Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Review

As a game reviewer, I've played all of the major MMORPG releases over the past several years. I spent a lot of time with each of them and they all have their good and bad points. Some I've stuck with longer than others, but the only one I've played consistently long after writing its review is World of Warcraft. However, I am sitting down to write this review of Warhammer Online knowing full well that I will keep playing the game once this review is completed. In fact, I'd much rather be playing the game right now than doing this. Warhammer Online has completely gobbled up all of the time I have to play World of Warcraft, and destroyed my dream of having my new alt hit level 70 in time for the release of Wrath of the Lich King. And the surprising thing about this is that I'm not all that disappointed by it.

One of the things that I dread about beginning a new MMORPG is getting my new character through the starting levels. Get quest, kill ten wolves, turn in quest. Get quest, kill ten spiders, turn in quest. You spend the first several hours with a new game feeling more like an exterminator in a rural back water than a great warrior or powerful mage. Warhammer Online brings MMORPG gamers a very welcome change to all of this. From the very beginning you not only feel like you're right in the middle of a great war, but that you have an active role in it. Sure, you still receive kill x number of enemy y types of quests, but in this game, those enemies are invaders pouring onto a beach or solders ransacking a town. Not only that, from Level One you're eligible to compete in the PvP battlegrounds, and in fact, you're encouraged to do so. But more on that later, for now let's turn our attention to character creation.

As its name indicates, Warhammer Online is set in the Warhammer universe created for the populas table top miniature game. The setting is a fantasy world in which the lands of The Empire (humans) and its allies (dwarves and high elves) are under siege by the forces of Chaos (barbarian humans, orcs, and dark elves). Your first choice in the game will be the selection of which side that you want to take in the war, followed by your race and character class. The classes all have some unique aspects, but in general fall into the usual archetypical categories of DPS, ranged DPS, tank, and healer. After mixing and matching the various hairstyles and facial features available, all that's left to do is to name your character and enter the game.

Warhammer Online's world is a bit different than the type you'd find in most MMORPGs. Its world is not nearly as expansive as those in some other games, and the terrain will prevent you from reaching every spot on the map. This is not a bad thing at all though. Smaller lands mean that you spend far less time traveling from one location to another and more time actually playing the game. Also, the terrain works to direct players to key locations on the map and ensures that players from opposing factions can easily find each other and spend their game time crossing swards and scouring the map in the hopes of finding one opponent. In some MMORPGs you can camp in a remote spot won the map and not see another player for hours, but in Warhammer Online you'll never feel that isolated.