Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Preview
Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning box art
System: PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: EA Mythic 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Electronic Arts 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Sep. 18, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: Unlimited 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Another MMO Giant Enters the Fray
by Branden Barrett

January 30, 2008 - EA Mythic has been credited for creating the famous Dark Age of Camelot, an MMORPG that rivaled Asheron's Call, EverQuest, Ultima Online, and City of Heroes going into the early 2000s. Though a little unpolished, it featured a unique class system and solid PvP (player vs. player) action that still draws some crowds to this day. Yet, in an age where World of Warcraft currently holds the genre in its tightly clenched fist, many people have found that those two particular elements aren't enough.

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning screenshot

Aiming at the casual player and offering a deep solo, group, and player vs. player environment, Blizzard has created a monster that both casual and hardcore players can get engaged with. Most modern day MMORPGs either make it too difficult for new players to get into or just try to copy World of Warcraft's formula and fail. Warhammer Online sets out to try to do everything World of Warcraft has done but better, with emphasis on a truly fascinating end-game PvP environment.

The plot of Warhammer is one that you would expect from Lord of the Rings, but with its own particular twist Basically, a nation known as the "Empire," which consists of mostly humans, is attacked by a plague. Though quarantined at first, the disease soon spreads throughout the entire area, infecting every person within its deadly radius. The symptoms are minor for the first few weeks, but as time goes on people begin to notice a change in those particular individuals. This change turns them into the "Chaos," a group of bloodthirsty, deranged sub-humans with nothing on their mind but the kill. Eventually another evil nation, the Dark Elves, takes notice of the Empire's current problem and utilizes this opportunity to join with the Chaos. With help from the Greenskins, who consist of mostly Orcs and Goblins, the newly created horde begins their march on the Empire. Obviously needing help from the plague and the army on the way, the Empire calls on the High Elves and Dwarves for assistance. With all the nations set for battle, the scenario has been set, and thus begins the conflict within Warhammer.

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Following in World of Warcraft's footsteps, Warhammer Online showcases a class system with a total of six races: Dwarves, High Elves, The Empire, Chaos, Dark Elves, and Greenskins. Yet, unlike World of Warcraft where certain races can only take on a number of class traits, Warhammer allows all professions to be attainable for all races. These class traits include a tank (defense class), melee damager (offensive melee class), ranger (ranged class), and support (magic/healing class). The options are fairly rudimentary, but they will no doubt be expanded upon as release draws closer and closer. Each of these six make up two distinct groups known as Order and Destruction, with the races that make up these two groups being fairly self-explanatory. The option to be either a male or female is there, as well as a customization feature to change a character's looks, clothing, name, and more. All in all, it looks like the foundation is in place, which is always important to have to support the rest of the product.

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning screenshot

Another similarity the title holds with its soon-to-be rival is the questing system. From screenshots and videos you can probably deduct that the advancement of your character will be through primarily completing quests and advancing through your particular career system. Drifting away a bit from the average MMORPG, Warhammer Online does not have a level based system. This has been wanted for a long time from fans of PvP that have felt that high level players make too much of an impact. So much so that it abolishes the premise of "skill" all together. I feel that the game's advancement system is similar to that of Guild Wars, where PvE (player vs. environment) is primarily for small-time progress, while the PvP is the emphasis of the game. And it is the PvP aspect of the game, or should I say RvR (realm vs. realm), where Warhammer truly shines.

A lot of complaints that modern World of Warcraft players have revolves around the game's lack of current world PvP. By this they mean that besides ganking (the attacking of lower level players), there isn't any reason to do battle in the non-instanced part of the game. Warhammer looks to correct those problems by introducing four main player vs. player types: Skirmishes, Scenarios, Battlefields, and Campaigns. The first of these, Skirmishes, is just a regular confrontation between you and one or more of the opposing faction. This is comparable to real world battles in most traditional role playing games. However, unlike similar titles within the genre, winning Skirmishes will earn you experience, character points, and even loot. There's an incentive to get your hands dirty, right? While this sounds well and good, the next three help define what the realm vs. realm combat within Warhammer is all about.

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning screenshot

One of these highlights is the Scenario game type, which is similar to the battlegrounds of World of Warcraft. Instanced within a particular part of the world, you will go about your objective trying to save a particular group of people, capture a base or flag or deal with quest specific non-player characters known as Dogs of War, which attempt to balance to play out and reward characters who complete their missions. Battlefields are more of the same, except that the objectives are a little more specific and may include gathering resources or taking over a pre-determined location. In essence, it is a more casual setting of the RvR gameplay, catering to those a little less experienced. Now, the three mentioned above sound exciting, but they are all merely baby steps to the ultimate goal: the Campaign.

Screenshots / Images
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