GameSpot has put together an updated preview of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning after spending some firsthand time with the MMORPG at EA Mythic's headquarters in Virginia.
Next up is the character system, which has gotten a big overhaul, particularly with the addition of what are called masteries. Testing showed that players wanted more depth when it came to characters. For instance, take the bright wizard, one of the human classes shown in many of the early previews. The bright wizard lit things on fire, and that was basically it. So the designers went back and revamped all of the classes in the game by adding three mastery paths for each one. Masteries are fields that you can specialize in, with the kicker that you can only level up enough to max out in two out of three masteries. (It will be possible to reallocate your mastery points in the game should you want to explore different fields.)
With masteries, you can customize the gameplay to your style, and it also adds a reward system of sorts, the more you invest in certain masteries. So instead of everyone playing the same type of bright-wizard character, some players can opt to focus on the incineration mastery, which specializes in direct damage spells, or attacks. Meanwhile, the immolation mastery focuses on damage-over-time skills and debuffs (temporarily stripping an opponent of protections and bonuses). Finally, there's the conflagration mastery, which are skills that focus on large scale, area-of-effect spells, such as rain of fire. When you invest in a single mastery, you get most of its abilities automatically. Those abilities become more powerful the more you invest into the mastery, and you can unlock new tactics and abilities.