Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Q&A - Details on the Greenskin and Dwarf Factions

We catch up with senior designer Steve Marvin to get the lowdown on the greenskin and dwarf factions in Warhammer Online and find out how you can use them to own every battle.

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Massively multiplayer role-playing games let you explore and adventure in huge virtual worlds populated by thousands of players. And the massively multiplayer RPG genre is going to get an influx of orcs, dwarfs, and other fantasy creatures next year when EA and EA Mythic release Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, a game that's set in the popular Warhammer Fantasy universe. Warhammer is better known for its tabletop miniatures game, but in Warhammer Online you will be able to create a fantasy character based on some of the universe's most popular races and then select a career path that lets you really explore the different facets of Warhammer. For more details, we turned to lead designer Steve Marvin.

It wouldn't be a Warhammer game if there wasn't an actual war hammer in it, would it?

GameSpot: Could you give us a brief update on the status of Warhammer Online in development? What aspects of the game is the team working on now?

Steve Marvin: Warhammer Online has just begun its internal alpha test, giving individuals within the EA family access to the game, and the response has already been gratifying. With a year still to go in development, we're excited both at how well it's being received and at how much more we're going to be able to do with it.

The team is working on all aspects of the game, of course, but we're particularly delighted with the progress on our public quests and with the feel of the careers. Our art team continues to amaze us with the spectacular look of the world and characters; personally, I believe that Warhammer Online will be the best-looking massively multiplayer RPG out there.

GS: At this time, we understand that EA Mythic has revealed its first "racial pairing," the greenskins and the dwarves. Tell us about the differences in these two factions, and why they make a good match for each other on the battlefield.

SM: Careful there, it's "dwarfs" not "dwarves" (or "stunties," as the orcs call them). These two races have been mortal enemies. The dwarfs because the orcs have invaded their lands and pillaged their ancient keeps, and the orcs because they just love a good fight, and "da stunties gives as good as dey get."

The orc choppa is an incredible melee fighter.

Dwarfs are tough and stubborn, as well as fiercely loyal. Dwarf tactics tend toward working well together and maintaining a solid defense until the right moment arrives, then striking with shocking strength. The ironbreaker and the runepriest units are excellent examples of this, as they maintain group integrity and health, so that the hammerer and the engineer can take opportunities to inflict maximum damage.

Orc tactics, on the other hand, are simple: scream and leap. However, they are so ferociously strong and seemingly unstoppable that this works for them. The terrifying assault of a berserk orc choppa can cut through the most stalwart defense, and the fearless might of a great black orc gives him astonishing staying power.

Goblin tactics are more of the "scream and leap away" sort; goblins aren't meant for front-line fighting. But they are quick and quite clever, and unlike their bigger brethren, they have the brains and the patience to use magic. Waaagh! magic, to be specific. Shamans' spells gain in strength with success in battle, allowing them to aid their allies and strike their enemies from a distance, while squig herders' mastery over their gruesome pets help keep them out of the killing zone.

GS: Tell us more about the orc choppa character class. What role will this class play in the game against environmental monsters and in player-versus-player battles? What kind of players will want to play as choppas?

SM: I think "scream and leap" says it all. Orcs aren't complicated, and the choppa likes it that way. They glory in the heat of battle and actually get stronger as the action gets thicker. When they go berserk, they begin to gain size and strength, their eyes and hands begin to glow with power, and they become a whirlwind of steel and fury.

Choppas will revel in mowing down one monster after another. Their strength is actually in staying in combat at all times...the longer they fight, the stronger they get. Choppas love nothing better than a field full of enemies, since that means they are going to get to fight for a very long time and get very, very strong.

A goblin squig herder may not be tough, but he can stand off in a fight and release deadly squigs.

Players tend to be tougher than monsters, but that suits the choppa just fine, since that means each individual fight is going to take longer. It's all the same to choppas, as long as they get to keep fighting. If you like handing out lumps, you'll love the choppa.

