White Knight Chronicles Impressions - New Online Content

Though it's still not out yet, there are some new additions that could make it worth the wait.

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Last year at the Tokyo Game Show, we were able to see White Knight Chronicles before it was released in Japan during the Christmas holiday. We've had the opportunity to see it a few times since then, but we haven't been able to find out when the game would be released stateside. At a 2009 Tokyo Game Show presentation, developers from Level-5 went over the new additions and announced that the game is expected to be released by spring of 2010.

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The presentation primarily focused on the online mode, which will be receiving some interesting features, as well as North American and European-exclusive content. We learned early on that the online mode can be unlocked after a couple hours of play after you've completed the first chapter of the offline story mode. The reason for this is so that beginner players can go through the tutorial chapter first before jumping into an online game.

Three modes have been added, which include Geonet, Georama, and subquests. Geonet is a social networking service for players online. You can set up a profile and blog, participate in message boards, send mail, and customize your friends list. Only one home page is available per PlayStation Network user. You can access Geonet at anytime via your menu or from a logic stone within the game. You'll receive administration announcements and be able to read who commented on your blog.

Georama is a mode that lets you create your own town, which will then function as a lobby. You can set up a shop and invite your friends over to take a look around. We were given a quick demo of the editing mode, and it seemed pretty easy to follow. Once you place your objects down, you can immediately wander through your creation to see whether it looks good from your character's angle. You pick from a huge list of objects that range from houses, fences, garden objects, and anything that you would need to customize your own town. Depending on what you want, you can have your town situated in the plains, desert, or wilderness, and there are six variations for each field type. Elevated platforms, embankments, trees, and other items can help you shape your hub. If you want, you can create your own obstacle course or maze within and watch your friends run through it like mice. There are colored crates as well, which you can place and stack on one another to decorate the landscape if you're into pixel art.

The attributes of your Georama changes depending on who lives in it, meaning you can also recruit non-player characters to join your town from the Story mode. NPCs have jobs and specific skill levels, which will affect the kind of materials and items you can use in your georama. Each person on Geonet can create up to 20 georama rooms. A maximum of 12 people can hang out in your customized town and four can enter your quest room.

Subquests are multiplayer quests that you can clear with four players. You control your own avatar instead of using Leonard, the in-game character. Your avatar's level and equipment is the same as in the Story mode, which is nice so that you don't have to start over. As you go through the story, more quests will become available. By accumulating points, your guild rank will increase, which will unlock more quests and give you access to stronger weapons and armor that you wouldn't be able to get on your own. You can always play these quests on your own as well.

Joining a subquest seemed relatively easy. You ask your NPC for the subquest that you want and recruit the players that you want to have join you. If you don't have friends to play with, random matchups can also be done. You can mix and match as well, so if you don't have enough friends online, you can pick up some more. The developers talked about how they want players to enjoy the community aspect of White Knight Chronicles, not just the offline Story mode.

When the game ships, there will be 50 subquests to tackle online and more will be added. Voice chat will be available for the North American and European edition, and there will be a live-talk feature (similar to Rogue Galaxy) that is exclusive to those regions. Characters will talk as they go through the game, so that you get a sense of what they're thinking and feeling as you play. We also learned that the new environments that have been added to the Japanese version will be included, and as of right now, it is possible for North American and European players to visit each other's georamas. For those of you who are wondering, there will be no Japanese voice acting included.

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A date hasn't been announced yet, but we were asked to be patient and that White Knight Chronicles is expected to ship sometime in the spring of 2010.

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