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Playing an MMO isn't a hobby. It isn't a pastime. It's an obsession that grabs you by the nuts and doesn't let go until you become a sleep-deprived zombie with an insatiable lust for more loot. MMOs aren't just games. They're an all consuming way of life that replaces your family with guildmates, sacrifices sleep for more raiding, and leaves you hung over with blurry visions of gear upgrades. If you've experienced any of these problems, you know you've been playing a damn good MMO.
For the past few years, World of Warcraft has been our favorite flavor of this online crack. Since its release, we've sampled lots of MMOs that claimed to be the next big thing. But every time we rolled a character in a different game, WoW eventually tightened the reins and tugged us back to Azeroth with its steady stream of excellent improvements and updates.
All this changed when Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning finally launched. Now there's a different title that's demanding ownership over every free moment we have. This new lover isn't whispering sweet nothings in our ear like "dabu" or "zug zug." It's grabbing us by the throat and screaming at the top of its lungs, "Get over 'ere you git! Da Warboss wants more humie headz! WaaAAaagh!"
We're not saying that WoW isn't great. We're saying that we're scared. We're scared because WAR took everything we loved about WoW and improved it tenfold. Yes, WAR is that good. And we fully expect that it'll be ruining our personal lives for the next few years at least. Whether you're solo questing or prefer massive PvP raids, WAR feels better than every MMO we've played this year. Is it time to switch? We don't know about you, but it is for us.
In WAR, Orcs don't dance like MC Hammer outside the auction house. Why would they? They're too busy beating down Dwarves, stealing their delicious beer, and swearing in cockney English accents. WAR doesn't have time to waste on silly animated emotes. There's a war going on and everything you do helps your faction's efforts in the epic battle between the forces of Order and Chaos.
Above: You won't "dance" like Napoleon Dynamite in WAR. There are more important things for you to do, like killing other players
You'll still receive lots of the expected kill-a-bunch-of-enemies quests. After all, it's a staple for all MMOs. But even when it comes to these ho-hum tasks, WAR manages to inject its own unique attitude into what would otherwise be another generic and forgettable quest. In one early quest we played, we were ordered to investigate some mysterious Dwarven barrels located at the frontlines of the battle outside your camp. It looked like an everyday collection quest, and we were told that "Stunties only put two fings in barrels: boom and beer." So we were expecting to find boxes of ammunition or some tasty ale to lug back to the quest giver for a miserly reward.
Instead, an ornery Dwarf - dressed in nothing but his boxers - burst from the barrel and started punching us in the face. This is high fantasy questing at its finest, and WAR is filled with memorable moments like these.
Above: A near-naked Dwarf starts punching us in the face. Just wait. It keeps gets better
In most MMOs, you don't really start seriously grouping with other players until you've been playing for quite some time. It takes a while to build up your friends list, find the right guild, and learn the ropes before you start taking on more challenging quests with a group.
But WAR streamlines the grouping process so that joining parties, finding a large war band of players for PvP, and joining a guild isn't reserved for those who are close to reaching their level cap. Whenever you enter a new zone, you can pull up a list of Open Groups and join other players working with the click of a button. The window lets you see how many minutes it'll take you to reach the group by foot, whether they're working on a Public Quest, regular PvE, or hunting enemy players for PvP kills.
Since all groups are Open Groups by default, this means that you'll almost always find some friendly group to grind or PvP with. This simple system gives you all the fun stuff that comes with grouping from the very start and cuts out all the hassles associated with it.