WAR != WoW

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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.

comp1 comp2 comp3

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.

Explanation on PvP tiers in Warhammer Online straight from the Devs in Video Format.

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.

Quest Explanation Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

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!

  • I dunno when you last played WoW, but I thought it was worth mentioning purely for clarity that Blizzard got rid of PVP Ranks shortly before TBC came out.

    You still grind BG’s for Honor Rewards, but the serious stuff (gearwise) is all from Arena’s now (2v2, 3v3, 5v5 brackets) based on your rating comparitive to other teams ratings in your Battlegroup.

    I hate it, I hate instances full stop, especially relating to PVP, and whilst I’m not that interested in WAR atm, it’s -definitely- a step in the right direction to make PVP (Open World prioritively) have a large emphasis.

  • Thanks for the clarification Oww.

    I wasn’t aware that ranks were done away with but I suppose it’s the same principle that you grind in arena brackets for honor. With rank systems you were technically competing against your own realm to see who invested most time. With Arenas you’re competing to be the best in your bracket.

    In Warhammer it’s not about your 2v2, 3v3, 5v5 doing better than anyone else. It’s about your entire realm doing better than the other realm. If your realm does well it’s because of the combined efforts from everyone.

  • Great synopsis! It’s hard to compare an established game with one that’s still in beta and lacks enough polish that they’ve delayed it twice in the span of a year, but you’ve given your comparisons weight by linking to good resources! 🙂

    Let’s hope they stick with their current line of thinking and release in Q2 because I can’t bear to speculate much longer!

  • I’ve expanded on the similarities. I overlooked a few obvious things they both have in common.

    Factions/Lore and Talent Trees (or character customization through choice).

  • I’m really glad that WAR will actually address the problems of griefers (gankers), twinking, and win-trading. In WAR, when a high-level player goes to a lower tier and engages a lowbie in PvP, they turn into a chicken. As for twinking, it’s pointless, since engaging in RvR at anything less than max level will net you xp. And win-trading? in RvR? Laughable…

  • You’ve just sold a copy of Warhammer Online.

    My first MMORPG was DaoC (not counting MUDs) and then I played WoW until a few months ago.
    I didn’t think I’d pick up another MMOG again, but after reading your post and watching the videos you linked too, I’m excited again about MMOG magic.
    I look forward to being able to just explore around a zone and find little secrets as a way of saying ‘thanks for exploring’ 🙂

    So Mythic owes you a thanks for convincing someone to purchase the game who might not have otherwise 🙂

  • I’m glad you’re excited about it Robert! It has me excited about MMOs again like I haven’t been since DAOC. 🙂

  • So is there something built in to WAR to even the playing field? I can’t see why anyone would continue to play on the losing side if one side begins to dominate the other.

  • […] Tobold from Tolbold’s MMORPG Blog has responded to an earlier post by Keen and Graev’s Gaming Blog. Like Keen and Graev argue that what will make WAR standout from World of Warcraft is the Warhammer Online RvR consequences.  To be specific, unlike WoW, Warhammer will have consequences. […]

  • @Sumdumguy: Last I heard the most important battles (taking over main cities) were limited to prevent one side from “zerging” the other. But other than that I have not heard of any limitations. I don’t think there is any way to stop one side from dominating heavily if that side is just clearly better though.

  • Well, I definitely plan on giving WAR a try. Hopefully, there will be some sort of balancing out because if one side consistently wins, then more and more people will end up flocking to that side – to the point of detriment to the game. What’s troublesome is that it sounds like the dominant side gets better loot/more advantages which will make the sides even more imbalanced.

    e.g. Apologies for the sports analogy but… would you really want to play for the Dolphins against the Patriots every game if after every loss, the Patriots get to start the next game with an additional 7 point advantage? There’s a point at which the losing side will stop playing, or at worst, switch sides.

  • Hopefully it will be a good mix on each server. There were times in DAOC when Albion (one of the 3 realms) was clearly the best. They always had the relics and the numbers. Even with all their benefits though it still wasn’t enough to stop us from getting organized and occasionally coming out ahead.

    Any benefit from winning isn’t going to be so unbalanced that it prevents a comeback. That would be poor design. But it’s going to be enough benefit so that it’s worth fighting for.

