Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is the massively multiplayer online role-playing game that EA and developer EA Mythic will use to battle Blizzard's mighty World of Warcraft. The similarities between the two games are startling but expected because Warcraft itself is loosely inspired by the Warhammer Fantasy universe on which Age of Reckoning is based. Both are set in a fantasy realm that is populated by various races, such as humans, orcs, dwarves, and more. You can create a character based on any of these races and explore a virtual world full of hundreds, if not thousands, of other players.
With Age of Reckoning due to launch early next year, EA Mythic is using E3 to show off the many features in the game, including more of the public quest system. Public quests are large-scale quests that appear in the game and that you can pursue with a bunch of other players. There's no need to group up beforehand; just stand at the right time and right place (there's usually a crowd to indicate a public quest is about to happen) then wait for the quest to begin.
During this demonstration, we played as a goblin shaman. Goblins are members of the greenskin faction, which is named as such because it comprises various green-skinned races, such as the goblins and orcs. While a diminutive goblin shaman doesn't seem as intimidating as an orc warrior, it's still a potent and interesting character class, thanks to the various spells and abilities at its command.
The public quest that we saw involved things that greenskins love, such as beer and killing those pesky dwarves. There are actually several parts to this public quest, but the goal is to eventually get a friendly giant to smash open the gate to a dwarven stronghold so that you can deal with its defenders. However, the giant has problems of his own because he's being attacked by waves of creatures. So the first part of the public quest is to kill about 40 or 50 of the things before time runs out. That sounds like a daunting number, but because it's a public quest, you'll have help in the form of other players.
Successfully completing the first stage of this quest leads to the next problem. The giant is thirsty and wants a drink. Thankfully, there are kegs of beer littered around the place. Again, you need to pick up and deliver a certain number of the kegs to the giant in a limited amount of time. But this isn't an easy beer run because the kegs are defended by various creatures, which you'll have to battle. Again, because there can be many of you in this public quest, the task is doable.
If you manage to get the giant his beer, he'll get back up and destroy the gate to the dwarven fortress. That brings about the third and final stage of the public quest: killing the defenders. They make things easier for you by sallying out of the fortress in formation, and lines of defenders will rush over the fortress drawbridge to attack you. Each line is tougher than the one before it, so this results in a prolonged melee. To win, you have to wipe out all the dwarves, including the mighty dwarven hero. It's easiest to gang up against him because he can inflict some serious hurt on you if you go against him on your own.
The public quest system allows large-scale interaction without the need of actually organizing a large group beforehand. It's a neat system that allows you to quickly get into a big quest without a lot of initial hassle. If EA Mythic can populate the game with much more examples of these quests, along with all the other content expected of an MMORPG, then it will have a much more interesting game on its hands.