I’m watching a twenty five minute video of Shroud of the Avatar, with commentary from bearded spacefarer Lord British. I was going to take in the whole thing, making the occasional note when something caught my interest, but I’m four minutes in and I’ve become rather distressed. So far, Garriott has shown a couple of settlements and the player housing within them. There’s a pokey wizard’s tower, with a teleporter instead of a staircase, and Viking and Germanic themed dwellings. The problem is, they’re all crammed full of blatant fire hazards. Wooden houses containing enormous braziers, flames hungrily dancing and spilling from within. The druid is slightly more careful, possibly because he lives in a tree, but he’s still plonked an open flame next to a case of precious books. Very concerning. Oh, there’s conversation, combat and crafting as well but it’s mostly Rightmove Britannia.
The combat system is a first draft, so to speak, but even with that knowledge it’s not particularly inspiring. Killings things is always the worst part of this sort of game though, I find, so perhaps it was wise to concentrate on housing before moving on to the tedium of hitpoint-reduction systems.
I’ll admit to being surprised that a lightning strike only did two damage to a bear. That was probably the most unexpected part of the hacky-slashy part of the video.
Comments that the game looks ‘dated’ and suchlike are entirely expected, however, and they’ve been spattered across the internet like the contents of a Saints Row septic truck. Next to The Witcher 3, Shroud looks like the product of a union between two ugly sticks that have been bopping each other and bumping uglies all night, but so does every other game. Shroud’s goals are different and if it can offer a world that responds to the presence of players in meaningful ways, backed up by a variety of possible virtual lifestyles, I won’t give a hoot what it looks like. Well, to a point. If every NPC was replaced by a crude 3d model of Danny DeVito, the game might well suffer. Then again, it’d certainly grab some headlines.