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BioWare Mythic
MMORPG | Genre:Fantasy | Status:Cancelled  (est.rel 09/18/08)  | Pub:Electronic Arts
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E3: The Progress of WAR

While in attendance at E3, MMORPG.com Writer Carolyn Koh made an extended stop at the Mythic Entertainment's booth for a progress update and some hands on play time with Warhammer: Online Age of Reckoning.

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Mythic Entertainment's Mark Jacobs recently shocked the Warhammer community by letting them know that they were cutting content before launch.  Six capital cities would be reduced to two and character careers would be reduced to 20.  Ten for each side of Order and Destruction.  Now that the dust has settled, Their booth in the EA appointment room was crowded with members of the media watching their E3 demo, and the demonstrators were quick to reassure that it was a good move for them.

We were given a quick tour of the Capital cities of Altdorf for Order with a dwarf showing off his mount, a dwarf copter and Inevitable City with a Magus on his disc.  

“We have dedicated a Cities Team,” said Content Director Destin Bales “and instead of being spread out among six different cities, they now are concentrating on two major cities and the dedication and polish shows.”

Players need not fear that two cities instead of six will mean less content, as the two cities are large indeed, with hundreds of quests and dungeons.  What it does mean is that all the races of each side will call a single city “home” with other cities probably featuring in future content roll outs.

“The remaining 20 careers are distinctive,” said Development Manager, Bruce Maclean.  “We are balancing for the entire realm, not for each race and with ten careers on each side, the realms are balanced.”

Mythic relied on their data and metrics and feedback from beta players.  The careers that were just not making it in terms of being distinctive and fun to play were cut, where others that were popular but required work were provided a revamp.

“Careers basically got an audit from beta.”  said Associate Art Director Adam Gershowitz as he showed off the Magus which had a heavy revamp.  “Per original IP, the Magus specialty was the summoning of demons and we've implemented that.”

All Magus can now summon temporary demons.  I was shown Pink Horrors and Blue Horrors, all named as such, and all with different variations, some with more arms than others, as a way to differentiate them for players.  I asked why not just MagusXYZ's Pink Horror?  It was because they were demons of short term durability rather than “pets” I was told.

Of course, Magus that took Mastery training in the path of Daemonology rather than Havoc or Changing, would have better daemon summoning spells.  I was shown two fun ones.  One was the Indigo Fire of Change.  If the mob that the spell is caast on dies, a totally uncontrolled demon spawns and lays waste to other mobs in the vicinity.  With your morale at maximum, you could summon a powerful demon that lasts 30 seconds.  At level 40, Adam summoned a fearsome looking dragon that went tearing off after a mob, ignoring the one that was beating on Adam.  Totally uncontrolled.  Use with care.

“The Magus is a very good defensive caster,” opined Adam, “he's the parallel of the Engineer (a Dwarven career).”

The Magus Disc of Tzeentch also received a revamp.  According to original IP, the Disc is actually a Daemon.  The Magus is bound to this disc and thusly is always mounted.  Like other character mounts, the disc can be upgraded as the Magus levels.  It will change and morph just like any other player mount.  Another change made to the disc is that it now has daemonic abilities of its own, for example, the Daemon lash.

The White Lion career of the High Elves was also shown at E3, a new class, according to Adam.  This class is a true pet class and a class that can put out phenomenal amount of damage, a dps class.  The three mastery classes are Hunter, Axeman and Guardian and the information is updated on their website.  The pet is a War Lion.  White in color, the lion can be named and it grows with you, its armor and accoutrement growing more ornate as it gains levels and abilities.  The War Lions abilities are:  Trained to Hunt where it fights along side the White Lion, Trained to Threaten where it acts like a tank, and Trained to Kill where it is pure dps.  

Adam buffed a White Lion to level 40, giving beta players a good look at a high level lion and we went into a public quest.  Here, he also showed me their new open group status window.  This allows you to set your group to be open.  You can see the number of groups that are open when you enter a zone, see how many are already in that group and also see about how far away they are in the estimated time it would take to reach them.  Clicking on the group joins you up.

He showed off the various Lion abilities and triggered a public quest end fight – the House of Arkaneth, Step III which ended with him taking out Beastmaster Lorkoth and his prized beast, the many headed War Hydra Scornlash.  A nice little low level epic that he did all by his lonesome although one young High Elf was brave enough to join in and he kept him alive.  All public quest loot is rolled and xp and loot awarded by percentage of actual participation.  We received a loot bag filled with loot that his character could use, including the highest level armor that could drop in the game, a purple piece.  

“Congratulations,” said Bruce who was watching.  “This is the first time such a valuable loot bag has dropped in beta.”

I wonder what the young elf obtained.  I hope it was something nice as well.

Bruce spoke to me about the art and armor in game.  There are over 400 armor sets and each piece can be dyed.  Guilds can set their own dye scheme and that function will be accessible through the guild UI, a piece that is still being worked on.  I was shown the heraldry editor for the guild banner.  With the hundreds of emblems available, there will be thousands of combinations for guild banners.  Once a particular combination is used by a guild, no other guild will be able to make that combination of emblems.

Character customization is highly dependent on the look and characterization of the race and career in original IP.  Obvious differences are emphasized and the character team is still adding options into the game.  Keeping with game design, tying in with weapons available and IP considerations, players will find that some races and careers have far more customization options than others.  The Dwarves were singled out to highlight how they had emphasized the “obvious differences” and I was shown the vast variety of beard styles and their love for metal in their jewelry (piercing) options.

As I often see during demos, the guys showed me the various male characters.  I wanted to see the females.  So when I got the chance for hands-on, I scrolled through the various races and careers and decided to customize a Dwarven female.  Sorry, no beards for female Dwarves.  Okay... I could live with that but where was MY jewelry?  Wait just one doggone minute.  How come the male Dwarves got jewelry and the females didn't?

“We can look at that!” was the chorus of replies.

As I ran my Rune Priest Sigrid around and tried out her various abilities, I was shown the fully customizable UI.  Every window and bar can be moved and dropped where a player decides and Adam confirmed that they are fully supporting the interface modding community.  Players familiar with current MMORPG controls will find similar interface in Warhammer: Age of Reckoning.  Mouse or WASD movement, click and hold camera swings and spell hotkey bars.  Spell action and colors will cue players to character classes and intelligent dual targeting is in place.  That is to say, if I am targeted on a mob and I cast a heal, the heal will land on the player that the mob is aggroed upon.

I took my leave after not much longer as the line for my chair had grown and I had spent my entire allotted time and then some in the Warhammer booth.  It looks good.  The UI looks especially spiffy and polished at this point.  They are working on many things at once, but with the current focus on fewer cities and fewer careers, Warhammer: Age of Reckoning certainly looks promising.  At this point, Open Beta cannot be far.
 

For more news, articles, and information about Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, click here

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