Some time ago, MMORPG.com presented part one of an interview with Warhammer Online's Mark Davis and Steve Perlins. Mark is the game's Deputy Content Director, while Steve is a Director.
Last time, we talked about everything from the IP itself, to closed beta, to the issue of Warhammer being seen as a WoW clone. To round out the interview, the guys told me, in great detail, about the starting areas, and the first few quests in the life of a Dwarf and a Greenskin.
For players who may not already know, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning's RvR system pits warring races against each other, and the Dwarfs and the Greenskins love nothing more than to destroy each other.
These areas were the first ones that the folks over at EA Mythic actually worked on, and so they've had a chance to do them, look them over and make sure that they convey the proper message.
Before we continue any further, this is a revelation of the first few hours of game play for the Dwarf race. In short, spoiler alert!.
Dwarf Starting Area
"The first time we did the Dwarfs," said Mark enthusiastically, "we knew we had to hit beer, we knew we had to hit grudges, we knew we had to get WAR in there, we needed more beer in there... So we did all those things, as we liked it, but it just really didn't 'do it', something was missing."
It was Mark who took the reigns for this portion of the interview, and you could hear the smile in his voice as he talked about the area and the game itself. Whatever the game turns out to be in the end, it's certain that the developers love their game.
"So we went back to the drawing board and we did it again... When we re-did the Dwarf area, everything was phenomenal, I mean, every time I play that area... I've played it maybe 50 times now... I still am giddy and excited about playing it."
He moved on to talk about Bitterstone Mine, an underground mine (originally, they had the Dwarfs starting outdoors, but realized that underground was more appropriate. As you may imagine, the mine, even when players first start their characters, is at war with the Greenskins. Right from step one, players see that the EA Mythic is sticking to the tag line, "WAR is everywhere".
"As you start," he described with relish, "there's a Dwarf Hammerer in front of you and he tells you basically that you have to get up there and help with the battle. Right across the chasm (where the Dwarfs are mining), you can see the entrance, and there are Greenskins everywhere! There's a cannon right there, conveniently located, and the Dwarfs are just blasting these Greekskins away, and they just keep coming and coming.
He went on to tell me that you can get quests to: blow away Greenskins, to go further into the mine, to blow up sections of the mine where Goblins and Squig Herders are coming out, and more.
With the brief description of these quests out of the way, Mark went on to tell me about what he called a central plot; Helga. Helga was the wife of a Dwarf Engineer who was killed in a Greenskin attack.
"...and the Engineer was very, very saddened by the loss of his wife, so he would go and develop the biggest cannon you've ever seen. If you can imagine a cannon and multiply that by ten, you might be getting close to how big Helga is. So, he named the cannon after his wife and he figured that with a cannon that big, not knowing what Greenskin it was that killed his wife, if he fired this cannon enough times, he was bound to hit that Greenskin eventually."
I suppose if I were going to build an enormous death-flinging monstrosity, I'd want to have the same kind of foggy logic on my side. That being said, it's exactly this type of situation that highlights the grandiose nature of the Warhammer franchise, and one of the reasons that so many people are looking forward to this game.
"So, the whole time you're doing quests in this area, you will hear Helga fire. It rumbles the whole cave and the Dwarfs cheer for Helga, every time that cannon fires. Eventually, you make your way outside, and you're on this Dwarf rampart. You're looking out over this amazing abyss as it goes way down the mountain and this giant sky bridge at the far end that you know you need to get to."
This is the point where he gets really animated and excited, as his voice even picks up in speed.
"You're battling Greenskins who are just launching themselves over by catapult. You eventually work your way down there and there's a Dwarf Engineer there. She's dropping barrels of TnT over the side and she asks you to help, so you get to drop these barrels of TnT as they spiral down to a ledge, on the side of a mountain. You watch Greenskins get blown to bits... I can't do that quest enough times, lemme tell ya."
That, I am told, is about the first hour of gameplay that can be expected if you choose to play a Dwarf when Warhammer releases.
"The whole first chapter... we knew we had to teach you about Dwarfs. We had to teach you about Ancestry and why it's so important to them, we had to teach you about grudges, about their mortal enemy, the Greenskins."
He went on to tell me about Eight Peaks, a Dwarf stronghold which has fallen to the Greenskins. Now, the Dwarfs, being... well... Dwarfs, can hardly believe that their stronghold has fallen. With that success, the Greenskins have set their sights on Ever Peak, the Dwarf capital city (which has never fallen). All of this, you learn in your first hour of game play.
It just wouldn't be Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning if we didn't talk about Public Quests. Fortunately for me, Mark's story continued in that area, describing a Dwarf's very first public quest: Apparently, as you move down through the mountains, you find a Greenskin fortress (where they are attacking from).
"When you first step into this fortress you see this War Boss. He's so high in level, so big, that if he were to come down to your level and start fighting you, it would take a hundred or more of you to take him out. He's impossibly powerful, and there's no practical way you're going to take him out. Thankfully, Dwarfs have engineering and ingenuity on their side."
As readers probably already know, Public Quests are often done in stages. In the first stage of this quest, your job is just to thin the herd of Greenskins around you. In the next step, you're helping another engineer who needs gun powder for his mortar cannon. That mortar cannon is going to be use to fire a "Rune of Accuracy" basically, think of it as "tagging" the monster so that our old friend Helga can get a clear and accurate shot. While the engineer is busy getting everything ready, you're kept busy fighting a pair of mini-bosses.
Once you've defeated the mini-bosses, the big baddy yells threats to you, but as he's threatening, Helga fires, causes an avalanche that buries the War Boss, right in mid-sentence.
Well, there you have it guys and gals. That's the introduction to the life of a Dwarf. Originally, I had intended to give you the Greenskin info along with the Dwarf info, but there was just so much there that we're going to break it into two. Stay tuned tomorrow for the other side of the coin as Mark tells us about the Greenskin starting area.