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Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (officially abbreviated as WAR) is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game based on Games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy setting. It was developed by EA Mythic and was released September 18, 2008. The game revolves around the continual worldwide conflict that the Warhammer Fantasy setting is known for, and the game is geared toward ongoing, constant war.

Development history

Warhammer Online game development began under the company Climax Online. The project was officially canceled in June 2004 when Games Workshop determined that the roll-out costs would be too expensive. However, work on the game never actually stopped as Climax Online continued the project using their own funds until the company reported in late 2004 that the Warhammer Online project was shut down due to difficulty in securing a publishing agreement.

With the license available again, Games Workshop was approached by EA Mythic (then known as Mythic Entertainment), who were interested in acquiring the license and starting a new project from scratch. A long-standing relationship between several Games Workshop managers and the CEO of Mythic Mark Jacobs ensured that a deal was quickly reached. The Warhammer Online license was acquired by Mythic on May 18, 2005 and announced at E3 that same month.

Though Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is being developed by EA Mythic, Games Workshop is also involved with the ongoing development of the project. Their role seems to be not only to ensure that the project remains true to the Warhammer Fantasy IP, but also to work with EA Mythic to allow for the appropriate development and extension of the IP as necessitated for the MMO. EA Mythic has previously created successful MMOs, including Dark Age of Camelot. It is hoped that EA Mythic having developed some MMO game play elements and 25 years of Games Workshop's game industry background will lead to a successful game

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is not purely derived from either Warhammer Fantasy Battles or Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay or any other source alone, but rather from the Warhammer Fantasy universe as a whole. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is not in any way related to World of Warcraft as its source game, Warhammer Fantasy Battles, existed over a decade before the first Warcraft game was produced.

Armies

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is a Realm versus Realm (RvR) game comprised of two separate factions: Order and Destruction. Each faction contains three separate armies, each of which is further broken down into four career choices. A number of careers will be gender specific i.e. only playable as a male or female character.

