During this last decade of Peter Jackson and Blizzard defining the general public%26rsquo;s idea of fantasy, it%26rsquo;s been forgotten that Games Workshop quietly redefined namby-pamby Tolkien stereotypes decades ago. That%26rsquo;s why Warhammer Online%26rsquo;s dwarves feel like grim warriors, not comedic Scotsmen. That%26rsquo;s why its orcs are genuinely ugly, not humanised. WAR is the same Light vs Dark setup as seen in, let%26rsquo;s be frank, World of Warcraft, but that acronym is no accident. Neither is the omission of /dance. WAR is war. And it%26rsquo;s going to be huge.
There are two opposing factions: Order and Destruction, each consisting of three races. It%26rsquo;s High Elves, Dwarves and the Human Empire for the former, and Dark Elves, Greenskins and Chaos for the latter. Each race has three to four of its own %26lsquo;careers%26rsquo; (classes), amounting to 20 in all. Though there are definite analogues, no two races have the same classes. Each of the two sides has one city to its name %26ndash; purdy, Germanic Altdorf for Order, and the epic, otherwordly Inevitable City for Destruction. These aren%26rsquo;t social or shopping hubs so much as enormous trophies and goals, the ultimate battleground for the RvR meta-game. Once one side has a decisive upper hand on the server, they get to raid the enemy capital. The zones eventually reset so war can begin anew, but in the meantime there%26rsquo;s glorious pillage to be had.
Before we go any further, please indulgeus in a brief look behind the curtain. Reviewing an MMO isn%26rsquo;t the same as reviewing any other game. It takes months to see everything. It%26rsquo;ll change massively not just over its lifetime, but in the first couple of months following release. Some aspects of it won%26rsquo;t be properly up and running until the player base is big enough and the kinks are ironed out. So, making a final, final judgement on every part of the game based onour time spent in the closed and open betas ahead of full release just isn%26rsquo;t honest. Server-side teething trouble hasn%26rsquo;t helped, and is why you might observe the characters in most of the screenshots are fairly low level %26ndash; in fact we%26rsquo;ve played multiple characters at much higher levels in the largely embargoed closed beta. We%26rsquo;ve spent dozens of hours immersed in this game, butwe're not going to pretend we%26rsquo;ve played every class up to level 40 and run every battleground and siege it has.
So: this review will tell you what you can expect to get by buying a boxed copy of WAR and spending the next few weeks with it. OK? No more tears? No more yelling? Let%26rsquo;s get on with it, then. Warhammer Online is comfortably the most important MMO since World of Warcraft. To a significant extent it adheres slavishly to the old ways, but at the same time it%26rsquo;s the first that%26rsquo;s interested in advancing the idea of what an MMO can be. Lord of the Rings Online, Age of Conan, Vanguard %26ndash; each has its own achievements, but all they ultimately do is to add a few piercings and tattoos to the aging, out of shape EverQuest body that WoW so successfully dragged off to the gym. WAR might employ most of the same mechanisms %26ndash; and the same aesthetic values %26ndash; as World of Warcraft, but the difference is it often opts for %26lsquo;Instead Of%26rsquo; rather than %26lsquo;As Well As%26rsquo;.