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From WoW to WAR

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The visual look is striking, but is the comparison fair?

This past month PC Gamer magazine published an article introducing Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning to the public. This was the public’s first look at what Warhammer Online will offer players and fans in the next big MMORPG from Mythic. There are a few issues that I thought the article brought up which I’d like to speak about. Being an avid fan and player of both games for some time now, it is inevitable to compare the two. Still some of the comparisons are putting Warcraft ahead of Warhammer. I’d like to try to clear some things up about what was written in PC Gamer Magazine and the history of these two organizations and great game systems.

Warhammer Fantasy Battles was released by Games Workshop in the spring of 1983. The U.K. based game company quickly grew in popularity among war gamers for its unique rules and army types. The fact that players could be a variety of races that battled each other throughout the grim Warhamer setting gave gamers and miniature enthusiasts something to really enjoy. Painting and building these vast armies of miniatures has become an entire hobby in and of itself. In 1986 Warhamer Fantasy Role-Play was released. This game was created to give Role-Players a different system and world in which to try their skills. The game helped make elements like the forces of Chaos increasingly popular among players. In the 90s through to today Warhammer has grown in popularity with not only table top games but video games as well. While it has its fun moments with the mushroom crazed night goblins and orange mohawk dwarf troll and giant slayers, the game still seemed to play as a rated R version. Now I know every game depends on the players, but the Warhammer world always seemed gritty and nasty compared to others.

Blizzard Entertainment was founded in 1991. After several games being released in the early 90s, Blizzard hit the scene with Warcraft in 1994. It was a huge hit among game players and allowed the company to break out with Diablo in 1997. Obviously with MMORPGs coming onto the market and the introduction of World of Warcraft Blizzard has shot into the stratosphere of gaming. WoW certainly has a defined look and feel to the game. While many say it is cartoony, I maintain that it is fun and more than anything fantasy. The oversized weapons and crazy armor is eccentric but great. We all want to be superheroes that is why we play these games. Needless to say, WoW currently rules the MMORPG universe with five and a half million players.

So what do these two games have in common that continues to be compared? Well for one the orcs look very similar. Both companies use the green skin arch-type for these creatures. Goblins in Warcraft and Warhammer are very different. In Warhammer goblins are mushroom eating fanatics, in Warcraft they are business men. While Warcraft has undead, Warhammer has vampires, skeletons, zombies, ghouls, wights, etc. There is a huge difference in variety based on building an army. Still from the look of the screenshots in the article there are some small similarities. However, I think Warhammer will offer a much more PvP inclined version of an MMORPG than Warcraft currently has. With only three Battlegrounds for PvP in Warcraft the company continues to expand its instance dungeons and quests for high level players. I know Blizzard has said they will do more for PvP, just not right now. Warhammer and Mythic both have a tradition in giving players great PvP or RvR throughout the history of their most popular games. My point is, though these games may have a similar feel, they are very different. It frustrates me to see writers comparing Warhammer to Warcraft. I hate to say it, but the Warhammer world was around long before Warcraft was on the scene.

Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to video games Blizzard has moved ahead very strongly with its products and lore. Games Workshop has released several video games in the past but really focused on the miniature table top games. Now aligned with Mythic to create an online game for Warhammer enthusiasts it will offer a great opportunity to fans of the game. I am sure there are plenty of people like me who enjoy both game systems and more importantly types of gaming. Will I give Warhammer Online a try? Of course, it makes perfect sense to give it a chance. I certainly will not cancel my Warcraft account, but I will eventually make a decision on which game is best for me. Really that is all we players can do. What I don’t want to see happen to either of these games is people comparing them without knowing the history behind companies, game systems, and general themes. The press will write whatever it wants to create news and there is no avoiding the comparison. As gamers we all know what our tastes are, that is what we have to stay true too. The April Edition of PC Gamer Magazine can be found at any magazine stand. See you all online!

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