Shards Online [official site] isn’t quite an MMORPG, and I think that’s great. While it’ll still have that familiar structure, Shards focuses on letting players build their own, smaller worlds to exist in instead of giving them one giant one. A new trailer to announce Shards Online’s Steam Greenlight campaign shows there’s still the basics like combat and questing, but things quickly get much more interesting when custom servers and the modding tools used to shape them are demonstrated. There’s even a system to play as monsters much like a dungeon master would in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Nifty!
Developed by some of the people from Ultima Online, Shards Online’s big focus in on giving players the tools to create their own adventures by building “shards” or custom servers that link together to form a comprehensive world. While there will be some official servers offering a few variety of flavors like a permadeath PVP shard, custom servers will let you tweak every little detail of your shard by using custom scripts and built-in modding tools. Right now servers are limited to only 64 players, cue my hesitation at calling it an MMO, but Shards Online also has so many other similarities, like questing and character progression, that I’m not sure it’ll make that much of a difference.
Shards Online was first Kickstarted back in November of 2014, and has since gone on to raise over $200,000 in funding. That’s not a lot for an online role-playing game, but Shards seems to be trucking along just fine. It’s currently in pre-alpha, which you can buy into for $20/€17,99. Though you also might just want to wait until the beta appears in spring of 2017.
I’m pretty excited to see if Shards Online can actually introduce something different to the genre. Stepping away from gear grinding and leveling up sounds awesome, and I’d love to play something that rekindles the sense of community that older MMOs like Ultima Online had in spades. If this sounds cool to you, why not go vote for it on Greenlight?