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BioWare Mythic
MMORPG | Setting:Fantasy | Status:Cancelled  (est.rel 09/18/08)  | Pub:Electronic Arts
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Previews: First Look, Hands-On

By Dana Massey on April 04, 2006

Dwarf Map
Greenskin Map
Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Preview (Page 5 of 5)


The combat system we were shown was not a reflection of the final product. What is planned is a three tier system.

“Combat needs to be exciting, but not overly taxing,” was another of Barnett’s mantras.

First comes the strategy. Each player has a strategy bar, which are essentially pre-loaded buffs. You can equip and unequip these based on the enemies you expect to face. A simplistic example is that if the spellcaster is going to fight the fire giant, he better bring an ice buff. Players have a limited number of slots and some tactics can span multiple slots. As you advance, you gain more slots and more tactics. You can even make older tactics smaller.

The second phase of combat is simple enough. You have a hot-bar and special moves. The game does employ auto-attack, so think of this essentially as you would Dark Age of Camelot or any other MMORPG.

Then comes morale. As you take part in combat, you gain morale. As this bar fills, there are different special moves you can use. To use one though resets your morale. It becomes a balancing act. There are five levels of morale moves you can use, each stronger, but each requiring more morale. Do you wait or do you use it early?

These were invented partly as an answer to the more subdued combat that Games Workshop prefers. In most MMOs, even the simplest buff brings down insane bling. Normal combat does not in Warhammer, but morale moves do. They keep things interesting.

As players advance, they gain new moves they can slot in. Also, morale fades away when the character is not involved in combat.

Another neat thing players will immediately notice in Warhammer Online's combat is collision detection. They’re not yet sure if they’ll keep it for the final release, but it is there now. Players cannot run through enemies characters in RvR situations.

Character Customization

“I’m the trophy rack,” explained Barnett.

Each race has unique customization elements. Orcs can gain items – purely aesthetic – and tack them onto their character. Kill a dwarf? Why not put his head on a spike on your shoulder. Each race has different bling that can be tacked on in this way. These items are earned through RvR.

Players will also notice that their characters change as they grow stronger. This is all part of their silhouetting quest at Mythic. Orcs actually get bigger, stronger and more muscley as they reach higher levels. The goal is that in RvR, players will recognize instantly without using a con system the strength and class of their enemy. If you’re new to RvR, you may want to avoid the massive orc with dwarf heads hanging off his body.

While, not as extreme as it is with the orcs, all fighter classes of all races do gain girth as they advance.

Dwarves on the other hand grow longer beards. This is one of those marks of honour in Warhammer lore that Mythic brought in.

They’ve also animated character faces; mouths open and players and NPCs show their mood when you look at them. They emphasized this with a face-cam in the UI.

Mythic has yet to decide whether the game will support DirectX 10/Windows Vista.

Odds & Ends

Mythic intends there to be crafting in Warhammer, although the form was not yet on display. Paul Barnett had made clear that Warhammer is not about laying bricks. It’s about killing things.

Siege in the game is focused more on the anti-personnel end of the spectrum, rather than complex fights with walls. Generally, do not expect to drag siege engines around in your backpack. Instead, they'll be part of scenario missions.

Other MMORPG staples like housing are on the agenda too, although they admit that housing may not make it in for launch.

They also intend a mixed item system. Dwarves will not be allowed to wear goblin armor. The details of their item system were not on display, save that they will try to balance the gameplay reality of a game’s economy without doing a full-out one-size fits all approach that they did in Camelot.

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is still very early, but given they broke ground in September of 2005, they have come a long way. Robertson says he hopes to have the game into beta by the end of the year.

He points to an advantage in development. By developing in RvR pairs, they can test core game mechanics without finishing the other areas. This may translate into earlier beta access.

There are worry points. The resemeblence to WarCraft, in terms of visuals, will forever be a comparison and the combat, while a twist on the norm, does not seem terribly unique. Without trying it, though, it is impossible to judge.

Mythic Entertainment has a long way to go to make this work, but the biggest advantage they have is their IP. It is a universe and brings non-traditional elements to the game. Guns, cannons and most importantly humour.

“We’re not afraid to have people laugh at the game,” said Robertson. Warhammer is a quirky IP and Mythic – if Design Manager Paul Barnett is any indication – is going out of their way to capture it.

If you've made it this far, many thanks!

Let us know what you think of this article here.

5 pages
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