Is Transformers Universe Back on Track?

It's been a long time coming, but we finally have an update on Jagex's free-to-play, massively multiplayer Transformers game.

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The last time the world saw anything on Transformers Universe was all the way back in April, when an appearance at the official Transformers convention BotCon allowed fans to reserve their in-game name and meet members of the development team. Since then, the team at the Cambridge, UK-based studio has been diligently working on the game, even if that's meant that fans have been left wondering on forums when they would actually, finally, get to play it. Thankfully, Jagex broke its silence when it came into our London office this week, with both an exclusive new trailer and the latest development build of the game.

Since coming on board earlier in the year, chief creative officer Alex Horton and story director Alex Derakoff have enacted some big changes, notably in story and characterisation. And when you look at the pair's history, this approach is understandable. Horton is an ex-Rockstar animator and art director whose CV includes Bully, Grand Theft Autos III and IV, and Red Dead Revolver, while Derakoff has directed movies such as Dead Man Running starring 50 Cent, and The Calcium Kid, starring Orlando Bloom. The pair are good friends, and it was Horton who got Derakoff into the games industry when he helped him land direction duties on the cinematics for Need for Speed: The Run, starring Christina Hendricks and Sean Farris.

However, with changes to the game come delays to the game--up until now it was scheduled to be released before the end of the year, but now it's clear that it won't see the light of day until 2013. While it's a frustratingly vague release date for fans, whose first question on internet forums usually seems to be "when will we get to play the beta?", it's clear that the duo are passionate fans themselves, and won't release anything they're not happy with. Horton spends a long time explaining his vision for the story before we even see the game, explaining that the world will change depending on the outcome of battles between the autobots or Decepticons, which will then have an impact on where the story goes post-release as well as what content they put out.

We got to see the very latest build of the game itself, mere days old, with the game played through a web browser and the server running on the same laptop. You start out by choosing your character--in our demo, there were a few car-based Autobots to choose from, but in the finished game there will also be Decepticons and bikes available. In the finished game, you'll be able to build a collection of multiple Transformers--a "toybox" according to Horton, who can be collected and tweaked each time they're used. Replicating the magic of the toys seems to be the idea for Horton, while Derakoff says he's hoping to explore the Transformers universe with the same sensibilities as a HBO production.

Back in the game, we dropped into protected Autobot territory--a safe ground for players to familiarise themselves with the controls as well as mingle with other players. The team says that the first hour of the game will take place within such a zone, with tutorials to explain the various mechanics, and hopefully some friendly players to party up with.

This being a Transformers game though, it's not long before you're getting into some action. We were shown the game's Deep Scan feature--essentially a horde mode where you face off against multiple enemies. The combat is fast-paced, with Horton saying he wants the game to have the immediacy of a shooter. Alongside the standard combat, which includes both melee and projectile-based weaponry, there are special weapons that can be used. We saw one Transformer becomes an artillery weapon--a state which takes a while to transform in and out of, but able to lay down heavy fire that devastates groups. The idea, therefore, is that you use it to support your party from afar--you can imagine an ideal party having smaller, faster Autobots in the thick of it, while bigger Transformers are raining down artillery fire. Transformers are also equipped with powers, such as an invisibility orb, which allows allies to see you but shields you from the sight of enemies, or a chaff mist, that protects you from incoming fire.

With an emphasis on action, rather than grinding, it seems like Jagex is aiming to build an accessible MMO that still has an ephasis on teamwork. We got a glimpse at how a large-party raid may work with a mission to extract some Energon. Energon is the main resource in the game but you have to find it and mine it in order to use it. Once you're in the vicinity of some Energon, you have to use trial and error to dig into the ground and begin extraction--the closer you get, the faster this process is. However, enemy Terracons will come and attack you during this process, so Transformers must work together to ensure mining players are protected when they come under attack.

Sadly, at this stage of production, there are still lots of unknowns about some of the specifics of Transformers Universe. First of all, there's no talk of release dates for betas--either closed or open--nor any word on how monetisation in the game will work. And while we know there will be post-release content, none of it is being detailed, other than the fact that there will be new Transformers on the way. Another one of the big questions yet to be answered is what role famous Transformers such as Optimus Prime and Starscream will play, but Horton confirmed that big characters will play a supporting role.

There have been some high-profile licensed games that have gone free-to-play recently, including Gotham City Impostors and DC Universe Online, while next year offers the very promising Marvel Heroes. There's plenty of work to be done on Transformers Universe, but in the meantime, Jagex has promised to make sure fans are properly up to speed with the story before release, so check out the game's official website for more as it develops.

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Discussion

5 comments
SamoanGrind
SamoanGrind

I hope there are some interesting features that will respark my interest in MMO's. Transformers has the potential to do it.

