Thursday, January 7, 2021

REVIEW: Warhammer Underworlds Online

I know I'm a little late to the party, but I just got a computer that is able to run this game and I was definitely chomping at the bit to give it a try. If you're a fan of Underworlds then you'll probably be a fan of this video game. So, what exactly is Warhammer Underworlds: Online and how does it play?

First off, this game came out back in the spring, but like I said, my computer was to out of date to run it. As soon as I had a computer that could handle it I downloaded the game to give it a shot. It's currently available on Steam and already has three packages of DLC available, which I will go into in a bit. At it's most basic, Warhammer Underworlds: Online is exactly what it sounds like, a video game version of the traditional game in which you can play other people online.

As far as gameplay goes it is pretty much a direct translation of the regular Underworlds, but with a few interesting amendments, mostly due to card and warband selection. When the game launched the only warbands that were available were Steelheart's, Magore's Fiends, the Sepulchral Guard, Ironskull's Boys, the Farstriders, and the Skaven. For anyone familiar with the game you'll know those are all season one warbands, with two missing. Since then, via DLC, we've had the Eyes of the Nine, the Thorns of the Briar Queen, and the Chosen Axes. That's one more season one warband, and two from season two. So we have a weird mix of available warbands, as well as universal cards.

The rollout in Warhammer Underworlds: Online (WUO) hasn't been following what the game did in the real world. Both warbands, and universal cards have been coming out in a way wholly unique to this iteration of the game. Having said that, it appears they've recently patched the general rules for the game to bring it more in line with where we are at with Beastgrave. You can place Lethal Hexes, and all of the other general rules seem to follow the more up to date ruleset. There are no flipping objectives though, or Primacy token, or any rules unique to cards from Beastgrave and Direchasm, such as Hunter and Quarry. There are restricted cards though, just like in the normal game, with only five allowed in your deck at a time.

None of this really detracts from the game though in my opinion. It plays just like Warhammer Underworlds. It's one of the most accurate representations of GW's tabletop games in a video game I've seen. It's just like playing the game in the past, or more accurately, a weird, alternate timeline version of it as far as cards and warbands go. It is nice to be able to revisit some of these universal cards that are no longer in the current Championship format though. 

The graphics look great, as do the animations. It's really nice seeing the ruins of Shadespire visualized like this. I have heard of numerous bugs and glitches, but having come into the game so late, I think most of them seem ironed out. The only things I ran into that were annoying was a bug where my opponent timed out, then nothing happened, so I couldn't do anything, and they weren't doing anything. Presumably the game crashed on their end or something, but I ended up having to concede to get out of the match and took the loss, which was annoying. I was winning when it happened, and I feel like in situations like that the game should auto-concede the player who timed out after a certain amount of time. The only other issue I've run into, which isn't a bug, is when a player concedes early instead of playing out the match. I get it, but it's annoying because they are cheating me out of glory points and experience to advance my warband. There have been a few games where I was clearly losing by round three with no way to come back, but I continued the game until the end so my opponent could get all of their experience.

The game keeps track of all of your stats for each warband, so you can see how many glory points they've earned, how many games they've run, how many crits they've rolled, and so forth. This also earns you experience which unlocks things like new avatars and alternate color schemes for the warband. 

The deck editor is nice and simple to use and only took me a small amount of time to get the hang of. The one downside here is it seems like you're only able to save one version of a deck per warband at a time. There also aren't a ton of universal cards at the moment, so a lot of decks can end up using a lot of the same cards. I think Precise Use of Force and Twist the Knife find their way into most of my decks for example. 

If I were to make changes to the game it would just be to increase the speed at which they're rolling out new warbands and cards. I understand that's entirely based upon their working speed behind the scenes, but it would be nice to have the game catch up to the current version of the game, with all of the current warbands available, as well as all of the correct universals. This way you could use it as a true alternate to Underworlds when unable to meet up in person, as well as allowing you to more easily test out decks and strategies. I also don't understand why this wasn't made available on phones and tablets. This seems like the perfect mobile game in my opinion and would open it up to so many more people. Like I said before, I didn't even have a computer that could run it until this past month. The graphics are nice, but I'd be willing to sacrifice them a little bit to get the game running on a mobile device. I feel like the gameplay is more important than the graphics for something like this. It would also be nice to be able to customize the color schemes of the warbands more.

All in all I really enjoy Warhammer Underworlds Online. It feels just like playing the real game, because it is! I'm just using different universals and with less warbands than in real life. The matchmaking can take a little while sometimes, but that's entirely dependent upon how many people are trying to play at the same time. One time I got matched against the same person three times in a row because, presumably, we were the only two trying to play at that time. So, that's an easy fix, just get more people playing!

If you're a fan of Warhammer Underworlds and have a computer that can run this game then I highly recommend you check it out. It's fairly cheap on Steam and scratches all of those Underworlds itches. I'll definitely be playing it a good amount. I've got a fairly good Sepulchral Guard deck going at the moment, and I think I can actually replicate most of it with the current Championship cards too, so I might try and make it in real life. 

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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