Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning

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Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning
Developer(s) Mythic Entertainment
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Designer(s) Mark Jacobs
Paul Barnett
Jeff Hickman
Series Warhammer Fantasy
Engine Gamebryo
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X
Release date(s) Microsoft Windows
September 18, 2008[1]

July 30, 2009 (Beta)[2]

Genre(s) MMORPG
Mode(s) Multiplayer

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (officially abbreviated as WAR[3]) was a massively multiplayer online role-playing game based on Games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy setting. It was developed by Mythic Entertainment and was simultaneously released in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand on September 18, 2008.[1] The game revolved around the continual worldwide conflict that the Warhammer Fantasy setting is known for, and the game is geared toward ongoing, constant war laced with dark humour.

A spin-off, Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes, was a free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena game. It entered open beta on April 10, 2012 but was shut down before it left the beta on March 29, 2013.[4] On September 18, 2013, it was announced by Mythic that Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning would shut down on December 18, 2013, due to the licence agreement with Games Workshop coming to an end.[5] The shutdown took place as planned.


Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning featured Mythic's Realm versus Realm (RvR) combat system, originally developed in Dark Age of Camelot.[6] This took place within three different racial pairings: Dwarfs vs. Greenskins, Empire vs. Chaos, and High Elves vs. Dark Elves. Although there were only two races per pairing, players could travel to either of the other two pairings to help fight with their friends and allies. There were four types of RvR combat: Skirmishes (random world encounters), Battlefields (objective-driven battles in RvR-specific areas), Scenarios (instanced, point-based battles against the opposing faction), and Campaigns (invading enemy lands and capital cities). RvR contribution included both Player vs. Player (PvP) combat and (to a lesser extent) Player vs. Environment (PvE) quests so that you could assist your realm in their victory, regardless of preferred play-style.

Each activity generated Victory Points (VP) which measured a realm's progress in capturing a zone. When one realm reached a designated amount of Victory Points in a particular zone, that zone fell under their control and the war pushed deeper into enemy territory. This back and forth struggle for zone control continued until one side held two racial pairings, and the attacking side may sack, loot, and pillage the enemy's capital city. The capture of a capital city was the objective of the campaign. Once a capital city was taken, the attackers were given a period time to loot the city. When this period expired, the defeated players received increasing support from NPC guards until they were able to force the attackers out of their city and close the gates. At this point the campaign then begun anew, restarting the cycle.

Mythic also prevented the ganking of new players by more experienced players. For example, in Scenarios, low-level players were boosted to an average level of play to ensure a more level playing field. Also, if a higher-ranked player entered an RvR zone specifically designated for lower level characters, they were penalized by being temporarily transformed into a chicken. The players within those areas (which could be lower or equal level to the transformed player) could then ignore the transformed player, or dispatch the chicken with one blow.

WAR featured a "Tome of Knowledge" (ToK) that was an extension upon similar mechanisms in many other MMOs. The ToK was a multi-purpose reference tool that was designed to provide the player with a great deal of information about the game world. It was also meant to serve as a reduction in the need for players to feel like they had to rely upon third-party sources of information pertaining to the game.[7]


Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning was a Realm versus Realm (RvR) game with two factions: Order and Destruction. Each faction contained three separate armies, each of which was further broken down into four career choices.[3]

Armies of Order[edit]

  • Dwarfs – 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 Dwarves to undertake such a task.[8]
  • Empire – 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 knights, warrior priests of Sigmar and wizards charged with defending the realm, and are answerable only to the Emperor himself.[9]
  • High 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.[10]

Armies of Destruction[edit]

  • Greenskins (Orcs and Goblins) – 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.[11]
  • Chaos – All Chaos players are 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.[12]
  • Dark Elves – All Dark Elf players in WAR are members of House Uthorin, one of the noble families of Naggaroth. Their leader, Lord Uthorin, is a master of intrigue and has his sights set on Malekith's throne, despite the plans of the Witch King.[13]


Each of the careers (classes) in Warhammer Online conform to an archetype role. For example, the Warrior Priest is an archetypal support or healer career, though he also has many melee DPS elements. In this way, the careers are given variety and avoid being simple reiterations of common archetypes.

