 2008. That statement hardly reflects all the excitement and frustration that led up to that point, to be sure. With speculation about the final classes, the reasons for delays, and even whether the game would be scrapped when Mythic became part of Electronic Arts, rumors flew fast and hard leading up to the launch of this highly anticipated MMO game. Since the end of the year is a time of reflection before we embrace the coming new year, we thought we should grab a glass of eggnog, park it by the fireplace, and reminisce about all the things that led up to your Bright Wizard getting ganked for the 4,011th time since launch.
Delays, Delays, Delays
In the last quarter of 2007, an announcement was sent out to the world that Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning would NOT be coming to your home this year. People were outraged! People were disheartened! People were... pleased? After the experience of the now legendary epic flop of Vanguard, the player base had taken a more enlightened view of one of their games being pushed back for polish. Sure there were a few naysayers and some anger, but for the most part the community was accepting of the fact that Mythic wasn't going to release a game ahead of its time and even applauded their decision! We could wait until Q2 2008 to see this new world and it wasn't like Mythic hadn't been forthcoming with new news about the game. Since Leipzig in August, Mythic had practically been hemorrhaging information, so we had nothing to fear! A few extra months of anticipation would whet our appetites even more.
Then, a few months later, Q2 was coming and we got the news. Jeff Hickman had said at a show in Paris that WAR would be launching in the "fall" of 2008. This was the third time (including April'07, when it was announced that it would ship Q1 2008) that the game had been pushed back. Now doubt crept in and the speculation started. Where they doing it to avoid the growing monster that was Age of Conan? Maybe it was to keep the launch date in time with WoW's Wrath of the Lich King expansion? Would the game launch at all? With EA involved, it wouldn't be the first time they killed a project like this because they thought it was costing too much. Were Mark Jacobs and crew actually Aliens from another planet and we were the guenia pigs of some weird social experiment designed to decide the fate of life on planet earth? Rumors spread across the internet like wildfire, until an official release date was leaked in August and then there was just much rejoicing.
Dude, kick with the infoz!
As was already mentioned, from the time of the 2007 Leipzig convention, Mythic had been as free flowing with game info as a dwarf with a keg of beer. Suddenly, that stopped in January 2008 and we were left with whatever we could drag up from some small commentary by the Mythic folks on a public forums, or what was in the monthly newsletter. That drought ended at the tail end of March, when the Ten Ton Hammer crew was allowed to visit the Mythic HQ in Virginia. There was a wealth of information brought back, from a Josh & Paul interview, to the first look at the WAR Collector's Edition, it turned out to be a very busy few weeks and sparked a lot of new conversation about what we could expect from WAR. In July, Mark Jacobs talked with us about the decisions to remove things from WAR and later in August, Carrie Gouskos gave us all the Tome of Knowledge we could handle in an in depth interview.
Speculation on oil futures? Who cares! Show us the speculation on WAR futures!
There was a lot of speculation on the classes in WAR, with the final class drawing most of the attention. Before the announcement of the White Lion as the High Elf Melee DPS class, people were predicting it as early as 2007 and late as May 2008. Shortly after it was confirmed, Mark Jacobs gave us his take on what he thought a pet of a pet class should be like. Still, the speculation was far from over online, from what to expect in the future of WAR to why we hadn't heard anything new on a few of the classes or the Dogs of War concept that was supposed to keep scenarios balanced and easy to get into.
Na na na naaa, Hey heyyyyy, Good byeeeeeee!
In July 2008, Mark Jacobs came out and made an announcement that
shocked WAR fans across the globe. They were going to remove all but two of the player cities and four classes from the game. There was an uproar that the Orc Chopper and the Dark Elven Blackguard weren't going to be an option at the opening of the game. The fact that there were only going to be two siege-able cities instead of six caused some fear that it would go the way of AoC and many believed that the game was going to be launched before it was ready. WAR was getting ready for open beta, a precursor to launch, and it looked like there was still a lot of work to be done. More than one person could be heard saying "Doooooooooooooooooom!"
Let the games... BEGIN!
And on Sept.19th (14th for all you collector's edition buyers out there), Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning launched... and it was good, sort of. The game was new, Orcs were bad ass, and Destruction ruled the world. However, no launch is without its problems. There was prominent crashing to desktop (CTD), the renown system wasn't working quite right in distribution of renown, and sometimes the client wouldn't run... at all. Faction imbalance occurred early and while the queue's helped, they were sometimes downright annoying. Mythic corrected this problem within a few weeks of launch by creating more servers... and then a few months later started the server transfer blitz as the populations thinned out. However, the game was well received and the RvR has been one of the more celebrated parts of WAR.
The Here and Now
If you've stuck with the game you've seen vast improvements over the course of a few months. CTD's are lower than ever and with the server merges, faction population is stabilizing. We've already had two live events, one to celebrate Halloween , another to herald the coming of two of the exiled classes, the Knight of the Blazing Sun and the ever popular Blackguard, and are currently embroiled in the Keg End event. RvR received a recent boost with an increase in awarded experience and renown for Open RvR as well as ORvR rewards, RvR gear that's purchasable with enough ORvR participation points. Public Quests have had some of their difficulties changed in Tier 1 to be easier to complete in smaller groups and the rare rewards for the harder PQ's now drop more frequently.
It's been a wild ride for those of us who followed WAR from start to finish and like all rides, it's had its ups and downs. From delayed release dates to removed Racial Cities to the reintroduction of two of the four exiled classes, there's not been a dull moment since prior to release. And with the Lore of Warhammer having only been touched on, you can expect a lot more changes and additions in the future as Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning continues to strive to be one of the best games on the market today.