We get our hands on this sci-fi massively multiplayer online game from the creators of Ultima and Ultima Online.
Most massively multiplayer online games offer high-fantasy adventures where you play as some kind of elf who goes out into a sprawling world with some elf buddies to pummel skeletons in the hopes of picking up some experience points and maybe a few copper coins. Tabula Rasa from NCSoft will go in a very different direction, offering a hardcore sci-fi experience in a universe torn apart by an alien invasion. We recently had a chance to sit down with designers Richard Garriott and Starr Long, whose previous works include the classic Ultima role-playing games and the groundbreaking online game Ultima Online. We also had a chance to strap ourselves into the game to play through several areas and multiple quests.
Tabula Rasa is definitely an unusual game that, Garriott explains, will be different on purpose. Many of the conventions you may have come to expect from this type of game, such as repetitious I-hit-you-then-you-hit-me combat, monsters that constantly reappear in the same place, and a body of quests with a single "right answer" won't appear in this one. Instead, the game will feature a hands-on combat model against dynamically populated fields of monsters (that will literally swoop in from the sky to attack you), and branching quests that may put you at odds with other factions in the game.
The story in Tabula Rasa seems simple enough at first; in the game's distant future, planet Earth has been destroyed by the Bane, a megalomaniacal race of aliens bent on taking over every planet they can find. In the game, you'll play as a human aligned with a few other surviving alien races that have formed the Allied Free Sentients army to resist the Bane. You'll interact with these different races, as well as other members of the human military structure, in your adventuring career, which will develop over a branching series of decisions (instead of requiring you to commit to a profession at the very beginning).
You'll be given the choice of being either a soldier or a specialist at first; the soldier can develop into various combat classes, such as the sniper or the commando, while the specialist can opt to become bioengineers and sappers. If you're not completely sure about your next career branch, you can opt to "save" your character at any time by logging out of the game and creating a clone of your character in its current state. Then, if you decide you want to try an alternate path, you can log into the game as your clone and take the other path rather than having to choose a brand-new character to slog through the early part of the game all over again. At launch, the game will take place on a massive planet with three subcontinents, each inhabited by different sentient races, though NCSoft is already building additional worlds to explore in the postlaunch game.
We had a chance to try out both the early game, as well as some late-game questing, during our hands-on time. We definitely noted some real differences between this game and some of the others we've played. Tabula Rasa's interface is minimal; there's a quest log, various maps to help you get to where you're going, as well as a set of shortcuts to select which weapons and abilities you're currently using (including a radial menu you can pull up at any time to access whatever options you need). But most of the screen is uncluttered, spotlighting your character and the world you're exploring.
Garriott suggests that other games of this sort focus strongly on combat. Specifically, in other games, the focus is on pressing different buttons to use different character abilities in the right order to deal the most damage over time. The idea in Tabula Rasa is instead to focus your attention on the action onscreen because your primary attacks will simply be using whichever weapon you have equipped (including a great variety of futuristic guns) by left-clicking your mouse and using whichever special "Logos" powers your character has discovered by right-clicking your mouse. According to the game's lore, Logos is an ancient runic language that consists of characters which, when placed together, form composite meanings that create powerful effects, such as hurling bolts of lightning or summoning stationary gun turrets. Your character can discover new Logos characters out in the wild or while performing quests; well-traveled adventurers will have discovered dozens of letters of this mystical language that can be combined to create many different and powerful effects.
When starting a new game of Tabula Rasa, your character gets dropped right into action in a human military installation with orders to help liberate a nearby captured base. You'll start off with some basic weapons and plunge headlong into battle with computer-controlled allies. These allies attack enemies in unison and use some choice language in battle. In fact, in many of Tabula Rasa's missions and battles, you'll be joined by other computer-controlled forces to help you out. When reaching a new area, you'll also find various major characters who will act as your points of contact, giving you specific quests and guidance on where your character should go next. Additionally, you'll receive "radio missions," which are ambient, localized missions that will appear in your character's quest log as you fight your way into a new area.
Looks really good. Hopefully the AI is strong since the game involves alot of AI fighting and interaction.
I'm pleased to see something new and different coming to the realm of MMOs. I'm a fan of the "high fantasy" elf and dragon-type games, but I always am eager for something new. City of Heroes was a great step in that direction. Eve Online is a prime example of how enjoyable a sci-fi or future-based game can be. With Richard Garriott in the group, it's sure to be something great!
Word on the street is that if they make sure that teaming with others and class diversification is ironed out before release, the game will be nothing short of amazing.
