Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Updated Hands-On - Bright Wizards, Magi, and More Player Versus Player

We try out the Empire and chaos factions in Warhammer Online, and get our hands dirty in updated player-versus-player battles. Read the preview and watch exclusive high-definition gameplay footage of PVP combat.

Massively multiplayer games originally captured players' imagination by offering a persistent and dangerous world full of monsters to be slain alongside other players, recovering treasure, and gaining experience levels along the way. But increasingly, players sought the most challenging and exciting quarry of all: other players, in competitive player-versus-player (PVP) battles. This wasn't an accident; games like Mythic Entertainment's Dark Age of Camelot, which focused on team-based "realm versus realm" battles, helped give players a taste for zapping enemy archers with their wizards' magic spells. The studio, now known as EA Mythic, is currently working on its next PVP-focused game, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, a game that will let you take up the standard of the fantastic armies in Games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play universe. We recently had a chance to try out some of the early game for both the chaos and Empire factions, as well as dive into some more rounds of PVP in some down-and-dirty orc-versus-dwarf battles.

Quaint scenes like this one will be common in Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.

The Empire faction is essentially the standard race of humans, though according to Warhammer lore, the Empire represents "humanity on the brink of extinction"--a nation of paranoid people besieged by orcs and dark elves on the outside, but fighting the corrupting influence of chaos (which causes humans to eventually become tentacled, three-eyed lunatics) on the inside. Since the Warhammer universe is all about, well, war, all human characters are being designed to hold their own in battle, even the faction's healer character. The Empire, like the game's other factions, will offer four different character classes when the game launches: the knight of the blazing sun, a heavily armored class that specializes in dishing out (and absorbing) melee damage; the witch hunter, a class that focuses on dealing lots of damage up close; the warpriest, a melee character class that attacks enemies with hammers to earn "faith," a magical energy that can heal nearby teammates; and the bright wizard, the humans' ranged damage-dealing class, which we had a chance to try out for ourselves.

In the early beta version of the game we played, the humans begin their lives in what appears to be a run-down village, the kind you'd see in medieval Europe, including patrolling pikemen in armor, peasants hiding in their hovels, and half of the village on fire. All starting areas will be under siege, and your character's nation will sit right next to your enemies'--so as a new human bright wizard, we found ourselves under attack by the forces of chaos immediately. The starting quests in the Empire zone required our bright wizard to rally peasants to war, rescue them from their burning houses, and slay chaos lieutenants before they could open fire on the village with hellcannons, the fearsome chaos artillery.

We then participated in a "public quest," one of the game's innovative cooperative quests that don't require players to belong to the same adventuring party. Public quests currently bring up a separate quest log in the upper corner of the screen that keeps track of how far along everyone in the area has come. The early public quest in the human area culminates in all players battling a chaos giant, a towering monstrosity that was brought down only after a handful of bright wizards zapped it repeatedly with every spell in their possession. Public quests apparently gain you "influence" with local officials, and with enough influence built up from the various public quests in any given area, you'll be able to select basic, advanced, and eventually, elite quest rewards from that area's magistrate. "Boss" monsters from public quests will also drop exceptionally good loot; exactly who gets that loot will be determined by, among other things, your character's contribution to completing the quest. Public quests will cycle regularly, so if you miss out the first time, you'll be able to stick around and try it again if you care to.

For the Empire's bright wizard, every problem can be solved by fire, and lots of it.

The bright wizard class itself is focused on using magical fire to burn enemies to the ground, using a variety of sorcerous abilities that directly damage enemies or gradually injure them over time. In addition to basic magic spells, bright wizards, like the other classes in the game, can earn "tactics," which provide additional advantages in battle when equipped before the fight, and "morale" abilities, which can be earned in sequence the longer you fight enemies. The game will attempt to deemphasize having characters of a specific level ("level 60 wizards" and such), and will instead give your characters ranks (apprentice, journeyman, expert, and so on) whereby your character will advance through certain tiers, picking up new skills, morale abilities, and tactics. Apparently, instead of grinding away at experience levels, your character will constantly gain new abilities. As we saw later in our PVP matches, your characters will eventually learn more abilities than can be easily readied, so there will be an element of preparation and strategy involved in those as well, which we'll get into later.