There are specialization within careers, based on career mastery lines. This allows for more variation between characters of the same career. Most careers have the option to play as either a male or female character. However, some careers such as the Witch Elf are only able to be played as one gender (female, in this case). By contrast, the Greenskins (Orcs and Goblins) are genderless, though masculine in appearance.

WAR Career Chart
Armies Tank Melee DPS Ranged DPS Healer/Support
Dwarfs Ironbreaker Slayer (Male Only) 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 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

Character customization[edit]

In Warhammer Online character customization is available in many forms. The initial character creation process allows players to select the race, career, and basic look of their character, including facial features and accessories. In addition to the original name that the player chooses for their character at creation, the player has the option to add a surname to their character for a small fee at rank 20. Dye is available at NPC vendors for recoloring armor and accessories. Players are able to decorate themselves with trophies, such as the heads of fallen enemies, which are equipped and displayed at various points on the character model.[14] Other forms of customization include Tactics (customizable sets of bonuses that players can adjust while out of combat), as well as Morale Abilities (increasingly powerful abilities that become available as morale is generated during the course of battle). Customizable armor and visual guild heraldry also aid in allowing a player to make their character visually unique.

In addition to visual character customization, Warhammer features an achievement system, similar to that of Steam. As achievements are unlocked, players may apply custom titles that appear beneath their names.

Collision detection[edit]

Warhammer Online features collision detection, a feature that is designed to prevent players from moving through other player characters. This feature works on enemy units as well as friendly units that are flagged for RvR combat. Collision detection enhances the role played by heavily armored characters known as "tanks", as it helps them become far more efficient at holding choke points and protecting weaker players in their group such as healers and casters.[15] To prevent griefing, collision detection is suppressed for players of the same realm who are not engaged in combat.


Mythic offered four different server types at launch: Core, Open RvR, Role-Play, and Open RvR/RP.[16] On Core servers, enemy factions can only attack each other if both players are flagged for RvR. Players are automatically flagged for RvR upon entering RvR-specific areas or enemy PvE areas, and can choose to turn their flag on at any time. Open RvR servers are flagged for RvR at all times, with few exceptions. Role-Play servers have the same rules as the Core servers, and players are encouraged to role-play their characters. Finally, Open RvR/RP servers follow the same rules as the Open RvR servers, and players are encouraged to role-play their characters.


The second 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 high.[17] 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 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. Mythic would soon cancel its original follow-up project Imperator Online after gaining the Warhammer license.[18]

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. It was developed by Mythic Entertainment, but Games Workshop is also involved with the ongoing development of the project. Their role is not only to ensure that the project remains true to the Warhammer Fantasy IP, but also to work with Mythic to allow for the appropriate development and extension of the IP as necessitated for the MMO. Mythic has previously created MMOs, including Dark Age of Camelot.[19]

During the development of Warhammer Online, Mythic featured a video blog of Creative Director Paul Barnett.[20] These videos gave the viewer an insight into the work that went on behind the scenes of WAR, often showcasing development screens and concept art for the game. Mythic also released "Development Diaries" from time to time, meant to give readers a deeper look into the ongoing development of WAR.[21]

On July 30, 2009, Mythic Entertainment announced that Warhammer Online was being ported to the Mac OS X platform in the fall of 2009, with a beta version becoming available immediately. Like other Electronic Arts Mac games, Warhammer Online for Mac utilizes Cider technology by TransGaming Technologies.[2]


Mythic has an official subscriber newsletter detailing the ongoing development of the game.[22] The official website features a list of dedicated fansites which allow them to interact with the community in addition to their own official forums. The unofficial online community includes blogs, webcomics, forum/message boards, chat channels, wikis, and information databases.

