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Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes Previews: The Perfect Bite-sized WAR

By Carolyn Koh on September 12, 2011

Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes by BioWare-Mythic is a game of the genre popularized by Riot Games, a MOBA – or Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas.  Readers familiar with Warcraft’s DotA mod or League of Legends will recognize the style instantly.  Instanced maps, team against team, with players bringing their choice of character to a team and automatically matched against another, a home base and respawn point.  Players duke it out until one team is declared the victor, and you’re earning experience and other stuff to deck out your characters with each match.    

Here’s the thing that makes Wrath of Heroes different though… it doesn’t play like an RTS, it plays like an MMORPG. 

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The best way to put it is that who is essentially the bite-sized nuggets of awesome know as Scenarios, pared down into MOBA form.  The combat’s been upped a notch, made more frenetic and there are specific characters tied to the familiar WAR classes, each with their own skill-sets and specialties.  On top of it all, each match is 6 v 6 v 6… a little DAoC-like combat at long last.

The Bioware-Mythic team brings the Warhammer feel and their own unique blend of styles to the game. First of all, their motto for the game is Fast, Fierce and Fun.  As we said above, taking a leaf out Dark Ages of Camelot’s book, the battles will be three-way fights with three teams of six. So it’s 6 v 6 v 6 and no, there’s nothing demonical about that, the panel assured the audience. The battles are planned to last about 15 minutes, although matches that last longer have not been thrown out of the ballpark.  That’s the “Fast” piece of their creed.

Fierce – well, that’s the nature of the gameplay of MOBAs. Players go in and it’s everything goes, kill or be killed, plus the ability to swap out Heroes on the fly.  The “Fun” part was demonstrated in their description of a new character or Hero they had developed, Korith – a high elf ranger. A ranged DPS, he was doing a lot of damage and was taking over the leader boards. The character was a lot of fun to play but unbalanced. The team could have nerfed him, but that would have made him less fun to play, so they developed a counter for him, Korelei. A swift Dark Elf with insane dodge and two knives to slice and dice up close.

The game will be free to play and micro-transaction driven, and the available heroes that can be played will be rotated in and out, but players who want to have a particular character always available to them can buy them for their stable. There are 25 heroes currently in the works and each hero has five abilities, with one that is spam-able (i.e. without a cool-down). There’s no auto-attack but expect to learn some great combos.  Your account does level up with experience and the player will get more tactical options (think tactics slots in traditional WAR), but Heroes are complete in of themselves and are characters with different skills that you use in the arenas. They do not grow in power or skills since the matches are much shorter than say LoL or HoN.

Being Bioware-Mythic, players can expect that each character will have a back-story and there’s even voice-over in the game. Being Warhammer themed, the team also works closely with Games Workshop and shared with the audience that an Egyptian Priest Hero character name Yu’Mahd (You Mad?) did not pass, but when the same character was re-named Amenadresh (a man in a dress), it did.

The Heroes already revealed are:

  • Bax Dreadtoof – Orc: Armored close-range melee. A green guy who gets bigger and more fearsome as he fights (and modeled loosely after the Incredible Hulk).
  • Felicia the Flamekissed – Human: The wizard (Bright Wizard to be exact). A glass cannon with ranged magic and area damage spells.
  • Glowgob da Green – Goblin: AE healing. Is he vicious or cunning? The panel mentioned that Bax and Glowgob were opposite ends of the spectrum of characters which range from the easy to play, spammy button-mashing type to the more complex, skill based character.
  • Korelei, Mistress of Pain – Dark Elf: A very fast, dual wielding, close melee, rogue-type character with incredible dodge
  • Korith Deathbringer – High Elf: A ranged sniper with fantastic bow skills (think Legoslas shooting two arrows at a time on speed).
  • Nethys the Crimson – Vampire: Close range, blood magic with the ability to siphon life. Lots and lots of blood.
  • Thagisson the Disgraced – Dwarf: Magic resistant melee character (what’s Warhammer without a dwarf… a greased up and Slayer dwarf?)

In closing, five more Heroes were revealed, a Dwarf engineer, a Dark Elf Sorcerer, a Skaven (think Gnoll), the aforementioned Priest, Amenadresh and a Choas Marauder. The audience was asked to vote on them for the next to be worked on by the team and the Skaven won by landslide. Surprise? Probably not.  Expect lots more on Wrath of Heroes this month as the Closed Beta process is ramping up.

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