A year in the life of the Warhammer Online fan server

A bit of over a yr in the past, I wrote concerning the premature loss of life of Warhammer On-line: Age of Reckoning, and the lengthy street to resurrecting it. Since then the fan-run mission keeping the defunct MMO, known as Go back of Reckoning, has persevered apace. “This ultimate yr we’ve been operating on new options and looking to steadiness bettering steadiness and capability of our server,” say the Go back of Reckoning group (they requested not to be referred to by means of their person names as “we paintings as one group for this sport”).

Lately, they boosted their height capability from “simply over 1,000 concurrent gamers to only below four,000 concurrent gamers in round two weeks.”

Warhammer On-line advantages from a full of life inhabitants as a result of one among its most well liked options used to be realm-versus-realm fight—mass battles the place the Order and Destruction factions took over each and every different’s assists in keeping, pushing a entrance line ahead step-by-step. Realm vs. realm culminated in town sieges, that have been intended to be climactic fights for the capitals of Altdorf and The Inevitable Town. The primary town siege, fought a couple of weeks after the sport introduced in 2008, used to be infamously underwhelming as Eurogamer reported at the time, with a small group of Destruction players able to sneak into Altdorf via the back door, completely bypassing the drawn-out gate siege. Subsequent patches changed city sieges significantly, setting them as 24-versus-24 battles with a maximum duration of two hours, and that’s what Return of Reckoning has implemented—after a fair amount of testing—finalizing city sieges on February 8. 

On the smaller scale, six-vs-six battles have always been popular, so Return of Reckoning began catering to those with its first ranked season earlier this year. Six weeks of scenarios for players level 40 and higher made up ranked season one. Winners were rewarded with a new variety of the game’s emblem currency called Victorious Emblems. The playerbase had a lot of things to say about how that first season shook out—they’ve always been, let’s say, passionate—and provided plenty of feedback for changes in the second season of ranked scenarios.

“The first season of ranked was very much us testing the water,” say the team. “It was something that never existed in the original game. We have been spending the time between season one and two implementing some of the feedback. For example we added a variety of different maps, one of which is randomly selected when a ranked match is started, where as previously we were limited to one map.”

In July, Return of Reckoning had its first Twitch drops event. You may know Twitch drops from big-name games like Modern Warfare or Sea of Thieves, where viewers who’ve linked their accounts earn free loot for watching affiliated streamers play the game in question (I got a lot of free Elder Scrolls: Legends cards that way back in the day). It’s unusual to see a fan-run MMO being approved for the program, but Warhammer Online now has Twitch drop events every month. 

“We had no idea if players would even care, but after the first day we were blown away,” say the team, “and every day we have done Drops since has been amazing.” At its peak Warhammer Online reached number eight on Twitch’s list of most-watched MMORPGs with 2,900 viewers, putting it ahead of The Elder Scrolls Online and Guild Wars 2.

During that July event 19,444 rewards were claimed. By the September event, the number was up to 48,149.

But MMOs aren’t just about their feature list and the number of people involved. They’re about their communities. On September 9, a Warhammer Online player named Bipolargary passed away after struggling with lung cancer. Bipolargary played a dwarf engineer as well as a black orc who was feared in PvP going all the way back to the original game’s Karak Norn server a decade ago. 

When the Go back of Reckoning group first heard Gary used to be unwell, they determined to honor him in-game. “For that, we created an NPC known as Gary which gave an match quest that asks gamers to not give up and to stay preventing. After Gary gave up the ghost, we added a headstone together with his identify on it, however our very personal group surprised us when over 500 gamers, of each rival factions, collected round peacefully and venerated him.”

The volunteers who run Go back of Reckoning have quite a lot of plans for the way forward for Warhammer On-line. They are operating on options from the unique that have not made it in but, together with The Land of the Lifeless growth and dungeons like The Misplaced Vale and Hunters Vale. Some options that have been lower from the unique, like Guild Stay Upgrades, are coming too. “Whilst we’ve come a ways since 2014 and added numerous the unique options again into the sport we’re at all times having a look at tactics to strengthen it,” they are saying. “From tweaking current content material like Stay Sieges or Fort Sieges, finding out from the more than one iterations of them Mythic had, to seeing how some distance we will be able to push the restrict in terms of including extra content material.”

New options are great, however the truth that Go back of Reckoning is able to inspiring gamers to spontaneously collect in a memorial for one among their very own, and handiest gank each and every different a bit, is what is in point of fact promising. Its gamers care, and that is the reason what makes a sport really feel alive, and can optimistically stay it that means for years yet to come.

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