Welcome to the Warhammer: Wrath of Heroes Beta Preview. With the recent uprising of MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games in the free to play scene, it was only a matter of time before some of the bigger players, like EA and BioWare Mythic entered the fray.
League of Legends, from RIOT, set the standard for the genre a couple of years back with a DOTA-esque entry that has since become one of the most played in the world, alongside setting the pace for free to play eSports as a whole; though, with DOTA 2 from Valve on its heels, it’s clear that something more is needed to see the MOBA genre grow.
BioWare Mythic, creators of Dark Age of Camelot, seem to have noticed this too, as their title Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes (WoH), currently in Open Beta, does away with many of the typical elements found in this genre, such as laning and NPC enemies and even the traditional bird’s-eye perspective, opting instead for something more action oriented. WoH is played in third-person on a variety of maps, each with different goals and objectives – but maintains the MOBA standard of Hero Progression.
Of course, WoH isn’t the first to try mixing up MOBAs in this way. A while back, Land of Chaos Online (LOCO) attempted to do the same; though, they maintained the NPCs and laning concepts – and Smite from HiRez Studios is following in a similar fashion. Where WoH breaks the trend is in its game modes.
First, all games are played with 3 teams in place of the typical 2 – each consisting of 6 players (6v6v6). Second, the maps (called scenarios) are objective based and the objectives are specific to the maps; so, where playing in the Mourkain Temple will see you in a king-of-the-hill-meets-capture-the-flag style game, playing in the The Pyramid of Settra offers a completely different experience, seeing players kill each other to steal relics, then return them to their base.
Combat within these games is also quite different, though the heroes themselves, of which there are already more than 30, definitely stick close to the traditional MOBA format. Each hero has 5 unique abilities, is capable of using items and recipes, and each falls into one of 3 core types: damage, support or healing.
Games traditionally hang on the balance of teamwork, another core MOBA concept, rewarding players for working together to capture objectives or gang up on enemy stragglers for quick and decisive battles. I haven’t played long enough to comment on balance, though I will say that it seems even, and the quality of the game itself lends a hand to the feeling that the right people are making sure that it’s heading in the right direction.
After a battle has finished, players are given the opportunity to win rewards based on their performance in the form of a slot machine with 6 reels. Each game has 6 main objectives, such as placing in the top 5, and for each completed, another reel is opened allowing the potential for another reward.
Quests are another small innovation, asking players to complete specific goals, such as playing with friends or killing enemies as a specific hero. Completing these quests offer a variety of rewards, though generally it’s gold and potions, and can be completed over multiple games. There’re also a bunch of rewards on offer for players who log in every day, which can be viewed each time you log in.
Like all games in the EA ‘Play4Free’ franchise, Wrath of Heroes utilises the cash shop to its fullest advantage, offering a plethora of expensive enhancements and leaving much of the game inaccessible to those without access to a credit card, or hundreds of hours to spend grinding in-game gold instead.
Typically, this isn’t such a huge issue; however, the talent system, which remains locked to all heroes that haven’t been purchased (either with virtual currency, or a huge amount of in-game gold) makes it a little more complicated. Every time you gain a level, you gain a talent/skill point, but unless you’re taken with Lucian the Blade, the first and only free hero, then you’re likely to be stockpiling those points until you’ve racked up the gold needed to unlock a new one – leaving you at an often heavy disadvantage.
Heroes can also be rented for single battles at a significantly lower rate, but as this doesn’t allow for talent customisation, they’ll always be less effective than a purchased hero. Still, it’s a nice way to add some variety to your playstyle when you’re starting out, and a great way to experiment with a hero before committing to a purchase. The cash shop also offers new skins for heroes, alongside a full offering of typical character and account enhancements.
All in all, WoH is a refreshing addition to the MOBA genre, one that’s clearly been designed well and is constantly being polished. There’s a great sense of Warhammer humour, an easy-to-use interface and matchmaking system, and enough content and competitive play to keep you entertained for the next decade or so.
Related: Action, Fantasy, MOBA, Warhammer
Head over to our Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes Game Page for more information, or to start playing now.