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Warhammer: Age of Reckoning -- Comprehensive Review

Posted by dethgar Tuesday November 18 2008 at 9:52PM
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In 2002 Mythic Entertainment announced it was working on a new sci-fi based MMO titled, Imperator Online. On May 18th, 2005 Mythic officially canceled the project and announced their acquisition of the Warhammer Fantasy IP created by Games Workshop. Warhammer is a long time table top miniature strategy game in a high-fantasy setting. Many have tried duplicating the success of Warhammer Fantasy's table top phenomenon to no avail, including Blizzard Entertainment. In the past Games Workshop has taken a very firm stance on how its intellectual property is used, going as far as to delay and eventually cancel titles due to artistic differences. Mythic Entertainment founder, president, and CEO Mark Jacobs had a great relationship with Games Workshop and was able to achieve more leniency in terms of story and setting.

Not long after development began information was released that the still un-named Warhammer title would be featuring Mythic's Realm vs. Realm system, made popular in their only other title Dark Age of Camelot. The game was being hyped as a pvp mmorpg concrete in a true to life struggle of war. The title was officially named Warhammer: Age of Reckoning and was one of the most anticipated demos at E3 in 2006. Mythic promised to create a title that could compete in the modern market against the juggernaut known as World of Warcraft.

Looking to get a proverbial horse in the MMO race Electronic Arts purchased Mythic entertainment in 2006 and renamed it EA Mythic. To many gamers EA's involvement arose questions about the quality of the game as it reached release. EA has a history of rushed and over hyped games. Shortly before announcing the launch date, Mythic announced it would once again be referred to as Mythic Entertainment despite its ownership by EA. Not long after, Mythic announced the cut of four critical classes and cities in order to meet the release deadline. Some viewed this as yet another rush by EA while others thought it was a good decision to remove content that might otherwise be broken.

Mythic promised many things to players about gameplay and progression within WAR, most of which centered around the constant struggle between two Realms. WAR's leveling experience was promised to be a diverse blast. Public Quests that provided bonuses to your side, Scenarios that contributed to the faction power struggle, and of course the highly touted Open-World RvR, with leveling divided into “Tiers” based on character level and racial pairings.

Scenarios are set instance maps with key objectives, a point system, and game timer. Each player below the 8th level of a tier will receive a bolster buff for better competitive balance. The first side to reach 500 points, or the side with the most points at the end of the timer, wins. The winning team earns double XP and Renown, which is used to buy gear, for the match . The losers simply receive XP and Renown from their kills. Each scenario has a back story and somewhat different objective mechanics, ranging from capture the flag, multi-point king of the hill, hold the rock(my bad--bauble), and various others. This is by far the fastest way to level, win or lose.

WAR has regular quests , each with a story and objective currency, items, and XP rewards. However its most innovative PVE leveling is found in Public Quests. Areas where players openly meet and participate in the same scripted story and objective for loot, XP, and Influence which is similar to Faction Reputation in World of Warcraft. Finishing a PQ adds a very small amount to your Realm's control over that Tier. Players earn Influence by completing PQ's and is used to purchase select items and gear. Players who contribute the most to the quest are given a bonus to their roll for loot bags from a chest once the final stage is complete. Each PQ has a unique story advanced through three stages by completing objectives.


Open world RvR is contested in a specific area of the Tier, fighting for control of key points of interests(secondary objectives) and eventually keeps. Each objective is protected by NPC guards who are more or less powerful based on the amount of objectives the opposing side holds. If the opposition holds zero objectives, Keeps are guarded by champion caliber NPC's. Taking a keep is akin to a mini-raid, using some pretty interesting siege items to break through and fight the Keep Lord. The Keep Lord has four champions with him, requiring you to take on all 5 at once. The fights are typically tank and spank but are being adjusted by Mythic in order to create more of a challenge even when your army holds all other objectives.

Unfortunately every aspect of the game is but a hollow shell of what we were led to believe. Outside of Tier 4, the final areas of the game, there is little to no RvR in the open world. The rewards of participating in such are less than you would earn doing a regular series of quests, outside of renown earned. In the 8-10 minutes it takes to capture and hold an objective till it becomes locked for fifteen minutes, you earn around 2-3k experience. Aside from the reward, finding people to participate in a siege or defense is near impossible outside of grabbing your guild mates. Keep Lord fights aren't very challenging at the moment and tend to be less about strategy and more about numbers, especially considering that no one wants to defend them in the early Tiers, and would much rather flip them back over for the Renown. The rewards of controlling a Tier other than Tier 4 isn't worth the time or effort.

Public Quests end up being long grinds for minimally useful upgrades and becomes more of a competition with your allies than a unified challenge to bolster your army. Eventually people realize this and give up on them, settling for sitting in a WAR camp and queuing the same damn Scenario over and over again. The weighting for the contribution system is pretty reasonable though at times it does tend to favor damage dealers over healers. The most unsettling part of the PQ's loot disbursement is the fact that being number one in contribution means nothing other than getting an extra lump sum added to the loot roll. Meaning you can be the top contributor and get such a low roll that you receive no loot at all.

