A surprisingly negative preview of Mythic's Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning comes at us from over at GameZone.
A couple of years ago, before Mythic was purchased by EA, there was a media event for the massively multiplayer online title, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning or WAR, for short. The game showed there was a next-gen outing, featuring a light-hearted graphical style similar to World of Warcraft with some notable upgrades. The animations were dynamic and full of character, and the world was full of wonder and delight with great texturing, dynamic lighting vistas worth exploring.
In short, it was what a triple-A title should be. Ok, transition to the present and the beta that just dropped the non-disclosure agreement and will allow discussion about the game. The first thing that hits is the look of the game. It has been altered dramatically. And by altered, that means downgraded. It appears that the team dropped the next-gen graphics and went back to the Gamebyro engine that was used on Dark Age of Camelot: Catacombs. If that is the case, that engine is more than four years old, and thus Warhammer Online does not look like a next-gen game it looks like a game that is last generation with awkward animations that do little to immerse players in the world.
Let's face it, WAR has to compete with WoW and with the likes of Age of Conan, and in that regard, graphically speaking, the game fails. So when the graphics fail, the game had better have gameplay depth to sustain it. And WAR does have some nice realm-versus-realm elements, and siege elements but to get there, you will have to run through the well-worn miasma of (go here, kill X amount of these things.) There is a story thread that does not hold much of this together.
If you have been following the news concerning the game, you will know that some of the fundamental elements that were first outlined as part of the game will be missing like all of the racial capitol cities (with the exception of two hub cities that will serve as factional capitols), and four of the character classes that were initially announced have also been cut. What has moved into the game is decidedly Dark Age of Camelot in tone.