Friday, May 29, 2009

Warhammer Online - Age of Reckoning Review

Warhammer Online - Age of Reckoning Review

Warhammer Online - Age of Reckoning Review
By Mads Vangsoe

Mythic Entertainment is ready with their new MMORPG. They are the people behind Dark Age of Camelot, a game that became known for its PVP, Player vs Player where all the players are involved in a war between the 3 breeds. This concept, known as Realm vs. Realm, matched by hand in glove with Warhammer Table Top game, in which different races were in constant war with each other. So when Games Workshop decided to make an MMORPG based on the popular game series, it was obvious to choose Mythic Entertainment to create it. They have now done it, and Realm vs.. Realm (RVR) is an important part of Warhammer Online. "War is everywhere" promise Mythic in their advertisements, and after spending months in a small game, then I give them quite right. When you Logr into a WAR (Warhammer Age of Reckoning) server, you can not avoid being mixed up in the war between Order and Destruction.

When you start the game there are 6 races to choose from. 3 on either side of the conflict. Dwarfs and Greenskins fighting on one front, the High Elves and Dark Elves are fighting for control of their homeland and people trying to stop an invasion from Chaos. So there are 3 ways you can fight on, and what you start at is determined by what race you choose to play. Each race has its own professions, such as the Dwarf Iron Breaker or Chaos' magus. They are very different, although they essentially can be divided into some basic types that are known from this type of game. When you have chosen your character and found a look that fits, you are ready to explore this new world.

Quests are there of course plenty of and you must really make efforts to run out of them. It is normal practice for this type of game and works very well in WAR. Individual quests are easily the stereotypical kind, to find people / things, or beat monsters to death, but there has been much work in history and it makes them actually quite entertaining. You can sense that Mythic has been aware of this and they vary them quite well with small surprises in the pipeline. The first 10 levels used in the same starting area, but as soon as you reach the first warcamp, the game opens up for the other races areas and this works really great, because there is nothing preventing you from completing quests in all three areas.

Public Quest
Besides the usual quests, Mythic has invented something they call the Public Quest. It is a welcome innovation to the genre. The story of the game is driven by the Public Quest (PQs). When you run around and solve quests, you will encounter areas where a PQ going on. They often consist of 3 or more phases, which all have in common that they can not be completed alone, but require more people working together. Once they encounter such a quests, you can begin to complete it. You don't need not be in a group with other people who also are engaged in this quest, but it can often be an advantage. When a PQ is completed, ie all phases are solved, all those who contributed to finnish it is ranked according to how much they contributed. The one ranked highest gets the best rewards. It is a brilliant way to meet new people, and as one of the main purposes of an online game is to play with others, then PQs is a rather genious feature. Beyond the rewards you can win by completing a PQ you earn influence, which can be used to redeem rewards from certain people, so even if you do not just win something, then your time spent in a PQ is far from lost .

Realm vs. Realm
As I said, war is an important part of Warhammer online. Fairly quickly after starting a character, you are introduced to the PVP aspect of the game. It can be roughly divided into two: Scenarios and Open RVR. Scenarios are the first players familiarize themselves with. You sign up for a scenario, and when there are enough players on both sides to start it up, it started. Then you get send to the area and must fight to complete the objectives before the enemy or before time expires (after 15 minutes). There are scenarios where you must fight for control points, scenarios where you have to steal your opponent's flag and make sure that your own flag is not stolen, and many others. There is good variety of scenarios. The good thing about these scenarios is that it is the side which works together as a team who usually wins. It is not just a question of being run around and turn the opponent to death, although the course is always a good thing. It is a matter of working together to solve the task, and there are no classes that can handle it themselves. Cooperation is the key to success. It is quite clever that you always can join a scenario, and once it is over is simply sent back to where you were when it began. This makes it easy and quick to get involved in PVP.

Open RVR encounters also quite fast on. Once you find the first Warcamp you are at the batlefront, and once you move into the war zone you are doing RVR. There are bases and carstles, which you should fight for. It takes place in battle against other players, and just as in the scenarios, there is collaboration the way forward. It is extremely entertaining, and I amused myself with the cost of this aspect of the game, although I usually do not PVP. But the mythic concept of PVP is brilliant way to avoid 'ganking' So that people with low level becomes' ganket 'of people with much higher level. Mainly because it is based on cooperation, one on one battles are rare, but also because the battle zones are divided into 4 tiers (layers) and do you travle into a field which is too low for yourlevel, you become transformed into a chicken and can not contribute to victory in the area. You have to seek opponents at your own level. While it is nice to PVP is restricted to certain areas and it is completely free for the player to decide when he want to PVP. Are we not in the mood for it, then just hold off the PVP areas.

Tome of Knowledge
Another new thing that Mythic like to make the player aware of is Tome of Knowledge. It is a book where all one's holdings are listed. It's actually not so much an innovation as the same concept can be found in Lord of the Rings Online, but Mythic has extended it much and there is plenty of information in this book, which is helping to make this virtual world more credible. The first time you encounter a monster, NPC, or other you will find writing about it in the Tome of Knowledge, providing background knowledge. Games Workshop has released plenty of material for the Warhammer universe, and the Tome of Knowledge is a fine way to bring all this information into the game.

I could have written much more, because there are plenty of things to explore in this game. But I hope I listed the main thing that makes Warhammer: Age of Reckoning the future star on the MMORPG heaven. PVE (Player vs. Environment) part is quality work that uses the familiar formula of quest after quest. This is all just made eaven better with the Public Quest, and a rich background story well anchored in the (few) well-known Warhammer world. PVP (Player vs. Player) component are simply not better in any MMORPG. Even people that not normally bother with PVP will be drawn into the war between Order and Destruction, and my bid is that even the most determined opponent of PVP could be persuaded to PVP in Warhammer online. Still there is plenty to do in WAR even without PVP. A notification of a MMORPG is always a snapshot, since they are constantly under development. The image of WAR is a very good image right now, and if Mythic Entertainment continues in the same track, then it may be a success. It has at least deserved it!

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