Scenarios are the very best way to level your character and obtain gear for RvR. Even if you lose all your games you'll net far more xp per hour by doing scenarios over and over than you will doing any other questing or open RvR. The down side is the utter lack of communication and constant relentless beat downs that occur due to uneven levels and human incompetence. Another major problem is map rotation. Rarely ever is a different pairing map selected for a scenario since the join all function queues them in a specific order, it is extremely rare to do a different map.

While WAR is somewhat of a step in the right direction its glaring flaws are fundamental problems with the game and there is no quick fix. Mythic has worked extremely hard fixing bugs, listening to feedback, and trying to achieve a semblance of balance since launch. Unfortunately, unless radical measures are taken to enhance the currently ignored and sometimes un-noticed features of the game, its likely that WAR will remain a niche game for people seeking an alternative to World of Warcraft.

 

(This review is from my perspective. If this review seems harshly negative, it isn't intended to be, it is merely a collection of my observations. If you would like to dispute anything I've said, feel free to do so in a mature and civil manner.)

gan3f writes:

i started reading but then it happened.............. TLDR

Tue Nov 18 2008 10:41PM Report
dethgar writes:

Yeah I know its long, wrote it for something else, don't blame you for not reading though lol not sure I could either

Tue Nov 18 2008 10:49PM Report
Glubby writes:

Read it all, must say i agree 100%.

 

I played steady for 2 weeks then got bored, everyone sits ins cenarios.

Tue Nov 18 2008 11:14PM Report
MLecl0001 writes:

I have to say one thing that bugs me, is you use the word promised.  Mythic promised this, Mythic promised that, Mythic PROMISED bla bla bla.  However having followed this game since its inception I do not remember any promises.  I remember initially vague ideas and outlines, then I remember them stating things a little more concretely.  However I always remember them saying, things are subject to change.

 

I am tired of MMO players specifically crying about things that were promised to them, however most of the time no such promises were made.  I am not saying there arent times when MMO devs completely lie or flat out hide things.  However most MMO devs now adays know better than to promise anything, ever.  Yet people for some reason get it into their tiny little heads they were promised something.  Like the MBJ himself stopped by their house and told them face to face all the little things they thought they were promised.

 

Also a lot of what you were "promised" and you say you didnt get, is there.  I dont know about your server but on my server, especially after the transfers ORVR in all tiers has been bumping.  Especially tier 4, and with the guilds making pushes in T4, they are actively getting lower levels to also help with the push.  What I mean by that is destro recently made a push to lock a T4 zone.  While doing that they had their lower level guildmates/realmates actively try and lock down the lower tier zones of the same pairing.

 

This started a massive all out fight, not only in T4 but in the lower tiers as well.  Especially when order realised exactly what destro was doing.  And now with T4 starting to fill up the fights are getting more fiere and the pushes to lock zones are getting more frequent.

 

Also it is a game, so what if the most efficient way to level is through constant scenario grinding.  If your goal is to get to rank 40 as fast as possible you have no right to bitch about any grinding you may feel.  It was your choice to skip all the other content out there, so the only person to blame is you.  I have had no problem on my server, even late night, doing PQs.  Guess what there is an option for you to look up players, start sending tells, you never know you may find some friends.

 

So if you stay in your little shell and make no true effort to go beyond the simplest/fastest/easiest way to level/gain rr/socialize then when the game feels barren an empty it is really only your fault.

 

As for WAR ya, it needs work, there are balance issues and there are things they need to work on.  But I think a lot of the problems people have is due to the fact they play on a dead server, or they put no effort into anything and then just bitch when the game doesnt meet their standards.

Tue Nov 18 2008 11:35PM Report
Loke666 writes:

Warhammer is also one of the best and popular pen and paper RPGs that ever been made. The tabletop is behher so most people forgets the RPG however. A sad thing too.

Wed Nov 19 2008 2:31AM Report
t0nyd writes:

On Magnus (server), i have no problems finding world RvR in t1 and t2. It seems its all about being on the right server...

Wed Nov 19 2008 3:53AM Report
andmiller writes:

Agree 100% with this review.

Wed Nov 19 2008 11:01AM Report
Lizard_SF writes:

The "scenarios are the fastest way to level" myth is especially pernicious. Turn on showing XP gain in your main chat window, and go kill equal-level mobs. At level 31, I get 3000 around XP/minute if I'm rested, 1500 XP/minute if not. Let's take the lower number. Assume you're in a scenario for 15 minutes -- do you REGULARLY gain 22,500 XP? I usually get half that if we win, much less if we lose. (Again, this is at level 31). Note i'm not counting XP from quest turn ins, kill collectors, etc -- just raw mob-killing XP. And no worries around getting bad teams, being otherwise shafted -- mob killing XP is fast and reliable.

