A few days ago, Curse had the pleasure of taking part in a conference call with Mythic's Jeff Hickman (Senior Producer) and Paul Barnett (Creative Director) along with various other news sites. What initially would seem as only a conference call, very quickly became apparent that was more of a rehearsed "good cop, bad cop" story carried out by the two aforementioned. And I might add, very well carried out at that. Paul Barnett was initially described as the "crazy brit" of the company, a title he was very capable of living up to -- much to the delight of their listeners, im sure. At least, for someone like myself who has a tendency of playing MMO type of games at their very high end, the words of Paul Barnett was something of a delight and a nice source of faith in their new game, Warhammer Online.
So what is WAR all about? Well, if we were to follow the words of mr Barnett, WAR is about killing, pillaging and obliterating your enemies, making them pay for their existance and also proving that once and for all you are better than them - at this game at least. But most importantly, WAR is about having FUN! So, before we go further into detail about the content of the game, allow me to sum up some general information about the game.
Warhammer Online is set for action in the rich and diverse Warhammer Universe which is represented by the well known Games Workshop. As the title implies and as many may know already, Warhammer Online is about War, more importantly about a war between two factions. These two realms as they are called, are the two factions that players chose to play at the start of the game. There are a total of 6 playable races, to which there are 3 racial pairings for each faction. Team "bad" consists of the greenskins (goblins, orcs, etc), Chaos Soldiers and Dark Elves while the forces of "good" are represented by Dwarves, Empire Humans and High Elves. The game has 3 large PvE dungeons and 1 massive RvR dungeon designed for the very high-end game. There are literally billions of scenarios to fight in, as they are randomized each time upon entering. (We will get back to scenarios later in the article!)
It is no understatement that Warhammer Online is a very PvP oriented game. When asked about the purpose of the game, the answer was simple: To charge around the land and kill everything and everyone; even burn down your enemies cities and bring back trophies as proof of your capabilities and past experience.
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Realm vs Realm Warfare
The RvR portion in Warhammer Online is separated into two unique avenues of game play which may be experienced by the player, namely Player vs Player and Player vs Environment. Because RvR is implemented throughout every aspect of the game, even the PvE game play supports and aids the RvR warfare that is forever ongoing somehow. RvR is divided into 4 different "classes" of RvR warfare. What do these "classes" entail? - Let us look into this some.
In each zone of the game, there are places where you can PvP RvR or PvE RvR. PvP areas of these zones are called skirmish areas, and upon entering, your character is automatically flagged for RvR-PvP combat and can freely engage in combat with players of the opposing faction. It is equally important to note that each of these zones also have a "safe area" where PvP combat is disabled and one can engage in the PvE content which Mythic has set forth for us. Let us look some into this:
WAR brings new to the table something Mythic calls "the public quest system". What this essentially means is that rather than going to some group of NPC's every time you enter a new area of the world to get your quests for the region, your quest log is automatically updated as soon as you enter the area with the current requirements of completing the quests for the area. When I say current requirements, this is because these quests are something that are going on repeatedly and endlessly. The way it works is simple. A designated area has a designated amount of objectives that need fulfilled. Everyone who zones into this area automatically all takes part of the same quests and collaborates on fulfilling its objectives.
The quests might even be set up in stages that take place chronologically after one another as the players in the region max out the requirements of each stage. An example is that you zone into an area where the current objective is to gather lumber for your forces. As you work on completing the lumber requirement, Forest Spirits might spawn to protect the forest in which you are harvesting wood. Players now need to fight off the forest spirits while completing the requirement for lumber. When the forest spirits have been slain and the amount of lumber reaches its goal, something like a "Guardian of the Forest" will spawn to take revenge on the fallem spirits and wreck havoc on you players for desecrating its precious forest. Naturally, the quest then takes on the task of defeating this Guardian. Once accomplished, the Quest scenario might re-start or it might continue onto the next set of public quests available for the area - only Mythic knows the answer to this.
In some of the skirmish areas, there are PvP objectives set up where for example capturing and holding certain towers or other key points gains bonuses for your faction. In essence, these Battlefields may be defined as focal points for PvP combat in the area.