City of Heroes was amazing and i like that you'll be able to nix the early levels in a sense but i can see that causing problems with new players not having anyone to play with because everyone is skipping the early levels. I'm kinda stuck now because i don't know if i'll play TR or huxley. if they are near even i might have to go with TR because i like NC's COH and webzen has been everything short of a good player focused developer.
Being thats it is NCSOFT and anyone who has played Lineage 2 or any other NCSOFT game I wonder just how packed it will be with farmers? In lineage 2 80% of the population are farmers and NCSOFT does nothing. Infact NCSOFT has been busted for supporting the farmers via getting kick backs. I know from 2 year sin Lineage 2 that they do nothing about any in game problems . Petitions are all automated. Email responses are all automated, trying callign them its a joke. I been looking forward to this game big time, but not to the NCSOFT farmers swarming all over. And bet your ass that this game will be on the farmer sites BEFORE it launches. Just like RFONLINE was already with money sales BEFORE the game launched, I caught it few others did lol. And unlike in Lineage 2 where I never botted which left me at a huge disadvantage, I will be damn sure running bot trains. Seems what one must do in a NCSOFT game to make money or buy it from thier farmer sites. Wonder what the bot program will be call TRwalker? L2walker same program work? DOC
oh yea this game will be awesome I just hope they price the monthly fee low, or have none, i know they'll make u pay but i can dream
I've played it, and because of NDA I can't say much, but I can definitely say that it's a far cry different from what most people are used to in MMOGs, and pretty much in a good way. It didn't grab me the way some past games have, like City of Heroes, Anarchy Online, and Everquest, but you have to admire a game that does so many things differently to a genre like MMOGs, and does it pretty darned well, to boot. I haven't decided if I'm going to buy it when it's released, but I'm certainly considering it.
Finally, a novel MMOG without the standard fantasy trappings. I'm ready for some Sci-Fi online action, and this looks to fill the bill. Earth and Beyond is the last Sci-Fi online game I've played and enjoyed. With Garriott, Long, and the rest of the Ultima gang aboard, this should be fun. Morally ambiguous storylines, with player actions impacting the world...now that's someone to talk about.
He made it sound kind of lame and it didnt look that good. Tthe hole save character thing and go back is a bummer because you main guy wont really stand out because someone could catch up to you with there other character who saved 10 levels before. Not sure what im saying but does anyone get me. But i do trust the guy so all is good.
Game looks good and reminds me of RYL2 with what I'm reading. Only this seems to have better AI and just altogether better gameplay. Can't wait to give this a shot.
NCsoft is really coming up in the world with the Likes of Guild Wars and such. I hope this turns out well. Sci-fi stuff is my favorite setting.
This has to be one of my most anticipated games. It breaks the WoW mold (as has been stated) of I attack, you attack, repeat. I also love how there is an actual choice in this game about quests. The future of video games is in giving people the freedom to choose and live out the consquences. The fact that quests actually (the majority anyway) assist to the war effort is also amazing. How many "collect 20 boar heads and give them to the farmer to make a soup" quests can one actually take? I hope this becomes popular, even if it isn't, I will play it anyway.
now this is the type of mmo i have been waiting 4 im tired or mmos like wow both in fantasy base and combat because those r getting boring i really hope this game rocks
Thank heavens for someone making a mmo that isn't freaking elves and dragons. Or EVE. Ever since Anarchy Online, I've been waiting for a sci-fi themed online rpg that doesn't involve hours of mind numbing space flight and asteroid harvesting. I like the visual style this game seems to be putting forth, and with more focus on action and freedom of choice, it seems to be headed in the right direction. Hopefully it'll allow more opportunities for you to affect the way you experience the story (which is something many mmo's falsely claim to let players do). Between this and Conan, the mmo scene looks like it could be interesting again.
should be good, finnaly be able to play an MMO again (i hate that fantasy crap of WoW) since SOE arent making planetside 2 anytime soon (note: SOE make planetside 2!!!!!!)
Yeah, this games looks very promising, this might very well be my first MMO that I decide to pay for after the trial, as I've been itching for a decent sci-fi themed mmo. I'm hoping to get myself a beta invite... 2007 is a great year for PC Gaming....
This could become the great science fiction MMORPG. Or maybe not, but none of the other Sci-fi MMO's have really impressed me so I'm hoping this one will. It's not the game I'm looking most forward to but I think it would be silly not to keep an eye on it. It seems to have grown a lot sense I viewed it at least years E3.