No renown, of course, but if your goal is just to power level to 40, PVE, not scenarios, is the way to do it.

Wed Nov 19 2008 11:50AM Report
Pabswikk writes:

Sorry, I must say, WoW dominates the market sure, but it is no way a better game. At the core it is very basic and to be honest boring.

The game itself  is empty, with people powerlevelling to 70 [80 now] and then raiding constantly. Not unlike the Tier 4 fighting in WAR. The grind is longer, and at times is very boring. No-one takes advantage of open pvp except to occassionally gank. There are never massive PVP battles like there could be

TL;DR

All games have problems. As a game WAR is far better than WoW was at the beginning, although they could do with seriosuly remodelling PVE questlines. And improve macros. But I must say, with time (And not much time) this has the potential to be a great game and it is already good. So until The Old Republic definitively crushes every other game made in the history of gaming, Make Mine WAR

Wed Nov 19 2008 6:21PM Report
Malagarr writes:

I couldn't disagree more with this review.

First off, the lower tiers seem to be designed with quick turn overs in mind.  And of course you need to work within your guild to sieze open world objectives...this is an MMO...teamwork is part of the design. 

PQs are not difficuly to grind at all.  Anyone can solo grind a PQ through Stage 1 if in an hour or so, assuming not many people are working on that PQ.  If you can form a party for a PQ, all the better.  You'll be done grinding it fairly quickly.  And the final rewards are well worth the effort for the level of the PQ.

Finally, scenarios are all about PvP.  If you're grinding levels in scenarios you are making a huge mistake.  XP rewards are much better for running quests or instanced dungeons.  Scenarios are about grinding renown, which isn't needed to progress to level 40.  Renown is designed to reward players who choose to spend all their time PvPing, by giving them rewards on par with influence rewards.

I'm at a loss to explain your review.  It seems you just don't understand the nature of the game.  This game is about team work and PvP.  Leveling in WAR is not as easy as it is in WoW, but it's also not as hard as it was in EQ or Vanguard.  Mythic seems to have found a good balance.  It sounds to me like you didn't try WAR because you were interested in it.  It sounds to me like you tried it because you either (a) felt like you had to, or (b) were bored, waiting for Wrath.

I'll admit my biase here.  I fully enjoy WAR.  I still play WoW, but WAR, imho, is a much deeper and more exhilerating game.  And no one will ever be able to claim they completed all of the content in three days!  ,-) 

Wed Nov 19 2008 9:08PM Report
Timacek writes:

i agree. such an empty game. There is no virtual world feeling. Where everyone get ammo for bows/guns. No need to repair gear and no place to live (housing) Game is simplified and without any economy.

Thu Nov 20 2008 1:09AM Report
dethgar writes:

To those claiming running quests and instances is a more efficient way to level, I still call bs there. I have tested it myself, in one hour of scenario wins I can gain 1-2 levels in tier 3. Where as if I quest grind, its about 2-3 hours a level.

@MLecl0001: I typically think of game features advertised before release and on the box, as promises. The function of these features are also an implied promise. When someone says they're making a game with this and that, are we to expect it to not be that way and pretend that they never mentioned it? As for open world RvR, I can't play every single server every single moment of every day. I do know that in my 2 months of play on Vortex I came across open pvp exactly one time, on early access day in tier 1. The scenarios killed the open world outside of turning pve keeps, that and the lack of a worthwhile reward.

@Pabswikk: Why are you talking about WoW? I only mentioned it as a reference twice.

@Malagarr: Lower tier quick turnovers...yes, by design? I'm not so sure. Everything is there to be fought for, but why bother when the reward is essentially nothing? As for the PQ's, yes they're easy. They're also boring, take a long time to do, and the loot rewards aren't better than the RvR vendor loot. And please, stop with the "WAR is all about PvP and team work". DAoC was about PvP and team work, WAR is about care bearing it up to level 40 and then contending in a total clusterfuck of improperly balanced fights with 8000 Bright Wizards against 7999 Chosen/Witch Elves and 1 Zealot. Fear not though, oh prince, for an age where healing is even more useless and DPS is completely overpowered is coming. No, I didn't "try" WAR to hold me over for WotLK. I've been waiting for 4 years on WAR, like a lot of people. I didn't expect an advertised PvP game to be turned into an epic care bear circle jerk. As for WoW, I've seen better PvP in korean f2p crapfests. I play WoW for the community(my friends), thats about it. If I had my wish, SWG would have never died.

Thu Nov 20 2008 1:05PM Report
Pabswikk writes:

Only replying to your reference, saying why it's the juggernaught it is.

Thu Nov 20 2008 4:58PM Report
Polyjean writes:

Sorry, but op tells mostly nonesense imho.

Everyone interested in mmos and especially pvp should try for themselves, i promise war is a great game with a lot of new ideas that actually do work (e.g. Public Quests, Tome of Knowledge).

 

Fri Nov 21 2008 7:34AM Report

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