    It usually all works out in the end.

  • If that’s the case, bring it on! (big PvP fan) Makes my anticipation for WAR all that much more.

  • Great entry. As an MMO designer, I can’t tell you how annoying it gets seeing every single fantasy MMO compared to every other fantasy MMO (especially WoW). Just because something is fantasy doesn’t mean it has anything to do with any other fantasy game.

    In this case, there a lot of similarities, but Warhammer DID exist before Warcraft, which pretty much negates all arguments from people who say that WAR’s world is a copy of WoW’s (the reality, of course, is the opposite).

  • Keen and GraevÂ’s Gaming Blog Compares AOC and Warhammer…

    They try to compare the two games based on information at hand. Certainly this is fodder for the ongoing debate about who’s better than who that is raging on several community sites right now….

  • Great article!

    I’ve been playing WoW since beta, and am now part of the WAR beta and your piece here is 100% spot on. Totally different games aimed different people, imo.

  • Basically, you compare two games based on rumors. Rumors for WAR because the NDA doesn’t permit you to use facts, and rumors for WoW because you didn’t play the game since before they removed the rank ladder for PvP, which is… ages ago. As example, one of the key information missing in your comparison is that nowadays, in WoW, the best gear for PvP also comes from PvP.

    My comparison would be way more simple, at least until the NDA on WAR is lifted and people are allowed to speak freely of it: WoW is a well established game which has nothing to prove considering its smashing success worldwide, while WAR is a game still in beta under NDA, which has recently been put offline to be completely revamped, indicating that the developers still don’t have a definitive view of the game, so I would be VERY cautious before I proclaim that WAR is gonna be the best thing since sliced bread.

  • I’m just wondering Keen, have you played WAR Beta? I mean there is a LOT of difference between what is said on video podcasts and writings and the actual game.

    Your experience of WoW comes from playing it (for 2 years?), and your experience of WAR comes from watching a few videos and reading some stuff that are mainly written on the official website, thus comparing the two isn’t a reliable comparison.

  • WOW does have Open World PvP, the first two events were added in patch 1.12 with Eastern Plaguelands towers and Silithus ore gathering. Then Burning Crusade added Hellfire Pennisula, Zangarmarsh, Bone Wastes, and Halaa as world PvP events, with Halaa prepping for the eventual siege weapons and destructible buildings that are coming with Wrath of the Lich King. The zone Lake Wintergrasp will be a PvP only zone even on PvE zone where controlling it will benefit either Alliance or Horde across the entire continent of Northrend. The Merovingian is quite correct about PvP, you no longer have to raid to get the best gear, in fact with Resilience, raiding gear is at a distinct disadvantage in PvP against someone in equivalent arena gear.

  • I’m aware of the changes to the PvP gear and the coming addition of more “open world” pvp to WoW.


    Adjusting these details in the comparison is minor. Again, it’s the superficial that you are comparing. Look deeper than these facts and see how each game is woven around them. WoW is a PvE game with an arcade approach to PvP. WAR is a PvP.

    Yes, I played WoW for 2 years and Yes they have made changes. But, the changes to WoW have not set the game in a different course. Comparing apples and oranges can only go so far before you come to the conclusion that both are fruit.

    Although I have not played WAR I can still make a comparison based on what we have been given in podcasts and published writings. WAR and DAOC also share much more than a common developer. The spirit and feeling behind the games are almost identical.

  • Good article, just one thing…

    “You can’t progress in tier 3 without tier 2’s victory.”

    …is slightly incorrect. : )

  • I based that information on the battlefronts info where victory points spill over to the next side. You need more victory points in previous tiers in order to secure the victory in the last tier. I don’t know enough about it to say whether or not a complete victory is 100% mandatory in each before you can achieve victory in the next, but it sounded that way.

  • One does not need to secure lower tiers before advancing higher.

    A percentage of victory points from lower tiers “spill over” into higher tiers, victory points from lower tiers will certainly help, although are far from being needed.
    You may just be confusing the entirety of the tier system with the tier 4 system, in tier 4 areas must be taken over sequentially before reaching the enemies’ capital.

    –Not meaning to be critical, just a somewhat misleading statement.