Gridiron Orcs

After trying out the Empire, we had a chance to change sides and play as a chaos character. As EA Mythic representatives explained, the chaos isn't necessarily "hellish" or satanic, but rather random and selfish. Chaos characters will follow the dictates of one of the four chaos deities of the Warhammer universe, Tzeentch, a god of sorcery and manipulation, which seemed to fit best for a game where the forces of chaos wield magic as well as swords and shields. Again, like the other factions, the armies of chaos will allow for four character classes at the game's launch: the chosen, a heavy-duty melee warrior class that can take punishment as well as dish it out; the zealot, a healer class that can also blast enemies with magic spells; an unrevealed class that focuses on dealing melee damage; and the magus, the chaos armies' full-time sorcerers that will ride floating discs into battle and use all sorts of nasty eldritch powers to weaken their enemies before blasting them to bits.

It's not nice to fool with Mother Nature.

We had a chance to try out the magus character class, which is based out of a chaos camp on the borders of human territory. The chaos faction doesn't have much in the way of buildings and roads, since it prefers to corrupt already-existing lands, turning trees into clumps of tentacles and causing eyeballs to sprout out of solid stone. In this case, chaos has arrived in Empire territory to lay siege to its villages. The early chaos quests include ransacking a tomb for corpse parts to fuel hellcannons, killing off human guards, and, of course, burning down their houses by igniting piles of kindling. We then tried out one of the early public quests for chaos characters, which involves harvesting souls from an Empire graveyard, causing angry human reinforcements and eventually a small contingent of bright wizards (and a summoned beast) to attack. In the case of both the Empire and chaos areas, it was easy to get off to a brisk start, picking up quests from clearly marked characters with clear instructions and our choice of quest rewards. The game's interface includes a full world map marked with quest givers, as well as a minimap with compass, along with the "tome of knowledge," an expanded player journal that keeps track of your character's quests, monsters you've fought, items you've found, locations you've explored, and so on.

Single-player content seems to be coming along well enough, but the real star of our play session was expanded PVP combat. We had previously played an orcs-versus-dwarves skirmish with nothing but melee fighters, but this time around, we were able to jump into battles with all four greenskin classes and all four dwarf classes, and try out their abilities using high-level characters. In our first match, we played as a dwarf ironbreaker--the faction's heavy-duty melee fighter who uses "grudges" born against specific enemies to deal extra damage to them in battle, and uses shields to not only defend themselves, but also to charge forward at enemies, knocking them flat and immobilizing them. Though you might expect the ironbreaker to mainly serve a defensive role in battle, the character seems to serve two purposes: one, to defend your faction's fragile runepriests, and two, to aggressively use its various abilities to slow or temporarily stun fleeing enemies. While we unfortunately didn't get a chance to coordinate much with our teammates in our warm-up rounds, it became very clear that a very key part of Warhammer Online's PVP strategy will be about jockeying for position. This is because the game actually models geometric collision, which is a fancy way of saying that characters can't walk through each other. Therefore, PVP battles seem to share something in common with tackle football (the American kind): In order to get at the vulnerable quarterback, you need to get past a couple of big, thick-necked linemen. So, smart dwarf ironbreakers will insert themselves within chokepoints as a buffer between the enemy and their weaker allies, though as we found, they can swing a pretty mean axe and rack up a good number of kills, too...especially if they can get near the goblins.

In our later rounds, we actually played as a goblin character--specifically, the squig herder (the greenskins' archer class that can also summon pet "squigs," nasty, stupid little creatures with very sharp teeth). The greenskin faction has two orc frontline fighters and two goblin support classes, the shaman and the squig herder. And as we found out for ourselves, goblins don't last long against angry dwarf fighters. At this time, the squig herder's abilities seem evenly divided between various types of archery abilities (such as an immobilizing shot that briefly paralyzes enemies, and a poison arrow that temporarily poisons them) and squig-related abilities (such as summoning melee-focused or spike-shooting squigs, or devouring them to gain a last-ditch health boost--or getting devoured by a giant squig and using it as suit of armor). As a squig herder, it behooves you to get far away from the big, axe-wielding dwarves, preferably onto a parapet or raised platform, and rain death down on them from above. By carefully picking our spots (and trying to stay out of sight, in some cases), we were able to land some key shots on our enemies, rooting them to the spot so that they couldn't flee the big orc bruisers on our team.

