Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes Hands-On Preview

Updated Tue, Mar 27, 2012 by Stow

In this coming F2P era, it’ll be interesting to see what AAA titles are turned into services rather than products. Mythic’s Warhammer Online has seen better days, but had battlefield gameplay that just couldn’t be matched in its skirmishes and open world PvP. Why not trim the fat and give everyone what they want in a PvP game, minus the majority of the grind and solo component?

And thus, Wrath of Heroes was born.

The gits, er, gist of it

Warhammer Online had some of the finest and most frenzied multiplayer to this day for an MMORPG, and they sought to emulate it in Wrath of Heroes. They succeeded, both for new players and those looking for some nostalgia of sorts as a Black Orc or Marauder. Gameplay amounts to chaotic team battles for flags, objective points, capture and hold, and more. Sounds generic and boring right?

The most sinister training dummy ever in an MMO.

All of these modes have three teams of 6. The threat of two opposing teams is a huge breath of fresh air to these overused game modes. You can be in the middle of a losing duel, watch your opponent fall over dead, and then become a double kill victim two seconds later because of a caster from another team watching your battle from afar. A team that is ahead on captures can suddenly become a horrible victim as both teams focus on their territory and players exclusively. It leads to much closer games and very few blowouts.

You pick from one of a multitude of characters, each with five unique abilities and one or two passives. There are no level-ups to be had here--all characters are at maximum potential with all abilities from the moment you unlock them. If you don’t like a class, or it just isn’t working out—don’t fret; on death, you can switch to another. Death is a minor inconvenience at best, because the gameplay is as fast as your typical third person shooter these days.

All abilities are instant and can be cast while moving, which blesses every class with insane mobility, which furthers the feel of Wrath of Heroes as an action game and not a grindy MMORPG. Ranged classes, however, feel incredibly weak in their presentation. The sorceress's spells had little to no visual effects and all I had to determine how the fight was going was the UI and a bunch of (hopefully large) damage numbers showing up next to my target. Melee fares much better in this regard.

Once again, Bright WIzards get it better than their dark elf copies--this time in graphics.

Not all characters will be unlocked from scratch though, as is the case in seemingly every F2P. You’ll have to make do with the free heroes until you accrue enough currency to purchase. Hopefully BioWare will learn from some of their beta mistakes—some free rotations for instance, didn’t have a healer in them, making those teams who paid to unlock one quickly incredibly difficult to best on the battlefield.

When it comes down to it though, Wrath of Heroes is just quick dirty fun. You spawn, you kill, you capture, you die, you spawn again. The double trouble of having two opposing teams rather than one makes it feel far less serious, and far more entertaining. While the beta may be coming to a close shortly, if you like a good arena deathmatch you’d be hard pressed to find a better F2P game when it launches!

Dwarves are a surly blend of contrasting cultures, plus axes and stone. The role of comic relief is as ill-fitting for this stocky, prideful race as is most clothing.
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