  • Ah okay, that’s what I was doing. Thank you for clarifying that Somegamer – not critical at all. I don’t want to be spreading the wrong info around.

    So the victory points help, and the statement I made about level 5’s being able to contribute even at the beginning to the high level combat was true. It just isn’t mandatory. Okay, I think I understand now. I’ll modify the comparison to reflect that.

  • Wow War sounds impressive. One concern i have with RvR model described is how realm balancing will be handled. For example are two realms paired from the start? Are realms composed of only one faction? Also starting up a charachter way down the road will force you into the PVS style gameplay — yes I saw the podcast where they went over this but still I imagine the pop to be pretty small in some cases. Looks great though

  • The two realms are split up into Order and Destruction.

    Order has the High elves, Dwarves, and Empire races.

    Destruction has the Greenskins(goblin and orc), Dark Elves, and Chaos races.

    While each set of 3 races falls under the realm umbrella there is the obvious feuds between specific races.

    Chaos <--> Empire
    Dark Elves <--> High Elves
    Greenskins <--> Dwarves

    Their starting areas are closest to each other and they will likely be the first to battle each other. BUT anyone on the destruction can fight anyone on the order, and vice versa.

    Long story short? It’s like DAOC but the RvR starts at level 1.

  • Thanks for the info. Do realms = servers – as in WoW? I think that’s confusing me. Looks like I’ll be using boot camp alot come may. Wish they would port it for mac.

  • Ahh I can see how that’s confusing. No, servers are not realms. Realms is a term used to describe sides or factions like Horde and Alliance. Order and Destruction are the two realms in WAR like Horde and Alliance are in WoW.

    Each server will have all the realms.

  • The bit that gave it away for me was when you very subtley attacked WoW’s PVE raid mechanics, and praised WAR’s PVE raid mechanics. You honestly expect people to buy that the game that does something as a side issue is better than the game that treats it as the core experience? A hypocritical attitude if you ask me, especially as you were so disdainful of WoW pvp.

    This post is not a meaningful comparison of the two games, you abandoned a position of neutrality for a pro-WAR position and you should retitle it as such so that readers don’t come in here expecting an unbiased evaluation.

  • “In Warhammer it’s not about your 2v2, 3v3, 5v5 doing better than anyone else. It’s about your entire realm doing better than the other realm.”

    Hmm. Does this not sound like it contains an obvious flaw? Your achievements are intrinsically linked to things that are fundamentally outside your control? I’ve been in WoW Battleground games that have been lost due to a minority of players not pulling their weight; it doesn’t take much to make it impossible to win no matter how well you try on your own. And here you’re saying your whole realm can affect how well you do? That sounds like it would remove any sense of individual achievement. And that’s surely not a good idea in an MMORPG.

  • @ EQN357

    You are misunderstanding the purpose and the message behind the article.

    This was written in response to the people who have insisted upon saying that WAR and WoW are the same game. I’m not comparing them or deciding which is better. I pointed out the very obvious differences between the two games. I stated facts, or tried to at least, in this comparison.

    Can you point out where I “Attacked WoW’s PVE raid mechanics” please? Here’s what I see:

    FACT: “In World of Warcraft most of the game is centered around PvE.”

    FACT: “There will be PvE raids but they won’t be like WoW. WoW is now designed around raiding as the end-all-be-all of their end-game.”

    FACT: “In WoW you get the best gear from Raids”

    Warhammer’s end-game PvE isn’t the center focus of the game. Warhammer’s best gear comes from PvP and not PvE.

    If I have made an error in presenting the facts please, by all means, correct me.

  • @ Ben Darlow

    Individual achievement does exist but it doesn’t take away from the overall goals of achieving victory for your realm. There are rewards for how well you do personally.

    However, unlike a battleground in WoW you’re not going to have the minority of players not pulling their weight impact the overall success because the RvR gameplay of WAR is on a much larger scale than WoW.

    There is individual achievement and you can and should care about how you do individually or with your guild. BUT, the focus remains on your team.

  • You don’t get the best gear from raiding. If you were to get full tier 6 from black temple/hyjal and walk into battlegrounds, you will be killed fast because the pve gear usually lacks stamina and always lacks resilience.

    Just wanted to correct that.

