Having grown so tired of the traditional MMO formula that I can be rendered comatose for 40 years by the merest utterance of the phrase "vulture gizzard," I've been watching Salem with eager eyes and a saliva-stained jaw. As we've mentioned previously, it's an exceedingly sandbox-y colonial MMO focused on crafting, establishing in-game settlements, and never trusting anyone ever. So one could argue that it's more EVE or Wurm than WoW, though it appears to be largely a beast of a nature all its own. And now it's in open beta, so you can play it! And you and you and you and you. But not you. Oh gosh, please don't make that face. Fine, argh. You can play too, but only if you're good.
Encouragingly, Paradox is aiming its celebratory trumpets straight at the community for this one, and it's hoping an influx of new, naked (literally, if the above video is any indication) open beta players will escalate things to a new level.
"By designing Salem with less of a traditional MMO structure, and instead presenting players with a persistent community sandbox with high-stakes consequences for conflict, Paradox and Seatribe are allowing the Salem community to shape their own experiences. The in-game society that has sprung up during closed beta – including a bustling barter-based economy, vigilantes and mob justice, and rival settlements, have all happened as a result of players’ choices and actions. With the new addition of more players during open beta, it will be fascinating to discover what the community ultimately makes of the world of Salem."
Honestly, the top-down view and anything-goes approach to player society is giving me vague flashbacks to early Ultima Online. That's encouraging in ways I can't even begin to describe, so I can't wait to remove my pants and become a pilgrim as well. Of course, that's all high-level, exceedingly sophisticated stuff. For those of you who frolicked through the unsullied forests during closed beta, was the nitty gritty - crafting, PVP, basic resource management, etc - solid? I think I have every right to be slightly wary after all, given that it's, you know, Paradox.