LionBeast
LionBeast

So can you still make your own transformer in the game or there will be pre-made transformers to choose from? If that's the case they had ruined half the game. :/

Vitex2003
Vitex2003

Should be interesting release.

toyo75
toyo75

I'll be more excited if the game wasn't an MMO and that the game came from High Moon Studios, the developer of War for Cybertron, and Fall of Cybertron with a storyline that's a continuation of Fall of Cybertron.

High Moon did a good job of staying true to its source material as far as those 2 games are concerned. They're even better than the recent Transformers movies which seemed to focus more  on the human character's "love life" than the Transformers themselves. 

246824682468
246824682468

Knowing jagex this game will be alright for the first 2 years, then they're going to release an update that completely ruins the game for everyone, but jagex will say something like "this update is neccessary for the advancement of the game" but in turn the game will lose like 70% of it's players, just like runescape.

 

Wensea10
Wensea10

I am hoping thisg game will be amazing; I am curious aboutt how this game will stand out from the rest of the other countless massive online role playing games.

ionusX
ionusX

i got doubts.. many doubt.. i have some genuine fears ESPECIALLY if they decide to do what high moon did and be 1 gendered..

Makc2
Makc2

Just what we needed.

dkdk999
dkdk999

Wait the people who made runescape are making a transformers game ? lol.

masterdrat
masterdrat

All I see is they're going to miss the opportunity to make a great PVP oriented game tp turn it into a collectible cash shop oriented game.

SoraPR
SoraPR

I hate all Start/Select guys until the give me the show back :-P BAKA!!!!

o0squishy0o
o0squishy0o

I sadly didn't see anything that really looked impressive. From what has been said I saw a great buzz word "accessible" which comes across, the input the player actuall has is quite shallow, however if you know your teamwork then it becomes slightly deeper. I don't hold up much hope from what has been shown here, unless I missing cool custom character creation, weapon customisation etc. This could be a great game, I just hope it doesn't come out as "click attack" game.

PETERAKO
PETERAKO

take an average MMORPG put transformers skin to it and voila TF universe. at least thats the impression the trailer gave me.

grandboo72
grandboo72

All of y'all talking bad about the game already have problems. If you can make a better game by all means start ur company and make those good games if not sit back relax and enjoy the ride

criticalmigz
criticalmigz

too many talks against this project...where or when did they even play it?oh,maybe the charlie mode?earlier than beta?cmon guys.... but im pretty sure u wud all still try!hahha

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

This game looked great 14yrs ago.

noodles_321
noodles_321

After watching that trailer you just think where have i seen this before, it looks familiar..... oh wait its every other mmo ive played with transformer skins and even worse graphics!

 

Just don't do it unless you can do it right >:-(

Neo-ganon
Neo-ganon

THATS THE RUNESCAPE ENGINE?!?!

 

holy crap this is going to be awesome! :D

IanNottinghamX
IanNottinghamX

I think a Transformers MMo would work if it derived more from the Generation 1 or Beastwars universes...If they use the Michael bay esque movie route they WILL fail..

Steba93
Steba93

These types of MMO's fail already in the first minutes you hear about it. Think about it, do you want to play as some nobody doing some generic kill/fetch quests, modifying your character as same type as your favorite autobot or decepticon and just taking orders from the iconic characters you most likely grew up with. Or, would you rather play a game where you can actually play and control these iconic childhood characters, being a boss yourself and doing something interesting, like the new Transformer Cybertron games, I think they were great.

This was one of the reasons I just didn't like DC Universe, you just get bossed around by Batman being some nobody wannabe Batman or Superman or whoever. You never get to do anything interesting and so on. Batman Arkham games were good because of the mechanics, gameplay and every little thing that makes game a game, but what made it just bloody awesome was Batman, the villains and Gotham. You could actually be Batman, be a badass, you can actually glide around the Gotham City's skies, taking out bad guys, having epic and different matches with Joker, Two Face and tons of other iconic villains we know and love. DCU didn't have that, and I'm afraid Transformers Universe doesn't have it either. Still, let's see. I at least am not getting my hopes up, but if this does well, I'll at least be pleasantly surprised :)

tgwolf
tgwolf

I'm glad there is a good f2p mmo to look forward to...when do we get some more??

