Massively multiplayer role-playing games not only let you slay fearsome monsters and explore a virtual world, but they let you do it in the company of other players in a social setting. With such games incredibly popular right now, the number of online RPGs continues to grow. This includes ArchLord, an upcoming fantasy game from Codemasters and NHN Corporation. Like other fantasy games, ArchLord will let you explore a medieval world filled with sword and sorcery, not to mention dozens of quests and adventures. We were able to go on a virtual tour of ArchLord's magical world of Chantra to see the sights, as well as some of the things that you'll be able to do in the game.
ArchLord takes its name from one of its key features. Basically, the game will have a system in which one player can become the ArchLord, or overlord, of the entire game. As ArchLord, that player will have control over the weather and climate, influence over taxes and the economy, and enjoy other perks, such as a giant dragon to fly around on and elite royal bodyguards for protection. While this sounds great, it won't last forever. Every month, the ArchLord can change, and this process will be determined by castles and sieges. There are three unique castles in the game, each controlled by a single player guild. The leaders of those three guilds then battle it out to determine who is ArchLord. However, ownership of the castles must be contested monthly. Basically, an outside guild earns the honor to besiege a castle, and the winners of that battle get to run the castle for the month. The leaders of those guilds then get to fight it out to see who the next ArchLord is.
These sieges can be pretty elaborate affairs, but that makes sense since they only happen on a monthly basis. Castles are formidable structures, with high walls and thick gates, and to successfully take one requires a lot of teamwork. Attackers will have the benefit of siege works that they can build, which include catapults and trebuchets that can pound on the walls. Attackers can also run up to the main gate and hammer on it until it collapses. Defenders, on the other hand, can sally out of the castle to keep the attackers at bay, but if the defenses are breached, the fight is then determined by whichever side can capture three of the five key objectives in the castle.
Of course, sieges will be limited to a handful of guilds each month, so the bigger question is, What will the other players do the rest of the time? From what we saw, ArchLord will have the expected amount of adventuring and quests in it that you encounter in other online RPGs. The wilderness is infested with all sorts of creatures to battle if you're looking for a random fight while exploring. Meanwhile, quests will take you deep into dungeons and other dangerous areas where you can battle high-level opponents and bosses, such as fiery demons and the powerful pharaoh king. Combat is tied heavily into the skill system, as you can select only a handful of your overall skills and assign them to slots on your character's combat bar. You can then activate these skills in battle, with the only limit being their recharge time and the amount of mana they require. Playing as an archer, for example, we had archery skills, such as triple shot, blinding shot, and piercing shot, in addition to our normal attack. While we could also use melee weapons, it made more sense to travel as a larger group, with players assuming different roles, so we had fighters who took care of the front-line combat while we provided support for a distance. You can go into battle on foot, or atop an animal mount. Typically, this means a horse, though we also saw more exotic creatures used as mounts, such as a desert ox that bears a strong resemblance to a dinosaur.
You can spend your time between battles trying to make stuff and exploring the world. Dead monsters can be harvested for various components, and crafting will have a big role in the game. It will be possible to create things such as transformation potions, which let you turn into powerful creatures for a few minutes at a time, though the majority of potions deal with restoring lost health or mana. You can use these potions yourself, or you can sell or trade them for a profit, of course. If sightseeing is more you're thing, then the world of Chantra has plenty of interesting sights, including a floating city in the sky that resembles a sailing vessel.
Because we were able to play as high-level characters in the open beta, we walked around in sleek, spiky battle armor that wouldn't look too out of place in an anime television show, but this is to be expected as the game was developed in Asia. We wandered around a typical human town to see the various merchant options for purchasing and selling many of these items. In addition to the expected blacksmith and other merchants, we also saw a safekeeper, where you can deposit money (useful because in player-versus-player mode other players can loot your corpse of gold if you're killed), as well as an auction house for exchanging items with other players. Between the interesting new ArchLord feature and the normal, everyday adventuring, ArchLord looks as though it should offer plenty for players to do. ArchLord is scheduled to launch on September 26.