Warhammer Online is an interesting game. Not just for what they are doing that is unique and innovative, but also for what they are doing that is a constant in MMORPGs. What do I mean? Well, while visiting the studios to get a look at the un-released game, I sat in on a presentation on cities. While virtually every MMORPG has cities, Warhammer seems to take city building to an extreme making large (very large) cities and filling them with content.
While we didn’t get to see every race’s starting city on our trip, we did get to see the two human cities, Altdorf and Inevitable City, giving us a great idea of both how similar and how different the cities can be.
Before we get into talking about the specific cities, we should probably talk a little bit about how the cities work and what is available in them:
As you probably already know, Warhammer Online is a Realm vs. Realm based game and at the heart of this Realm vs. Realm system are the capital cities of each race. As a result, the cities are designed to change hands as defenders lose to outside attackers and then win them back in the eternal struggle that is (or will be) Warhammer Online.
Rather than creating a place that has no purpose other than to be defended, the EA Mythic developers have tried to design cities that are more than just places to run to if you’ve levelled up or need to drop off / buy some gear. While they will obviously still contain vendors, trainers and the like, cities will also be the home to general quests, public quests and other similar content. Each city, we are told, will also be home to three separate six-player instanced dungeons.
The amount of content that is available in a city at any given time is dependant on what the WAR devs are calling the “city rating”. There are five different ratings. As a city rating improves, new content that is not available at lower ratings becomes available (quests become available, doors that were locked before are accessible, etc) . In short, the city becomes more valuable. Completing the content (quests, public quests, etc.) in the city will gradually increase the city rating, unlocking even more content for the users. The city’s rating is universal across the server and players will be notified when it changes either up or down.
Improving the city rating is yet another of the hidden mechanics of the game that encourages players to work together toward a common goal. One of the trends in MMORPGs as of late has steered toward solo play, prompting many to wonder if the days of co-operation in these games are behind us. By giving players co-operative goals that can be completed without grouping, EA Mythic is encouraging a group-play atmosphere. Pretty clever, really.
It should be noted that opposing forces can lower a city’s rating by holding and sacking it over a period of time. The longer you’re in there, and the more that you accomplish while there, the lower the city’s rating becomes.
While cities tend toward being places for realm achievement, there is still plenty to show the virtues of individual achievement. The most obvious example of this comes in the form of ten statues. These statues, which are displayed prominently in each city, represent the top ten players in terms of overall renown and will display a character’s name and some info about them. The top ten players are calculated on a weekly basis.
While it’s great to have in-game recognition for achievers, I think the single best part of the statue system is that they are destructible. When an opposing army is inside your capital, they can attack and destroy your statues.
While there is simply too much to say in terms of describing everything that we saw while on our tour, I did want to take a minute or two and talk about he two cities that we saw, beginning with the Empire city of Altdorf.
As I said at the beginning of the article, the cities are simply huge. Players new to the city will begin play in the area known as “The Market”. The developers have done a great job in capturing the feeling of the Warhammer cities. Walking through Altdorf, you really get a good sense of what the Empire is about.
One of the highlights of Altdorf is the Bright Wizard College. As readers may or may not know, Bright Wizards are essentially pyromaniacs and their college reflects that. The main feature in the college is a huge pillar of flame (it should also be noted that the outside of the building has the occasional flame shooting out of it) that shoots up through a round opening in each of the floors.
In the end, Altdorf is an incredibly large and impressive creation. While there, I would suggest taking in the sign at “The Mastiff’s Head Tavern”.
While we may have seen slightly less of the Chaos capital, it was no less grand than its Empire counterpart. I think the thing that stands out most about this city is that it simply reeks of evil.
In the area that mirrors Altdorf’s Market Square, the forces of Chaos have access to vendors and the like, but in the center is a huge pyramid-like structure with a beam of purplish energy flowing from the top. Your character can watch as bedraggled-looking folk make their way to the top in the hopes of “putrefying” themselves, only to be zapped out of existence. In short, if you like evil and bad things, you might have to check out Inevitable City.
While in the city, we took a look at the dungeons that lurk underneath. While Tzeech is the Chaos God of choice for players in the game, that doesn’t mean that the WAR team is ignoring the others. Two of the dungeons that we took a look at were themed after some of the other gods.
Other Bits and Pieces
Other Bits and Pieces