When you look at EA as a game company, you see the largest third party game publisher and producer that basically has their fingers in every pie possible. Whether it's sports, shooters or real time strategy, if there's a big market for something in games, EA are there to capitalize with, if not quality, then at least terrific marketing. That is, except for one very significant market, the MMORPG market. While EA have certainly tried to tap into MMO's in the past, little success has been granted to the gaming
giant when things start going purely online. Motor City Online, anyone? With Activision and Vivendi Games merging to create Activision Blizzard this year, hence bringing the MMORPG sensation World of Warcraft into the grasp of their largest competitor, EA needed to respond, and perhaps something to finally once again establish a foothold in this booming genre after the success that was Ultima Online. This has arrived in the form of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning,
which comes from the MMO savvy developers in Mythic Entertainment, and while Activision Blizzard may not be shaking in their boots quiet yet, EA should enjoy some new found market share with this quality MMORPG.
Rather than establish a new intellectual property, EA have instead opted to partner with an already very well established name in the fantasy gaming world with this title - Games Workshop and their Warhammer franchise. With the Elves, Trolls and Dwarfs (amongst other beings and creatures) that occupy the fantasy Warhammer world, it's not hard to see how easy and well suited the hugely popular Games Workshop brand fits into the scope of MMORPGgaming. With that said though, gamers shouldn't
expect anything overly groundbreaking with Age of Reckoning, as much of the game relies on traits traditional to the genre without running the risk of redefining much if anything along the way.
Of course, before stepping into the world of Warhammer Online, gamers must get their subscription in order and create their character. The retail game comes with 30 days of free access to the servers, which are located in the US, Europe and Oceania, which is good news for us Aussies. However, regardless of the free 30 days, you will need to provide a means to be billed for the next period before you start. In other words, even though you are given 30 days with the retail game, you can't proceed
to take advantage of these free 30 days until you've setup your account with a payment method, like a credit card or a prepaid Warhammer card. Of course, you can easily cancel the subscription before the free 30 days are up and you won't be charged a cent extra, so there's no real commitment, but you should be aware before nabbing the retail game that a valid payment method is required to even play at all, even though this is somewhat standard. If you do choose to continue with the subscription, then you
can expect a US $14.99 fee per month, which again is at the standard rate for this genre.
Once you get all the nasty payment hassles sorted out, which are actually quite hassle free thanks to an easy to use online accounts system, then it's time to choose a server and get your character ready. As stated, the server locations are quite thorough and will cover most gamers worldwide quite well, with North America, Europe and Oceania accounted for each with multiple servers, which themselves cover the game's three main modes of play - Open RvR, which is unrestricted player vs player maps,
Role-play, which is for the hardcore role playing gamers who want to always remain "in character", and finally the much more mainstream Core, which is the standard mode featuring safe zones for PvE and specified zones for PvP. Naturally, the server you choose for any given character is the one you'll need to stick with for that character from there on out, so it is obviously a fairly important decision. The game will give you an idea of the character count on each server for each of the two realms,
'Order' and 'Destruction', so you have the ability to try and avoid queues by selecting from less populated servers.
When it comes to the actual range of classes that gamers can choose from for characters, AoR has a fairly well supplied amount of options spanning across these two realms, which obviously represent "good" and "evil", light and dark respectively. However, the classes are basically molded in typical fashion for the genre. You have the usual range of classes best used as 'tanks' and 'healers' across the game's races (Dwarfs, Empire and High Elves for the Order, and Chaos,
Greenskins and Dark Elves for the Destruction), so class wise there isn't really too much ground breaking going on here, but with that said the twenty or so on offer do each have their own unique characteristics and attributes, so there are plenty of clear distinctions to be made, even if a lot of the classes are pretty standard for a MMORPG game like this.