If you're a dwarf runepriest, this dwarf hammerer can help you out of a jam. If you're a goblin, he'll make you into jam, or some kind of jelly.

Successfully scoring kills earns "renown" points that entitle your character to rewards later on, though PvP will be integral to the entire game of Warhammer Online--not just incidental, hit-and-run skirmishes, but full-on campaigns, along with self-contained in "scenario" battles. In scenarios, you and your countrymen will fight over specific objectives to win battles; in campaigns, you'll fight over contested areas, earning points by completing objectives and killing off your enemies. Scoring enough points will eventually earn you control of that contested area, pushing the enemy nation back until you can gain entry to their capital city--and then the burning and pillaging begins in an epic "raid" encounter that culminates in you and your teammates capturing the enemy ruler for a set period of time. Scenario battles are planned to last for a good evening's worth of play; campaign battles are estimated to last for a solid weekend. In all cases, EA Mythic is building the game around fast-paced, satisfying battles that can be fought and won without requiring a time commitment of dozens of hours on end.

From what we've seen, the game seems to be coming along extremely well. Now that we've been able to see and play more of the game, it's even clearer that Warhammer Online has a ton of promise both as an easy-to-pick-up game for beginners looking to kill a few monsters, and as a hardcore, squig-eat-goblin competitive game that will offer fast-paced, satisfying PVP battles. The game is scheduled for release later this year.

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70 comments
PLAYSMMORPG
PLAYSMMORPG

WAR graphics kick ass now...thats all i got to say :-)

troness
troness

The graphics look like ultima online. This game does have some cool elements from what i've seen, I like the fact that your character changes as you get higher in level. But please, I think they can do a little better on the graphics front. Its not asking too much. p.s. Age of Conan ftw!

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!

xGollumx
xGollumx

"natebayne For those of you who think this will blow wow out of the water.... All i can say IS wow.... You cant be serious... Guess what the only thing that is going to dethrone wow.... take a guess.... ok give up? Time itself Or another Wow." Soooooo sick of WoW fanboys acting like their retarded cartoon land is the best MMO ever. WoW sucks. Period. One of the rare cases where "millons of people can't be wrong" are in fact, wrong. WoW is nothing more than the N*Sync of MMOs. Sure lots of people like it, but it STILL SUCKS.

natebayne
natebayne

For those of you who think this will blow wow out of the water.... All i can say IS wow.... You cant be serious... Guess what the only thing that is going to dethrone wow.... take a guess.... ok give up? Time itself Or another Wow. Also on another note... The first MMOG I ever played was DAOC... a fantastic MMOG by non other than Mythic.... I have to say that this game is looking dissapointing.... Hopefully I am wrong... I really wanna play it to prove myself wrong... I have lots of faith in Mythic... I hope its not shattered with this game.

Untainted
Untainted

Can't wait. The Warhammer world is grittier and nastier than WoW- where everyone are 'good guys' - I like tha fact that characters change as they grow- Dwarves get longer beards as they increase in power, Chaos followers mutate, and Orcs get bigger and their skin darker. I'm really hoping that finally someone will come up with an MMORPG that I can get stuck into. Only 1 problem - No skaven! Lack of rat-rat men make me sad yes-yess.....

Plaxconium17
Plaxconium17

who can say, im still waitin for a good sci-fi mmo World of starcraft!!!.....as if i needed any less of a life >.

acej2000
acej2000

IF YOU DONT PICK UP A WEAPON, AND YOU DON'T FIGHT, YOU WILL DIE Classic

Francislarsson7
Francislarsson7

This game will pwn WoW, if not in numbers, in gameplay and the amount of fun you can have playing it :D This will be the best since DAoC!

