WAAAAAAAAGH!!! Welcome to Miagi’s Corner! Welcome to the world of Order vs. Destruction….Good vs. Evil…..Light vs. Dark…..<insert other cliché here>
So let’s take a look at the newest mmorpg called Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, which is currently in closed beta with its NDA being dropped, giving some few lucky people an insight into what this game will bring to the worlds of ememorpuguhs (see Yahtzee). This is the first review which I am pleased to say….encompasses almost the entire game, having tested each tier in depth.
War is everywhere in Warhammer® Online: Age of Reckoning™ (WAR), the new fantasy MMORPG from Mythic Entertainment, the creators of Dark Age of Camelot™. WAR features next generation Realm vs. Realm™ gameplay that will immerse you in a world of perpetual conflict for years to come.
Experience the glory of Realm vs. Realm! Declare your allegiance and join hundreds of thousands of mighty heroes on the battlefields of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning to experience the epic nature of war. Enter a grim fantasy world where the armies of Order (Dwarfs, High Elves, and Empire) and Destruction (Greenskins, Dark Elves, and Chaos) collide to determine the fate of nations. Invade enemy lands, besiege imposing fortresses, and sack sprawling capital cities for the glory of your Realm. Wield devastating magic and deadly weapons, battle monstrous creatures, and join your brothers-in-arms in epic Public Quests™. Climb the Bastion Stair, carry your Guild Banner into battle, and unlock the secrets of the Tome of Knowledge as you travel the world. Sharpen your blade and prepare to unleash your inner mutation-the Age of Reckoning has begun and WAR IS EVERYWHERE!
- Realm vs. Realm (RvR) gameplay means you will never fight alone, but as part of an army of allied players sworn to defend your homeland and conquer enemy Realms. Your every action-every quest completed, every battle fought-contributes to the war effort and can turn the tide of battle, bringing victory to your Realm!
- Experience the camaraderie of fighting side-by-side with allied players against otherwise insurmountable odds in groundbreaking Public Quests. These cooperative PvE encounters unfold across multiple stages and allow solo players to experience the glory of RvR.
- Embark on the endless quest to complete the Tome of Knowledge and unlock Warhammer lore, detailed monster information, new abilities and rewards, and major story plotlines. The Tome is also the story of your life in the game, tracking your achievements to share and compare with others.
- Explore massive Living Cities that become more or less prosperous based on a Realm’s overall performance in the ongoing war. Navigate a maze of twisting streets, visit the local tavern, explore a dark under-city, and meet colorful personalities in a city full of adventure.
- Advanced guild features give unprecedented control to leaders and members, and make guilds an integral part of the war efforts. Guilds can create unique heraldry, capture and claim keeps, and earn Guild Tactics as they grow in power along with their members.
Drawing from a quarter century of highly detailed source material, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning brings Games Workshop's fantasy world to life in a way that will allow players to create characters destined for great deeds and glory on the field of battle.
Graphics (Score = 7)
The graphics critique is performed using the balanced graphic’s settings and under a DX9 environment.
System being run on:
AMD 5200+ X2 Athlon 64
2gigs DDR2 800mhz RAM
EVGA 8800gt 512meg video card
OMG IT’S WOWHAMMER!!!!
The game’s artistic style is a mix of World of Warcraft and Dark Age of Camelot. It’s artistic representation remains true to Warhammer lore dating back to the early 80s. It’s dark, gritty, and easy on the computer. You don’t need a super computer to maintain decent frame rate.
The game also uses, rather than exotic or snazzy animations, it relies more on particle effects and wowing you with pretty lights and explosions. While they look amazing for the most part, in large battles this could look like a firework display going off before you.
All in all…it remains true to the lore of Warhammer, looks great, and has a much darker feel to it.
Sound (Score = 6)
One of Warhammer’s weaker points is its sound. Walking, some spells, and effects have almost a metallic sound, and isn’t to believable at times. Ambient sound effects though are pretty good, whether it be birds chirping, ground rumbling, etc.
But after all this….the sound is kind of a weak point for the game.
Performance (Score = 9)
The shining gem for all Mythic games is performance. Dark Age of Camelot was proof of this..able to hold a few hundred people at a time….does Warhammer stay true to this as well? I have to say without any doubt….yes.
While my system is not a beast, it is far from craptacular. And in the advent of Age of Conan and it’s horrible performance issues….WAR does not suffer from this at all. Everything runs fluidly and flawlessly, sustaining a upwards of 100 people with no issue at all, maintaining a solid 30+ fps with ease. Even with all the particle affects causing one to go into epileptic seizures at times.
Loading, unlike such games like AoC and Pirates of the Burning Sea, only occurs in very specific sections, such as area between tiers, entering a scenario, or using the flight master to switch war fronts…that’s it. You can pretty much wander around a whole tier and not load anywhere. And when you do hit one of these zoning points…they are never more than 10 seconds, tops.
Pathing issues really only exist with pets at the moment…keeping them near you or following targets can get a bit hairy, but this is an acknowledged bug that Mythic is working on.
