It was a sad day when Mythic announced they were shutting down Warhammer: Age of Reckoning, the MMORPG set in the Old World. Though I left the game some years ago, it will always have a place as one of the best games of its type.
With the Games Workshop intellectual property as a foundation, theme was never going to be an issue. You were transported to the Old World on either the side of Order or Destruction. The world was fleshed out, public quests kept things interesting and introduced you to other players, but where this game really shone was the world PVP. This was not just a case of jumping a lone elf as it repeatedly killed crocodiles looking for pages from some book, you had fortresses to storm, objectives to capture, and once you achieved victory you moved on to the next zone and eventually the enemy capital. You had siege weapons. You could stare out over the battlements and watch the enemy amass through the mist. This was a reinvention of PVP and it rocked!
The greatest memory I have from the Age of Reckoning is a battle in the elven territories. I led one warband of twenty four of the foulest scourge ever to crawl from the Chaos Wastes. A friend commanded a second warband. My friend entrenched at a strategic bridge that would allow our advance while my warband worked as a strike force to smash the outlying objectives. The forces of Order amassed at the bridge and pushed my friend’s warband back, fighting hard for every inch of land. The call for aid blared over the lush hills and echoed through the valleys. I heard the call and I answered. With the bridge defence dwindling at the brink of collapse, my warband charged down the hill. We rode like the Rohirrim breaking the Uruk Hai at Helm’s Deep and massacred the enemy. We won the day and pressed our campaign to the heart of the Empire.
So how did it go so wrong?
I only had a couple of issues but they were deal breakers. In a game where world PVP is king, balance is essential with comparable numbers of both sides. On the server which I played, this was only achieved for brief periods and I fought on both sides of the imbalance. Neither were fun. The greatest battles in gaming are those hardest fought, pulling victory from the maw of defeat, executing a last minute piece of tactical genius. If you have twice the opponent’s number of troops, well, there is only going to be one outcome and the challenge is removed. The same applies on the other side of the spectrum: why play a game you cannot win?
The PVE end-game might as well have been absent. There wasn’t much to it. More may have been added later but when my character – the mighty Ulixes, Chosen of Chaos, Destroyer of Realms, Pummeller of Spleens, Smasher of Spindly Elves, Conqueror of…etc. – reached the highest level, only two instances were available. One became tiresome quickly and the other took far too long. So long that I didn’t bother with it. When someone asked me to join a group and suggested we needed seven hours to finish, I suddenly had a number of other places to be. I think Azeroth was one of them.
Warhammer: Age of Reckoning had the potential to dethrone World of Warcraft but missed its chance. Will we see its like again? Who knows. Despite dwindling numbers, even in the mighty World of Warcraft, the market remains lucrative and rumour places a Warhammer 40,000 MMO for release in 2015. If the lessons from the Age of Reckoning are heeded, this promises to be something special.
Drop me a comment. Did you experience the Age of Reckoning? Were you there the day Altdorf fell? Perhaps you took your crusade to Azeroth or formed a bulwark against the rifts.
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