Warhammer Executive Producer Jeff Hickman: The first part of our Call to Arms event is something we're calling "Bitter Rivals" ... it's similar in function to the Heavy Metal event. That event was very well received by the players, and this one is going to play out similarly. We didn't want to deviate a whole bunch from Heavy Metal, but there are a bunch of little things we're doing in Bitter Rivals that make it feel different than our last class introduction.
One of the biggest successes of Heavy Metal was the preview of the Reikland Steam Tank Factory scenario. We put it in, and then we took it back out. We have another new scenario we're going to preview for everybody during Bitter Rivals, and it's called Twisting Tower. It's a scenario that takes place in the Chaos Wastes. The opposite of Reikland. It's a scenario you'll be able to play during the event, and then will probably go away for at least a little while after the event ends.
During Heavy Metal you had a set of daily tasks that had to be accomplished; the tasks were originally kind of strict about when they could be done, but you eased back on that based on player feedback. Will you be keeping things a little more relaxed, flexible for Bitter Rivals?
Hickman: We're probably going to modify it slightly? We're still talking about it. Most likely what we'll do is split up the tasks into groups. We'll have a set of four or five tasks you can do at release, and then every few days we'll add some more. We'll try to feed it out to people, but we won't do rigid "daily" quests, no. We'll see how that balance goes.
To refresh peoples' memories, Heavy Metal added two new classes that addressed the lack of a tank for the Empire and Dark Elf factions. Bitter Rivals is adding in two new DPS classes for the Dwarf/Greenskin pairing. Can you talk about the background behind the Orc Choppa and the Dwarf Slayer?
Hickman: Both of these classes are melee DPS classes that are designed to work off of 'rage' or berserker fury. They're both lightly armored, and build up this fury as they fight. Their berserker power builds up, and to a point it increases the amount of damage they do. So the longer they fight the more deadly they are. It also, at certain intervals, unlocks abilities they can use. Abilities that are gated off of how berserk they are.
Once they pass a certain point, though ... let's call it 50% berserk, but we're still tweaking it ... they start to overextend themselves.
They continue to become more powerful, doing more damage, but it starts to significantly weaken their defenses. They are much easier to kill if they let their berserker rage pile up too much. It becomes a balancing act where you have to decide, "how much fury should I build up? How much should I expend with abilities to balance this out?" You want to hover around the 40-60% mark or potentially if you want to do some massive damage you might just blow through the roof. There's just a danger there from a defensive standpoint.
Both of these classes are very similar and mirrors to each other in the way they use class mechanics. They are also similar in as far as our goals for them. They're both lightly armored characters (the slayer isn't even wearing a shirt), and they're designed to be heavy damage outputters.
The thing that was surprising to me about your "clippers and hair coloring" gag was that you guys were making this move at all. I know that during development there had been talk about putting the Slayer into the game, but that he'd been pulled out because of lore concerns. What have you guys come to, lore-wise, that's made this an appropriate class for Warhammer Online?
Hickman: That's been the toughest problem for us. The fact that we have this great, iconic class that we could put in the game. The fact that we didn't include it in launch should tell you a little bit about how seriously we take lore concerns. GW takes them very seriously as well, and after a lot of discussion with Games Workshop we basically came to the conclusion that there are precedents set in the lore for this.
There are ways ... I hate to say "around the problem", but there are things in GW's lore about the Slayer that lead us down this path. There are such things as Slayer trainers, there are such things as Slayers that have been around for a while. That's the thing about Slayers, is that they're disgraced. They're literally looking for death. You wouldn't expect them to be a character leveling up and getting better at what they do; he'd just go find the biggest monster he can find and get himself killed.
That said, if you look into the lore you see that there are a select few Slayers that survive time and again. And that's who our players are, they're the heroes of the realm. They're the select few that make it even though they're not really trying. They get better at what they do, and eventually they specialize. They become Troll Slayers or Skaven Slayers, and through discussion with GW we recognized how viable this class was, despite our initial misgivings. Plus, these characters are so great and our players so desperately want to see them that it'd be a shame not to work with the lore and find a way to get them into the game.
We're not trying to do anything crazy, we're just trying to do something fun.
For even more on the Choppa and Slayer check out our own Brooke "Snafzg" Pilley's take on how these classes will fit into the game!