Armies of Order
Army Lore Denomination
Dwarfs Though the Dwarfs once had a great empire when humans were still primitive and uncivilized, their heyday has long since passed. They are beset on all sides by the forces of destruction: primarily the insidious Skaven rat-men and the vast populations of Orcs and Goblins. The Dwarfs are a hardy, stubborn and industrious folk - considered to be amongst the greatest craftsmen of the Old World, the Dwarfs create war machines and artifacts of unsurpassed complexity, power and majesty. Dwarfs live longer than humans (several hundred years on average) and make their homes, for the most part, in great mountain fortresses called holds, many of which are constantly being assaulted by the forces of destruction. The Dwarfs hold strongly to traditions, notably their respect for long-held grudges, they along with the Empire have embraced black powder weaponry such as cannons and explosives. The current dwarf High King is Thorgrim Grudgebearer, who rules from the dwarven capital of Karaz-a-Karak, known as Everpeak to men. In WAR, the Dwarfs are paired against their long-time racial enemies the Orcs and Goblins, known collectively as the Greenskins. The army of the Dwarfs in WAR is known as the Oathbearers, named because of their oath of allegiance to the High King. Their duty was to find necessary materials in the most dangerous places in the world, requiring exceptional Dwarfs to undertake such a task.
Empire (Humans) The Empire is the largest human civilization in the Old World. Founded by the first emperor, Sigmar, who is now the Empire's patron deity (though other deities are worshipped), the Empire has stood for over two thousand years. Though it has gone through periods of dismemberment, it was recently unified by the Emperor Magnus the Pious. The current Emperor is Karl Franz who resides in the Empire's capital, Altdorf. Although not as skilled in craftsmanship as the Dwarfs or in magic as the Elves, the Empire is not held back by tradition to the extent of the Dwarfs or Elves and has yet to fully succumb to any threat, external or internal. The Empire's civilization is somewhat modelled on Germany as it was during the age of reason with heavy medieval and theocratic or religious conservative influences. At the start of WAR, the Empire faces off against the destructive forces of Chaos which have already overrun the Russian-like Kislev and are encroaching from the north. The Order of the Griffon is the Empire army involved in WAR, formed by Emperor Karl Franz with the blessing of the Church of Sigmar, the Colleges of Magic and the Reiksguard. The Order is primarily made up of warriors, priests of Sigmar and wizards charged with defending the realm, and are answerable only to the Emperor himself.
High Elves Skilled in the arts of magic and one of the oldest civilized cultures in the Warhammer world, the ancient and dying Elven race has taken up arms against the forces of disorder by coming to the Empire's aid. The High Elves live on a large island continent called Ulthuan and are makers of fine art, music, and weapons of war unsurpassed by the other races, with the exception of the Dwarfs. Elves live for thousands of years and are usually extremely proficient at their given role. They are grudgingly fighting alongside the Dwarfs, as the two races put aside their long-standing animosity to combat the greater threat. Many thousands of years ago, Malekith, the son of the High Elves' first Phoenix King Aenarion, was denied the throne. This led to a cataclysmic civil war the elves call the Sundering which destroyed the landmass of much of Ulthuan. Following the Sundering, Malekith and his supporters exiled themselves from Ulthuan and became the Dark Elves. The current Phoenix King is Finubar the Seafarer who resides in the High Elf Capital, Lothern. In WAR, The High Elves are pitted against their dark kin, the Dark Elves. In WAR, high elf characters are part of an army known as the Shining Guard, under the command of the legendary warrior Prince Tyrion. They were tasked with defending Ulthuan while the Phoenix King and his army fights alongside the Empire.
Armies of Destruction
Army Lore Denomination
Greenskins (Orcs and Goblins) The Greenskins are a collection of Orcs and Goblins, making them unique within WAR as they consist of two races. However, with only two careers per race there are the same number of career choices available to the Greenskins as there are to the other factions. Orcs are a large warlike humanoid species, born for battle, fighting, and the occasional brawl. They live in tribal systems with the strongest Orc leading the tribe. Goblins are considerably smaller than Orcs, and are often bullied by the larger more intimidating ones. This has caused the Goblins to evolve into sneaky, insidious, and more intelligent creatures in order to defend themselves from their larger kin. Sometimes a particularly powerful leader will gather many tribes together and form what is known as a "WAAAGH!!!": a nearly unstoppable band of marauding greenskins. With the outset of WAR a new "WAAAGH!!!" is forming and once again the Orcs seek to eradicate their ancestral enemies, the Dwarfs. All Greenskins appear to be male, although they are considered to be a genderless race. Therefore, there are no gender options available to players who create a Greenskin character in WAR. The Greenskins are part of the Bloody Sun Boyz, led by the Black Orc Grumlok and his Goblin Shaman Gazbag. Their war with their old enemies, the Dwarfs, was manipulated by the Witch King Malekith. His intention was to start a war between the Greenskins and Dwarfs so that the Dwarfs could not come to the aid of the Empire, who would be forced to call upon the armies of the Phoenix King for aid - thus leaving Ulthuan ripe for the taking.
Chaos (Corrupt Humans) The forces of Chaos are bent on corrupting and destroying everything in their path. In the Warhammer Universe, the followers of Chaos may worship one of the four major gods: Tzeentch (change, manipulation and hope), Khorne (conflict and anger), Nurgle (decay, disease and despair), and Slaanesh (excess, pleasure and general hedonism). These gods are often at odds with one another and rarely work together, although some follow Chaos as a whole and are commonly referred to as Chaos Undivided. The Human followers of Chaos generally live in the Chaos Wastes in the far northern part of the world where the energies of raw magic and chaos are strong and cause both its inhabitants and terrain to warp and mutate. These humans live in a warlike semi-tribal society, and when the time comes for war they are sometimes followed by hideous daemons from the realm of chaos. In WAR, the forces of Chaos are pitted against the Empire. All Chaos players will be affiliated to Tzeentch, as that is the patron deity of the Chaos force in WAR - the Raven Host. These are Tzeentch's most devoted servants, and its leader Tchar'zanek is one of the Lord of Magic's Chosen. Mainly these humans come from Norsca.
Dark Elves Once High Elves, the spiteful Dark Elves have a bitter feud with their ancient counterparts. Their king, the "Witch King" Malekith, has his sights set on the throne of the Phoenix King, which he believes is rightly his. Instead of worshipping all the Elven Gods, the Dark Elves worship only Khaine, the Elven God of war, even going so far as human (and other) sacrifice while their fleets travel the world enslaving "lesser" races. The Dark Elves dwell in Naggaroth, a cold and desolate land to the north west of Ulthuan which they were exiled to after the Sundering, though WAR players will not be able to visit this area. While the armies of the High Elves are away to fight the forces of Chaos, the Dark Elves have taken this opportunity to attack Ulthuan, the home of the High Elves. Malekith also has empowered the leaders of the Greenskins, the Goblin Shaman Gahzbag and the Black Orc Warboss Grumlok, bestowing them with magical amulets of great dark power that helped the Greenskins to raise a WAAAGH! and conquer the original Dwarf capital of Karak Eight-Peaks. In WAR, the Dark Elves are racially paired against the High Elves. All Dark Elves in WAR are members of House Uthorin, one of the noble families of Naggaroth. Its leader, Lord Uthorin, is a master of intrigue, and has his sights set on Malekith's throne. But the Witch King has plans of his own...

