I went to Virginia recently to visit the EA Mythic offices and got a look at Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. While there, I learned about a number of new game mechanics and played it for the first time since E3 2006. It was a great experience and I had a lot of fun with the game, especially the PvP. I’ve written a bit previously about some of the features I was shown, but this article will discuss some of the things I haven’t mentioned before.

Inevitable City

Inevitable City

Capital Cities
I got a chance to explore the Order capital, Altdorf, and the Destruction capital, The Inevitable City, and they are huge and detailed. Both has its own individual style, with Altdorf being very medieval and Gothic and The Inevitable City looking like something out of a nightmare. Both capital cities have several distinct areas with their own unique look. They seemed to be laid out very well to serve as hubs for travel and commerce. Speaking of commerce, these cities will have several places to interact with banking and auction house NPCs, hopefully reducing frame rate and lag issues.

In Warhammer Online, cities have ranks that can determine which parts of the city are available. Players increase a cities rank by completing quests and RvR objectives. The highest level a city can reach is Rank 5, and at this rank all areas of the city are accessible. There will be at least three dungeons in each city designed for six-player groups. Interestingly, if a capital city is captured the occupying force can take advantage of all of the city’s content – meaning each capital’s dungeons are potentially available to both sides, and new quests could open up as well.

As great as the cities looked, I was more intrigued by the thought of burning them to the ground. Which brings us to our next section…

Realm vs. Realm

RvR!

RvR!

Realm vs. realm conflict is an integral parts of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. During my visit, I was able to experience the ultimate goal of RvR and capture an opposing capital city. Defeating journalists from other websites in PvP combat was just a bonus.

The battle for the Order capital of Altdorf started in a military district of the city with players from both sides fighting over six control points. I played as a geared-up, leveled-up Chaos Chosen with a two-hand sword to maximize damage. When the battle started, I noticed an enemy player with a name that had been used the day before during our play session, so I knew someone in the room was playing. My suspicions were confirmed when I hit them for about a third of their health in one shot and the person to my immediate left exclaimed, “Oh my god!” Good times. While the rest of my team captured the control points, I managed to kill my hapless victim four more times.

With the forces of Order completely decimated, the city proper was open to the Destruction side. It was at this time that some very relieved people were allowed to switch sides to continue the play session. When we stormed into the city, I couldn’t help being reminded of a scene from the movie Troy when the gates open and tens of thousands Greeks pour in to burn and pillaging the city. Sure, there were only tens of us in the Destruction army, but that just meant more for each of us to burn and pillage!.

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I made sure that starving peasants would never be hungry again, and sickly peasants found their cure at the end of my sword. While actions like breaking into a home and setting it ablaze are a good source of loot and contribute points to your own capital city’s ranking, the primary objective is to kill the king and gain control. In order to do that, two other high-ranking targets in the city must first be eliminated. Working off the Public Quest system, players go to specific areas in the city and complete quest lines that culminate in a confrontation with one of these bosses.

Once these conditions are met, the path to the king will open and players can then begin the final assault. Unfortunately, our playtime ended just as we finished killing the second sub-boss, so I was not able to satisfy my regicidal impulses. I guess that just gives me something to look forward to in release.

Crafting

Mythic is still developing WAR’s crafting system, and they were only ready to show a few aspects of the system. I learned about three gathering professions: butchering, scavenging and cultivating. Butchering allows players to cut up dead animals for components. Scavenging allows you to cut up dead humanoids for components … or maybe just rifle through their pockets. I like the cutting up version better. Cultivating allows you to grow seeds – found as loot drops or from other gathering professions – into useful items for the apothecary. The apothecary lets players make potions. Starting from a base ingredient that determines the effect, players can then add other items that change the duration or potency. You can make a highly potent but short-duration buff potion, perfectly suited for RvR, or you could make a long-lasting, moderately potent buff for questing or raiding.

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One thing about crafting that appealed to me was the removal of the mechanic requiring you to be near a specific crafting station (a forge, anvil, loom, etc.) in order to create an item. Allowing players to make potions on the fly or craft a new weapon or piece of armor in the field removes a large part of the hassle and tedium involved. I’m glad that someone remembered that these games are supposed to be fun and not a second job.

Tome of Knowledge

The Tome of Knowledge is another interesting feature in WAR. It functions as a logbook of all of your achievements and quests, a bestiary and a lore guide. It’s a book, filled with knowledge! Really, it is a cool thing to have available. For people like me who blitz through quest text to hit “accept,” it’s nice to have something that I can look at later when I’m stuck and don’t remember the “who,” “what” and “where” of a quest. You can also gain XP and earn titles by unlocking entries. Some of the Tactics you can use to enhance your character come from Tome unlocks. I’m sure explorer- and achiever-types will have a great time with it, as there are a great number of things to discover.

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It’s also a great reference as a bestiary. As you kill more of a certain type of creature, you will gain more information about the beast, possibly even a list of what types of weapons and attacks are more effective against it.

Overall

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning seems to be shaping up into a game I would enjoy playing. While some of the features I saw were still in development, the ideas and concepts behind them were appealing. The game was very playable, and even at this stage seemed more complete than some other recent games were when they launched. With EA Mythic’s announcement this week that they are delaying WAR’s release in order to polish and tweak it into a better game, I feel they may be able to pull it off.

And no, I’m still not in the beta.

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