Spaminal
Spaminal

I am eagerly awaiting this game. It is going to blow WoW out of the water, and possibly eliminate the stupid players that WoW seems to have. I have yet to see a bad Games Workshop game. They are like Blizzard they just cant make a bad game.

Father_Kit
Father_Kit

I don't think it will beat WoW as far as sheer numbers are concerned - WoW is too ingrained now for all of those WoW fans to change, but I do think it will be a better game. The RvR will provide a more fulfilling PvP experience, which in the long run with MMOs is what keeps them going. The graphics may seem a little cartooney, which is just the warhammer style, and the scenery may seem a little basic atm, but I'm sure on high end spec PCs and given the time between now and release it'll look better. You have to remember also that there is a large amount of terrain to explore, so it should keep any player busy for a few hours merely exploring the place. Personally I'm looking forward to the PvP and the advancement system, it should be a little more balanced and rewarding. I would advise anyone to at least keep a close eye on this game - it has a lot of potential.

comedyman
comedyman

I am soooooo freaking excited about this game. I played DAOC for along time and LOVED IT. Screw WoW, bring on warhammer online!

DarkRecruit
DarkRecruit

Probably gona quit WoW for this I hope

TheOne72
TheOne72

So it seems WOW wasn't easy enough for some so they creat a game where you probably can solo your way to the top withou any "real" interaction with this new public quest system, i mean you might think that people will start and talk about their quest when they hookup but i honostly doubt that. Graphic wise i think its a big leap back in time. I don't mind cartoons but been there already with WOW, LotrO is a different story and more looking forward to that game, the animations i have seen already from gameplay movies are so much more detailed then the flat char.look in WOW and i do not even want to start about the way Warhammer looks...atleast at this moment. Hope they improve it but they really need to improve it alott, the scenery wich i saw in some movies of Warhammer did not look one bit interesting, i bet allot of home-amature virtual world builders can outdo them with a heartbeat. Every company can showoff a virtual world to the public, but we need to see how the world reacts, how you travel in that world, is the world alive or are you walking thru wonderful DEAD looking trees. I mean common people a pvp oriented game is nothing more then just your regular online game, its nothing new its the oldest kind of online play possible, developers are getting lazy, yeah they might create new features, give old feature new names, but it keeps being the same old same old. Afcourse this might be the new era of gaming and those young ones think they just witnessed something incredible cool with games like this, but its old, done before, nothing innovative. And i bet this game is gonna be nerved untill every person that can touch a keyboard will be able to play the game, thats what they did with WOW and that is the path some developers will choose to follow...unfortunaly..... Afcourse i could be terribly wrong wich i hope i am..but i doubt it

GRIMSAGE
GRIMSAGE

This looks like wow. I'll pass.

carsonfb
carsonfb

im definitely screwin wow for this :D

spchernandez
spchernandez

Looks interesting. Although Im concerned about the "public quests". I mean, you know farmers are going to be glued there getting all the loot. Also the Tome of knowledge seems a nice addition. I always wanted to have a mod that tells me all the mobs i've killed, quests already done, etc.

Math_18
Math_18

i want this game now, i think this will be a really cool and fresh MMO

raist2021
raist2021

All comparisons aside because frankly I don't care.. This is shaping up well, from the early material. I'm excited to see this franchise come to life in a MMO format, I like the designs, models and about everything I see. Looking forward to playing something a little less cartoonish and a little more visceral. With the previous success of MMO's in the past 3-5 years they have a lot to learn from on what to do and what to avoid to make this game a lot of fun. Time will tell but I know I will be there to see.

walterwong1996
walterwong1996

game looks good . With the brand new visuals I think it will be a bestseller and maybe even beat Warcraft !!!

Alcotamaysees
Alcotamaysees

I like the guy they interviewed. He looked pretty excited.

Chris_Croxx
Chris_Croxx

"There are going to be 24 classes in WAR, and there are only 9 in WoW." -Maxer9 tisk, tisk, tisk... 24 classes wooooooooooow no big deal the game is going to be sooooooo unbalanced and most of the classes will be stupid and have no use. and in wow you get the full potential from the classes

Maxer9
Maxer9

@Fable_Lord: There are going to be 24 classes in WAR, and there are only 9 in WoW.

