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The Warhammer Influence
Blizzard makes no secret that they take influences from books, films, and even other games. Prime among those influences is that of the miniature game Warhammer. The first Warcraft game, Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, is one of many games at the time that took design and even gameplay cues from Warhammer, and certainly the most successful. Since that time Blizzard has made the universe their own, spawning a game series capped by the most popular MMO of all time: World of Warcraft.
Warhammer Online, or WAR - short for Warhammer: Age of Reckoning - was released on September 18th, 2008 was seen as a direct competitor to World of Warcraft. Some even thought it went so far as to copy WoW's style, which frustrated Warhammer fans as evidenced by a now infamous Penny Arcade comic. It's success has been marginal at best, (you can read all about Why Warhammer Online Failed in Michael Hartman's article) but it brought a lot to the table that WoW didn't. Always looking to improve their product, Blizzard saw ways to improve WoW and did so. Below is a list of the five most important things that World of Warcraft learned from Warhammer Online.
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5. Achievements and Titles
Achievements weren't new to Warhammer Online, they had been implemented into the Xbox 360 and PS3 years before the release of the game. What WAR did, though, was integrate achievements in a way that had not been done before, making them an essential part of the experience.
Players all have a Tome of Knowledge, a book that acts as part tracker for Warhammer Online quests and part achievement guide. Different achievements are unlocked while going through the game, some of which have helpful, cool, or downright hilarious rewards. For example, clicking on yourself 5,000 times will get you an achievement and a title "The Vain" which is displayed after your name.
World of Warcraft adapted this system in a much more limited fashion, but effective nonetheless. While completing WoW achievements won't net XP like in Warhammer Online, you can still get some pretty cool prizes and titles, including a one of a kind epic flying mount.
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4. Guild Leveling
The ability to level up a guild not only brings the guild closer together, uniting them towards a common goal, but it also encourages players to seek out a guild, and not solo their way through the game. Though it wasn't exclusive to Warhammer Online, they integrate d the idea of a guild leveling system in a simple and effective way. Allowing guilds to level simply through a player's normal actions made guild leveling painless.
Blizzard knows that the better a social experience World of Warcraft is, the longer people will play it, and the longer they play it the more Blizzard gets paid. It's definitely in their best interest to get people into guilds. Though overshadowed by the announcement of New Races in Cataclysm, there was much talk, although few details, of a guild leveling system similar to that of Warhammer Online.
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3. Leveling Through PvP
When a player is engaged in combat for hours on end and isn't able to earn experience for it, the whole process can feel a bit discouraging. Warhammer Online, a Realm vs Realm centric game, needed players to be involved in PvP and RvR battles to really showcase what it was about, and the solution was experience gain through PvP. The Warhammer Online team knew when creating the game that opportunities for alternate advancement, in WAR's case these were called Realm Points, just aren't enough incentive.
World of Warcraft has seen a great deal of excitement from the addition of battleground experience, especially from players leveling up a second or third character. Tired of the same quests and grinding you went through for your first character? Enjoy the perks of being able to twink out your lowbie character and decimate others in the battlegrounds while still being able to gain levels. One thing WoW did here that Warhammer didn't was allow those players wishing to stay at each battleground's level cap to turn off the XP gain.
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2. Everybody Hates Grinding
Perhaps the most pleasant thing about playing Warhammer Online is that you're never forced to sit and grind out quests, or worse yet, kill the same group of mobs over and over again. With the addition of a public quest system, as well as endless ways to earn experience including Leveling Through PvP, players were never forced to stay in one area too long in order to get their level.
World of Warcraft leveling is easier than ever, with mounts now being available at level 20, experience gains increasing and more quest areas being available, but there's still quite a bit of time spent in each location doing quests that feel essentially the same. Cataclysm promises to change all this, and gives Blizzard a chance to completely change the WoW landscape. Quests will be closer together and more varied, leveling will go faster, and players will get changes of scenery more often. Not to mention, Goblins and Worgen will have starting areas that are, according to a Blizzcon panel, better than that of the Death Knights.
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1. Everybody Loves Goblins
A highly anticipated part of Warhammer: Age of Reckoning for many players was the prospect of playing a Greenskin character, the overarching name assigned to Goblins and orks. The most unique to the game, and one of the most played Warhammer Online classes at launch, is the Goblin Squig Herder. While on first glance similar to a hunter, the Squig Herder is able to get inside his Squig pet and take direct control. The unique class aside, the character of the Goblin in the Warhammer universe is incredibly well defined and very entertaining, making Greenskins one of the most popular race choices in Warhammer Onlne.
Warcraft's Goblins first captured the imagination in Warcraft III, the game that originated many of the characters and races that make up World of Warcraft. Thrall, Arthas, Rexxar and his bear Misha were all present in Warcraft 3. In fact, the origin of Arthas' sword Frostmourne has roots in the third installment of Warcraft. Tauren and Night Elves made the transition to WoW, but sadly Goblins remained unplayable.
Blizzard is now capitalizing on the popularity of the green skinned money grubbing Goblins by finally giving them their place in World of Warcraft. With the release of Cataclysm, Goblins not only become playable, but get some very impressive racial abilities, including a rocket belt and a personal servant that allows bank access in the field.
Certainly there are some differences in the penny pinching Goblins of Warcraft vs Warhammer Greenskins who are a bit lacking in the brain department. World of Warcraft's Goblins are intelligent, thrifty and inventive, whereas Warhammer Goblins are tribal, primitive and reproduce through spores. In both games though, Goblins are the race with the most personality.
A collection of articles on the history of World of Warcraft and how it has both evolved over time and caused other games to evolve as well.