Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning

The time has come to take off the training wheels. Massively multiplayer roleplaying games, from EverQuest to World of Warcraft, from Guild Wars to Lord of the Rings Online and everything in between, have become the definitive PC genre. Yet most of the new ones feel like clones; merely the next incremental step. We’ve yet to see a truly next-generation massively multiplayer game - a game that binds epic quests, amazing landscapes, deep and rich character development - and really funny hats - with the potential for huge battles between opposing factions. Until now.

Here comes a game with an incredible license: a game that looks set to explore the richest, silliest and most entertaining fantasy world that exists. It’s going to remain absolutely faithful to the tabletop games, books and comics it descends from, but let players run around their favorite places, meet their favorite characters, and kill and crush their most hated enemies. It sounds like an almost certain success.

But the developers of Warhammer Online are taking an extraordinary risk: one that could draw players to their game in droves, or scare them away. Warhammer Online is all about the “war” at the front of its name - an unremitting clash between two factions that impacts absolutely every facet of your time inside its world. The risk: will players brought up on a diet of soft cuddly progress and happy fun dungeoneering parties adapt to unremitting warfare? The draw: if and when they do, they’ll never stop playing, never stop competing against each other, never resting. And do you know what? This could be the best thing to happen to MMO gaming since orcs.

To understand what Warhammer Online is bringing to MMO games, you need to understand the history of its developers, Mythic. This storied company has masses of experience in developing MMOs: from text-based games on early Bulletin Board Systems (a slightly crap precursor to the web), through to Dark Age of Camelot, a well-regarded 3D MMO that emphasized castle sieges, massed armies and giant scraps over and above single players punching kobolds in the face.