A Fresh Look at Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning
If you haven’t given Mythic’s 2008 MMO a go yet, you’re missing out. From the opening cinematic you will be struck by the realization that this is storytelling of epic proportions. Here’s what you need in order to go to WAR.
Factions, Races, and Classes – oh, my!
As with any MMO, the most important decision you’ll need to make is in creating your character. The ‘good’ faction is also referred to as ‘Order,’ and is comprised of Dwarves, the Empire, and High Elves. Those on the evil side of the fence follow the forces of ‘Destruction,’ represented by Greenskins, Chaos, and Dark Elves. The Empire and Chaos races are humanoid and all other races are pretty self-explanatory.
Each race offers a choice of 4 different and unique ‘Archetypes’ that conform to one of the familiar party roles of tank, melee dps, ranged dps, and healers. While there are some rudimentary parallels, there are no direct equivalents, either to classes of the other faction or to those from other popular MMOs. For instance, in other games, a mage is a mage is a mage, regardless of what color she wears. In the Warhammer world, a Sorceress and a Bright Wizard will share little similarity except for the fact that they’re both spell-slingers. In addition, it’s important to note that even the best healers are capable of doing considerable damage without having to either re-gear or re-spec.
Leveling in WAR is accomplished through both PvE and RvR, and is actually threefold – players will need to accumulate experience, renown, and influence for the best rewards and achievements. Experience earned from quests and mobs builds the player’s level, or rank. The PvE content is sorted by zones into level tiers. Tier 1 areas hold questing areas for ranks 1-11, tier 2 is for ranks 12-21, and so on. Level 40 is the maximum rank. New abilities are gained at each level, and players can begin to specialize within their career at rank 11. Each career offers spells and abilities from 3 different schools or paths, and players can gain Mastery of a certain path by specializing.
While leveling, players work their way through the chapters of the WAR story as told in the Tome of Knowledge, an ingenious method for keeping track of all progress. The Tome holds all information on history, story, lore, quests (both active and complete), achievements, and enemies encountered.
Participation in Public Quests gains the player Influence which rewards consumables and gear at three different levels per chapter. WAR’s system of grouping on the fly is especially convenient for PQs. Renown is earned through participation in RvR. There are renown-gear merchants scattered around the world and some of the best equipment is available from them.
The many faces of RvR
Often referred to as PvP, or Player vs. Player, RvR is the name for inter-faction combat in WAR and often far overshadows the PvE content of the game. Here is where WAR really shines. RvR can take the form of small skirmishes, battles for control of an area, instanced and timed Scenarios, or full scale Campaigns as players fight for control of the other faction’s zones.
Conquests and victories in open-world RvR help your faction to accumulate Victory Points. Build up enough VPs and your faction will be able to assault the opposing capital city, which opens up a series of Scenarios allowing for the attack to be fully detailed and played out. The result will be much looting, burning, and celebrating among the victors, accompanied by the wailing of the defeated.
The RvR experience here is varied enough that players could jump on for anything from a half an hour of intense combat to a full afternoon and evening of bringing the pain to the other side’s hometown. WAR doesn’t require the player to hit max level before the best in RvR is available, either, as there are Scenarios and open-air RvR areas in the very first tier of zones.
All the old god’s children need jobs
The professions in WAR are the one real disappointment here. It’s almost as if a developer was told, “All MMOs have professions" and this was his way of skating by with a C-. It’s a shame, too, since Mythic really got the idea of making professions inter-dependent on each other. Since a character can only take one of the four gathering (Cultivating, Salvaging, Scavenging, and Butchering) and one of the two crafting professions (Apothecary and Talisman Making), players need to either develop a stable of alts or rely on other players for all the materials needed.
Of course, as a wise man once said, “It’s not ‘Make-Your-Own-Pants-Hammer." Presumably characters in such a violent world are far too busy to be out picking flowers. After all, there are Keeps upon which to lay siege and cities to plunder. If you enjoy large-scale player vs. player content, you really want to answer the call to WAR.