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With so many Warhammer games coming our way, what will make Warhammer 40,000 Online stand out? We talked to Vigil Games’ General Manager David Adams and Studio Creative Director Joe Madureira for the exclusive first glimpse at the gritty sci-fi online world.
PC Gamer: Besides the obvious distinction of being science fiction as opposed to fantasy, how will you distinguish yourselves from the Warhammer fantasy MMO from EA Mythic?
David Adams: The fact that Warhammer 40,000 is science fiction and not fantasy goes a long way to distinguish the game from other Fantasy MMOs, such as Warhammer. Besides the obvious visual differences, the setting also affects many aspects of the gameplay.
First off, unlike a fantasy MMO, guns play a major role in the dynamic of combat. The gameplay will be much more intense, focusing a lot on fire-fights, tactics, cover and general brutality (which is befitting a game set in the grim future).
Secondly, the sheer scale of Warhammer 40,000 lends itself to experiences players have never seen in an MMO. The term “Battleground” takes on an entirely different meaning. Our battlegrounds will be more epic in scale, more intense, and more true to a game with the tagline, "In the grim darkness of the future, there is only war." This doesn't preclude the more intimate battlegrounds that other MMOs have, only that we will also be including more grand affairs, that give a player the sense that they are immersed in an actual Warhammer 40,000 battle.
PCG: The 40k universe is already very complex and rich; how are you making it approachable to players new to the world?
DA: One of the reasons Warhammer 40,000 has been successful is that it has a built in cool factor. Someone new to Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 universe doesn’t need to understand the sheer depth of the Imperium, or the age-spanning history of the Eldar to appreciate the setting. All they need to see in the universe are a couple of Space Marines defending a corridor against a rush of Genestealers, or an Eldar Farseer facing off against a Daemon Champion of Khorne - and you are hooked - whether you are new to Warhammer 40,000 or not.
PCG: When is this game set in the 40k universe (i.e. is it set before or after the Horus Heresy?)
DA: The game is set in the 41st millennium, well after the Horus Heresy and more contemporary to the tabletop game.
PCG: The gameplay for the tabletop game focuses on squad combat and tactics. How are you translating these elements to an MMO?
DA: To preface, let me say that this game will be an RPG. That needs to be said, because when someone thinks of a Warhammer 40,000 MMO there is definitely some question as to the style of play: will it be an FPS, an RTS, or some other genre altogether? Relic has the RTS angle covered with the awesome Dawn of War series - we are making an RPG.
However, that doesn’t mean that aspects of the tabletop don’t influence the style of play we present to the player. As I mentioned earlier, just the inclusion of ranged weapons as a dominant form of combat changes the basic underlying mechanics of a typical MMO. This leads to similar tactics that you might employ in the tabletop, such as cover, suppression fire, flanking, etc… If you think about it, “Group” is a just another way of saying “Squad”.
PCG: How many different races are playable?
DA: We aren’t ready to release a full list just yet. Rest assured, all of the races important to Warhammer 40,000 lore (not to mention the fans) will be represented. We want each and every race to have weight in the game world, and feel distinct. We won’t include a race if we can’t do them justice.