Product Type: Electronic Arts PC games
Newest Review: ... goody-little two shoes of the realm, where you can play as the now genre typical Human, Elf or Dwarf; Chaos are their nemeses consisting of... more
WAR, huh! What is it good for?
Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (PC)
Member Name: clownfoot
Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (PC)
Date: 28/04/10, updated on 12/01/12 (234 review reads)
Advantages: Realm versus realm is awesome. The 12 year olds are still on World of Warcraft...
Disadvantages: ...could take over you life!
If there's one thing worse than a plague of rats spreading the Black Death across Western Europe, it's a plague of 12-year-olds shouting (or typing) 'noob' and 'bumdar' into your head-set (or interface) whenever you happen to be logged on to your favourite massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). The irritable little cretins ruin everything, giving one a headache more severe than the bubonic plague was ever capable of inducing; especially when it's a childish 'it's not fair, I'm taking my ball and running off home' retort after you've owned the tempestuous little snotbag with your superior gaming skills for the umpteenth time. Just sod-off back to mummy already!
It's for this very reason I've never entered the fray of World of Warcraft. Warned off by concerned fellow gamers (okay, my old housemate, who may or may not have been hideously biased) that the world's most popular MMORPG had been hijacked by halfwits and children, Mythic Entertainment's 'Dark Age of Camelot' became an alternative online safe-haven. The player population may have been much reduced, but with the inclusion of similar player versus environment (PvE) dynamics to World of Warcraft, a realm verses realm battlefield for player against player action (PvP), plenty of meaningful updates and a more mature group of individuals to raid dungeons with, it made for a rather fun and complete game. When Mythic were subsequently handed the duty to develop Warhammer Online it was a natural migration to the new title, and with the promise that it would be bigger and better than Dark Age, a fraternity of late twentysomething geeks waited with anticipation. What a well deserved wait it was...
Set within the fantasy battle world of Games Workshop's 'Warhammer' title, which World of Warcraft obviously stole from (just kidding), the online environment consists of a continuous battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. Or Order and Chaos as they are better known! Depending on which realm you decide to fight for, your journey will take you through four separate tiers of quests, instances, scenarios and battlefield combat whereby you level up your character, earn money, purchase armour and weapons and develop better skills, attacks, buffs, taunts and heals. The usual MMORPG gubbins! Order are the goody-little two shoes of the realm, where you can play as the now genre typical Human, Elf or Dwarf; Chaos are their nemeses consisting of Orcs, Dark Elf and Chaos Warriors. Both feature the now regular character archetypes of tanks, healers, ranged and melee. Yes, very much the usual MMORPG gubbins.
So, if Warhammer Online is little more than the standard MMORPG fare what makes it worth investing time in? The lack of abusive 12 year-olds aside, it's mostly the balance and styles of play present to accommodate for a range of varied player need. For example, you may be someone who enjoys your own company and isn't into grouping regularly with other players. If this is the case then you can partake in the masses of single player quests, dip in and out of party quests as and when you feel like it and pretty much keep to yourself. It could be that you've only got half hour to kick back and waste online. In this circumstance joining in a 15 minute PvP scenario set to a capture the flag theme ensures you can continue developing your character at an appropriate pace, whilst also having immense fun killing enemy players. Or you could be the type of person that likes a lengthy spell on the game, is looking to join a massive warband (a group of 24 players), has eyes on raiding an enemy keep in PvP and can spend the remainder of the day defending and attacking said keep in monstrously huge and brutal battles.
Indeed, the main reason for purchasing Warhammer above all other MMORPGs is for the realm verses realm play. Open battlefields, keep defence, laying siege to a city, waylaying a single enemy from behind a rock (cowardly for sure, but if they're going to wander a darkened wood on their own), etc. are all available in the player verses player environments and there's nothing else I've played that's quite like it. Especially if you've got a fast, powerful PC with which to play on! So, there could be three warbands on each side (that's around 60 players), smashing the crap out of each other, and with absolutely minimal lag. Utter bliss. In many ways this is testimony to the Mythic servers that they just don't collapse when so much is going on in a particular battle arena. And it can get stupidly manic at times. Spells exploding, group heals imploding, tanks charging a shield wall, siege weaponry piercing the battlefield, the clank of steel against steel, orders being barked by the warband leader. Woah! Realm verses realm is seriously, seriously cool and wonderfully enjoyable. The best fun I've had in an online environment yet, and I never thought I'd be saying so soon that something has topped Team Fortress 2. But Warhammer does just that!