Scenarios are story points within the RvR skirmish areas which can be compared to current-day WoWarcraft Battlegrounds. Scenarios are fully instanced with equal number teams engaging in battle with one-another. While the objectives of each scenario will vary, there is one key element which they all retain. The absolute goal of the scenario will be to kill all your opponents. Mythic went to add: "There will be no dilly dallying about with running a flag from one point to another. Our scenarios is about PvP, Killing each other and proving that you really are better than the opposing team".
Campaigns build even further on the smaller scale RvR which is coherent throughout the world. Campaigns consist of fighting over the actual ownership of landmass in the game, and taking over control of areas even as far up as to capturing and destroying your opposing faction's Capitol cities. Campaigns are also where the most rewarding game-play is. If your team is good enough to seize control of your opponents Cities, you may capture their king and even escort him in captivity back to your own capitol and imprison him - thus impacting the game directly for everyone.
That said, there are "timers" in play where actually capturing and holding an enemy capitol over an extended period of time is going to be remarkably hard. Eventually, the realms will come back into balance and the War starts once again.
So you've defeated your enemies, desecrated their clans and captured their kings. What is there in it for you? Well, simply put: lots. First of all, it is entirely possible to level solely through PvP combat. This means that if you are of the same type as I am where you find endless grinding on quests or monsters to level your character, there are other very applicable options for you. While it is possible to level from 1 to endgame solely through PvE content, it is also possible to do this through PvP - and it is probably encouraged to spend time on the front lines defeating your enemies personally.
PvP is encouraged on every level of the game. Besides the shear fun of proving to the world that you are indeed a skilled and badass player, when fighting against guilds of an opposing faction it is fully possible to pick up their guild banner and bring it back to your own guild hall as a trophy of your amazing feat. However it does not end there; Should your team be skilled enough then it is possible to take the head of your opposing teams leader, stick it on your own guild banner and wave it around the lands proving once and for all that your team really is the most skilled in the world. When it comes to loots and gear upgrades, Mythic has designed PvP combat to allow you to loot items off the corpses of enemy players. Mind you, not THEIR actual armor, but random generated drops much like those off PvE mobs.
In conclusion, to put it in Paul's words: "PvP is about glory and small mindedness of being better than everyone else."
That being said, Paul pointed out the question of how to deal with "gankers". Much like myself, Paul is of the opinion that ganking lowbies does not show any form of skill at all. In fact, he went as far as to say that in his opinion, gankers were pathetic coward chicken shits who couldn't prove their ability against equal level enemies. Because of this situation though, Mythic has implemented some restrictions to high level vs low level player PvP. Paul went on to define it as: When the lowest level player may not through skill actually defeat the highest level player and the outcome is pre-determined is where we draw the line. In cases of this, the highest level player will simply not be automatically flagged for PvP combat in the lower level skirmish areas (and may not actually flag himself either).
Before I conclude this article, i will list up some of the questions that Mythic answered.
Q: What ideas have you implemented into War that you have learned from DAOC? >A: >Things that have influenced us the most: >RvR system. Daoc was first fore into MMO RvR and it was what we learned here that is going into WAR. >Guild Management: We will be using the DAOC guild management/community management systems as a base for the same implementation in WAR. >A diversity of classes. There were 44 unique classes in DaoC. Warhammer has 24 Unique classes, and every class has some defining unique talent/area where they excel. The difference in playing each class is very noticable.
Q: How are you addressing that most MMOs have too much grinding / busywork before getting to "the fun stuff"? >A: >Put the war everywhere. Quests won't be dumb in the sense of requiring killing 50 wolves to get 10 wolf tails when you really only "need" 10. Paul then said something along the lines of: "... to hell with the storyline... I want the good gameplay, good graphics and lots of FUN!".
Q: For a casual player who can play 1-2 times a week, why is war for me? >A: >The game is built to be very easily accessible both for PvE and PvP RvR, and due to the "public quest system" you can easily get into the action even if you have limited play time.
Q: Will you be able to have a character on both the good and evil teams on the same server? >A: No.
Q: Will allied races easily be able to meet? >A: Yes, getting together in groups from different races is easy.
Q: Why is there no death penalty in PvP or RvR? Does'nt this promote "zerg"? >A: We (Mythic) believe that death penalty (time loss) will sort itself out. There will be a "barrier" in place that prevents spawn rushing. That said, there will be no material (such as durability loss) or exp penalties for death.