Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Warhammer: Age of Reckoning (online)

Ok.  I was never going to try it but the other day an old WoW friend of mine gave me the low down on the current Warhammer online experience.  The Electronic Arts attempt to cash in on disgruntled WoW players turned fail is now offering the online experience for free - up until level 11.  So I downloaded the on-line client from the Warhammer site Saturday while I hosted my Pub Club Meet-Up and when I was pretty much ready to go once my self-induced euphoria of pumpkin beers wore off.  I hastily fumbled through the 2 faction, 6 race character creation interface and made my Greenskin (Orcs and Goblins) shaman.

So what can you do with 11 levels?  Much.  Yesterday I spent my whole afternoon levelling my Greenskin shaman and manage to get up to level 5 on my own.  For an experienced WoW player there are many similarities between the interfaces - the actionbars, mini-map, 3D third-person perspectives, and paper doll interfaces are all there (which should be standard in 2010 for all following in Blizzard's path to success).  The graphics were slightly choppy in certain points but at least for now did not cramp the experience - although I was overhearing on my guild's vent constant complaints about lag.

In any case in my 5 level window of game play I got to experience the rather easy orientation of the game mechanics.  My general comment about this game is this game is what PVP WoW should have been.  This game is about PVP or what their version is referred to as Realm vs Realm (RVR) from the start of the game.  The starter areas are tame enough to get you use to the UI with out getting pwned by some rabid pack of killer bunnies.  As you progress along with running some simple experience building quests you start realizing that everything you do contributes to the progression of your faction.  You do not have to join a group but when you do participate in a realm quest everyone rolls for a substantial piece of loot once the event is successfully completed.  There are of course other solo quests to be done but these as well contribute to your faction's influence on an area.  As you progress past the noobness you can (even unto and nearing level 11) participate in actual PVP which also contributes in someway to your character's experience gain.

I also did manage to try out their crafting system (since I was just a big crafting nerd in WoW) and I actually liked its simpler but more integrated system.  Crafting and secondary skill are based on gathering and assembling recipes and on trial and error.  I chose the butchering/alchemy route.  Butchering is very much like skinning in WoW but instead of furs you gather all kinds of interesting reagents from creatures you have killed.  The reagents are classed as different grades of components in a typical alchemy formula.  In alchemy you start with a container (test tube) and a main ingredient.  The main ingredient determines what the over all effect of the potion is (i.e. immobilization, healing, curing).  To complete the concoction you have 3 slots which you can put  more support reagents to the mixture.  Since every mixture has a chance of failing you can add reagents to assure the stability of the mixture.  Likewise there are other support reagents that can enhance the potency of the formula but during the early levels of your alchemy you pretty much have to rely on stabilizing reagents to assure your success.  This system is slightly like the alchemy system in another game I still have yet to finish, The Witcher (which is probably why I find myself wanting to run around the woods killing creatures instead of participating in RVR).

I admit I have not really seen the total experience in Warhammer and I am still missing the true RVR battle experience the game specializes in.  I can, however, say that for anyone wanting a full fun try at the MMO experience that will not eat up your life or get you jones-ing for constant "IGL" hits give Warhammer: Age of Reckoning a try.  The game is available for on-line download for both Windows and Mac from www.warhammeronline.com .