While people filing pre-orders for Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning knew they'd be able to play in some sort of pre-release beta, it wasn't until today that EA and Mythic firmed up these plans and made them public. So here it is: anyone who pre-orders Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning will be able to start playing on the beta servers (which are currently running a closed beta) as of September 7.
Considering the full game is hitting on September 18, this sounds more like a last-minute stress test to make sure the servers can handle a rush of players before throwing it open to the even-less-washed masses. Additionally, the beta is locked down with some restrictions. Player progression is capped at rank 20 for the beta, and characters can only play around in "Tier 1 and 2 of each army's homeland."
The release goes on to quote Mark Jacobs, co-founder of Mythic, as saying "in just a few weeks, we are going to throw open our doors and invite more players into the game than ever before. They will have a chance to delve into the open beta and see for themselves that WAR has arrived and it is glorious!"
Not to get too far off track here, but shouldn't that be WOAR? Using your post-colon subtitle in the acronym for your game seems like cheating to me, anyway. Actually, it should just be WO, shouldn't it? WHO, maybe?
I always find MMOs too tough to call ahead of time. That's largely because I can't devote the time needed to follow the genre as faithfully seems to be required. As such, I find it hard to get too excited about them prior to release. The last MMO I tried was Age of Conan. I think I made it to around level six before realizing that I had no desire to continue playing. That's not to say it was a bad game--I had just had my fill and wanted to move on to something else.
After meeting a small group of Mythic dudes last week, all of whom are nearing the end of the pre-release road only to start down a new road of content updates and the inevitable patches, I found myself interested in playing the game. I think a lot of that is in their approach. The game certainly has a similar look and setting to that of World of Warcraft. Conventional wisdom, at that point, would dictate that the people involved in creating Warhammer Online would never mention "the other guys" by name. Instead, they're not afraid to mention Blizzard's game. And their message is clear: This is not World of Warcraft. Please try it for yourself and you'll plainly see that we're doing something different.
Of course, everyone says they're doing something different. I've seen bits and pieces of the game at E3 or at EA and so on, but it's nearly impossible to get a real feel for an MMO from a guided demo. It'll be interesting to see how the final product shakes out.
If you're on the hunt for more WHOAoR information, don't miss the video we shot at EA last week, where I talked with Mythic's Creative Director, Paul Barnett, about the game.
So what are you looking for in a new MMO?