LEIPZIG, Germany--Earlier today, while visiting the GOA.com booth at this year's Games Convention, we claimed a front-row spot for EA Mythic's Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning press conference. We know an awful lot about the upcoming massively multiplayer online game already, of course, but it was only today that we were afforded our first look at its High Elf and Dark Elf races.
As generally seems to be the case, executive producer Jeff Hickman and creative director Paul Barnett were like polar opposites on stage as they talked about Warhammer Online. Barnett referenced posh English people, American warmongers, Neo from The Matrix, and World War II while talking about the previously unseen races, while Hickman offered a less colorful take on the new information that we were being given.
In the world of Warhammer, High Elves and Dark Elves are bitter enemies with a common ancestry. The latter are essentially a twisted and corrupted version of the former, and the two factions are, of course, at war. One of the most significant differences between the elves and the other warring factions in Warhammer Online is that while every other faction in the game is trying to invade its enemy, the elves are fighting over neutral areas of land for the most part. This will purportedly make the experience of playing as an elf quite different to any of the other races in the game, but we'll have to reserve judgment on that one for the moment.
High Elves, as you might expect, live in pristine and quite beautiful structures that very much echo their own elegance and pride. They're the most powerful magic users in the game, and when they're not using magic in combat they can often be found using their weapons in a way that Barnett simply described as "showing off." Dark Elves, on the other hand, live in dark, dangerous-looking buildings, and travel on floating cities known as black arks. When in combat, Dark Elves are more interested in getting the job done than in looking good, so they wear armor covered in spikes, carry huge weapons, and, to paraphrase Barnett, won't be happy that you're dead until they can see that you've been cut up into at least three pieces.
Like other races in Warhammer Online, the High Elves and Dark Elves will each offer you four different character classes to choose from. We were shown two classes from each today, including the archmage, the swordmaster, the black guard, and the witch elf.
The High Elf archmage is a healer and ranged damage dealer class that, unlike other magic users, is proficient in all eight of the different winds of magic. They're the most powerful magic users in the game, and they have the ability to drain magical energy from their enemies to replenish their own supply.
High Elf swordmasters are a defensive melee class, commonly referred to as tanks. They fight with--you guessed it--swords in a way that, at times, can look like a particularly lethal dance. Speed, finesse, deadly combos and powerful finishing moves are their trademarks, and we can report that their combat animations are already looking quite impressive.
The Dark Elf black guard, like the swordmaster, is a defensive melee class. They carry huge halberds and, like wounded animals, they become more powerful as they're attacked and accumulate hatred for their enemies.
If you've ever played a rogue in World of Warcraft you have a pretty good idea of what a Witch Elf is. They're a high-damage melee class who, like WOW's rogues, can use poisons to make their dagger attacks more powerful. Witch Elves also build up "frenzy" as they land blows enemies, making them increasingly powerful as a fight progresses.
The Elves aren't playable at the Games Convention, but we're told that the Empire and Chaos races are, in addition to the Dwarf and Greenskin races that we've played with previously. Expect more on Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning later this week.