By Moonshadow101 3 Comments
Warhammer 40k: Dark Millennium Online (hereafter, "DMO") is the full name of the upcoming 40k MMO. Details thusfar have been scarce, which makes some sense, given the pretty far-off release date (Given as early 2013 on the GB page, though I'm not sure of the source) Still, after briefly reviving my Star Trek Online account and putting some time into that game, I've been thinking quite a bit about DMO. My last 40k-related wall of text was a pretty satisfying vent, so let's try another.
Let's start with what we know. The game's website (http://www.darkmillenniumonline.com/) contains virtually zero information, so we'll have to widen our view a bit.
Here's an interview with a few tidbits, extrapolating upon one of the trailers:
- The Factions will be binary, divided into Order and Disorder.
- "Order" will somehow contain the "Imperium of Man," which consists of Space Marines, Imperial Guard, and Tech-Priests.
- Vehicles, even Titans, will be integrated into gameplay.
This earlier trailer has a bit of additional info:
- "Demons," "Aliens," and "Heretics" are listed as threats to the Imperium.
- "Demons" = Possible to play as a demon? Maybe, but not expecting much.
- "Aliens" = Orks. Pretty simple.
- "Heretics" = Lost and the Damned?
- Chaos Space Marines also make an appearance, distinct from "Heretics."
- Aircraft will exist in some capacity.
The most recent item to drop is the E3 2011 teaser trailer, which contained no discernible new information. It's viewable on the main website, linked above. It's mainly notable for being a very recent confirmation that the game still exists.
So that's all of the information currently available, as far as I know. Let's start by tackling the two elephants in the room, as I see them. First I'll go over why these are problems, then look at possible solutions.
- Two Factions?
Games Workshop's web site lists 14 playable "Armies" for Warhammer 40k. If you condense the basic Space Marine chapters, as well as Demons and Chaos, it becomes 11. If you really want to crush it down, you can push all of the Imperial armies together and get it as low as 8. For those who don't understand why "Two factions" is a point of argument, you have to understand that these 8 entities are in a state of constant, merciless and unending war. Alliances between them are not entirely unheard of, but they're temporary, fragile, circumstantial, and inevitably end with betrayal.
It's true that GW has used the "Order/Disorder" dynamic in 40k before, in large-scale tabletop campaigns. The difference is that, in those scenarios, it was purely a scoring system. GW never suggested that Chaos Space Marines and Dark Eldar were grouping up to do quests together, or joining the same guild. There was never an "alliance" in the actual sense of the word.
Despite these misgivings, my overall opinion of the "Two Factions" situation is what I'm going to call "seventh-stage-of-grief-acceptance." I don't like it, but I understand why it's happening. Furthermore, I perceive a certain ray of hope: "The Imperium of Man." The use of "The Imperium of Man" as a sort of faction suggests to me that DMO may have a two-stage faction structure: A wide-reaching overall faction, ie, "Order" and "Disorder," and a sub-faction inside that faction. This two-stage structure could, if used correctly , create a much more lore-friendly environment than a DMO version of Orgrimmar where Chaos Space Marines and Orks hang out and group up for quests.
- The Power Gap
MMOs have, as a basic requirement, balance. If I start a level 1 character and you start a level 1 character then we should be of roughly the same power level. If we both invest time and energy into the game, and reach the level cap at the same time, then our max-level characters should be of roughly the same power level. All of this is quite obvious.
The problem here is that the Warhammer 40k universe is not inherently designed for individual balance. A Space Marine and an Imperial Guardsman are not supposed to be of the same power level, and furthermore, it is almost impossible that they could be. While a seasoned veteran of the Imperial Guard could, at a stretch, equal a rookie Space Marine, the level-for-level parity simply doesn't exist.
There is an obvious solution to this, and that is to employ the same solution that is used in the tabletop game: numbers. The Imperial Guard, not to mention the Orks, match up with stronger foes primarily by outnumbering them. This would require that the player control multiple single characters at once: an interesting mechanic that I hope they're considering. Indeed, as you can see, the trailer clearly depicts multiple Imperial Guard fighting in a static formation. These could be NPCs, or course, but I'd like to imagine it's a sign that playing Imperial Guard will mean playing a squad.
With those two elephants resolved, let's touch on the factions in a bit more detail, and think about how they can be sub-divided. For the large categorizations, let's just state the obvious:
Order: Imperium, Tau, Eldar
Disorder: Chaos, Orks, Dark Eldar
Unplayable: Tyranids, Necrons
I listed 'Nids and Necrons as unplayable for a few reasons. Firstly, the idea that either of them would become involved in any sort of alliance is even more unreasonable than the other cases. (A recent bit of lore did briefly suggest that the Necrons are capable of allying, but it's still debatable.) Furthermore, both suffer from a lack of individuality: Necrons are soulless, faceless robots and Tyranids are expendable bio-monsters. Neither one could conceivably have much of personality, a choice of gear, or really anything that an MMO player expects. I think they both work better as NPC enemies, and would be very surprised if either is playable in any capacity.
We already know that the Imperium is slated to have three races in it: Tech-Priests, Space Marines and Imperial Guard. Tech-Priests particularly deserve a bit of a look, graphically.
Going by the trailer, these three people are all supposed to fit under the Tech-Priest label. The first is clearly a generic mechanical priest. The second is more confusing: he looks like a Psyker, which is odd. A Psyker Tech-Priest is not an entirely unheard-of phenomenon, but is obnoxiously rare. It's also possible that the purple aura isn't psychic, and bay simply be an overly dramatic effect for a technological skill (Magus Biologis?) The third is a bit odd, and harder to categorize. He looks more mundane: he could be an imperial guardsman in the wrong place, or he could be a lower-ranked version of an earlier priest, or he could be a more militaristic interpretation of a tech-priest. Whatever the case, these three images suggest a substantial degree of customization.
I'm curious about how vehicles will work. Bikes are depicted in the trailer, and are reasonable: Bikes make a character more powerful, but not moreso than, say, a turret. Tanks are more interesting: they can shift the balance of power dramatically. Their inclusion suggests the potential for very large battlefields, with a very substantial number of players. I love this, obviously. Large scale war is what this universe is about, and vehicles are key part of it.
The only thing I find worrying on the vehicle front is Titans: Titans are, simply, too big. A Titan is large enough to BE a massive battlefield, let alone walk on one. Titan vs Titan fights make some sense, but putting Titans into the larger battlefield context is virtually impossible. Furthermore, Titan crews are an entirely separate entity from what the playable characters will presumably be: Space Marines do not pilot Titans. Neither do guardsmen, or even Tech-Priests. I'm just not sure how it'll all fit together. I will be neither surprised nor disappointed if Titans are cut before release, or confined to a very small number of heavily scripted missions.
And as a last note, I have to say I'm excited about the "Heretic" mentioned at the top of this post. The Lost and the Damned is a catch-all term for the non-Space Marine hordes of people who worship Chaos, and is extremely under-represented in the tabletop space. Many 40k players would be very excited to be able to play one. A human, rather than super-human, perspective of Chaos is always welcome.
I've pretty much reached the end of information that can be gleaned from the trailer. I'm somewhat tempted to delve into pure speculation, but that's for another time if at all. Anyone else really interested in this game? Any information that I missed? I know there's not much info, but it's always fun to put together what we can, and I can't wait for more info to drop.