Careers

It has been said that each career (similar to the concept of a "class" in other RPG games) will conform to one archetypal role, though each career will still make changes upon the basic outline of that role. For example, the Warrior Priest is an archetypal support or healer career, though he also has many melee damage per second (DPS) elements, meaning players of this career will have to enter combat and fight to be able to heal their allies effectively. In this way, the careers are given variety and are not simply mirrors of each other.

There will be specialization within careers, based on career mastery lines in which points gained at every level over ten can be spent. This will allow for more variation for characters of the same career.

Most careers have the option to play as both a female and male. However, some careers such as the Witch Elf are only able to be played as one gender (female in this case). The Greenskins, on the contrary, are only played with a male appearance.

Archetypes

The Careers in WAR are broken down into the following archetypes:

Tank

A heavily armored character able to absorb a lot of damage, protecting their allies and handling multiple opponents at once.

Melee Damage

An archetype with less protection or staying power than a tank, but able to deal out greater damage in a shorter amount of time.

Ranged Damage

An archetype that deals high levels of damage from a distance, and often have area of effect spells to damage multiple enemies at once. This includes both spell casters as well as classes that use weapons such as bows or guns.

Support

A support class that can buff and heal allies, as well as debuff and deal damage to enemies. Support classes are most effective when combining all of their abilities, rather than focusing on just one specific role.

Career Chart

WAR Career Chart
Careers by Archetype
Armies Tank Melee Damage Ranged Damage Support
Dwarfs Ironbreaker Slayer Engineer Runepriest
The Empire Knight of the Blazing Sun Witch Hunter Bright Wizard Warrior Priest
High Elves Swordmaster White Lion Shadow Warrior Archmage
Greenskins Black Orc Orc Choppa Goblin Squig Herder Goblin Shaman
Chaos Chosen (Male Only) Marauder (Male Only) Magus Zealot
Dark Elves Black Guard Witch Elf (Female Only) Sorceress/Sorcerer Disciple of Khaine

Specific game features

Characters

It was originally stated that the characters in the game and other players in Warhammer Online would change as they progressed in level and fought more battles. However, in an interview given during the WAR presentation in Paris, WAR Senior Producer Jeff Hickman stated that physical changes such as Dwarf beards growing or Orcs changing in size would most likely not be in the game at the time of launch.

Players will be able to decorate themselves in trophies, such as the heads of their fallen enemies. Other forms of customization include Tactics: bonuses players can select before a battle, as well as Morales: abilities that become available as the player participates in battle. Customizable armor and a visual guild system allow a player to make their character truly unique.

Collision detection

Warhammer Online will feature collision detection, but only against enemy targets. This means a player will be able to "walk through" friendly players and NPCs but will be unable to walk through enemy targets (this is to prevent possible abuse of the system). Currently, Mythic is testing collision detection with a variety of alternate implementations. One of these possible implementations allows enemy players to slowly "push through" one another, as if walking in quicksand. It is believed that this feature will enhance the role played by heavily armored characters known as "tanks", as it will help them become far more efficient at holding choke points and protecting weaker players in their group such as healers and casters.

Realm vs. Realm

WAR features next generation Realm vs. Realm (RvR) combat. This takes place within three different racial pairings: Dwarfs vs. Greenskins, Empire vs. Chaos, and High Elves vs. Dark Elves. Although there are only 2 races per pairing, players may travel to either of the other two pairings to help fight with their friends and allies. There are four types of RvR combat: Skirmishes (random world PvP), Battlefields (object-driven battles in RvR-specific areas), Scenarios (instanced, point-based battles against the opposing faction, with sides evened by NPC "dogs of war"), and Campaigns (invading enemy lands and capital cities). RvR contribution includes both Player vs. Player (PvP) combat and (to a lesser extent) Player vs. Environment (PvE) quests so that you can assist your realm in their victory.

All activities in WAR contribute to the campaign, as it is the primary focus of the game. Each of the aforementioned activities generate victory points (VP) which measure a realm's progress in capturing a zone. When one realm reaches a designated amount of victory points in a particular zone, that zone falls under their control and the war pushes deeper into enemy territory. This back and forth struggle for zone control continues until the war eventually reaches one of the capital cities where the attacking side may sack, loot, and pillage that capital city. The capture of a capital city is the pinnacle objective of the campaign. To prevent the invaders from maintaining control of an enemy's capital city, the defeated players will passively grow stronger and stronger until they are able to force the attackers out of their city and close the gates, regathering their forces. It is at this point where the campaign then begins anew, restarting the cycle.

