With Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning seeing its release on September 17th, there hasn’t been a lack of people wanting to share their views on how good or bad EA Mythic’s latest MMORPG is. Unfortunately, for me, it has taken a while to be able to get a chance to sit down and write my thoughts on the game, because I have spent nearly every waking hour playing it. Finally, I decided to take the time to be able to write my first impressions, and throw out yet another review to the hungering behemoth that is the internet.
I. Decisions, decisions.
Let’s face it, we all love having choices. We love choosing how to look, where to go, what to do, and what reviews to bookmark to read and enjoy over and over. Warhammer Online is a game that will flood you with choices right from the beginning. You will have to choose what server to pick, what type of server to pick(Open RvR, Core, Role-play, or the only Open RVR/RP server), and what faction you’re going to play for. Now, the sad truth is that Destruction is over-populated. This seems to cause long waits in the match-making system for scenarios, meaning as Destruction you will normally be waiting a hell of a lot longer than Order to get into a fight. Originally, I thought I would go Order only because Destruction had so many people, but the first witch hunter named “Vanhelsing” I saw sort of turned me off and convinced me to make the switch to Destruction. Now, even though I play Destruction, I’m going to say that Order has some really cool and unique classes, which completely break the warrior, rogue, healer archetypes into a more complex type of role, and even though Order seems to be yet another Middle Earth-esque faction, it has a very distinctive spin to it.
Once you’ve picked Order for the sole purpose of making wait times for my Marauder shorter, you will have to decide what class you want to play. Mythic presents you with another tough choice, but gives you the benefit of reading a small description which indicates what your main role in the game will be. The way the classes have been laid out overall is incredibly refreshing. In fact, I can think of no other word except refreshing when describing any of the many classes included in Warhammer Online.
On to the actual classes:
- Healers – Healers are actually very, very fun to play. They either combine offensive spell-casting with their healing, or melee DPS with their healing. Yes, you read right. You’re not restricted to being a robe-wearing scholar who desperately swings his staff if anyone gets within three feet of him. No, you’ll be running into the fray, swinging your weapons purposefully while assisting your fellow comrades in battle with the heals you build up through your attacks.
- Tanks – It’s finally possible for tanks to have a role in PvP. Tank game-play varies, with some tanks having focus on melee damage, and others having focus on supporting their allies. Still, the way tanks have been implemented into the game is astounding. For one, taunts work on players. Taunts give debuffs to your target, or give the tank a buff against their target. This buff wears off if the targeted player attacks the tank x number of times, which gives incentives for people to attack the tank. This is just one of the many ways in which Mythic has created a more than satisfactory role for tanks in PvP.
- Melee DPS – They’re there to do what they already do in every other game. Hit things at close range until they drop dead. There’s nothing really different in the way the melee DPS plays their class as compared to other games, but the abilities they receive make them unlike any other type of melee DPS you may have played in the past.
- Ranged DPS – These are not very different in what their ultimate purpose is, either. They’re there to throw fireballs or shoot arrows at people until they are face down on the ground. However, Warhammer once again surprises all of us by delivering these classes in a very unique manner. For example, Bright Wizards build up combustion with their damaging spells. As combustion goes up, the wizard’s critical chance with spells go up, but if they build up too much they will risk having their spells explode and damage them instead.
Since there’s no pressure for performance if you’re just starting out, you can explore all the classes and archetypes until you feel comfortable enough to master one.
II. Player vs Player/Realm vs Realm
Finally, a game that delivers on what they promise. This is all-out war; there are no rules, no fouls. You simply pick a side and you work towards exterminating the members of the opposite faction, taking their keeps, and taking their land. Scenarios, although reminiscent to instanced PvP in other games, are perhaps one of the most popular forms of RvR in the game right now. The good thing is, however, that the objectives don’t treat you like a child. Unlike other games with similar instanced PvP content, you’re not there to play a friendly game of capture the flag with your enemy; you’re there to kill them.
Rare in MMORPGs is the fact that you can gain levels in PvP, or doing something other than killing monsters(i.e.: crafting). While you can not obtain higher levels in Warhammer by crafting, you can obtain higher levels by engaging in PvP or RvR combat. Every player you kill will give you XP, renown, and some money. Renown increases your renown rank, which lifts restrictions on gear available from renown merchants around the world; that is, the higher your renown rank is, the more gear you will have available to purchase. Luckily, although there are two separate types of ranks, you can increase them both by doing just one thing: PvPing.
The world objectives are also highly enticing. While dependant on server population, there’s usually battles going on to decide the fate of a particular piece of contested land. I’ve been having a lot of fun just randomly showing up to the northern part of Nordland to engage in random RvR with other players there, outside of scenarios. The downside is that there are normally a few higher level players that will be able to turn the tide of battle.
That brings me to my last point in their PvP system: levels, and how they affect PvP. In this game, you have the ability to jump into a scenario as soon as your character is created and you’ve gone through the introduction cinematic. In Scenarios, your level will be increased to a certain point, so that you can stand a better chance against enemies in the higher ranks of the scenario. For example, for Tier 1 scenarios, your rank will be bumped up to rank 8 if you’re lower than that. This will give you more health, and allow you to survive better in a battle. I randomly made a sorceress this morning, and went into Khaine’s Embrace(a Tier 1 scenario) at rank 3, and ended up second to a rank 11 witch elf in damage dealt. This encourages people to jump into the PvP system as early as possible so that they make all their mistakes early on and learn how to properly play their class by the time they’re out of tier 1.
III. PvE / Grouping
Well, we come to one of the parts that a lot of people don’t like about the game. To be fair, the game is not intended to have you gather 20 people and go kill a boss in an instance. At the same time, however, many feel like the PvE aspect of the game could have been given more attention. Right now, PvE seems to be mainly in place to create a sort of linear progression that guides you from tier to tier, or from chapter to chapter of public quest. Next, if you enjoy grouping with other players to do quests, or enjoy social aspects of MMORPGs, you will not find it easy to get accustomed to Warhammer Online. Meeting new players is difficult, because rarely anyone talks in the public channels, and there’s rarely a need for groups.
The only thing that requires a group of people are public quests, but those people don’t even have to talk to each other to get them done. Public quests display objectives globally, so when any player kills a certain mob, or does a certain thing, it will count for all the players in the area. Even if you’re nowhere near the public quest when it starts, you can join in when it’s halfway-through simply by entering the public quest area. What this means is that there can be six of us in a public quest area, ungrouped, completing the objectives, finishing the stages of each chapter, taking our loot and going home without having to even know their names.
It’s obvious, but if you are a fan of PvE games, raiding instances, and the like, you will not enjoy Warhammer Online in the least. There just isn’t enough PvE content to keep fans of item hunting and repeating bosses happy.
In the end, if you’re searching for a game that will satisfy your PvP needs, then this game might just be it. Keep in mind that although the PvE is not bad there’s just not enough of it to keep someone playing it if they enjoyed a type of game-play more like Lord of the Rings: Online. If you rarely PvP, and want to try something different, by all means give the game a shot.
As for my opinion, I haven’t had this much fun with a game in a long, long time. Not since the days of vanilla World of Warcraft, where I would stay up to 3 AM in the morning trying to get rank 11 in battlegrounds. This game has the “what the hell, it’s 3 AM already?!” factor to it, and all the games I have played lately have not been able to keep me hooked in such a way.