Tactica Online First Look

Tactica Online is one part online role-playing game and one part tactical combat game, with Leonardo da Vinci thrown in.

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Online role-playing games are seemingly a dime a dozen, but online tactical combat games are a whole different story. Enter Tactica Online, an upcoming tactical combat game that that looks to draw inspiration both from the beloved turn-based combat game X-Com, and from online role-playing games. And to set it even more apart from the competition, the game is set in Renaissance Europe. The game's existence was recently announced, and we got a first look at it to see what it's all about.

Tactica Online will remind you a lot of X-Com and other turn-based combat games, but it's also an online RPG.
Tactica Online will remind you a lot of X-Com and other turn-based combat games, but it's also an online RPG.

Tactica Online is being developed by Australian studio Imaginary Numbers, and it's a game that borrows elements from many different genres. In the game, you'll control a character, or a party of characters, in a fictional European city that's analogous to Milan in the 17th century. This city serves as a central hub for everyone in the game. There, you can interact with other players, as well as receive missions and quests, shop, trade, and do the other things that you can do in an online role-playing game. The entire game takes place from an overhead point of view, sort of like Diablo, which will play an important role during combat. When you get a mission, you and your party, composed of characters that you control as well as other players and their characters, will drop into battle on an instanced level, which means that it's created for that battle and that battle only.

In some ways, Tactica Online is similar to Guild Wars, the upcoming online role-playing game centered on player-versus-player combat, instanced missions, and choosing a limited number of skills from a vast pool. Tactica Online will only feature player-versus-player combat that takes place in instanced missions, and you will be able to completely customize your squad by choosing from a vast variety of skills. And Tactica Online will also mirror Guild Wars in that the game will require no subscription fees to play online. Imaginary Numbers plans to self-publish the game, and the company will charge for optional expansion packs, which should arrive every four to six months.

The combat in Tactica Online is reminiscent of X-Com in that it is turn-based and takes place on procedurally generated maps, which means that each map should be different. Depending on the number of players involved, maps will scale in size. The idea is that they'll be big enough to accommodate the number of players, but not too big. At the same time, the battles will also accommodate different kinds of playing styles. For example, if you have stealthy characters, they can try to sneak around to get to a mission objective. There's also a wide variety of possible combat styles in the game, including traditional melee combat with swords, spells, and firearms. There are also plans for siege warfare, as well as the potential for prototype tanks and flying machines, based on Leonardo da Vinci's drawings, to make appearances. Terrain will also play an important role in battles. For instance, if a river cuts through the battlefield, then the logical choke points will be the bridges that span it.

Renaissance Europe should be an interesting setting for the game. For one, it's an era rarely seen in gaming, as most online role-playing games are set in medieval-like fantasy worlds populated by humans, elves, and other races. More importantly, though, is that the Renaissance was a time of tension and upheaval as the old order came into conflict with the new realms of scientific thought and cultural transformation. This is represented in the game, as the world of Tactica Online is divided into three belief systems: science, faith, and magic, with the 168 skills in the game divided along those lines. Your squad can be reinvented over and over again by what skills you choose to equip them with. However, the trick is that you can outfit each character with only a handful of skills at a time. The game will also feature traditional online role-playing elements, such as crafting and an auction house so players can trade and barter special items. These include one-of-a-kind weapons that are rewarded in missions. You'll definitely know when someone has one of these items, because these special items really stand out.

Being set in the Renaissance means the game is the struggle between faith and science. There's also magic, for fun.
Being set in the Renaissance means the game is the struggle between faith and science. There's also magic, for fun.

With its focus on turn-based strategy and its Renaissance setting, Tactica Online has already differentiated itself from the pack of online role-playing games. The game certainly looks promising at this point, but it still has a way to go before it launches. The version of the game that we saw was still very early in development, and the screenshots so far present the game in a pre-alpha stage, meaning that features and final artwork are still missing. Imaginary Numbers says the game should launch a closed alpha test in a couple of months, with a beta test to follow. Tactica Online is currently scheduled to launch this winter.

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