PowerEncarnate
PowerEncarnate

for one everyone needs to stop bashing this game until they give it a chance....the thing isn't even at early beta yet and looks better then some of the games i've seen in the last few years....that has to account for something. i for one will be giving this game a chance

illsuggestion
illsuggestion

@toyo75 I agree that it would be cool if this game was in the High Moon continuity, but it looks like like it's drawing somewhat (at least visually) from the Michael Bay movies--which I loathe. Still, I'm looking forward to an MMO based on the Transformers and with enough customization the game shouldn't be marred too much by any such influence.

jaekobcaed
jaekobcaed

 @246824682468  Knowing today's community of Jagex games (which is to say that just about all players of Jagex's games these days are trolls or whiners), we'll see a bunch of idiots ranting about crap they don't even understand. Jagex knows what they're doing, and the LARGEST amount of players they've ever lost at once (and likely the largest they'll ever lose), was around 60k players. But they still have 18m active players PER MONTH on RuneScape alone, plus 200 million accounts since launch. What other MMO can say the same?

greendude123
greendude123

 @246824682468 Runescape, my first MMO back when i was 10. O how i loved that game. Then WoW came out, among other MMO's. Went back to Runescape when i was bored, how i miss the old days of that game, used to be alot of fun.

jaekobcaed
jaekobcaed

 @Wensea10 It's unique, gameplay-wise, and it's created by the best game studio out there. :)

jaekobcaed
jaekobcaed

 @dkdk999 Yes, they are. We've seen how capable they are of creating the best MMOs (yes, RS actually holds more world records than "precious" WoW), this game should be no exception.

Bumblebee1138
Bumblebee1138

I also noticed that these robots SEEMS to have ability to turn in to vehicles. I could be wrong though.....

jaekobcaed
jaekobcaed

 @grandboo72 FINALLY someone who has sense! This game is going to be great, and everyone's trashing it when they can't even play it yet. Same thing happened with the Evolution of Combat in RuneScape - a long time before the beta even started, players trashed it left and right, so they went in with a closed mind and decided to hate it anyways, when the update is a great update. >.<

jaekobcaed
jaekobcaed

 @AmirLegend23 It will be free with an option to pay a low monthly fee (probably around $7) for a massive expansion, just like RS.

jaekobcaed
jaekobcaed

 @Snaptrap You don't even have a clue what good graphics are - you're probably just a WoW fanboy...

Bumblebee1138
Bumblebee1138

Worse graphics? That's the best critisism you can give? Just because you have a max out PC to play realistic graphics dosen't everyone else have one too.

jaekobcaed
jaekobcaed

 @Neo-ganon Actually, I recall reading they're not using RuneTek for this game, but a different engine. :)

jaekobcaed
jaekobcaed

 @jessie82 Hey! You haven't even PLAYED it, so what right do you think you have to trash it? -_-

noodles_321
noodles_321

 @jessie82

 sadly it will... the mmo's today are all the same :-(  thats why they have to go FTP because people aren't willing to spend the money on them all.

Bumblebee1138
Bumblebee1138

The game is based on new aligned continuty. (Which Prime cartoon and new Cybertron games take place)

Ovirew
Ovirew

I think with Transformers it's different though.  There are like hundreds of different Transformers, and I think being able to make your own is part of the appeal of it.  I don't see why it always has to be about Optimus Prime and Megatron.

 

Whenever I watched the show, sure the regular Autobots and Decepticons are neat, but I kind of picked out bits and pieces of what I like about each of the different robots, and imagined what kind of robot I would like to be if I was one of them.

 

There are lots of possibilities because they can turn into any type of vehicle, or even a dinosaur or a cassette tape or a weapon or something.  And then they can be as small as Bumblebee, or as massive as Sky Lynx.  Some are bulky like Ironhide, some are wirey like Mirage, some of them don't even look all that humanoid.

 

And then maybe your Transformer probably has some favorite weapons it likes to use, or some special ability of some sort.  Maybe they have a special skill or role within the Autobots or Decepticons, like how Ratchet was the medic and Bumblebee was the scout.

 

Maybe the game will be missing a lot of this great depth, and maybe it will never reach the heights I wish it would reach.  But it's still the closest thing we've ever gotten to anything like this.  So I really don't have much complaining to do.

noodles_321
noodles_321

 @JIMDOG4442002

 not ever, but not this style.  This has already been done too many times to seem any good

noodles_321
noodles_321

 @PowerEncarnate

 Ya it has a chance but i wouldnt get your hopes up with that same old mmo style. the only thing different about most mo's today is different skins pretty much :-(

feleas
feleas

@illsuggestion @toyo75 High Moon did a DAMN good job with Those 2 games, and I hope other developers learn from that fact.

DirkBDaring
DirkBDaring

@jaekobcaed @Wensea10  LoL, ^ I smell Jagex fanboy.  Jagex had a good run with Runescape.  Name any one of their other '40' titles that are even popular let alone successful.  Face it, Jagex is a one hit wonder (Runescape) and thats it.  Been riding that wave long enough. 

DirkBDaring
DirkBDaring

@jaekobcaed @grandboo72  ^ LoL.  I smell fanboys.  The fact of the matter is Jagex is a one hit wonder (Runescape). Name any one of their '40' titles that are popular let alone successful.  Jagex had its day, time for another indie to move in which looks to be the case for 2013.  Lots of good games coming out to drool over.