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Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning

Developer: EA Mythic | Publisher: Electronic Arts
Players: 1+ Player Game | Genre: MMO

Release Date: 09/18/08

war2.jpgHands on at E3: The Warhammer universe has been doing well lately, with Relic’s Dawn of War spreading the popularity of the series far beyond its tabletop roots. Mythic Entertainment hopes to make it a streak with Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, a massively multiplayer RPG based upon the old and time honored Warhammer universe. I got a hands on play session with the game today, and now have a good idea for what’s in store for fans of the Warhammer franchise.

At first glance, the interface, mission system and some parts of the gameplay seem oddly familiar to World of Warcraft (ironic, as the Warcraft world has an uncanny resemblance to the much older Warhammer universe). After a few minutes with the game, however, this impression quickly fades, giving way to the impression of a much more original style of MMO.

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I started off by choosing the Goblin Shaman, an obvious spell caster class. Each race (of which there are 6, 3 on each team) contains 4 different classes created by different mixtures of fighting with magic casting. We took the character for a short spin, doing a quick extermination mission of which the target was vultures. Players of World of Warcraft will be very familiar with this scenario: target the vulture, click your direct damage spell and wait for them to die, and repeat. Of course, the combat was still obviously very underdeveloped, and with the game not due out until next year there is plenty of time to create a unique battle system. The team has already taken a step in this direction, with the already integrated ‘morale’ system, in which players build up their morale by fighting, allowing the use of more powerful special moves when their morale gets high enough. Using a special move depletes your morale, but if you wait and let it rise high enough you can use even more powerful morale based attacks.

After the combat demo, I was shown a relatively new concept: public missions. In these missions, the objective is shared by everyone, and any player who takes on the quest contributes towards its completion. In the example given, a friendly giant was being pestered by 20 small creatures. When I entered the area, several other people were already undertaking the mission, and I joined to help, until we eventually succeeded. The idea of this sort of mission is intriguing, and gives way to many very exciting possibilities, such a server wide ‘super mission’ in which every player weak and strong must contribute in order to aide the cause.
Which cause? That’s where the game’s PVP comes in, which is far and away the most important aspect of the game. I was taken to the area’s battlefield where some other goblins and I battled the dwarves for territorial control. Mythic’s vision of Warhammer Online is one mostly based on the ongoing war between the races. Their ideas are far more PVP-centric than World of Warcraft, or even Guild Wars; they propose a game where your experience, loot, and all other progress can come solely from fighting other players. No doing PvE for 2 months before you can hope to compete, and no having to organize raids or wars just to get some decent action. Instead, a game where players can choose only to do PvP, even from level one, and still succeed.

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For players who prefer PvE, Mythics hopes to entertain them just as much, even allowing them to participate in the ongoing war without ever having to enter a PvP zone. Remember the giant I helped out earlier? Now that he’s satisfied, he’ll go join the front lines to help battle the other team. In this way, players will be able to help out their own race’s interests, and never even have to see an enemy PC.

Rest assured, there will be a lot more to see of this game in the coming months. I’ll probably even be getting another hands-on try next year, this time with a completed version, just before release. Until then, keep your eye on this one; a unique MMO is always a welcome cause.

By Andrew Bruck - 05/11/06
ESRB Details: Mild Blood, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Violence
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Screenshots for Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning

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