Is Skyforge the next big online RPG?

Futuristic fairytale.

62 Comments

GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.

How does a massively multiplayer role-playing game stand out in 2014? No matter how much diversity the genre offers, it's still difficult to escape accusations that everything is just a World of Warcraft clone, a lingering misconception that each developer seeks to smash into pieces in its own unique way. Many studios look to their combat systems as the means of differentiation, shooting for fighting that approximates a true action-game feel, with your character responding immediately and appropriately to every mouse click and button press.

You can add Skyforge to the list of games trying to heat up the action. It's under development by the team that created Allods Online in collaboration with Fallout: New Vegas developer Obsidian Entertainment. I recently took a frost mage out for an adventure in Skyforge and was immediately struck by how similar the game was to another MMOG: Tera. I still believe Tera sets the standard for MMOG combat, so following its lead is no bad thing, and spearing floating robots and armored lizard creatures with icicles gave me Tera-level joys as I played Skyforge.

The welcoming committee has arrived.
The welcoming committee has arrived.

As in Tera, I could also charge up certain attacks by holding the mouse button down for a period of time, as well as perform contextual combos in which a single button could be used for different attacks, depending on what action preceded it. Given the similarities between Skyforge and En Masse's MMOG, I had to wonder what Skyforge brings to battle that makes it unique. Says producer Eric Demitt from Obsidian, "One of the first things players will notice when playing Skyforge is the amount of content we're able to deliver through the mouse alone. Each character class will use the mouse a little differently. You'll find that most classes do a lot more than a basic attack with just that input. We also have a big focus on delivering really high quality animations and effects, you're going to feel the power and impact of your attacks. Our open class system and deep character customization are going to allow you to do a lot of things to change up the combat equation and make it your own."

An MMOG is about more than combat, however. Such games build worlds and give you a certain amount of freedom in how to explore them, providing different races, classes, and customization options. The Skyforge universe's primary world, Aelion, recalls 2006's RF Online, which was shut down in 2008, then resurrected several years later. In one city, sharp-winged airships pass near looming glass towers and curved skyrails; elsewhere, wooden bridges hang over deep chasms, while the rocky cliffs and evergreen trees beyond evoke the American West. It's a diverse but cohesive look, and I asked DeMilt to fill me on on the the universe. What makes it unique among MMOGs?

This not the eight Wonder of Oregon.
This not the eight Wonder of Oregon.

"Skyforge is a highly-stylized MMORPG where the player takes on a larger than life role as an Immortal, wielding incredible powers in the battle to protect his world," says DeMilt. "The game's tone and aesthetic are designed to immerse the player in a glossy, space-age fairy tale, which can be seen in various settings for the game, the over-the-top combat visuals and abilities, the threats and monsters they face, and even in the highly stylized and detailed character and costume designs." Of course, terms like "stylized" and "over-the-top" mean little without context, but DeMilt luckily dropped a few more tidbits about Skyforge's background lore. "The world Aelion is unique among all others: its greater god has vanished, and it is now only protected by Immortals (player characters and NPCs--people capable of becoming gods) and a few remaining lesser gods. Without a strong greater god to protect it, Aelion is an attractive target for the armies of hostile gods and is constantly under the threat of cataclysmic invasions. The scars of these battles already mark many locations in the world."

Eventually, players will gain enough power, renown, and followers to themselves become gods, enabling to protect their worlds and counter invasions, though I'm not yet sure about how that narrative arc plays out in the game. After all, a 15-minute play session is barely a raindrop in the ocean where MMOGs are concerned. I did note, however, that I could access various adventures from a central hub area, so I asked DeMilt how the game was structured.

"[It's] like that of an amusement park," DeMilt told me. "At any given time, there are a number of activities available to the player. These include everything you'd expect in in a triple-A MMOG ranging from solo and group gameplay in large open world zones and instances, player-versus-player, events, raids, and dungeons. Like being at an amusement park, our map-room gives you a god's eye view of everything available for the player at that time and the player can choose the content they want."

Rule number one of dungeon crawling: never turn your back. Especially if doing so leaves your tail vulnerable.
Rule number one of dungeon crawling: never turn your back. Especially if doing so leaves your tail vulnerable.

There's no shortage of themepark-type MMOGs, of course, or space-age fairy tales for that matter, but I commend Allods team and Obsidian for the immediacy of their combat. The action was fun and the areas I explored were beautiful. But the question remains: just what is a skyforge? DeMilt was mum on that one, so it looks like I'll have to wait until Skyforge is released before I get my answer. The bad news: we don't yet know when that will be. Until then, it looks like I'll just have to gaze at the stars and imagine the adventures that might be waiting.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Join the conversation
There are 62 comments about this story
62 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
  • 62 results
  • 1
  • 2
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for omar_q
omar_q

The art style looks interesting. Mix of cartoonesque style with some elements of traditional 'graphical' design.

Modern, clean.

Avatar image for riotinto876
riotinto876

Well, as long as it doesn't get an Allods style boutique shop, which imho ruined a game which I really enjoyed.

Avatar image for Armyboy5
Armyboy5

Black Desert.

