Until recently, the Warhammer property has remained a relatively unknown entity in the world of video games, instead dominating tabletops. Following some high-profile releases, however, this wargaming staple has made itself known to the masses. While its first foray into the massively multiplayer online gaming world may not have been a resounding success, the Warhammer franchise is speeding into the future with their signature Space Marines and Orks to take another chainsaw-augmented stab at the MMO genre with Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade.
Not only will this represent the series’ return to the MMO genre, but it will also be Warhammer 40K’s first foray into the genre. This time though, Mythic Entertainment will not be helming the project, which will instead be developed by Montreal studio Behaviour Interactive. As one might expect from the source material, Eternal Crusade will be more “fantasy in space” than hard sci-fi and will bring the MMO genre a taste of PvP-centric third-person shooters.
This is not to say that fans of PvE content will be left out in the cold, but the developers have stated that the focus of the title will be on inter-player warfare and interactions. Behaviour plans to use this focus to create a player-driven world where – like EVE Online – players can be elected to positions of power by their colleagues, control the future of the game’s world, and provide wartime objectives for others.
As with any MMO, races play an important role in developing the game world. In Eternal Crusade’s case, there will be four races to start with: The bulky Space Marines, mysterious Eldar, treacherous Chaos Space Marines, and destructive Orks. Within these races, there will also be more specific sub-sets in the form of classes that make MMO players feel right at home.
One of the most interesting points about the game’s races comes in the form of the game’s monetization. Eternal Crusade will be taking a cue from Guild Wars 2 by charging a one-time fee of $40 in addition to a non-pay-to-win cash shop, doing away with monthly subscription fees. For those looking to try out the game, a free trial of sorts will be offered in which players will be able to play the entirety of the game as a special sub-set of the Orks.
“Wouldn’t this unbalance the game by having one race greatly outweigh the others?” you might ask. This is actually a conscious effort on the part of the developer in order to make the Ork race more true to its lore. As a race of barbaric, destructive, disorganized beings, Behaviour hopes to cultivate an in-game culture among the Orks in which their battlefield tactics will rely less on the talent of longtime players and more on the sheer quantity of free players who jump onto the battlefield for a battle or two.
Speaking of the battlefield, Eternal Crusade will be very much about capturing and controlling territories. The planet on hand will be comprised of 40 of these territories and will not require any loading when moving between them. In this way, Behaviour wants to differentiate these territories from conventional MMO zones. Also acting as a wildcard meant to impede the conquering of the four warring races is the inclusion of the Tyranids as a wholly-destructive race whose only prerogative is the decimation of all other forms of life.
Finally, while only extremely early prototype footage was shown, it’s already evident that Eternal Crusade is on a promising track. Whereas some action MMOs claim to put action first, they invariably fall into the typical genre trappings. Eternal Crusade looks to be a third-person shooter first with MMO elements added to further supplement this. What this means is that taking cover, vaulting and executing weakened foes will all be core elements of the game rather than gameplay afterthoughts.
Judging by what was shown, Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade is on the right track and could very well succeed in bringing the MMO genre into the stars. The game is still in its pre-production phase and is expected to move to its next phase by the end of the month, so changes can be expected between now and release. With such a heavy emphasis on interaction with the community though, the prospect of changes could be an equally encouraging one.
Are you interested in taking another Games Workshop-tinged jump back into the world of MMOs? How would you like to see Behaviour Interactive handle the line between MMO and third-person shooter?
Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade is due to release on PC in 2015 with an open beta to precede the full release.
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