First Look Preview: Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning
Joe Iuliani was at Comic Con last week. Today, he brings us a report on his hands-on experience with Warhammer Online.
I recently had the pleasure of playing the demo of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning at the New York Comic Con. For those of you who have not seen the animated scenes from WAR, stop reading this and go to this website and watch it right now. Go ahead, I'll wait. No really, go there and watch it. This scene shows the outright bloodlust and hatred between the two sides in the game, Order and Destruction. It's not just coincidence that Warhammer Online will be going by the clever acronym W.A.R. This game focuses on warfare, pure and simple. You won't find the forces of Order and Destruction chumming it up together in a common town any time soon. It's a game where the "good" guys don't always win. The sides are named appropriately, Order and Destruction. There is no good and bad, just different points of view. The winner is the strongest.
For fans of Games Workshop Warhammer fantasy table top gaming, WAR is like watching the game come to life. Pick up any of copy of White Dwarf from like 1987 through today and you will see how true to form EA Mythic has been. The attention to the details of the Warhammer Fantasy universe is abundant. The character designs, from physical shape and characteristics to the armor and weapons, are right on the money.
The playable demo at the NY ComicCon was set up for a four on four PvP match between the Dwarfs and the Greenskins. By the way, Warhammer was also one of the first companies to coin the term "Greenskins" for their orcs. There have been a lot comments throughout the forums out there accusing EA Mythic of stealing ideas from World of Warcraft. I can tell you from personal experience that the Greenskins have been around since well before the original Warcraft was even on the scene. How can I be so sure? Well, Warcraft, and subsequently Warcraft 2 and Diablo began at the end of my table top gaming experience. While table top gaming I had more than my fair of share of losses to the Orks, which for those of you who know them, is pretty lame on my part. It is true people, before MMOs, we had to get out there and table top game. We sat with two liters of Mountain Dew, Doritos, and whatever place would deliver, but enough reminiscing, back to WAR. I had secretly hoped for a glimpse of the elves, but was denied. Chaos and the Empire weren't available for play, but both sides look promising. The one thing I have learned through my gaming career is to make a well informed pick on your primary character. That decision can haunt you with the wrong choice. That troll savage seemed like such a good idea at the time...
The dwarfs looked and felt exactly like Warhammer dwarfs should look and feel (see photo, White Dwarf Issue 90, 1987). Dwarfs have also had a rich history in fantasy. The Warhammer dwarf appearance is distinct from all others out there. They are rough, booze guzzling, axe and hammer wielding little engines of destruction. They are fearless, and engage enemies more than twice their size. Refer back to the intro video. The dwarf Hammerer was fun to play, with notable abilities such as Iron Migraine and Hammertime.
The game really comes alive with the Greenskins. Honestly, the Greenskins are just fun. They are the soccer hooligans of the gaming world. Often simply referred to as Da Boyz. Player classes include names such as Black Orc, Choppa, Goblin Shaman and my favorite the Goblin Squig Herder. Some of the class abilities reflect Da Boyz colorful speech and attitude. The Choppa has skills such as Da Chop, Ripe Em, Run Em Down, and Mob Rulz. The Goblin Shaman uses Brain Busta, Life Leak, Gork'll Fix It (best healing name ever) and You Got Nuthin. There is something intensely satisfying about the Choppa using Run 'em Down and using Da Chop to duff a Rune Priest. Greenskin abilities will spawn amongst MMO players the same gobbo speak that has afflicted hundreds of gamers through game and comic stores since the 1980s. Trust me it will grow on you. Just talk like Vinnie Jones from the movie Eurotrip. Unless you play Order, in which case prepare to talk more like any Robin Hood movie you have ever seen.
The User Interface is clean and straight forward. For all of those who favor the keyboard to the mouse, MORE HOT KEYS... yup, a total of a quick 24 abilities will be within quick reach (Ok I admit it, I may not be coordinated enough to use both keyboard and mouse).
There is an unconfirmed account that the UI may be skinned differently depending on the race chosen. I think this will be a great feature for players. Imagine having your screen look like some hellish thing Tzeentch would create. Or if playing a Greenskin, imagine having crazy icons of Gork and Mork. Hopefully this will give players more of a tie in with their choice of race in the game beyond the likes of a regular character.
Another great feature I noticed during the demo is a modified version of a log book, or quest tracker, or whatever other name is out there for an in game journal. Hitting the ever popular L button brings up your Tome of Knowledge, just sounds impressive. The Tome is pictured as an opened book with multiple tabs. The tab headings along the sides were as follows: Bestiary, Noteworthy Individuals, and History and Lore. Along the bottom of the Tome the tabs were Personal, Compendium, and Help. Sadly my tome was empty, since I spent most of my time killing the same Rune Priest. There is an alert box on screen that will notify a player to changes in any War Journal, Map Info or Bestiary updates.
It's a great way to keep of what you have done, and are working on in game. Certainly will help on the fewer pieces of scrap paper and checking websites to see what I have been up to in game.
All in all WAR lives up to all the hype and hopes of Warhammer fans. It's not the turn based strategy game that we have been used to, but the next stage in the Warhammer universe. Games Workshop has given Warhammer a rich world and a mythos all its own, EA Mythic has embraced that and it outwardly shines in this game. It's refreshing to see a company take the time to understand a game before translating it into another medium. It shows a lot of dedication to all the fans of previous versions of Warhammer and will win over them to the MMO world. I can't wait to see more video, images, and characters as the release date draws near. In closing there is only one word to describe Warhammer online "WAAAGGGGGHHHH!!!!!!!"