The guys at Eurogamer have dished up the latest hands-on preview of Mythic Entertainment's Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.
...recent patches have attended to even more slick interface improvements, and engine and network optimisation to get it running as smoothly as possible. It still lags a little when the war between Order and Destruction is at its busiest - and it gets very busy indeed - and there is currently one irritating crash bug that occasionally and unceremoniously dumps you back to your desktop. But that's all. Leaving these issues (and the unknown that is server performance) aside, we're sure that WAR will be the most complete and polished MMO launch ever, and that does include World of Warcraft.
Now that we've invoked the name that is impossible to avoid when discussing WAR - the two games being so close in style, setting and basic mechanics - we should lay out what we've learned from the beta about where they differ. The first thing that strikes you - well, the second, after the Public Quests, of which more later - is that this is a quite a linear game. Where WOW branches out early on, unfurling a head-spinningly expansive globe for you to explore, WAR sets you at one end of a deep trench of content and gives you your marching orders.
It's a quick march, too. Starting as a Greenskin (the cheerfully illiterate and nasty orcs and goblins), by level ten you'll have gone through three major questing hubs or "Chapters", each with at least one Public Quest; you'll have received your first quests leading you into the second zone; and you'll have arrived at your first War Camp. War Camps sit on the edge of Realm-versus-Realm war zones, where you'll be given battlefield objectives to take, and expect to encounter players from your race's opposing faction - in this case, Dwarfs. They also offer cheap and quick flights connecting you to the game's two other strands, Empire versus Chaos, and High Elves versus Dark Elves.