Warhammer Online will feature collision detection, but only against enemy targets. This means a player will be able to "walk through" friendly players and NPCs but will be unable to walk through enemy targets (this is to prevent possible abuse of the system). Currently, Mythic is testing collision detection with a variety of alternate implementations. One of these possible implementations allows enemy players to slowly "push through" one another, as if walking in quicksand. It is believed that this feature will enhance the role played by heavily armored characters known as "tanks", as it will help them become far more efficient at holding choke points and protecting weaker players in their group such as healers and casters.
Gameplay (Score = 9)
WAR features next generation Realm vs. Realm (RvR) combat. This takes place within three different racial pairings: Dwarfs vs. Greenskins, Empire vs. Chaos, and High Elves vs. Dark Elves. Although there are only 2 races per pairing, players may travel to either of the other two pairings to help fight with their friends and allies. There are four types of RvR combat: Skirmishes (random world PvP), Battlefields (object-driven battles in RvR-specific areas), Scenarios (instanced, point-based battles against the opposing faction, with sides evened by NPC "dogs of war"), and Campaigns (invading enemy lands and capital cities). RvR contribution includes both Player vs. Player (PvP) combat and (to a lesser extent) Player vs. Environment (PvE) quests so that you can assist your realm in their victory.
All activities in WAR contribute to the campaign, as it is the primary focus of the game. Each of the aforementioned activities generate victory points (VP) which measure a realm's progress in capturing a zone. When one realm reaches a designated amount of victory points in a particular zone, that zone falls under their control and the war pushes deeper into enemy territory. This back and forth struggle for zone control continues until the war eventually reaches one of the capital cities where the attacking side may sack, loot, and pillage that capital city. The capture of a capital city is the pinnacle objective of the campaign. To prevent the invaders from maintaining control of an enemy's capital city, the defeated players will passively grow stronger and stronger until they are able to force the attackers out of their city and close the gates, regathering their forces. It is at this point where the campaign then begins anew, restarting the cycle.
Keeps and Keep Sieges were recently introduced into WAR’s Realm vs Realm combat system. Keeps can be captured for victory points towards your realm and can be claimed by the capturing guild. NPCs will be stationed at all keeps (claimed or unclaimed) to ensure a certain level of difficulty is maintained and that at least 1-2 full groups are required to capture. Should players decide to defend it, the difficulty in capturing the keep will increase greatly. The game design decorates each keep according to the race that controls it; however, the basic layout will stay the same. Siege warfare includes four types of weapons: rams for keep doors and other targets, ballistae for enemy players or siege weapons, cannons, catapults, and trebuchets for AoE splash damage, and boiling oil to use from keep walls. Strategically located near keeps, siege pads can be destroyed by players of the defending realm, inhibiting the siege process.
WAR features a "Tome of Knowledge" (ToK) that is an extension upon similar mechanisms in many other MMOs. The ToK is a multi-purpose reference tool that is designed to provide the player with a great deal of information about the game world. It is also meant to serve as a reduction in the need for players to feel like they have to rely upon third-party sources of information pertaining to the game.
The Tome of Knowledge keeps track of all information pertaining to an individual character and their progress through the game. This progress unlocks lore-related information about quests, the gameworld itself, NPCs, and defeated mobs. For example, upon first encountering a mob within the game, a basic entry is added for that creature in the Bestiary chapter of the ToK. However, with increasing contact, kills, and associated activities involving any specific creature, the information available about those encounters will be added to the Tome of Knowledge. Likewise, the ToK keeps track of the story and progression of the character through the gameworld as they complete quests, explore the map, and otherwise accomplish activities within the game.
The Tome of Knowledge is one of the most innovative portions of the game, giving great detail and tracks every given accomplishment of your actions in game. Another great accomplishment in WAR is the public quest system.
Public quests are area-specific, ongoing quests that are automatically assigned to each player that enters the area. All players are automatically working on completing that same quest (if they choose to do so). They typically conclude with a large "Boss Battle" fight. When a public quest completes, each player who participated will receive a reward based on his contribution to the whole, whether it be the amount of damage done, amount of healing, or amount of damage taken by your character. Public quests are confined to PvE zones and as such only indirectly affect RvR. After each public quest performed, you can also get rewards for the amount of influence you earned. There are three tiers of rewards: basic, advanced, and elite, which can all be gotten by anyone.
There are two crafting professions and fourth harvesting professions currently in game. The harvesting professions include: Cultivating, Magical Salvaging, Butchering and Scavenging, and the crafting professions include Apothecary and Talismans.
Cultivating allows the player to grow his/her own weeds and/or fungi. Most weeds and fungi are Apothecary ingredents so it may be smart to link these two. Cultivating requires no special place or location. You can do it anywhere and at anytime. Cultivating has 3 steps to its process:
You will need seeds (for weeds) or spores (for fungi). These two items can be obtained in multiple ways. The easiest way to obtain the basic seeds and spores is from the merchents in most cities. You can also receive these two items from monsters and sometimes from scavenging. You will also need pots to be able to plant these items. You will start with 1 pot but as you grow in the craft, you can have as many as 4 at once. Seeds and spores all have a skill level assosiated with them so you will not be able to place a high level seed into a empty pot if you are currently under that Cultivating level.
