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Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Review

geoff_hunt By:
Geoff_Hunt
10/10/08
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE RPG 
PLAYERS 1- 9999 
PUBLISHER EA Games 
DEVELOPER EA Mythic 
RELEASE DATE Out Now
T Contains Mild Blood, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

Truly a gift from Sigmar.


Dear Mythic Entertainment,

Thank you for making Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. I appreciate that it is (primarily) true to its source material. I am impressed with how you’ve managed to take the World of Warcraft formula, tweak it, slap a nicer coat of paint over it, and somehow ensnare me and maintain my interest. My general revulsion for the aforementioned MMO should have served as sufficient vaccine against your infectious game, but no. For yours is well-crafted, sirs.

click to enlargeLet me begin by commending the user interface. It is clean, efficient, and streamlines most of the nonsense in MMOs right out. Looking for groups is easier than ever, and the ability to refer others to your group leader for an invitation is a brilliant addition. Easy buttons for joining PvP scenarios and local teams keep the game operating at a good pace. You have taken many of the complaints I have had about the interfaces of MMOs for over a decade now and worn away all the rough edges.

The way you have balanced the factions against one another, with classes effectively mirrored (albeit with some pleasant tweaks to reflect the character of the faction), operates more smoothly than I had expected. Indeed, the PvP experience exceeds that of any MMO I have yet to play. It is the first MMO where I have not hated every moment of PvP I played through. Not only is there always a sense of 'agency' in every act I take, but I feel as though I always have a clear role to play, a contribution to make.

But you didn’t just stop there. No, you went ahead and made an enjoyable PvE. Your ‘Public Quests', these preposterous events taking place all over your world, are enjoyable romps. The hundreds upon hundreds of quests – many the same style as every other MMO, but with a few real gems in the midst – are sufficiently varied and well-designed such that it always feels as though there is a glut of content available.

You falter, though, on the sound and music. They are predictable – all too obvious, all too forgettable. I know, crafting music for a MMO isn’t simple, and you don’t want it to draw too much attention, but the fare is poor. You do nothing interesting with it; no musical interludes keyed to any specific moments, no reaction to the character’s progress or momentary accomplishments. Instead, just the same beating war drums and dramatic-sounding music washing alongside another epic conflict.

click to enlargeIt is fortunate then that you made some good choices on the artwork - the color palette and the general look and feel match the source material well. The Empire has the right Germanic flavor, the High Elves come across appropriately snooty, and you can almost smell the soot in the Dwarven holds. Congratulate your artists; they have done fine work.

Now, I must acknowledge for a few moments that in making WAR, you have not truly shifted the MMO in a brand new direction. In many respects it feels… for lack of a better term… very 'establishment'. As I alluded before, your product is much like World of Warcraft, albeit with a gentler interface and substantially less in the way of 'ass pain'. But even the areas where you differ so firmly from WoW are still old ideas. Realm warfare is wonderful and adds a great deal of life, but you have done this before in Dark Age of Camelot.

I must admit, though, that the A.I. for NPCs leaves an awful lot to be desired. The foes fight the same way all MMO foes fight, and that does nothing to attract my attention. I understand you’re trying to push the PvP and RvR elements of the game over the PvE, but given how central the game’s leveling process and equipment gathering NPCs are, it feels odd that your game has done nothing to make those experiences stronger.

There are also some things that I have to question, particularly the recent innovations you have not included. Why don’t you have any sort of integration with Ventrilo or something similar? Why is reporting gold farmers and othe low forms of vermin not as easy as typing in /report in a chat window, or provided for clearly as an option in the petition system? Why do you still restrict so very many bits of equipment by class and level when you’ve already built in equipment restrictions to the classes? That feels sort of archaic, as though I am playing a game with components designed by the Egyptians, later dug up and dusted off by some weedy British archaeologist in truncated trousers.

click to enlargeAll the same, bravo, Mythic. Bravo! Do you know what you’ve done? Do you have any possible reckoning for what you’ve unleashed here? In one act, you have brought more ruin upon the geek community than a fall line-up thick with wonder! Already there were thousands, perhaps tens of thousands who would forgo the normal daily needs to get that extra edge over their peers. My god, sirs, you have opened Pandora’s Box. You think there has been an epidemic of MMO players willfully ignoring their biological needs? I believe you have condemned thousands to die by septic shock.

I look forward to – and dread – the inevitable expansions.

Signed,

Sir Geoffrey Clytomenes Marsh Hunt

P.S. Will you soon be accepting portions of souls as currency?
A- Revolution report card
  • Wonderful UI
  • Excellent PvP
  • RvR is rock-solid
  • Looks and feels good
  • Strong class balance
  • Some novel quests
  • AI for NPCs is dumb
  • Dull music
  • More or less safe, very safe
    Reviews by other members
    No member reviews for the game.


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