As of December 31, 2008, the number of active WAR subscribers had decreased to "over 300,000 paying subscribers in North America and Europe."[23] In May 2009, Electronic Arts executives confirmed in an investor conference that they have 300,000 subscribers as of the end of March 2009,[24] shortly after the company reported a loss of $1.08 billion in the financial year for 2009.[25] Consequently, the number of servers was drastically reduced[26] in order to consolidate the remaining population. The total number of servers was reduced to 13 and the number of role-playing servers was reduced to 1.[27] Since then, several servers were stopped, particularly in Europe, and there remained only nine servers: four in the USA and 5 in Europe (including two in German and one in French). From February 9, 2011, two other U.S. Servers and one German server were removed, leaving a total of 6 servers worldwide (2 in the US, 4 in Europe).[28] From December 14, 2011, the game was down to three servers, one for the US, one for Germany and one for the rest of Europe. On December 18, 2013, Warhammer Online was shut down.

Mythic made numerous attempts to revitalize the game. They were working on a free-to-play version of the game [29] as well as an expansion called Blood Hunt. Neither was released.


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 85%[37]
Metacritic 86%[36]
Review scores
Publication Score
1UP.com A-[30]
Eurogamer 8/10[31]
Game Informer 8/10
GameSpot 8.5/10[33]
GameSpy 5/5 stars[32]
PC Gamer (UK) 8.8/10[34]
PC Gamer (US) 86%[35]

Warhammer Online initially received favorable reviews. It holds an aggregate score of 86% on Metacritic[36] and 85% at GameRankings.[37]

GameSpy claimed it "has hit the ground running with one of the best MMO experiences we've had in a long time."[32] GameSpot reviewer wrote "questers and explorers may not find what they're looking for, and certain gameplay systems don't mesh as well as they should. Nevertheless, there's more than enough exciting PvP content here to keep newcomers and veterans alike immersed in the perpetually violent tug of war between the forces of Order and Destruction."[33]

As of September 30, 2008, WAR had sold 1.2 million copies and had 800,000 registered users.[38] As of October 10, 2008, Mythic Entertainment announced that 750,000 people were playing Warhammer Online.[39]


Warhammer Online has received a number of awards, including the following ones:[40]

  • IGN PC: Best of E3 2008-Best MMO
  • IGN PC: 2008 Best Persistent World Game
  • IGN PC: 2008 Reader's Choice
  • GameSpy: Best of E3 2008
  • GameSpy: Best Use of License
  • GameSpy: Top 10 PC Games – Ranked #2
  • G4TV: Best of E3 – PC
  • Massively – Favorite New MMO of 2008
  • MMORPG.com – Reader's Choice Awards – Best New Game of 2008
  • MMORPG.com – Reader's Choice Awards – Most Innovative Feature
  • MSNBC – Best PC games of 2008
  • Voodoo Extreme: E3 2008 – Best MMO
  • Warcry's Editor's Choice: Most Anticipated of 2008
  • X-Play: Best MMO
  • 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
  • MMORPG.com: Best Use Of A License
  • Game Daily Nod Award
  • Voodoo Extreme: Best Massively Multiplayer Game
  • GameSpot Editor's Choice: Best Stage Demo
  • Ten Ton Hammer Editor's Choice Award


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  2. ^ a b Electronic Arts (2009). Apple Fans Prepare for War with Mac Version of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. Electronic Arts. Retrieved on 2009-07-31.
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  27. ^ http://herald.warhammeronline.com/warherald/NewsArticle.war?id=688
  28. ^ [1]
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  31. ^ Eurogamer.com (2008). Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Review. Retrieved on 2008-10-04.
  32. ^ a b GameSpy.com (2008). Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Review. Retrieved on 2008-10-04.
  33. ^ a b GameSpot.com (2008). Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Review. Retrieved on 2008-10-04.
  34. ^ computerandvideogames.com (2008). Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Review. Retrieved on 2008-10-04.
  35. ^ Asher, Mark (2008). "Warhhamer Online: Age of Reckoning". PC Gamer (182): 64–66. ISSN 1080-4471. 
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  37. ^ a b GameRankings.com (2008). Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Review. Retrieved on 2015-07-31.
  38. ^ "EA Reports Second Quarter Fiscal Year 2009 Results" (Press release). Electronic Arts. 2008-10-30. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  39. ^ "(2008)". AskMen.com. 2008-10-10. Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  40. ^ Mythic Entertainment (2008). Awards. Mythic Entertainment. Retrieved on 2007-02-01.

External links[edit]