The Growth cycle. The growth cycle itself is broken down into 3 stages. Stage one you can add soil, stage two you can add water, and stage three is nutrients. These stages speed up the time for each step and also add a chance of growing something "special".
Harvest. As simple as it sounds. Just harvest your plant and place it into your backpack. This will set your pot back to empty and you will be ready to start again.
Magical Salvaging can break down magical items into magical fragments. These magical items can be found in all PvE, RvR, quests, and more. When a player decides to Magically Salvage an item, the player gets to choose what fragment to extract from that magical item. Example: You get an item which has stat boosts for willpower and intelligence.
Using Magical Salvaging a player may select which stat they need and extract a willpower or intelligence fragment. Now it is up to the player to choose which fragment to extract. Magical Salvaging also produces essences along with the fragments and these essences are used to make Talismans.
Butchering and Scavenging are essentially two sides of the same coin: both skills are used to retrieve resources from dead mobs. The difference lies in the types of mobs each gathers from and the resulting loot: Butchering is used on non-sentient mobs and Scavenging is used on the more intelligent mobs. As Mark Jacobs put it: "If it's smart enough to wear clothes, then it's probably got pockets and you'll need to Scavenge, no clothes means no pockets and then you'll need to Butcher.
In order to Scavenge or Butcher a corpse there are three conditions to be met: the corpse must be completely looted (shown by flys buzzing around it), the player must have the appropriate skill level compared to the monster's level and the player must have rights to it. Scavenging/Butchering rights are initially given to the player/group who killed the mob but after a while it opens up to anyone. Initally a Scavenger/Butcher will be able to use their skill on up to level 5 mobs, advancement in the skill opens up higher level mobs to be looted.
Crafting Skills are used to make items that are usable by players to grant buffs to themselves. These items can be sold or gifted to another player. Neither Crafting Skill relies on the player being in a specific location, in fact the only requirements are an appropriate skill level, the ingredients and a container. Crafting can fail, but such an event does not destroy the gathered ingredients, but the more easily replaced container. The 2 Crafting Skills are Apothecary and Talisman Making.
Apothecary: Primarily uses the ingredients found through Cultivating and turns them into Potions, Powders or Lotions. Each potion uses upto 4 ingredients (1 main and 3 additional) and the duration, strength and type of the effects each has may be modified by what additional ingredients are added to the mix (ie craft short term powerful potions for quick RvR sessions, or longer term weaker potions for extended PvE sessions). Additonal ingredients also help determine how 'stable' the potion is, ie. how likely it is to fail. There is also apparently a random chance that the mixing of potions will have a spectacularly good result.
Talisman Making allows you to create talismans which are minor items of power. You would attach these talismans to certain armour and weapons to bestow bonuses upon them. Only rare and powerful items may have talismans placed onto them. To create a talisman you will need 4 items or fragments including 1 "main ingredient" which is obtained from Magical Salvaging.
You will also need a container to craft the talismans. The overall power of the 4 items determine the overall power of the talisman. Some talisman give bonus to stats, armour and resistances while the more powerful talisman can give much more powerful bonuses.
Overall, the crafting professions are still kind of weak and simplistic, and with only two crafting professions, it severely limits one’s crafting playstyle.
Community (Score = 7)
A good, solid community, reminiscent of an Everquest 2 community. For the most part pretty helpful and chatty.
Customer Service (Score = 7)
Decent CS support during beta answering tickets and fixing bugs. The dev support and fixes though are phenomenal, and seem to respond very well to the community and it’s suggestions and problems.
Roleplaying Value (Score = 6)
Very nice roleplay community can be found already in WAR, but there are not many tools other than emotes.
Other (Score = 8)
There are many tools to foster comradery and alliances within this game, as well as aspects which definitely help this game out a lot. Guilds have a multitude of functions, and alliances can be formed with other guilds. Guild keep, functions, banners and standards, all are present, as well as a living guild system which grows with your guild.
There are also living cities which grow as your city, you can watch your captured city grow from a slum, to a shining beacon with NPCs and guards roaming around. There are a lot of little things in this game which make you just feel as if you and your realm are one, and realm pride will definitely influence a lot of what you do in this game.
Overall (Score = 8)
While mythic did not reinvent the wheel….they are definitely releasing polished, bug free, and highly interactive game which will want you to fight your hardest for your realm and guild, while including some never seen before functions: such as public quests and the Tome of Knowledge.
Miagi’s Deep Thoughts
This game is fun, addictive, and drags you in by your short hairs. WAR truly is everywhere, and I do believe this will be the second largest mmorpg behind WOW in the western world. Other than missing some timesinks such as fishing or card games, this game is about war between factions, and contains nothing that does not influence your factions control of the world.
/shakes magic 8 ball
“Without a doubt" this game will be a huge hit