Last week I was joined by Keaven Freeman, Kevin Calvert, and Tim Chappell of Mythic and we spent a little over two hours exploring Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (WAR). Released in September of 2008 WAR is one of the newest MMORPGs I have featured on Wayback Wednesday. WAR is based on the Warhammer fantasy IP from Games Workshop. WAR pits the armies of Order versus the armies of Destruction and is a realm versus realm focused game; however, WAR also contains your standard fantasy genre MMO tropes. While WAR is one of the middle aged MMOs on the market it has made two rather important contributions to the genre that have been central to a number of recent MMO releases.
The first contribution of note WAR made to the MMO canon is the Tome of Knowledge (ToK). One idea that was kicked around in the development of WAR was why should a player get a quest to go kill 10 rats, then go and kill said rats, finally to return and receive their reward? What if you went to the quest giver and they said, “Hey I see you already killed 10 rats, thanks for that and here is your reward.” The next challenge was how could you explain this knowledge with an in game system? The solution was you had this magic book that kept track of all of this information for you. The ToK collects all of this data about your character and presents it to you at a whim. Your quest journal is a part of the ToK. The ToK is also a large repository for lore. The more you kill a mob type and based on the difficulty of the monster the more you learn about it. Recently DDO has released a similar system to the ToK, in regards to monster lore unlocks, known as the Monster Manual. At the time the ToK was introduced achievement systems were not present in every MMO. In addition to being a quest log and lore repository the ToK was at its core an achievement system that contained its own rewards through further knowledge about the game and vanity titles.
The most significant system that WAR threw out to the MMO masses was the Public Quest (PQ). The PQ is a scripted event that players can join and participate in regardless of when they arrived. The PQ typically has a trigger that starts a chain of events. After certain goals are accomplished the PQ will advance to the next stage. Most PQs have 3 or 4 stages. At the completion of the PQ players are awarded loot based on their contribution and a little luck. The PQ had some very important features to it, not the least of which was anyone could come and participate and receive a reward. You did not have to be a part of the group to start with. Inclusive play is a central theme to the PQ. How many times in other games have players come to a group working on a quest only to be a step or two behind and have to wait for an event to start over to do it alone from scratch? This is no longer a concern with a PQ. The PQ has since evolved and popped up in another MMO just a few years later as a dynamic event. Rift took the PQ to the next level and made it the central focus of their game. Since then dynamic events have become the new industry darling. You can find PQs all over in WAR. They are in the PVE zones, in the dungeons, and you can find them in RvR lakes. They are the primary mechanic used to convey the narrative in WAR.
During this episode we spent most of our time in the Tier 1 Green Skin vs Dwarfs area. We split our time fairly even between the public quest Kron Komar Gap and the RvR lake. We participated in the PQ because it is tied in with the new WAR live event Return to Ekrund. Return to Ekrund follows the tale of a dwarf who recently found a stronghold that houses some legendary weapons. As the forces of destruction, we wants to kill’em. Return to Ekrund is a four part event that is currently on part one. We should see part two very soon. If you watch the video all the way to the end you can also see us travel to the lands of the dead, an Egyptian themed area in WAR.
While Warhammer has a lot to be proud of it does have its warts. We had a chance to talk to Keaven and Kevin about some of these during the show and they were very candid with their answers. Some of them just cannot be resolved with their current resources. One of the most frustrating barriers to entry that jumped out to me was the amount of time it takes to download the client. It literally took me 20 hours to download the client for a clean install. That being said if you have never played WAR and want to give it a try you can play the limitless free trial on a streaming client. At this point if you decide WAR is something that you want to spend money on you would have to download the client, but you would know it is worth your time.
There were also a number of very good questions from the community on how to encourage healers to play in a group, how can the developers incentivize players to focus on keep defense, and could we possibly see Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes assets appear in WAR. You can listen to Keaven’s and Kevin’s answers in the video. I had more fun in this episode than I expected I would. What originally was scheduled for an hour turned into two before I had noticed. If you have never played WAR in the past I would strongly suggest you take a look at their free trial. The streaming client will help guarantee it is worth your time.
Tonight’s episode of Wayback Wednesday will feature EverQuest. This will be our fourth foray into the world of Norrath with the EQ team from SOE. Make sure to tune in and watch our adventure as it unfolds on MMORPG.com Live Streams page!. The action for Wayback Wednesday begins at 9:30 pm EDT. Thanks for watching!
Robert Lashley / Robert Lashley is a Staff Writer and Online host for MMORPG.com and RTSGuru.com. Rob's bald and when he isn't blinding people from the glare on his head talking in front of a camera you can chase him down on twitter @Grakulen