Sci-fi MMO Tabula Rasa will go live on the 19th of October, and the 16th for pre-order people. (What an interesting way to spread the server load). Like John, I was unable to figure out quite what the Tabula Rasa Beta NDA would actually allow us to say, but I'll have a crack at summing it up here (in a legal way) for those of you who might be interested.
You shoot aliens. That might not sound particularly unusual, but the fact is that this is an MMO, like ye Olde World Of Warcraft, with all those levels and stuff, and you still get to shoot all kinds of guns. Sure, there's some kind of auto-aim nonsense going on, but you really do get to point and blast the evil carapaced ones. There's loads of aliens to shoot at too, since they arrive from the sky by dropship in seemingly endless waves. You shoot them on a backdrop of war-torn alien worlds, some of which are quite inspiring with their weird fauna and unlikely topographies.
Yes, Tabula Rasa is quite beautiful, but it's beautiful in the manner of a slightly naive science-fiction paperback cover painting. That's often charming, but it also betrays a strong whiff of unhealthy nostalgia - this is a game that is supposed to be carving out a new future for MMO gaming. I suspect that this, like Guild Wars, will be newness without being quite new enough. It is going to be a game that some people hook into and others simply cannot process.
What I would say, however, is that it also reminded me strongly (in a positive way) of City Of Heroes. I think this is going to be a game where going off to adventure on alien worlds with a few friends is going to be utterly absorbing. There is some PvP, which is weird, because I didn't think there was any - so I've not seen that at all - in fact I'm going to look for it right now. Anyway, I think it's mostly going to be about the dynamics of the perfect co-op party, with you all complementing/hindering each other in overcoming your foe, and unfolding a story.
I shall be playing Tabula Rasa from the 16th to make up my fully-fledged critical opinion. I shall no doubt see some of you there.