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Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Review
Posted on October 18, 2008 by Oscar Gonzalez

One of the most well known RPG/Strategy franchises has made its way to the MMORPG state. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is the latest addition to the MMORPG genres for the PC. The developer, Mythic Entertainment, is a well known developer of MMORPGs with their most well known game being Dark Age of Camelot that was launched in 2001 and still has players today. So the combination of a known franchise and proven developers equals a great game.

The Warhammer world is a typical RPG world making use of Lord of the Rings type classes. The difference is that the culture is less medieval England but more like Renaissance Germany. While Warhammer Online came out after World of Warcraft, the Warcraft world takes a lot of its styles and settings from Warhammer which has been around since 1983 as a pen and paper RPG. The armies of the Warhammer world consist of Dwarfs, Empire (humans), High Elves, Greenskins (orcs and goblins), Dark Elves, and Chaos (evil humans). While each army was supposed to have four classes to choose from, a few classes were left out at launch with promises that they'll be added soon afterwards. Those classes are split into four archetypes which are common in MMORPGs: tank, melee dps (damage per second), ranged dps, and healer/support. So when you create your character, you first have the choice of being Order or Chaos (good vs. bad), then one of three races, and then one of the classes of that race.

The classes themselves are unique yet they have a counterpart that is very similar. For the dwarfs, you have the Ironbreaker which is a pure tank in all sense of the word focusing on high HP and heavy armor. Every class has a specialty that gives the class an extra boost of sorts. For Ironbreakers, it's the "grudge" ability where the more attacks they attack, the harder they'll attack. In ranged dps, there is the Engineer that makes use of guns and creates turrets, grenades, and other somewhat modern weapons of war. There is no melee dps for dwarfs yet but they have what's considered the best healer in the Rune priest. The Rune priest has some of the best heals, buffs, and they can distribute runes to party members that allow party members to do such actions as use a magical attack. To counter the dwarfs, you have the Greenskins. The tank of the Greenskins is the Black Orc. Like the Ironbreaker, Black Orcs are all about high HP and heavy armor to take all the damage. Their specialty is the same as the Ironbreaker where the more they get hit, they harder they'll hit back. For ranged dps, there is the Squig Herder. Squig Herders are goblins that make use of a bow and arrow for ranged damage and the control over Squigs which are two legged monsters that come in a variety. One Squig is good for direct damage to a target while another can have more AoEs (area of attack) moves. Like the dwarfs, there is no melee dps but they have the Goblin Shaman. This class mixes it up with the damage spells and healing spells proving to be a great team member. While using healing and damage spells, the shaman will increase their "Waaagh!"(a battle cry of the Greenskins) gauge that will improve the power of their spells.

For the Empire, there is no tank as of now. They have a melee dps class called the Witch Hunter (which is the first class I chose). For WoW veterans, this class is a lot like the Rogue class. The Witch Hunters use both a sword and a handgun making use of both for their special attacks with their specialty called Interrogation and Accusation. By using special attacks, a point is added and these points allow the use of Executions. The more points you have (max is five) the stronger these Executions will be. The Bright Wizards are the ranged dps for the Empire using Combustion, basically fire and wind spells. The Bright Wizard is known for huge damage from the beginning, but as expected, they are the weakest class out there when it comes to taking damage. Finally, the Empire's healer class is the Warrior Priest. On the contrary to the typical healer archetype, Warriors Priests are close combat healers. They have heavy armor and are expected to be on the frontlines of the fight dealing damage and healing allies. With constants attacks and healer, the Warrior Priests builds Righteous Fury which can add more damage or improve on the heals. To counter the Empire is the Chaos army. To take the damage, there is the Chosen. With heavy armor and high HP, the Chosen take the damage and have a specialty that makes uses of Curses. These Curses are auras that will have a positive effect for allies within a certain distance of the Chosen, or negative effects on enemies that are near the Chosen. The melee dps class for the Chaos army is the Marauder. Marauders are brawlers that jump into the fight and deal a lot of damage. Their specialty, probably the weirdest of the game, is the mutation of their arm. While leveling up your Marauder, you have the choice of what shape the arm takes, each shape dealing a variety of damage. Both the Chosen and Marauder are male only classes. The Magus is the ranged dps for the Chaos army. They use offensive magic and are able to call up daemons to help. They are well known for their floating discus that they travel on. The healers for the Chaos army are Zealots. A bizarre looking bunch, they main priority is healing and their specialty are Dark Rituals. These rituals provide added benefits to those members in the party with the Zealot.

Finally, we come to the elves, the High Elves and the Dark Elves. For the High Elves, you have the Swordmaster that is the tank of the race. Since Swordmasters are more offensive than the Ironbreakers, that means they do not tank as well as the Ironbreakers. They use heavy armor and high HP, but they can do great damage with their Sword Dance. These dances are stances where combos can be created to do more damage. For melee dps, there is the White Lion. As the name says, this class makes use of a lion as a pet. The lion can be used in different ways and the White Lion themselves wear some heavy armor and their attacks with the lion make them heavy damage dealers. Shadow Warriors are the range dps for the High Elves. This class makes use of bow and arrows but by using their Strategic Maneuvers, they can change their stances to improve long, medium, or close range attacks. The healer/support class is the Archmage. Archmages use both offensive and healing spells, and with their specialty, High Magic, the use of both will improve your character. High Magic goes into effect when you cast multiple offense or healing spells, a counter will start. The higher that counter goes (up to 5) the more your offense or heals spells will improve. So if you use all offense spells, your next heal spell will be stronger and vice versa. Obviously, Dark Elves are the enemies of the High Elves. Currently there is no tank for the Dark Elves. One of the only female classes is the Witch Elf. This melee dps class is similar to the Witch Hunter in that they acquire points called Blood Lust. By gaining these points, the Witch Elf is able to use special attacks that do more damage with the more points that have built up. Range dps for the Chaos army is supplied by Sorcerers; The Sorcerers use major offensive spells to do tons of damage. The more spells that are performed, the use of Dark Magic becomes available. These spells do great damage but can backfire causing damage to the Sorcerer. The healer/support class is the Disciple of Khaine. These Disciples are frontline healers that wear heavy armor and do good damage. Like the Warrior Priest, Disciples also have a gauge that increase by dealing damage and healing allowing stronger attacks and heals.