GS: How does the choppa fit into the orc faction--what role does it fill out for that side, and how does it fit in with the orcs' belligerent philosophy?

SM: The choppa is the epitome of the orcs' belligerent philosophy. The choppa can hand out more punishment than any other greenskin, while the black orc can soak up more damage than any. Shamans can heal and assist their pals, but aren't to be left out of the mayhem. Their spells can wreak havoc on the battlefield, as the ground-pounding fists of gork give testament. Squig herders are just plain fun, with a variety of squig pets they can send out to die for them in amusing and horrible ways.

Here Come the Dwarfs

GS: And if you would, tell us about the dwarf runepriest class and its role in player-versus-environment and player-versus-player. Is the runepriest just another healer class?

A dwarf war camp.

SM: By no means! In fact, I should point out that no career in Warhammer Online is "just another" anything, by intention. Every career in the game is also a solid combatant: There are no "pure support" careers in the game.

The runepriest is no exception. Dwarfs don't have traditional magic and spells like the other races, but their skill with metal, stone, and runes approaches the supernatural, and the runepriest is the master of this discipline. Runepriests can place powerful runes on items and people, both for good and for ill.

By placing runes on allies (or themselves), runepriests confer a powerful bonus, such as strength or armor. Additionally, because runepriests maintain a connection with all of the runes they create, they can channel health and vigor into the allies who have had a rune placed on them. Finally, any player with a rune on them can break it themselves, releasing even more powerful magic. This enables runepriests simultaneously to prepare and assist their allies.

And of course not all of their runes are friendly...

GS: How does the runepriest class fill out the ranks of the dwarfs? If it's not just a requisite healer class, how does it embody the virtues of the tough and pugnacious race?

SM: Runepriests are both the wizard and the priest of the dwarfs. Their various runes of healing and improvement are not their entire arsenal. They have explosive runes, runes that bind, runes that disorient and blind, and more.

An orc choppa has his back turned on something that he shouldn't have his back turned to.

What's more, they can bind runes to stone and create physical objects that they can give to others for use in critical moments. In some ways, they can be seen as the supernatural counterpart to engineers, who are renowned for their powerful gadgets and explosives, to say nothing of their deadly accuracy with a rifle. With ironbreakers at their sides to blunt the enemy attack, and hammerers striking back, the dwarf forces are tightly coordinated, heavily armed and prepared, and well nigh unbreakable.

GS: Now that the various character classes for both races (ironbreaker, hammerer, engineer, and runepriest on the dwarf side, and black orc, shaman, squig herder, and choppa on the greenskins) have been revealed, can you tell us about how the different races will stack up against each other in PVP with these character classes? Give us an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of each side, and what you expect skirmishes between the two factions will be like.

SM: Full skirmishes go on every day, in fact. One of our daily routines is to pit the design team against others on the project, such as the programmers, or most often the test department. We crush them, of course, because we are awesome. But the challenge of achieving career balance and at the same time keeping the flavor of both the careers and the races is a daunting one.

In general, the dwarfs lean more toward resilience than aggressiveness. Dwarfs are more likely to let (and better served by letting) the enemy come to them. A group of dwarfs is better off working together than separately. However, individually, the careers favor aggressiveness versus caution to varying degrees. A hammerer is a powerhouse who moves into the fray, while an engineer should hang back and snipe from range. It's all variations within larger variations, in the manner of the race and career.

The dwarf engineer can build things, like giant cannons.

Orcs, by contrast, tend to bring the fight and keep the pressure on. Choppas really only come into their own when the steel is singing, and black orcs are very aggressive defensive fighters. Goblins are too small to mix it up with the big people, of course, but they get their mad on like all greenskins through powerful ranged attacks and pets.

Dwarfs are more likely than orcs to be tripped up through attempts to be too clever. Runepriests can be caught flat-footed if they don't pay attention to keeping their runes fresh. Engineers can start to rely on their emplaced turrets and bombs too much and find the battle leaving them behind.

