Well now, this came out of nowhere. Once upon a time, Turbine’s Asheron’s Call – which is still running to this day – had an apocalypse dropped on it. The result? A vastly re-shaped world that had “sequel” written all over it – but mainly on the box, because it was called Asheron’s Call 2. It was quite well-received back in 2002, but by 2005, subscriber numbers had dwindled to a mere 15,000. To put it in perspective using entirely made-up math, that’s one 11 trillionth of a World of Warcraft. So Turbine dropped another apocalypse on its flagship fantasy world, only this time, it was a bit more final. Except that, as it turns out, it actually wasn’t at all. Without even so much as a warning, Turbine’s plucked Asheron’s Call 2 from its early grave, breathed life back into its dusty lungs, and sent it on its way.
There is, however, a slight catch. While you might expect the revived AC2 to be another addition to Turbine’s proven F2P roster, it’s instead only available to current Asheron’s Call subscribers. (I’m also somewhat shocked that AC1 is still subscriber-based, but that’s a conversation for another day.) For now, though, it’s just a beta, so perhaps a wider release will occur further down the line.
“Although the server has passed our initial tests, we have a lot of monitoring and tweaking to do to the game environment and we want to ensure that our players understand that. This game service will be provided as a beta for all players with an active Asheron’s Call account. That said, the game server is currently up and running. So join us for a nostalgic trip back to a Dereth where the golden age was not interrupted.”
Still though, this is very good news. Plenty of MMOs have gone to the big server Valhalla in the sky, but I can’t think of too many that made the mighty viking leap back down to Earth. Admittedly, Asheron’s Call is far from the biggest name in the business these days, but it could help set a precedent. I mean, imagine if developers decided to bring back a server or two of, say, old-school Star Wars Galaxies (pre-NGE, naturally), City of Heroes, or Tabula Rasa, but as bonus features attached to other modern MMOs. That might provide companies with sufficient financial motivation to give long-deceased worlds another go.
For now, though, Asheron’s Call 2 is back! Are you interested? Evidently, people still play the original. Are you one of them?