Of course realm versus realm has other benefits other than it's just stupidly good fun. By participating you also build up realm rank points, which are separate to your normal experience rank, and influence points for the chapter of the WAR story you are currently involved within. Both provide essential armour and weaponry that are generally superior to what you can purchase from a bog-standard merchant. Additional item drops from enemy player's you've roshamboed also help to build up your character significantly. So, unless you want to be owned by power-gaming munchkins come to tier four, it's worth getting involved in the realm war.
If anything, the quality of realm versus realm does impact elsewhere. Suddenly, single player quests become dull and tedious and can't in any way match the gameplay of the PvP experience. When there's not much going on in the realm war, you're likely to switch off and do the washing up rather than struggle through an inane quest to pique your interest. Here, the likes of World of Warcraft are likely to win through where monstering on your own or with other players is much more prevalent. Luckily, however, the realms are rarely quiet. And I guess that's how one will choose on whether Warhammer Online is the MMORPG for them. If one wants adrenaline munching PvP, then look no further; if dungeon raiding against AI creatures is more ones cup of tea, then elsewhere may be applicable. The power of one's PC may also impact on such a decision. Warhammer is a power-sapping beast at the best of times and requires a new-ish PC and a decent graphics card to run anywhere near effectively for the realm war to be fun. World of Warcraft on the other hand is much more suitable vehicle the majority of PCs.
Of course, my internal bias suggests you should buy a new PC just to play Warhammer, but you'd probably do better to download the free trial from Mythic's website instead of doing something blithely idiotic such as that. It really is that good, though. When you add some crisp, elegant graphics to the mix, including gigantic windmills on fire and gorgeous hill-top views to gawp at, you understand the real effort that's gone into creating such a vast online environment. A helpful tutorial for new characters and an intuitive user interface you can redesign to meet your own playing style, makes for instant hookability that rarely lets go (until the wife tells you to come to bed that is). The added advantage of realm rank makes the game continuously playable for characters after you've maxed your experience at level 40, as do the constant updates that Mythic apply to the servers and game world, providing new challenges that systematically improves the player experience. And the fact both the casual player can dip in and out as and when they like thanks to the non-inclusive party system and the serious gamer can be glued to the screen in a warband for hours on end, makes it a winner for everyone. Except the 12 year-olds who can go and do one...
Overall - This only touches the surface of this beast of a game; there is so much more you can do! Well worth the days it will suck out of your existence where you could perhaps be doing something more worthwhile with your time. The true measure of a quality, addictive MMORPG, I shit you not.
Free trial - A free trial of the game can be downloaded from the WAR European website at the following link:
Subscription - Well, you can purchase the game for £2.99 on Amazon at the moment which screams bargain, but be warned that as this is a MMORPG there is a monthly subscription cost of £8.99. Worth it my mind, but then I'm a WAR nut.
Minimum system requirements - Well, Warhammer Online is a bit of a beast and you'll certainly need a modern PC to play it, more so if you want to experience the mass pitched player verses player battles with little lag - they're seriously an utter joy when everything runs smoothly. At least a 2.5Ghz processer is needed, as is a gig of RAM (the more the better) and a decent graphics card with 128MB of RAM and pixel shader capability.
For information, my current set-up is an AMD Athlon X-II 3.01Ghz processor, 3.12 gigabytes of RAM, nVida GeForce 9500 GT graphics card, a decent broadband connection (thanks to Virgin Media), which all means on a graphical setting of balanced quality, everything looks great and runs with little noticeable lag when things get crazy on screen! Yargh!
© clownfoot, April 2010.
Summary: Games Workshops Warhammer brand hits the MMORPG world!