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Warhammer Online: Levels 1-20

30 Sep 2008  by   Paul Younger

The day has finally come.  The pen and paper model making tabletop strategy game has finally been delivered to me in a way that doesn’t cost five hundred dollars and 200 hours just to construct a proper army which won’t leave me embarrassed before the presence of true fans.  Under the shadow of the success in World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online has been in development, which may have bred contempt but overall made for a better game.

Warhammer is one of the first MMOs to actually borrow that which works from WoW and add them to its game, unlike the failures that have come before it. Sure Lord of the Rings and Age of Conan may have done that but be honest, did you renew your subscription after the first month?

The game immediately starts you out in each generic starting zone with 3 “learn to kill things that can’t fight back” quests and a few spells to fight. Most classes will start with a melee and ranged attack as their primary DPS and a weaker variant of the other to better suit different situations. Example: If you pick a primarily melee class you will get a weak ranged attack to pull monsters and if you pick a primarily ranged class you will get a weak melee attack to fight when monsters reach you. There is no variation between the classes for the first 3 levels until you buy new spells, then the real differences between classes will show.  Between levels 11-20 when you start fighting in the tier 2 scenarios expect to see differences. One thing I liked about the initial levels in Warhammer is you can jump into a RvR battleground (Scenario) immediately and it adjusts you to a higher rank to compete with the other players, however you will still be at a gear disadvantage. The PvP in the game is renamed RvR for some reason (probably because WoW calls it PvP and Warhammer is the spiteful younger brother that won’t get a bike because it’s the same one its brother has). The Battlegrounds you queue up for are also known as Scenarios in this game, aside from some other weird things I’ll detail later; most of the MMO nomenclature translates over to here pretty well.

I played around with every class to level 3 just to get a feel for what I wanted which took me a good 10 hours. Eventually I went with the Chaos Chosen for two reasons, my character is a bad ass at all times and I wanted to play Destruction side to avoid the children rolling Witch Hunters and High Elf Shadow Hunters with variations on the name Legolas. So far I’ve seen Legolaas, Laygolas, Leygolas, Leigolass, Leighgolass, Legowlas, Legölas, Legoolass, and that was just in one scenario. The leveling in the game moves much slower than WoW, to put it into perspective it has taken me close to the same amount of time getting to Rank 20 than it took to get to level 40 in WoW before the experience boost patch went in. The good thing however is that everything you do in Warhammer including RvR grants you experience so you’ll never feel like you’re delaying the leveling process by jumping into the Player vs Player content. Aside from your players rank there’s Renown Rank which you level by doing RvR content, the maximum Renown Rank caps out at 80 and if you play the game right it should level well with your standard rank so look for a long grind from 40-80 renown when you hit the max level. Leveling your standard rank unlocks talents and the ability to spec in 3 different trees for class similar to WoW, however renown rank unlocks even more stat boosts and special talents making you able to differentiate your character even further from other players. The talents you pick are pretty clear cut on what bonuses they give you so it’s pretty obvious which renown points you should take when you spec a certain way.
{PAGE TITLE=Read about quests, partying systems and specs…page 2}
The game is packed with standard MMO quests but what really sets it apart is the Public Quests. There are over 400 areas in the game where a consistent three-part event is going on, at any time you can walk in the proximity of the event and participate in the completion of it. At the end of the event (the final part usually being a boss monster) players roll for loot as though it were a dungeon boss. Your participation in the quest (rated on how much damage you do or how much you heal) gives you a handicap to your roll to keep players from walking in at the last second and taking your loot, however it is possible to work the hardest and still get a low roll putting you in 5th place which is a good excuse to punch a wall. Many game journalists have spoken up about the difficulty of some of these public quests but in all honesty they just suck at the game because anyone with the knowledge of what a healer and a tank is can walk in and smash pretty much any public quest in the first half of the game.

Another great thing about this game is the partying system, whether you want to group up for a Public Quest or to raid a world PVP objective it’s super easy with open party. You can either form a standard party of six, or open it up to a warband which hosts 24 players (When players raid keeps and eventually capital cities multiple warbands will swarm the area) but I haven’t been able to find if there’s a way to link warbands as the manual and the interface isn’t too specific. By your character health in the upper left hand corner of the user interface is an option to view any of the open parties in your area, it will tell you how many are in it and how far away the party is, this tool is incredibly handy because instead of having to ask for an invite for to participate or form a group you can just hop in uninvited. I also found this as an incredibly handy tool to find out which public quests were being done because I play into the off hours of the night where the server isn’t too populated with players around my level yet. Of course if you and some friends make a party you can select an option to make it private so players can pop in and annoy you but who really doesn’t want an extra hand when it’s offered?

The only thing that bothers me about the game is how it runs even on high end systems (3.0 ghz. Quad-core, 9800 GTS, and 4 gigs of Corsair RAM on a 64bit interface) and the game still runs choppy. In the distance players and creatures animate at a terrible frame rate and the reaction time from when you push the keys to move you character and when your character actually move is off by a fraction of a second making the movement feel floaty and un-natural which bothers me no end (to see what I mean log in to Warhammer push forward and backwards five times and then log in to WoW and do the same thing). I wish the developers would go back in and tweak the engine to run like a game actually should or my subscription won’t last past the time I write my review at the max level. Technical issues aside Warhammer is incredibly fun, it definitely is a game that picks up pace the more you play making the leveling process more fun than normal MMOs look out for my next impressions after I hit rank 40.

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