Keeps and Keep Sieges were recently introduced into WAR’s Realm vs Realm combat system. Keeps can be captured for victory points towards your realm and can be claimed by the capturing guild. NPCs will be stationed at all keeps (claimed or unclaimed) to ensure a certain level of difficulty is maintained and that at least 1-2 full groups are required to capture. Should players decide to defend it, the difficulty in capturing the keep will increase greatly. The game design decorates each keep according to the race that controls it; however, the basic layout will stay the same. Siege warfare includes four types of weapons: rams for keep doors and other targets, ballistae for enemy players or siege weapons, cannons, catapults, and trebuchets for AoE splash damage, and boiling oil to use from keep walls. Strategically located near keeps, siege pads can be destroyed by players of the defending realm, inhibiting the siege process.

Tome of Knowledge

WAR features a "Tome of Knowledge" (ToK) that is an extension upon similar mechanisms in many other MMOs. The ToK is a multi-purpose reference tool that is designed to provide the player with a great deal of information about the game world. It is also meant to serve as a reduction in the need for players to feel like they have to rely upon third-party sources of information pertaining to the game.

The Tome of Knowledge keeps track of all information pertaining to an individual character and their progress through the game. This progress unlocks lore-related information about quests, the gameworld itself, NPCs, and defeated MOBs. For example, upon first encountering a MOB within the game, a basic entry is added for that creature in the Bestiary chapter of the ToK. However, with increasing contact, kills, and associated activities involving any specific creature, the information available about those encounters will be added to the Tome of Knowledge. Likewise, the ToK keeps track of the story and progression of the character through the gameworld as they complete quests, explore the map, and otherwise accomplish activities within the game.

Community

EA Mythic has an official monthly newsletter detailing the game's continued development to the public. The idea of holding forum contests on fan forums has been suggested/hinted at by the Mythic Community Team, who also go to considerable length to post on existing community fan-forums to mingle with their future market. GOA, the company managing Warhammer Online in Europe, has already partnered with several fansites in order to hold contests for entry to the closed beta. Mythic has a fondness toward fansites, and a fansite kit is available for download from the official website. Mythic has suggested that people visit fansites, but they are opposed to having forums on their own website. Fansites allow them to get to know the community.

One of the unique features of the development of Warhammer Online is the regular video blog of Creative Director Paul Barnett. These videos give the viewer an insight into the work that goes on behind the scenes of WAR, often showcasing development screens and concept art for the game. EA Mythic also releases "Development Diaries" from time to time, meant to give readers a deeper look into the development of WAR, as well as a monthly newsletter containing all the latest news on the game.

Awards

2008

  • Warcry's Editor's Choice: Most Anticipated of 2008

2007

  • China Joy 2003-2007: Best Foreign Online Game
  • Ten Ton Hammer: Best Fantasy MMOG
  • Ten Ton Hammer: Best of Show
  • Beckett Massive Online Game Reader's Choice Award: Most Anticipated MMO
  • Warcry's Editor's Choice: 2007's Most Anticipated
  • MMORPG.com Readers Choice: Most Anticipated

E3 2006

  • MMORPG.com: Best Use Of A License
  • Game Amp: Best of Show
  • Game Amp: Best Loot
  • Game Daily Nod Award
  • Voodoo Extreme: Best Massively Multiplayer Game
  • GameSpot Editor's Choice: Best Stage Demo
  • Ten Ton Hammer Editor's Choice Award

Beta test

As with most massively multiplayer online games, the developers of WAR have decided to make use of beta testing stage. A beta test for WAR is in progress, and is open to residents of North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. One way to receive an invitation to the Beta is to sign up for EA Mythic's monthly newsletter and be selected in a random monthly draw. Other contests and drawings are held in various venues. All purchases of the Collector's Edition and the Standard Edition from EA's "selected retail partners" come with access to the Open Beta phase. Unlike most open betas, Warhammer Online will only open the NDA allowing participants to share their experiences in the beta; it will not truly be open to the public.

Beta timeline

In the May 2007 newsletter, http://www.war-europe.com/ was announced live. It contained a beta signup section that allows players to sign up for a chance to enter the closed beta. According to the newsletter, the chance of entry is increased when the email address used in the sign up is the same as the address for the newsletter itself.

In the April 2007 newsletter, a guild beta application was launched which allowed guild leaders to submit their organized pre-launch guilds.

On October 10, 2007, the public beta servers were taken down and EA Mythic confirmed that the beta will return to alpha testing until December. EA Mythic will use this down time to incorporate community suggestions, rewrite code, finish work on character customizations, and polish the end game RvR content.

In the first week of February 2008, three waves of beta invites were sent out.

In June 2008 Beta 2 was officially closed, and preparations for the next phase, which would include the so called "Guild beta" begun.

In August 2008 testers invited to the Open Beta can download the beta client. The Open Beta is scheduled to start September 7, 2008, lasting one week. The Head Start for players who pre-ordered the game will occur from September 15-17, and the game will go live on September 18. See Mythic's WAR Open Beta page for more details.


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