Fable_Lord
Fable_Lord

woooow :p looks verry warhammer ^^ @The_Weekend , i don't think so. cause wow has much more like more races, bigger landscapes, more different types of units you can play and many people are starting to play again, cause of the burning crusade.

The_Weekend
The_Weekend

Warhammer has great potential ... let's see it crash Warcraft!

snipercomplete
snipercomplete

yay, it is about time a true warhammer game came out. but i recall them saying it will play like a regular rpg, at e3 yah, but that looked like a regular mmorpg, point and click, then go get a sandwitch. but i hope they werent lying, anyway, something to tear me from daoc

tehmamushka
tehmamushka

Okay, so yes 40k would be a sweet MMO but guys...THIS one is going to rock so just chill and if you Still want more blood then wait for Age of Conan.

GT406
GT406

I want this game now ( Says someone with PSWII60)

DeathMasterVint
DeathMasterVint

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

GrimGravy
GrimGravy

only other MMO that i think might get me off wow but doubt it prolly play both becuase i am sick like that and i am glad they went with the normal warhammer setting over 40k

Kaga_McCracken
Kaga_McCracken

While everyone is championing the WH40k MMO, at least give this one a shot. Games-Workshop has been making leaps and bounds in the gaming market in recent years since the release of DoW. This will be the first step towards an MMO and what better way to do it than a fantasy based RPG? Everyone is familar with it, it can appeal to a large audience, and to its credit, WHAoR -is- doing new things with the genre (like adding an actual goal! no offense MMORPG fans). It's games like this that draw more and more people into the Warhammer universe and will undoubtedly lead to newer and greater Warhammer games. Give it time and we'll all get the real-time MMO WH40k and all will be enjoying the world's greatest team-based fragfest. Until that day, cheers to Age of Reckoning!

tekman
tekman

I like the idea of having a "Front Line" that moves back and forth. Either you go help out the cause or go off and do some side quests. I really hope this game does well enough so that they make more games from the Warhammer universe, I remember the Space Hulk game they had for the 3DO (dating myself here =P). Doing that game with todays technology would be hell-a-fun! Or, go off the beaten path and have them start a sports franchise game with Blood Bowl!! That board game was pretty cool back in the day! Peace

spelledarn
spelledarn

I'm going to go ahead and second what some other people have already said: A Warhammer 40,000 MMO would be even better. I'd preorder that a year in advance, easily.

Scott_the_Snow
Scott_the_Snow

You can be eaten by a squig....and then use it as a suit of armor?!! This game is the best ever.

hump
hump

a real-time combat Warhammer 40K would be a LOT more appealing than this....

mr17x
mr17x

warhammer 40,000 mmo; that I would kill to play. I'm tired of these cartoony mmo, I want something with more than toy sword playfully crossing people's body.

Houseofcary
Houseofcary

much respect, but warhammer is one of the oldest strategy games ever plz o god plz dont let a drunken english bastard change that.

Vorador47
Vorador47

noticed a bunch of people commented on the english guy, he is one of the head designers for mythic, and if you look on the official sight, he does alot of video blogs which can be very ammusing

PyleA
PyleA

Can't wait for this game :D

thestrateger
thestrateger

the graphics... the sounds... the story... every thing in this game are perfect, :) woohoo :D it is so cool game! :D woohoo! :)

MxO
MxO

*throat-clearing noises* *deep breath* WAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGHHH!!

ShiroRX
ShiroRX

pre-alpha might be a little extreme since they've been displaying playable demos for a few months already. but yea, its early.

danyjr
danyjr

Actually it is not even in Alpha stage. All those videos are in "Pre-Alpha" stage if you read the captions.

ShiroRX
ShiroRX

"pvp looks like **** ;(" its in alpha and ur passing judgement? how about we go judge you as a person when you were 2?

Karl319
Karl319

I love the British sounding fella :lol: he makes the game sound just, amazing xD ... I'll buy it just because of him probably :D

cjcr_alexandru
cjcr_alexandru

It sounds... well, as a fantasy MMO should sound.