Landmark cRPG Wizardry, one of the first games to try and electronicify the values and systems introduced by D&D and thus help birth the genre we now call roleplaying games, has never entirely gone away, truth be told. It's seen an unending torrent of spin-offs, sequels and remakes since its Apple-based birth in 1981, but a full-on comeback has eluded it. That appears to be on the cards, thanks to a reboot in what's now the age-old tradition - sticking the word 'Online' on the end of the title. But wait! Do not gallop away on your horse of cynicism. There's at least one thing to suggest this is taking roleplaying very, very seriously...
As the no-doubt divisive image up-top might suggest, it's due from the East rather than West - Japanese publisher Gamepot (don't add an S or it all becomes terribly confusing) and developer Headlock. Despite its US origins, Wizardry has been something of the perennial in Japan, hence all those spin-offs and now this free to play MMO.
We're promised that WO will "harken back to the original allure of the groundbreaking Wizardry RPG series, but bring updated flair for modern gamers" and have "hardcore role-playing elements."
This latter might sound yer average ballsy, melodramatic press release claim, but here's something to back it up: Wizardry Online will feature permanent death. Yep, the feature so beloved of roguelikes is making a comeback in something altogether more high-budget.
The game will feature PvP (inevitably), which is new territory for Wizardry; not sure as yet whether permadeath can be achieved/inflicted in that yet, but it's going to make for some epic, horrendous ganking if so.
Japan's being treated to a private beta in a few months, while a global release is planned for next year. Justice for and to Wizardry, or another dusty, olden name turned cynically to microtransactions? We'll see, but the permadeath does suggest Headlock and Gamepot aren't just slapping a license onto a server.
In the meantime, here's a cinematic trailer focusing on the evolution of Wizardry but giving away absolutely nowt about the game itself.
More details and piccies over yonder.