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The Digital Continuum: Checking in with Warhammer Online

Kyle Horner

It's been a while since Warhammer Online was released and in that time we've seen a lot of crazy stuff happen. Namely, Wrath of the Lich King launched, became the fastest selling PC game of all time and rocketed World of Warcraft into an even high number of subscriptions. And with everyone spending the last couple of months in Azeroth -- myself included, admittedly -- I felt it was about time to hang up my Death Knight armor, grab a halberd and run around as a crazed Dark Elf wearing way too many spikes and blades for his own good.

In my time away from Warhammer Online a lot of small things have changed up and a couple big things have been added. Obviously the addition of two new tanking classes are the most stand out additions, but there's also things like a greater focus on open world RvR that's gotten my attention as well.

Mostly though, I've just been enjoying what was there in the first place -- albeit with a new class to try. And because of my re-enjoyment of the original content, some small worries began to take root. One being the almost constantly dead public quests in the starting zones. No matter what time I log onto the game, I just don't find more than a couple people here or there participating in PvE content. And I'm on Phoenix Throne, which seems like a rather busy server compared to most. I can't help but wonder if Mythic needs to consider consolidating the population, so a healthy community can flourish.

What I think needs to happen, is that Electronic Arts and Mythic seriously pimp their game all over the place after delivering a few more free content updates. Go grass roots, certainly, but also hit up television or even Hulu with ad placements. Plus, it never hurts to launch in more and more countries. Maybe all of this is actually in the works, and is the reason why servers aren't being shut down to balance out the issue right now. I suppose that's a sunny disposition to have, and I hope it's not without validity come this time next year.

Something else I'd like to discuss are Black Guards. When we were all told that four classes were being held back at launch because Mythic was holding themselves to a certain level of quality -- there was certainly some doubt. But the truth lies in the product, and after playing 18 ranks as a Black Guard I want to congratulate everyone at Mythic for creating such a fun class.

Every time I reach across the battlefield with my halberd and flay some Order grunt in my way, I feel a sense of joy deep down. The art design, class abilities and general feel of the Black Guard really made the wait so very worth it. So much that even though I remain worried about population imbalances and ghosted content, I'm probably going to keep up with my Black Guard in a bid for endgame content.

With community projects like the Age of Blogging and a continued effort by Mythic, there's a ton of good things in store for this game's future. I'm personally looking forward to the addition of those other two classes that didn't make it to launch, mostly because I want to run around as an Orc and "kill things good" Mostly though, I hope that Mythic both makes the right moves and finds the luck they need to grow their currently great game into something wonderful. Not only do the players deserve it, but Mythic does too.

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