At a recent EA press event, we had a chance to get our hands dirty once more with Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, the massively multiplayer game based on Games Workshop's dark, fantasy-themed tabletop universe. Developer EA Mythic, creator of the competitive online game Dark Age of Camelot, has been hard at work revamping the areas that belong to the dwarves and the "greenskins" (orcs and goblins), which are the two areas that the developer had built first for the game. The early areas for each tribe have been redone to look darker and more war-torn, as well as perhaps slightly less cartoonish. We played through a few early quests as a black orc, the one of the greenskins' melee combat classes, and hacked our way through a handful of low-level dwarf invaders hiding out just on the other side of our encampment.
Warhammer Online's fiction is based on ongoing wars between the game's various tribes, so you can expect to encounter enemy armies at the very outset of the game. We started by slaughtering a handful of the pesky dwarves and then busting more sickly dwarf invaders out of barrels that had washed up onshore. We followed up by relieving fallen orc companions of their weapons. The early quests in Warhammer Online aren't too exotic or hard to pick up, but they're clearly being designed to fit with Warhammer's traditional focus on fierce rivalries and dark humor. For instance, the last early-game quest we completed required us to deface a dwarf statue by smearing a handful of mud on it.
From what we're told, the EA Mythic team is hard at work continuing to build out the world of Warhammer Online. The team is retooling the dwarf and greenskin areas, polishing up the human empire and Chaos areas, and now, putting into production the recently revealed elf areas. The game's tome of knowledge, an in-game resource that catalogs quests, slain monsters, or items your character acquires also appears to be implemented and seems be to working well. The game itself still looks quite good and still features a stylized art design for its characters. However, we're told that the game is currently being built off of DirectX 9 architecture. Although the game will be compatible with DirectX 10 and Vista, it likely won't be built up around the new graphics software and its new features. The game is already in a closed beta test state and remains one of the most promising massively multiplayer games on the horizon. Warhammer Online is scheduled for launch early next year.