Orcs are more likely than dwarfs to get their blood up and be defeated in detail. Choppas love to get in and amongst enemies and start swinging all around, especially as their berserk rage is making them bigger and more powerful, but even the toughest orc can't take on an army alone. Black orcs can get caught up in their powerful long combos and stick their neck out too far or fail to keep their eyes on protecting the goblins. Even dwarf hammerers have this fault, as delivering smashing finishing blows to downed enemies is nearly irresistible.

The ranged and spell casters have their own concerns, but Warhammer Online's commitment to making every career potent (and fun!) as a combatant can have an equally distracting aspect. Our healers don't just heal, but they had better not just fight, either! But traditional massively multiplayer RPG tactics have been updated for Warhammer Online, not tossed aside. Ranged and spellcasting characters are more fragile than the front-line troops and need protection or they will be squished.

GS: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add about the new classes, the greenskin or dwarf factions, or the game in general?

SM: It's a blast bringing a fresh take to the Warhammer world, but at least half the fun of working with it has been how much we try to make our new choices fit with the atmosphere and humor of Warhammer. It's my opinion that a good chuckle is worth more than game gold, and we're trying hard everywhere to make a game that makes you laugh as well as cheer.

GS: Thank you, Steve.

Discussion

57 comments
Eararaldor
Eararaldor

Warhammer Online promises such a great game. If your after a guild look for "Shadowsofsin.com" Were going to be a guild for the Destruction side and include the races of ORKs, Dark Elves and Chaos!

chingy1125
chingy1125

warhammer 40K would be cool, except how are you going to make an MMORPG with people just shooting eachother, the space marine race would get like two powers, shoot, and grenades. all the vehicles would be hard to incorporate too, i think that Warhammer 40K is an amazing RTS, and should stay thay way, its the old fantasy warhammer that needs to scrap doing RTS' and be the more mature, violent and in depth WOW that some people have been waiting for. Also the guild wars no subscription but still give out patches would be nice.

jknight5422
jknight5422

Screw this. If they did Warhammer 40,000 as an online MMORPG, I'd join come hell or highwater. I could care less for another WoW style game. Why would anyone want to wait til Q4 2007 to join an online fantasy game when they can join WoW & probably others that are readily available? Doesn't Mr. Softy have one? My recommendation is to scrap Warhammer & begin Warhammer 40,000. You can be a Space Marine & do battle on different planets or in space & the monsters are more interesting. You get death worlds & an entire universe to move around in. I smell a bomb with just basic Warhammer...

demiurgency
demiurgency

I don't expect WAR will be able to even remotely touch the userbase of WoW. Blizzard has never (imo) done well with in-depth game play, but they have always excelled better than any company I know of at accessibility. WoW taps into gamer demographics I would never expect a game could (namely, woman gamers and other casual markets). I expect WAR will be popular with the the hard-core gamer crowd, but I fear it will not do very well with non-Warhammer fans. The world is just too gritty and ugly, and it does not yet answer the question to the casual gamer "Why shouldn't I just play WoW?" My biggest worry about WAR will be balance amongst the factions. I can picture more than half the subscribers will want to play a Dark Elf (or maybe Chaos), while only true fans of the license would want to play an greenskin or a dwarf. I wonder how Mythic plans on balancing this. If WAR can at least get enough of a fan-base to keep itself going, and succeed in the face of the WoW 100-pound gorilla, then I will be happy. I am glad that Mythic is developping this game, because they have demonstrated that they know more about RvR and PvP (not that instanced crap in WoW) better than anyone.

Zanthrus
Zanthrus

This will, rock. I hope its like guildwars with no online fees. Then it will beat WoW into the ground. The requirements are probly gonna b high tho!

Drunkenvagrant
Drunkenvagrant

This game is gonna rule them all,together with star trek, wow is gonna have some serious competition.