Avatar image for Algearond
Algearond

I might be interested in this if TESO was not live in 4 days

Avatar image for Mellowcow
Mellowcow

Obsidian is working on how many games right now? oO

Avatar image for Hurvl
Hurvl

We don't need MMORE, we need less MMO's. Fortunately, there are several non-MMO RPG's coming this year.


"just what is a skyforge?" I personally think a skyforge is like the Starforge in kotor 1, but in the sky instead of out among the stars.

Avatar image for Ovirew
Ovirew

I don't know much about Skyforge, but I'm personally hoping that EQ Next turns out good. Sure, that game probably won't rewrite the book on MMOs, but I think it could really help to modernize traditional MMOs.

Avatar image for MattyTheButcher
MattyTheButcher

<< LINK REMOVED >> I had high hopes for EQ next... but they are focusing so much on the minecraft BS part of it... its going to ruin the real game.

Avatar image for Algearond
Algearond

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Yah their lack of EQN news, combined with their focus on Landmark and TESO going live killed all interest I had in the game.

Avatar image for Kooken58
Kooken58

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>Well EQ Landmark is like their foundation of the main MMO. Its using the same engine and everything, so they perfect the engine for landmark, it will make the beta for EQN that much smoother. There is also the chance that some of the creations players make have a chance to be put in the game.


But yeah it does suck we havn't heard too much about it. Hopefully after the closed beta is out of the way and E3 coming in a few months we hear something new.

Avatar image for Kinguard73
Kinguard73

There is room for three dominate MMOs.


One is fantasy, present, and future.


I would say one can be on console and the other can be on PC but I see that sort of thing merging eventually. if WoW would come to console I wonder how many would jump on board? It couldn't be that hard to make it for the current gen consoles.

Avatar image for swordoflorn
swordoflorn

<< LINK REMOVED >> I doubt WoW is going to be made available for console users, but given that DIablo 3 was ported over, we may see Blizzards next alleged MMO, Titan, hit the consoles in a few years.

Avatar image for ckgorham
CKGorham

<< LINK REMOVED >> Square Enix has done an amazing job fitting all the controls on to a PS4/PS3 controller with Final Fantasy XIV Online A Realm Reborn.

Avatar image for grove12345
grove12345

I think the first unique MMORPG in about the last 15 years can only come from consoles. Yes I know PC can do everything a console can and better. But i think developers need to approach the whole genre from a different angle. Seems everything is based around trying to please the WOW/EQ fanbase. Console gamers (in the broad perspective) arent fixated on previous MMORPGs that much. So a fresh game is more likely.


Honestly i rather play a real hardcore team oriented 8 player online RPG than play with 8000 other people. I want to explore and get absorbed into an adventure. Current MMORPGs couldnt be any further away from an actual RPG

Avatar image for Getesh
Getesh

<< LINK REMOVED >> When destiny comes it will be very mmo like without the mmo numbers of people.

Avatar image for Kinguard73
Kinguard73

<< LINK REMOVED >> Yeah but if I had more than 8 players I wanted to play with I am screwed. Not to mention the idea most of my friends I got playing an MMO not other online games except for GTA V which has more than 8 people. I like large crowds the milling masses the servers being populated by people not NPCs. I always hated every city except Stormwind and Ogrimaar because no one would visit the other cities except the starter players.

Avatar image for RetroSEAL
RetroSEAL

I played Allods for a long time. Pros and cons aside, what a beautifully polished "WoW clone" (it is) it was. This developer takes pride in their work.

Avatar image for Barighm
Barighm

They ripped "Skyforge" from Skyrim. It's the forge behind the Companions' guild hall.


I do like the sound of the game though.

Avatar image for hoyholyhoy
hoyholyhoy

<< LINK REMOVED >> No, that's just dumb. But it does look good.

Avatar image for SphinxDemon
SphinxDemon

I definitely agree that Tera's combat system is in a league of it's own. Combine that system with a brilliant story and you've got yourself a decent game. Tera fails because other than its combat, most other areas are lacking. I look forward to see what skyforge is about

Avatar image for Bregzeinkul
Bregzeinkul

Everyone knows Arche Age is the next big MMO.

Avatar image for Revenant_K
Revenant_K

Tsk! People seem to be tired with MMO there day, different skin same contest, yawn....

Avatar image for Kinguard73
Kinguard73

<< LINK REMOVED >> I don't have a PC to MMO with or I still be doing it I am glad MMos are on consoles I just wish they were real ones because Realm reborn? WAYYYYYY too many loading screens. I want it like WoW. One load screen for an entire continent/world.

Avatar image for Lambchopzin
Lambchopzin

Action combat and fancy graphics are definitely not enough to make an MMO compelling. I mean, action-oriented combat that is focused on more active engagements has basically become the standard for MMORPGs now, so it's not terribly unique. It's kind of become the expectation. An interesting setting is a novelty, and I appreciate the effort to do something different from the usual fantasy schlock, but a novel setting isn't enough to carry the game and keep people playing for months and years on end.


Progression, freedom, character building depth, scale and most importantly (in my opinion) the degree to which the game is *actually* a multiplayer game as opposed to a linear single player experience where other people just so happen to be running around doing the same stuff.


