Warhammer: Wrath Of Heroes Hands-on Impressions -- Arena-Based Gameplay With A MMORPG FeelBy Leah Jackson - Posted May 03, 2012
Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes is the free-to-play player vs. player (PvP) arena game from BioWare-Mythic. Rather than focus on the Realm vs. Realm of Warhammer Online,or go the traditional MOBA route like Riot Games did with League of Legends or Valve did with Dota 2, EA chose to create a third-person, 6v6v6, hero-centric, arena game that feels reminiscent of PvP arenas in standard MMORPGS.
Wrath of Heroes tries to be different from your standard multiplayer game in several ways. Before you even hop into a match, you have the chance to upgrade your Heroes via the in-game store. In the store you can purchase new Heroes for about $8.50 as well as skins (about $5 per skin), which change a hero's appearance. The store also sells items that increase the amount of gold and experience you earn for 24 hours for about a dollar each.
One item I'm a bit on the fence about is an "Ornate Chest," which you can buy for a little more than $13 that contains powerful masteries. Each Hero in WoH can equip up to three masteries, which are essentially the traits, abilities, and skills that players usually have to unlock as their account levels up from playing the game. The Ornate Chest allows you take a gamble at winning some strong masteries for cheap, early on, and allows players to essentially buy power. Plus, certain masteries, called Perks, can be used on any Hero.
Perks require that your Hero meet a certain objective before they can be used though. For example, the perk Unnatural Agility requires a 10 kill streak and if you can manage to complete the objective, then the perk increases you and your allies' dodge chance by 100 percent for 10 seconds.
Each week three Heroes will be free-to-play out of the full roster of nine. If you buy a hero in the store, you'll always be able to use them in the battle, regardless if that hero is one of the free-to-play Heroes that week or not. Heroes range from characters who are good at tanking and taking damage, to characters who are fast and better at dealing damage, to healers, to hybrid Heroes who are versatile and able to do just about everything
The character I primarily chose was Aessa Goldmane, a High Elf protector. She basically guards her allies from enemies, but more importantly, she gains more power and a snare when allies near her are attacked, which makes her a fierce defender. She can also redirect damage intended for her allies to herself. I found myself constantly running around with Heroes who had lower HP but could deal higher damage in order to guard them while they unleashed their attacks.
What's different about Wrath of Heroes is that, if you die in the middle of a battle, you can respawn as a different Hero with no penalty. Think Team Fortress 2. Let's say their whole team has picked squishy damage dealers with little health. Your team could repick heroes with more health who deal higher damage like Aessa in order to overtake them. Then you could have a few members on your team switch back to offensive characters after you capture the point in order to cover all your bases.
The maps, or arenas in Wrath of Heroes, are called Scenarios. Each scenario lasts 15 minutes, and the first team to get to 250 points, or the team with the most points at the end of 15 minutes, wins. To earn points, your team will have to complete different types of objectives in each scenario. We tested out two very different scenarios: The Mourkain Temple and Arena.
Mourkain Temple is a capture and hold scenario. Each of the three teams are battling to capture up to three flags. For each flag your team controls, you'll gain extra points when you kill an enemy. However, rather than the flag resetting when you capture it, you'll have to defend it in your base. This mechanic forces people to play strategically and decide which characters need to hold the flags and which characters need to be off killing enemies. Your team can also capture an Artifact as long as they own a flag. Holding the Artifact earns even more points for your team than flags do, but if you lose all your flags, you'll lose the Artifact.
Arena on the other hand is completely different than Mourkain Temple. The Arena scenario is a pure deathmatch, with each kill amassing five points. Spread throughout the scenario are power ups that grant damage and speed buffs, as well as health for the player. Once people start amassing kills and unleashing their kill streak masteries, things heat up fast in Arena, and by the time our game was over the victorious team only won by about 20 points, with the other two teams close behind.
In its current state, Wrath of Heroes feels like a mix between Team Fortress 2 and the PvP from Warhammer Online. The game's fast pace and reward system, which I like since it constantly pats players on the back at the end of each game with incentives to keep playing--via experience points and other bonuses--will keep players coming back for more. EA's already promised more Heroes and scenarios in the future, so we'll have to keep checking out how the game progresses as it moves further along in its open beta. You can download Wrath of Heroes for free now at the Wrath of Heroes website.