If there was one winner at this year’s E3, it was fans of open worlds. The industry has become so efficient at creating beautiful places that there’s half a dozen games coming in the next year that I want to play in spite of their mechanics, not because of them. Skyforge is on the list. It’s an MMO likely to be a grind to play, but it’s set in the kind of techno-fantasy world that juts mountain palaces up against spaceships and sets it all under a vibrant blue sky. There’s a trailer introducing that world below, alongside another talking through some of the game’s combat and leveling mechanics.
The reason I’m less than hopeful as to the mechanical prospects of the game is because it’s made by the same people who produced Allods Online. That game had plenty of interest in it – craftable, co-operatively controllable space galleys, for example – but a quest structure that felt more like filling time than bold adventuring. There’s positive signs in the trailer above that they’ve learned lessons from the last five years of MMO design, like ditching restrictive class systems for something more flexible, but the more worrying thing is that, well, some people like grinding. There’s perhaps no reason for them to swap out a formula that people enjoy merely to satisfy me.
Although I’d recommend that they should.
It’s also worth noting that, like my.com’s Armored Warfare, the game is being made in partnership with Obsidian, those RPG devs better known for Fallout: New Vegas, Pillars of Eternity and so on. The exact nature of their involvement is not clear, but hopefully it goes further than just lending a little of their Western credibility and extends to some consulting, design or writing duties.
You can sign up for the Skyforge closed beta now, and who knows, maybe if you run really fast you can see the world and keep ahead of the game.