Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Review
Engaging player-versus-player combat makes this an online role-playing game to reckon with.
- Public quests are a great idea and a lot of fun
- Stand-alone scenarios are varied and rewarding
- Open battles can be wonderfully chaotic
- Looks and runs great, with few notable bugs .
- Extreme PVP focus is detrimental to those looking to quest and play solo
- Crafting is poorly implemented and completely unbalanced
- Player base is fragmented, even on full servers.
War, appropriately, is the focus in Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. Few persistent world, online role-playing game have focused so much on player-versus-player combat or done it this well. Fireballs fly, swords clash, and pet lions pounce as the opposing forces of Order and Destruction pound on each other for server dominance. From open warfare to stand-alone scenarios, there are a number of ways to establish battle superiority, and Warhammer Online consistently offers in-game rewards for your combat prowess, making this game the one-stop shop for all your elf-bashing needs. There are other innovations too, though they take a supporting role: public quests that allow passersby to jump in and join the fray, for example, as well as the excellent Tome of Knowledge, an in-game encyclopedia overflowing with all the information you would ever want.
These original features make Warhammer Online a great game, though this direct focus on PVP combat noticeably detracts from its other facets. Most notably, questing and solo play are unfulfilling compared to other MMOGs; the writing is decent, but in general, the by-the-numbers quests lack flavor and sophistication. The most noticeable issue at play, however, directly relates to player population: During peak hours, you may wait an hour in a server queue, only to discover that the world still feels really empty, even with all these areas for players to congregate and battle. It's the ultimate contradiction: By giving players so many ways and places to hammer each others' skulls, the population has been spread thin. Warhammer Online feels like it was designed for a population much larger than the game actually holds. A good guild, as well as some preparation and organization, will combat this issue to a degree. Perhaps this drawback will change as the population at large gains levels, but for now, the splintering of players makes exploration and questing both feel even more lackluster than they already are.
But you came for war, and whether you want to get in the thick of the action or support your groupmates, you'll find that the Warhammer universe is a natural host for your bloodthirst. First, you choose a faction: Order or Destruction (guess which is good and which is evil). From there, choose an army (Dark Elves, Empire, and so on) and a career. Both sides offer the usual suspects, such as healers and tanks, but there are some nice additions for each class. Engineers can summon a turret to aid them from a distance; Disciples of Khaine siphon health from enemies to heal allies; and sorcerers are capable of dealing heavy damage--at the risk of killing themselves. Physical customization isn't particularly deep, but various tattoos and other options help distinguish you from the hordes, even if the simple options and visual similarities of various armor sets can sometimes make all players of a particular profession look eerily alike.
Warhammer Online makes a superb first impression. From the moment you begin, a starting quest encourages you to participate in one of the game's keystone PVP scenarios. You can join a queue for a level-appropriate scenario from almost anywhere, and once enough players have signed up, you're whisked away to the battlefield. Most of these matches are variants on Capture the Flag, Deathmatch, King of the Hill, and so on--but with enough twists to make them feel clever. For example, in the Stonetroll Crossing scenario, teams attempt to capture an item called a troll pacifier from the tall plateau at the center of the map and deliver it to three locations to appease the cranky trolls. In others, you may capture control points or take and hold a central platform--usual stuff to be sure, but with small twists that make each one feel unique. Regardless of which maps you play, most scenarios are chaotic in a good way. You'll always be on the go, from chasing a flag on the move to charging for the opposing healer, and the flurry of colorful spell effects and the din of clanging metal enhance the excitement.
Stand-alone scenarios are just one PVP option. The more impactful alternative is to take battlefield objectives and fight through enemy keeps, which in turn earns victory points for your faction; once you have enough points, the opposing faction's main city is vulnerable to attack. Open objectives make for a chaotic good time, whether you and your warband are chasing down a roaming group of marauders or getting behind a turret to bombard foes as they creep closer to the warcamp. You and your buddies can also participate in keep captures, which are essentially multitiered minidungeons in which you fight enemy players and defending mobs on your way to the keep boss. Keep battles are a ton of fun; teams can build siege weapons at specified points outside of the keep, and the resulting encounters are frenzied and intense, especially if a battering ram is involved.
Public quests are possibly Warhammer Online's most original offering, and it's one that lets you join impromptu teams as they complete various objectives. Should you encounter one of these open, multipart quests, your heads-up display automatically informs you what stage the ongoing quest is currently at and what needs to be done. Then, you can simply jump into the fray, killing monsters and other non-player enemies. At the end of the quest, a golden treasure chest appears and a dice roll of sorts determines who wins the available loot. The more you contribute, the greater your chance of rolling a higher number. You won't want to join public quests just for the possibility of interesting loot, though: Battles are fun and hectic with enough participants, and many of them end with challenging end-bosses.
No matter where you choose to kill enemy players and monsters, there is a constant stream of rewards heaped on you. Killing other players earns you renown points, which you use to purchase certain gear and gain renown skills. PVP earns you basic experience as well, but you'll keep securing renown even after you reach the level cap of 40. Completing public quests earns you influence in a particular geographical region, which you can cash in for various items. Even guilds get perks, earning levels that then unlock various enhancements for its members. Warhammer Online's most skillful and subtle reward system, however, comes by way of its all-encompassing encyclopedia, the Tome of Knowledge. The Tome consolidates every piece of in-game information you could possibly hope to access: bestiary, quest details, lore overviews, and a lot more. As you enter new areas, encounter new NPCs or monsters, and accumulate kills, new Tome entries are unlocked and announcements flash on the screen. The most satisfying unlockables are the myriad of titles you can earn and apply to yourself, from elite declarations ("The Fearless") to the humorous ("Ow, My Eye").
- Player Reviews: 333
- Game Universe:
- Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior (PS2, PC),
- Warhammer: Dark Omen (PC, PS),
- Warhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat (PC, PS),
- Warhammer: Mark of Chaos (PC, X360),
- Warhammer 40,000: Squad Command (DS, PSP),
- Warhammer: Mark of Chaos - Battle March (PC, X360),
- Blood Bowl (PC, X360, DS, PSP),
- Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (PS3, X360, PC),
- Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (PC, MAC),
- Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team (PS3, X360)
- Online Modes:
Competitive, Cooperative, Team Oriented
- Number of Online Players: