Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning
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|Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning|
Mark Jacobs |
|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X|
July 30, 2009 (Beta)
Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (officially abbreviated as WAR) 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. 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.
Despite a rough development, the game launched on September 18. 2008 selling over a million copies and peaking at 800,000 subscribers, but dropped to 300,000 subscribers several months later. The game received generally positive reviews from critics. 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 license agreement with Games Workshop coming to an end. 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. 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). In RvR players fight other players and, to a lesser extent, non-player characters.
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.
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. 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. 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.
Mythic offered four different server types at launch: Core, Open RvR, Role-Play, and Open RvR/RP. 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. 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.
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.
During the development of Warhammer Online, Mythic featured a video blog of Creative Director Paul Barnett. 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. 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.
As of December 31, 2008, the number of active WAR subscribers had decreased to "over 300,000 paying subscribers in North America and Europe." In May 2009, Electronic Arts executives confirmed in an investor conference that they have 300,000 subscribers as of the end of March 2009, shortly after the company reported a loss of $1.08 billion in the financial year for 2009. Consequently, the number of servers was drastically reduced 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. 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). 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."Warhammer Online Sunset". EA. Retrieved 2013-12-18.
Mythic was working on a free-to-play version of the game.
GameSpy claimed it "has hit the ground running with one of the best MMO experiences we've had in a long time." 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."
As of September 30, 2008, WAR had sold 1.2 million copies and had 800,000 registered users. As of October 10, 2008, Mythic Entertainment announced that 750,000 people were playing Warhammer Online.
Warhammer Online has received a number of awards, including the following ones:
- 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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