Warhammer: Wrath of Heroes Beta Impressions

Warhammer: Wrath of Heroes Beta Impressions

PreviewGames Workshops is firing on all cylinders when it comes to the digitization of their Warhammer properties. In addition to the Warhammer 40,000 games (Kill Team and Space Marine), the miniature moguls have had a successful MMO running since 2008 in Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. As a way to introduce the Warhammer Fantasy setting and, by extension, the MMO it’s based on to a larger audience, Bioware Mythic is preparing to roll out a free-to-play adaptation of the game entitled Wrath of Heroes.

The idea behind Wrath of Heroes is that it captures one of the most popular aspects of the full MMO, the player-vs-player content, and delivers it for free. The game features three-way battles between teams of six players each. Right now, the game is in closed beta and you can apply on the Wrath of Heroes website at wrathofheroes.warhammeronline.com.

When you load up the game, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the 7 different heroes that are currently available to choose from. They range from Bax Dreadtoof, a brutish melee powerhouse of an Ork to Felicia the Flamekissed, a range-optimized fire mage. Each of the heroes currently has 5 skills to choose from, but based on the menu options available, you’ll have the opportunity to set tactics in four different customized loadouts. There is an experience and leveling system in place and, I expect, that it will tie into the availability of tactics as you progress. In between respawns, you can choose a new hero, so you can adapt to enemy tactics and give new play styles a try.

The concept of the game is simple, combining capture point game play with team deathmatch. In each map there are flags. Each one controlled by your team adds a point to each kill. It is, therefore, possible that a single kill could earn four points for your team. In the center of the map is an artifact, which functions like a traditional point-based capture zone. For each tick of the clock that your team is in possession of the artifact, you’ll earn more points.

Games last no more than 15 minutes and end when one team has reached 250 points or when time runs out. The game is clearly designed for quick play.

In-game, Wrath of Heroes functions like its MMO big brother. You’ll move with the WASD keys and use your skills with the 1 -5 keys. For those familiar with MMO play, this will feel quite natural. For those not as fluent in this control scheme, you might have trouble getting used to the fact that there is no basic attack function. All you have is your five skills, and they all have a cooldown timer.

Right now, it doesn’t seem like the game supports voice chat, which would be welcome in a team-based game. Again, those familiar with MMO play might have less issue switching between text chat and combat. Also, once you have enough friends playing to use the Custom Warband option, you might utilize the traditional alternate means of voice communication (Skype and Ventrilo come to mind).

Wrath of Heroes is off to a very good start, especially for players looking for a PvP MMO experience without the deeper, more time consuming MMO shell. I enjoyed the few matches I had a chance to play and the diversity of the heroes. I imagine once the other core functions, including tactics and the store are added, the experience will be deep enough to convert some Wrath of Heroes players to the full Age of Reckoning MMO.

Mike is the Reviews Editor and former Community Manager for this fine, digital establishment. You can find him crawling through dungeons, cruising the galaxy in the Normandy, and geeking it out around a gaming table.

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