Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning
Some will probably think that developers that release fantasy MMORPGs are crazy. Who in his right mind would challenge the undefeated champion World of Warcraft after so many have failed in the past? The answer is simple: Mythic Entertainment and the franchise they use isn’t the least as Warhammer was the origin of everything that had to do with Warcraft. Now Mythic is trying to make it a full-blown MMO with the name Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.
While WoW is mostly a PvE game the devs concentrated on PvP with Warhammer Online. One of the most important game mechanics is the so-called Realm vs Realm which was first introduced in their previous MMORPG Dark Ages of Camelot. Now contrary to their previous title where you could choose from three sides here you’ll have to do with only two, Order and Destruction.
Both factions have three races each. For Order these are The Empire, High Elves and Dwarves and while they’re supposed to be the “good guys” they won’t hesitate to exterminate an entire village, accusing them of herecy. If you go for Destruction you can choose from Chaos, Dark Elves or Orcs&Goblins and in total players can choose from 22 different classes spread over the six races. While there are the necessary differences, each class can be divided further into “tank”, “DPS” and “healer” that we know from other MMORPGs.
For each race of one side, the other has its arch enemy. The Empire has the troops of Chaos, the High Elves their dark family members and for the Dwarves it are the Orcs and their Goblin friends. The fights between two races are held in so-called Tier zones. Each new players starts in a Tier 1 zone and the higher the Tier the stronger the monsters and players. Each zone is split up from the others and the only way to travel between them is through the Flightmasters so don’t expect a complete world where you can roam freely.
In all these zones you’ll only encounter two specific races. If you create a Dwarf you’ll only get quests to kill Orcs and Goblins. Of course nothing is stopping you from travelling to another front line and combat other races but you won’t get any quests where you have to destroy Dark Elves in your home territory.
As expected the game has more than enough quests but they way these are introduced has been done quite intelligently. For instance you can do more than enough on your own but at certain times you get the opportunity to go on public quests which you do with your entire faction in a zone and which gives players the opportunity to get the necessary progress without having to find a group. An example of this is killing the necessary hostiles on the map to get aid from some Giants that are walking around. If you succeed in your quest you can expect to get some now items at the end. The dividing of the reward depends on how big your part was in the public quest and if you’ve done the most you can expect some beautiful items.
Other quests you’ll encounter are a mix of PvE and PvP. It can be that you get the mission to protect a group of computer-controlled soldiers while the hostile faction has to kill them. It are such light adjustments with this feature that make that the game offers a nice variation in quests.
As PvE gamer you’ll be able to occupy yourself but the endgame does remain PvP/RvR, conquering the enemy main city! The idea is pretty simple, conquer all lower levels zones and then get control over the enemy capitol for a certain time. After a couple of hours the defenses restore and will be able to get rid of the attacker. You not only get the opportunity to attack the capitol by PvP in the normal zones but also through scenarios which are instanced areas where two factions decide on the progress of the war.
During combat you’ll encounter lots of locations and fight hundreds of different monsters. The fun part of Warhammer Online is that Mythic Entertainment actually does something with this. There’s a Tome of Knowledge and this contains all information on the monsters you’ve encountered or locations you’ve visited. Next to a Warhammer encyclopedia you can also unlock certain titles for your character by killing a certain number of monsters or for instance by clicking on yourself for one hundred times.
Graphically the 3D engine of Dark Ages of Camelot, their first MMORPG, is used. Of course the necessary upgrades have been done and the game has a beautiful atmosphere. Don’t expect super deluxe high end graphics, but an atmospheric style that can go for a long time. The advantage of this is that the game can run on less strong PCs. Also the surroundings all have a very high Warhammer feeling, you really feel like being in a warzone. The sound is pretty standard and not something to write home about but the voice-overs do fit the races. The background music on the other hand becomes monotone pretty quickly.
The biggest weakness of the game is that PvP plays mostly in the instanced and hi-end zones. This makes that the lower and mid level zones are sometimes deserted. The developers have promised to make some changes to this but the question remains whether they’ll be able to do this quickly. The players after all pay a monthly fee for this game and want to see the necessary progress.
Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is a pretty young MMORPG that has only just been released and due to that you can hardly expect it to have as many features as some competitors. Still everything will depend on how well the support will be in the coming 6 to 12 months, but with developer Mythic Entertainment I’ve got high hopes that development will be positive!