Alrighty! I’ve been asked to talk more about why I am so excited about Warhammer Online. I think that I can achieve that in this post, so for now I will try and accomplish killing two birds with one big heavy stone. I’m seeing more and more comparisons between the two games. Some of them are spot on but others are way off base. I feel it’s prudent to clarify a few things for some people who may either not understand or be confused about the clear differences between these two games. It’s important to try and put all bias aside and drop the personal feelings about which is a “better” game. They are both great games. Objectivity is key when explaining the similarities and differences. Warhammer is not WoW. WoW is not Warhammer. Each game follows a very clear path.
Graphics – Both games look similar in that they have adopted a high fantasy “cartoon” look. While Warhammer steps slightly beyond the pure cartoon look and introduces some grunge you would have to be blind to say that they don’t look similar. This is the part where most people bring up the infamous supposed and perhaps never existing lawsuit filed by Games Workshop against Blizzard. All things aside you can’t deny the similarities. For your viewing pleasure, I present a few screenshots I found here that clearly show the differences. Please keep in mind that WoW is obviously older than WAR and that these are not my screenshots.
I think Penny Arcade says it best.
Races – This one is a given. Orcs, Elves, Dwarves, Goblins. See previous regarding speculation.
Two Factions/Lore – WoW has the Horde/Alliance and WAR has Order/Destruction. This is a huge similarity and in many cases it relates a lot to the lore of the game. In the Warcraft lore and in previous Warcraft games it has always been about this huge fight between the Horde and the Alliance. It’s always boiled down to their never ending struggle. Other enemies have been introduced and both sides have teamed up but at the end of the day it’s still the Horde and the Alliance. Warhammer is very similar (the MMO at least… I’m not sure about the tabletop stuff.) There are these two factions and they want nothing more than to rip each other to shreds.
Quests and PvE – It’s a MMORPG. Both games will have PvE and quests. (See latter Differences for Quest explanation)
Talent Trees – Recently Warhammer Online introduced a very popular character development style that WoW itself decided to use back in the day. Talent trees and character customization through choices is something both games share. Right now WAR’s system is still under heavy development and we’ve only recently heard about it in the “whats new” podcast (embedded below) it’s still necessary to mention that both games share in a similar idea.
Raids – Both WoW and WAR have Raids. (See latter differences)
PvP – Yes, both games have PvP. BUT…
PvP – This is a big one folks so please read closely. World of Warcraft has PvP but it is not clearly woven into the very fabric of the game. In World of Warcraft you enter into battlegrounds (or arenas) to compete against the other faction to earn points to unlock gear (higher arena ranks) to be better at killing the opposing faction to … repeat. It’s a very “arcade” approach to PvP and very much ‘removed’ from the game itself. In Warhammer PvP is the game. All roads lead to the Realm vs Realm (RvR) gameplay. In Warhammer the entire world is the battlefield. As you level up you progress through 4 tiers (level 1-40 divided) you battle against the other realm for a goal. That’s another difference between the games. WoW’s PvP doesn’t serve an overall purpose in the game. Warhammer’s PvP does. You can’t progress into the last tiers of RvR combat without enough victory points accrued from previous tiers. Need further clarification? I thought you might so here’s an instructional video.
In Warhammer Online you do have something to lose in PvP. Some people think that WAR is pointless PvP. How does losing your main city to the enemy sound? How about losing actual territory such as Keeps (castles) that were held by your guild? (See latter differences for more explanation). And quite possibly the greatest incentive to do well in the RvR is that you need do better than your opponents or they will get stronger. If your enemy is constantly killing you then they are going to have Victory Points, more land, better skills, cooler looking characters, and you’re going to feel like a dirty little squig for sucking. In World of Warcraft no one cares how well your faction does. If you all suck in the battlegrounds it has no impact on the world around you.
Keeps, Siege Weapons, and Open World RvR – This is huuuge. Remember all the promises Blizzard gave about siege weapons and open world pvp objectives, yada yada yada? Warhammer Online is actually delivering. Before anyone claims WAR just took WoW’s ideas brush up on DAOC. Paul and Josh explain it much better than I do. Watch the video then read on.
Your guild can actually have a castle in the real open world. You’re not going to be forced into a battleground to PvP. Your castle’s guards, flags, and decor will reflect not only your guild but your realm. You can use siege weapons! Catapults and Ballistas were available in DAOC and you can bet they’re available in WAR. Break down doors and slay players defending the keeps or defend them and shoot arrows down on attackers as a Goblin Squig Herder if that’s your class of choice. It’s endless fun that never feels the same like a Battleground. But hey, if Battlegrounds are what you like then Warhammer has those too!
PvE – This is where I want to talk more about quests and PvE in general. In World of Warcraft most of the game is centered around PvE. In the leveling game it’s questing and in the end-game it’s raiding. Quests in WoW are standard. Kill this, get this, do this. Again I can’t explain it better than Paul Barnett and Josh Drescher. Basically say goodbye to stupid riduclous quests that require you to kill 50 things you’ve already killed. Bears, Bears, Bears.
There are normal PvE quests that aren’t redundant like those in WoW. There are RvR quests that involve participating greatly in RvR. And finally there are Public Quests which no one has ever done before. Part 3 of the Quest Explanation talks about this quite a bit but PQ’s are big quests that are constantly running in the background of most regions. These are open to your participation at you leisure and you are rewarded based on how much you can contribute. Feel like soloing? Jump in and help the public quest. Play 45 minutes or 3 hours. You’ll get awarded fairly. It adds group/teamplay without the necessity to sit around for hours finding a group. Ideal.
Tomb of Knowledge – The Tome of Knowledge is the log of a characters achievements during Warhammer Online. It tracks achievements in player exploration, questing (both regular and public quests), discovery of secrets, and monster slaying and then rewards the player for them in various ways. Its like a LOTRO Deed log on crack. It offers another layer of depth to the PvE & PvP gameplay.
Raids – There will be PvE raids (Kings of Capital Cities for example) but they won’t be like WoW. WoW is now designed around raiding as the end-all-be-all of their end-game. In Warhammer Online it’s something to do on the side when you aren’t actively participating in Realm vs Realm combat. I have no idea about the gear obtained in PvE but it’s been said that it won’t be better than that obtained in PvP. NOTE: It was revealed that there will be no “gather large groups of people” to go kill something raids. Expect 6-man content.
Gear (Phat Loot) – In WoW you get the best gear from Raids and PvP BG Rank Grinds. I don’t need to go into details here. In Warhammer Online you get the best gear from sieging enemy cities. Yes, the best gear in the entire game comes from realm vs realm combat.
And there you have it. While both games share in their similarities they differ greatly as you look beyond the superficial. The reason I am so excited about Warhammer Online is because it revives the sense of purpose in gameplay that I have not felt since DAOC. Everything I do is contributing to the glory of my realm – not just in theory but in practice. My actions, regardless of how small even at level 5 will impact the actions of the level 40’s sieging cities. The sense of pride and honor in your accomplishments is further strengthened by the tangible goals and achievements at every turn.
Most people are confused or do not understand because they do not watch the WAR Video podcasts. These are a great tool for furthering your knowledge on the game. All of them are available at our Keen and Graev YouTube Channel. Please forgive me if I left something out on either side of the line. I’m happy to answer questions and rectify any information that might be in error.
Updated to reflect the correct information provided by helpful comments. Thanks!