Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Preview

EA Mythic's Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is the subject of a detailed two-page preview over at Play.tm.
Location, location, location. Thanks to the strength of already having had decades of artists sketching key locations for magazines and comic books, there is a great sense of individuality in every district of every city and every zone of each map. In inhabited areas, different quarters will have pronouncedly different feels. The noble district will be completely different from the dockside or the slums. The sense of scale and population is more in-keeping with the best parts of Oblivion than the static and abandoned feel that MMO cities are often afflicted with.

These cities are more than just shopping and quest hubs thanks to the ongoing conflict mechanic of the game, but still the bulk of your game time is likely to be spent out in the wilds making with the slaying and the chopping and the questing. Your chosen purveyor of slicing and dicing or hocus-pocus will be from one of the two factions essentially representing order or chaos. In the white corner is The Empire comprised of humans and dwarves and the predictably snooty High Elves. In the red and black and slimy corner are the Orks, the Dark Elves (still snooty, but more likely to put out on a first date) and the proper scary forces of Chaos. Let your mood and sociopathic leanings guide you in your choice, although each race comes with what boils down to their version of tank, melee, ranger and caster.

Whilst each of the races and classes or 'professions' is not particularly radical, the bad boys look to have enjoyed the most innovation. The Chaos Chosen is nearly certainly the most intimidating looking tank and damage dealer I have ever seen, and even at low levels looks like the sort of thing you'd find guarding the big pile of loot at the end of a high level dungeon. The Chaos Marauder, whilst smaller, is not a jot less scary - as he progressively levels up he has the ability to warp and mutate his own body. Apparently it takes a few moments to warm up and undergo the mutations, but the result is what Paul Barnett, creative director, described as the Incredible Hulk with crab-claws for hands and steel-scaled skin. I am sure the elves in their ludicrously shiny pointy hats are all very fine and impressive, but I know whose pint I'm going to extra lengths not to spill.