PC Gamer UK has posted a detailed preview of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, which includes a selection of commentary from EA Mythic associate producer Josh Drescher.
"One of the things we wanted to make sure when we started work was that we built a complete player-vs-environment (the typical questing and looting of most MMO games). You can level all the way through the game without engaging in realm vs realm, or if you never want to group on a quest, if all you want to do is kill other players, you can go all the way to level 40 (the opening level cap) doing nothing
So how do Mythic plan to entice the carebears who don't want to enter into open warfare to compete? It's all to do with quests. As with WoW, levelling up in WO means completing tasks for NPCs.
But some quests are public, group quests that cycle little story vignettes through the area you're playing. One lets you get a giant drunk: he wanders into the orc village looking for trouble. If nearby players can bring him 20 barrels of booze, he'll join your side instead.
Part two of the quest asks you to defend him from squigs (little pink bogeys on legs). Finally, the giant can be asked to carry a bomb into dwarven lands, blowing open a fortress.
Meanwhile, in those dwarven lands, a competing quest chain sees the dwarves trying to build a giant howitzer (named Helga, after a dead dwarf wife) to bomb the village with the giant in it. As the orcs run around looking for booze, dwarven players are searching for ammunition.
Why go to all this trouble? "We want to make sure that the game is accessible to casual players," says Josh, "so they can show up, take part, and interact with other players in large groups without committing huge amounts of time. If I only have half an hour to play the game each night, I don't want to spend 20 minutes putting together a group before I can go do something cool."