Games Day '09: Our impressions of Warhammer's Land of the Dead

So we've been over the cold, unfeeling facts about Land of the Dead. It's big, it's a throwback zone to action RPGs, it has RvR and PvE, and it's filled with mummies. But you don't want the facts, right? You want to know how it plays and you want to know if it's worth your time to pick up Warhammer or resubscribe to the game.

During my time at Games Day, I got the chance to participate in a bunch of the PQs in the new zone and try out a few areas of the Tomb of the Vulture Lord, the capstone dungeon of the whole experience. I got to be shanked by swinging blades, pierced by surprise dart traps, and I even got to wear the Sovereign armor set, the pinnacle armor of the game. (Yes, it looks completely badass.)
But just wearing the best armor in the game doesn't qualify you to automatically destroy people in the Land of the Dead. Even with wearing Sovereign armor and playing a class that I'm semi-familiar with (the Bright Wizard, all of the press took Order classes), I was probably the one who died the most. These encounters are exciting, action packed, and certainly not entirely based on having great stats. Land of the Dead proves that there will be two things that keep parties alive -- their knowledge of their class roles, and knowledge of the battles at hand.

I got around to a bunch of different PQs and saw first hand that they weren't kidding, all of these PQs are very different beasts indeed. One had me avoiding laser beams from an obelisk while another had me flying up to cliffs and destroy undead bird eggs while still another had me doing mini-dungeon crawls to close various sarcophagi that were down in the bottom of tombs.

My favorite PQ out of the ones I played had to have been the mini-dungeon crawl one. You have an area filled with tombs, and the first objective is to close the eight sarcophagi that lie at the bottom of these buildings. There's a catch to this, past the monsters that roam the area, the tombs are cursed and will deal damage as you stand inside them. You can, however, grab a blessing that lies in an urn just inside of the tomb doors to protect yourself from the damage. This makes these quick-crawls into timed affairs, forcing you to run in, close the sarcophagus, and run back out.

When all eight are closed, the PQ enters phase two, where necrotic priests begin to summon skeletal servants to reopen the sarcophagi. These servants are completely mindless -- ignoring any damage you deal to them as they march into the tombs to do their one task in life, open the sarcophagi. The four priests, each a champion class monster, on the outskirts will continually summon these skeletons until killed. Keep the sarcophagi closed and kill the priests, and you'll be on your way to phase 3.

Phase three summons a nasty tomb lord whom you've just angered by closing all of the sarcophagi. He's a hero class monster, making him into a group battle affair that really cannot be soloed. While engaging him, monsters still continue to spawn all around, leaving solo players the ability to keep getting tokens while a group deals with the boss. His one trick, and it's a doozie, is to roar and split apart into black dust clouds that begin to roam the area.

This article was originally published on Massively.