The fact that they are already being pretty up front about this game being another themepark MMO has me a little worried. So far the details we have certainly aren't enough to set it apart from everything else.


Also I have to disagree that TERA is still the bar when it comes to action combat in MMOs. I think Neverwinter has it beat in that department.

Avatar image for Kinguard73
Kinguard73

<< LINK REMOVED >> The defiance game was great just had no end game/group/solo things to do. I miss that game I actually liked it... oh and it wasn't really MMO either sadly....it needed to become a true MMO also

Avatar image for Lambchopzin
Lambchopzin

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>Had a similar experience. Finished the main quest (took about 40 hours probably) spent a little time messing around with the instances and PvP and that was enough for me. As a third person shooter Defiance is actually a lot of fun, but as an MMO it falls flat in a lot of areas.

Avatar image for hoyholyhoy
hoyholyhoy

<< LINK REMOVED >> Neverwinter combat was a boring rip of Tera though so there's that.

Avatar image for Barighm
Barighm

<< LINK REMOVED >> I mostly agree, but Obsidian has some good writers over there, so I'm not too worried about them coming up with an interesting narrative.

Avatar image for Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

I don't think the devs should be too focused on the mouse. The PC accomodates controllers; the game should make use of it if appropriate. I find the controller more satisfying in most non-shooter action games.

Avatar image for greaterdivinity
greaterdivinity

<< LINK REMOVED >> It depends on the combat system. For a game like ESO, for example, a gamepad is perfectly functional. It has few enough keybinds that it can easily make use of a gamepad for normal play. However, take a game like Tera, which does support a gamepad, and you'll be at a significant disadvantage due to the huge toolkits of abilities players have. You'd leave many skills inaccessible, hindering your ability to perform your job.

It all depends on the kind of combat system they're going for. Personally, I prefer mouse and keyboard for the vast majority of the games I play, especially MMO's. I feel I get far more precision out of them, and with a 17 button mouse I have no shortage of keybinds for abilities should I need them.

Avatar image for Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

<< LINK REMOVED >> That is true for me as well for MMOs I've played, for the same reason. But if they are going to streamline the controls for the two buttoned mouse and move away from multi-bar skills on the keyboard, then I find the controller superior, if the combat is non-HUD targetted, which is what I meant to say instead of "non-shooter."

Avatar image for godhand1942
godhand1942

My biggest gripe with MMOs is the questing system. I have yet to see an MMO actually do it right.

Avatar image for Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

<< LINK REMOVED >> I don't know what is the right way to do MMO quests. The vast majority of the ones I've seen are an uncomfortable compromise between advancing the narrative, because apparently a single player story is still important in MMO, and "fetch/kill X" fillers to give exp and loot, since lvling is such a staple in MMORPG. I always thought it would be neat for players to offer quests, but I couldn't think of the right system to implement it.

Avatar image for greaterdivinity
greaterdivinity

<< LINK REMOVED >> Recommend checking out a MMO's then.

GW2 has a more organic quest delivery system through dynamic events and the heart system which is a good step away from the traditional questing model.

Star Trek Online has a phenomenal questing system that feels more like playing through individual bits of a broader story rather than doing quests. It feels very episodic in nature, with each quest spanning multiple segments both in your ship and on the ground.

And while TSW has a more traditional questing system, the top notch writing/voicework in addition to the investigation quests definitely help it stand out. I mean, figuring out that you need to google a company named in the game, go to their website, and pull information from it for a quest (which is all intended as part of the quest) is just radical as hell.

Avatar image for drybones41
drybones41

I loved the combat in TERA so it's nice to see Skyforge's combat similar. I'd like to know what the questing is like though, it's something I've found lacking in mmos for a little while.

Avatar image for OmegaGear
OmegaGear

<< LINK REMOVED >> Questing needs to be more open to exploration and long term tasks. I can't stand the modern mmos' version of "questing" being nothing more than 20 quests involving killing 3-5 of certain enemies, or fetching some BS for an NPC.

Avatar image for drybones41
drybones41

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Yeah, killing the same enemies and collecting things gets very boring. I wish new mmos broke away from that.

I can only think of one mmo that has questing which isn't just fetch and kill.

Avatar image for SerOlmy
SerOlmy

In my old age I am forced to admit that the theme park MMOs just can't hold my interest anymore. The last one I really got invested in was GW2, but with not PvE endgame there isn't much to do at the level cap. All of the theme park MMOs just start to feel the same after a while and I just start barreling towards the level cap as fast as possible.

It is going to take a fundamental shift in the genre or a really polished player driven MMO to peak my interest at this point. I can't even make it 2 weeks before getting bored whenever I return to WoW/Rift/GW2. I'm hoping something more player driven like EQNext will be more engaging and I like what I am seeing, but SOE is notorious for destroying MMOs in every way imaginable, in this case it looks like it will be P2W. There isn't really much else on the horizon IMO.

Avatar image for Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

<< LINK REMOVED >> Everything except SOE; I don't know enough about them to agree.

  • 62 results
  • 1
  • 2