  • The section on raiding in the comparison is about PvE, not PvP. The best PvE gear comes from Raiding in WoW. The best gear in the entire game overall comes from PvP in WAR.

    In WoW you need goo PvP gear for PvP from PvP and good PvE gear from raiding in PvP.

  • The part of WoW I most enjoy is the arena/pvp side. As such the idea of true progression being based on pvp rather than pve is extremely interesting to me.

    That said, I find it weird that you’re comparing a game you no longer play, WoW, against a game you’ve never played, WAR. Ok, they’re not the same but comparing PR info direct from the company releasing the game against memories of a game which has changed since you played it seems a little… dumb. I did find it interesting though 😉

    And to those who are claiming that WoW pve/T6 etc is useless for pvp, you don’t really know what you’re talking about. For a pally to be competitive in arena they need pve gear, the SK100 best rogues are generally in 1/2 pve 1/2 pvp gear, and a large number of the other top healers are there purely because they have access to BT gear.

  • There really is nothing wrong with liking the arena/pvp in WoW. It’s truly a matter of personal preference and I respect that fully.

    Warhammer Online is taking most if not all of the base pvp system from DAOC. I played DAOC extensively and WAR will not deviate far from it at all. Yes, I’m comparing PR info from a game I’ve never played but I feel as though I’ve played it for years.

  • I’ll accept some of the similarities you’ve drawn. The style of the graphics is probably the most pertinent. However I WOULD like you to make it clear you’ve drawn a list of conclussions from some video’s VS playing an outdated version of WoW.

    As far as some of your similarities go – “Both games have TWO SIDES!!” – hmmm, yup, I could list a few hundred games with 2 sides, even ones with orcs etc on one side and humans etc on the other. Its pretty standard fantasy.

    Both having raids – well done, I think you really got Blizz on this one. Oh, wait, WAR has taken the usual tank/dps/healer setup Blizz took further…and copied it almost exactly. Its a sensible way to go, it keeps the game design clean but this one isn’t a WAR construct.

    I’m not after ripping the article a new one and I AM likely VERY biased (tho will be giving WAR a go, i’m not that blinkered) but you need to take it easy on conclussions drawn when the product isn’t even out yet.

  • Pally healers in full t6 have less stamina and no resilience. There’s no way that would work in arena. And yes, I do know what I’m talking about.

  • i hope in war its all the same stats on the gear, just really good on the PvP gear, been playing WoW a while, and i’m hating having seperate progressions for pve and pvp, i.e. raiding to get pve gear, then switching to pvp gear and doing arena for pvp progression(mostly switching from tanking gear def+dodge+stam+block to stam+resilience). I like where you can get strong gear and do anything you want in that gear. Not going from S3 to T3 or T6 to S1, thats lame imo

  • @sumdumguy – ” I can’t see why anyone would continue to play on the losing side if one side begins to dominate the other. ” — They will prob put in the same system as they did in DAoC, If one side gets to hevily domenated, The losing side gets hole Realm buffs, eg 15%extra dmg done or 10% Extra HP, But you never know.

  • And ofc in DAoC skill and teamwork could get you the win most the time anyways, I played DAoC for about a year and have been playing WOW since the release date to now as a hardcore PvPer, I have full Season3 gear on two chars, its just too easy, I cant wait for WAR to come out.

  • People seem to be forgetting that Warhammer as the tabletop variant is over 25 years old. The factions have been created over many years, and current artwork for most things – is older than WoW. Fed up of people slating WAR for the art – when it’s based from Games Workshop work which is far older.
    And about the factions: Not so clear cut in the tabletop but you CAN define certain races as good and bad (though personally i would have had good guys, bad guys and crazy guys)
    But quality post, very informative and well written, thank you 🙂

  • I’d be curious about hearing an updated comparison now WAR is live. It seems to me that player population is going to be key in WAR. There has to be enough folk to populate the RVR objectives at the lower levels or else, there won’t be much RvRin’.

    I’ve been a WOW guy since its launch in 2004, and its a fantastic game. However I’ve been playing WAR for the last month and except for some polish and crafting issues, it feels to me to be a much better game. I do enjoy pvp(rvr) much more than pve however, so I might be biased to WAR.