In Warhammer: Online, once you've picked a class and customized it to your liking, you're put into the world among the army of your race. From here, you go through the motions of learning about your class and doing quests to level up your character. As with most MMORPGs, you have a set amount of quests to do in an area and then you have to move on to do more quests. Where WAR differentiates itself is that experience points don't just come from quests and grouping with other players to kill enemies. WAR creates a new way to gain xp and redoes a common MMORPG system to provide you with good xp as well. The new way is the Public Quest. When you enter a Public Quest area, there is an objective that needs to be accomplished. The most common being to kill a certain amount of mobs in the area. Once that objective is completed, and then comes the second objective which usually consists of fighting significantly tougher enemies than before. When that task has been completed, you will be at the final objective that usually consists of an enemy that has a "hero" in its HP gauge which means the enemy has a lot of HP and does a lot of damage needing multiple groups to defeat it. Once this enemy is killed, the people that participated in the public quest will have an automated roll done for loot, with those who did more damage or healing getting an additional bonus on their roll. Depending on the public quest, there will be several items up for grabs. Not only that, by participating in these public quests, you'll get influence which can be given to certain NPCs once you reach a certain amount. The NPC will give you a different reward depending on how much influence you have starting off as a potion then going up to a good piece of equipment and finally a very special piece of equipment. Since these are public quests, no party is needed. Several individuals or several groups can complete it on its own. This is a great addition to the game, however, if your server has a low population, only a few of these public quests will have more than a few people participating. But this is a great alternative for a group rather than doing the typical dungeon grinding.

The big improvement over other MMORPGs is the Player vs. Player system (called RvR in WAR). Within each zone, there is an RvR scenario. These scenarios will pit the good guys vs. the bad guys in a variety of game matches. By selecting to join a scenario, you will be put in queue for a scenario. You can travel to different zones queuing yourself up for several scenarios. Scenarios have min and max levels to keep the players somewhat balanced. If you're too high for a scenario, then you need to go to another zone and get the next tier scenario. Once the scenario is ready for you, a box will pop up asking if you're ready and what scenario you'll participate in. You'll then be transported to a scenario zone and the objective of that scenario is given to you. The objectives range from Capture the Flag, holding down territories, holding onto an item for the longest time, and other. There is a target score needed and a time limit. By getting the target score or having the lead when time is up, your team wins. While completing the objective, you will have to face off other players who are a part of the opposite army. The fun comes with the combination of the different objective and facing off against players from the other army. By defeating players from the other army, or assisting, you'll gain xp as well as renown points. By gaining renown points, you gain renown levels and acquire points that will let you upgrade certain stats for your character. So by participating in these RvR scenarios, you'll be able to improve your character and also gain xp which is always good. Main players have stayed with RvR scenarios since these beat out the quests and grinding which is so common among MMORPGs. This is truly the aspect of the game that WAR stands out among all other MMORPGs. Usually PvP in a MMORPG is an after-thought or used as a time waster, but not a way to gain xp like it is in WAR. The only downside of RvR scenarios is that there is a certain amount of players needed to start these scenarios. So depending on the time, the population of the server, and the scenario itself, you may find yourself waiting a few minutes to a few hours before you can play that scenario. Hopefully the developers will look into having these scenarios make use of players from multiple servers to take care of this problem.

The graphics for the game have a different art style of other MMOs. It's not too cartoony as WoW but definitely not a realistic look for the characters. Overall, you can put the graphics as good but nothing truly spectacular about the graphics which is common among MMORPGs which cant have incredibly detailed graphics since the world is so vast. For sounds, you have the traditional sound effects for weapons and monsters, as well as a musical score as expected in a setting as Warhammer. Again, good but nothing that will give the game notoriety.

While there are a lot of positives with this game, there are negatives that will have to taken care of by the developers over time. Among the negatives that are mostly talked about is the class balancing. Some players feel that there are some classes that just do not do that much damage as they should. These will have to be looked at by the developers to see if that is true or not. As I mentioned about scenarios, queue times can be very long and it should be looked at by the developers as well. Also, early on, there are some spells that don't work properly, zones that don't load properly, and other bits of programming that needs to be fixed. Finally, the major negative aspect of the game that is hard to say where to go next is the crafting system. Currently, a player can chose a gathering skill (butchering, magical salvaging, scavenging) and a craft skill (apothecary, cultivation, talisman making). What you're creating are mainly potions, healing items, and talismans that can be added to equipment to improve stats. This is very lacking and it's hard to say if the developers will make a major crafting system or not.

As a veteran of MMORPGs, it's been awhile that I've been addicted to one as much as I am with WAR. I cannot stress that the variety of gaining experience points is such strength for this game. Video game companies try to find that one aspect of MMORPGs to make them unique, but they forget that grinding levels is annoying. If you just have quests and killing mobs, which gets old real fast. But with the public quests and the PvP system, WAR has given players the choice of how they can get xp thus providing a great experience for players and hopefully setting a trend for future MMORPGs.

Oscar Gonzalez - Editor-in-Chief og (@) original-gamer.com | all author's articles

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