Virck
Virck

I hope this kills WoW, blizzard will get their dues for neglecting their fanbase so much.

Johansbro
Johansbro

Looks good, seen it's screenshot's etc. and found nothing negative about it, except that EA might screw it up

Alcotamaysees
Alcotamaysees

So from what I understand, the orcs are like the green pigmented counterparts of the 13th street gang.

Rubinare
Rubinare

lol @ "bunch of stupid spells" You'll need to learn how to deal with both, melee and ranged/casters, to hang in a fantasy based MMORPG. ;)

tricache
tricache

hopefully this will destroy WoW

mr17x
mr17x

I dont know much about the warhammer universe yet I like what I have seen. I hope it fucuses more on the nitty-grity fighting and less on a bunch of stupid spells.

geezer06uk
geezer06uk

yeah u cant judge a good game on graphics i mean u look at the classic games like diablo 2 still played across the world so cant wait for this knock wow off its spot oh yeah bring down wow and bring on warhammer online msn = prestige05uk@hotmail.co.uk

redfop
redfop

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Timonius
Timonius

This looks really original, planned out and most importantly interesting and accessible for all... Lets hope they give the same care to detail and support that companies like CCP do over say... oh I don't know.... Blizzard?

Rubinare
Rubinare

Stop whining! I crush you and I smash you and I slash you! In all seriousness, although the interview wasn't anything special, I'm kind of excited about the game. I've always been a fan of Warhammer, and it helps that they have two independant projects going on - Warhammer Online and Warhammer: Mark of Chaos. Though I like MoC's graphics better at this point. Still, this one is in early stages and isn't bad looking for an MMO. I'm personally excited about the Chaos side. Not because I think it will somehow overpower everyone (surely, they'll attempt to make every side balanced) but because their looks are simply bad-ass! 8)

nicgar
nicgar

Nice knowing ya WoW

batsnaxs
batsnaxs

"Romanticide :I wish everything didn't look so ugly. " There's a YEAR left to make the game! Get over the graphics! One: Graphics don't matter and Two: How can you judge a game with a entire year left to work on such things AS graphics.

audioust
audioust

Always been a fan of the Warhammer tabletop. Hope this will do the game justice! Looks like fun.

Lazy_Marine
Lazy_Marine

While Warhammer 40k dawn of war introduced me to the Warhammer world for the first time, the ONLY reason i am looking forward to this game is because of MYTHIC. They created Dark Age of Camelot, which is considered by alot of mmorpg gamers as THE best mmorpg ever created. And i hope they keep the same level of detail they gave DAOC.

Legir
Legir

The Warhammer 40,000 RTS games turned me into a casual fan of Warhammer mainly because of it's unique charm and individual touches. This will be a nice one to keep an eye on, but I won't get my hopes up though so might be plesently surprised.

Romanticide
Romanticide

I wish everything didnt look so ugly.

cjcr_alexandru
cjcr_alexandru

Here comes the MMO flood in 2007... Be prepared!

Gamepro2421
Gamepro2421

I'm excited. I really want something to come up that at least has a shot of bringing down WoW, the MMO genre needs some more competetion so that dev teams are forced to try new, inovating things to gain the upperhand on rival companies. Big this with this game, for me at least, is for WAR to get an M for Mature rating. I think that this should be a bloody, mature, gorefest with a much grittier atmosphere than WoW...i'm sick of the bright happy colors and cute toons strolling around. I want to see limps being chopped off and hear terrible screams as i cut down all who step in my path!

stuppe
stuppe

Truly uniq :) Really hope it turns out good in the end.

edubuccaneer
edubuccaneer moderator

This game is looking better by the day... great!

Maximiliator
Maximiliator

wooo !!!! this game will rule ! i play warhammer, so im a fan O.o ! :S max

ele975
ele975

oh man. this will keep me busy for about 3 YEARS!!! woo!

osn66
osn66

"WAR insists too much on the RP part of the game, and will be suitable only for GamesWorkshop's true fans" That couldn't be further from the truth. WAR caters mainly to the RvR / PvP crowd, but since GamesWorkshop have to agree on every design in the game, the long time Warhammer fans won't be disappointed either. You can RP as much as you'd like, but don't go around thinking everyone else will too. Cause the majority of the people in this game won't, just like it is in every other MMORPG. WAR is coming!

GWfreak
GWfreak

This game will hopefully be different from WOW they have a great idea... The interview sucked but not on Gamespots part

danyjr
danyjr

WAR is not WoW. I'm sure all these WoW fans will be flooding to WAR the day it is released, and most of them get disappointed. WAR insists too much on the RP part of the game, and will be suitable only for GamesWorkshop's true fans.

osn66
osn66

I'm really looking forward to the game, but this interview was just dribble. I understand that they don't want to give out specific info about classes now since it's still far off release, but those answers did nothing for me. It didn't even get me excited!

Bavoke
Bavoke

Warhammer at his best :D

shocker-x-
shocker-x-

This could be the best thing ever to happento MMOs but im dtill feelinh shaky after this interview. hopeflly we will get more news about in depth gamplay soon

Netmot
Netmot

This game will crush all other MMO´s ^^ Maybe =) I think WAR will be most appriciated by fans and PVP players, like me. WoW is for PVE players imo, even if the pvp is somewhat growing in WoW as well. I just hope WAR will bring me to a more gory, bloody and gruesome place then happy hippie disney looking WoW. Cheers.

GhostyMcboo
GhostyMcboo

That was a terrible interview...(sorry double post) It sounds like "steve" is making it up as he goes along... what about gameplay? I get that orc choppas get stronger, but explain that crap in context... "we crush them because we are awesome" yeah... great gameplay explanation there, pal. This was all theory IMO....release some realtime footage, man!

GhostyMcboo
GhostyMcboo

I hate rolling dice... Never understood the games... but I loved to paint and convert. Man did I waste a lot fo cash as a kid! Ive been waiting for this for a while.....

hollowisk
hollowisk

"personally, I believe that Warhammer Online will be the best-looking massively multiplayer RPG out there." Easily impressed? Why do the screenshots look so ugly?

Dr_Thunder
Dr_Thunder

Warhammer was where Warcraft got their ideas from. If I had to pick any game to kick WoW's ass, it be the folks they got their idea from. I hope this game puts WoW outta business, and sticks it to all those tools who lied to us about what WoW was about.

Cook66
Cook66

Hmm. The latest spyware crap was the last drop, no more EA!

GrimGravy
GrimGravy

So far i see this as being the only true MMO that will compete with WOW

Darius_Dante
Darius_Dante

Oh fcol, another MMORPG? Well, whatever, MMORPGs bore me within minutes, too much running around for 1 fricking lousy item and so on... If I want to see the same attack over and over again, while that tiny red bar slowly becomes smaller, I could just as well play Runescape... ...Ugh, too many MMORPGs that look the same, GIMME SOMETHING ORIGINAL! Like Saints Row freeroaming online! Well, at least this one has better designs when it comes to Orcs... They should've made it 40K, at least that would be kinda interesting...

her0carn
her0carn

They got alot of Work ahead of them if they want to be #1

lord_cack
lord_cack

Been waiting for this one for sometime. I mean I enjoy WoW OK, to me its just another MMORPG only Solo friendly. In the end it falls from my interest for the same reasons that EQ, DoAC, and all the others did before it.

Bornite
Bornite

The game looks great. I'm looking forward to hearing more about it's PvP system.

AL13NK1LL3R
AL13NK1LL3R

mehh.. sound boring.... WoW, maplestory is the best mmo game out there and hopely huxley too!!!!!

RazorBat
RazorBat

I just hope that they do the licence justice, and perhaps something original to hold our interest over, say, WoW.