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E3 2012: MMOHuts/OnRPG Day Three Recap

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Day 3 was by far the busiest day of the show for us. It was crunch time and Michael “Spunkify” Dunaway and I had plenty of publishers to meet with.

We started off at the loftSEVEN in downtown LA to be part of the first test group outside of the Gamania Game Show to try out Core Blaze. I have to say the game has come a long way since last year’s GGS and every bit of the armor and weapons has proper shading and light reflection now. We got to try our hand against a truly tough boss that almost killed each of us at some point during the long battle. Michael checked out the bow wielder, and I went with the one handed sword and shield combo.

This build included a few new pieces that were promised at GGS but not quite functional. We witnessed a dynamic event in which a cursed rock appeared and began spreading a plague type status to nearby monsters, causing them to add poison damage over time to their melee attacks, as well as an increase in overall tankiness and aggressiveness. Combat in Core Blaze is more along the lines of TERA’s methodical hit and defend style rather than C9 or Dragon Nest’s heavily combo juggling based combat. However Core Blaze ups the difficulty to insane levels by forcing players to mostly rely on special item use and a variety of basic attacks (read attacks that don’t require spirit to use). A single group of mobs can and will easily surround a player and overwhelm them unless you bring a specific tactic like laying traps ahead of time and leading them into it.

The boss battle in particular nearly wiped us. We went up against a gigantic distorted ape type monster that summoned slow moving tanky zombies to spread poison around us. He was extremely aggressive and seemed to agro whoever was closest or most hurt so we never had a moment of peace during the battle. No healing class exists in Core Blaze so when someone is hurt their teammates must throw themselves in harms way while you clear distance from enemies to put your weapons away and pull a potion out that takes around 2 seconds to drink. One interesting bit to note about the controls is that Core Blaze is the first PC title I’ve played where it feels far more comfortable to play using a game controller instead of keyboard and mouse. This is due to the way skills and items are activated, in which you cycle through a scroll wheel and then click one of four items/skills to use on each wheel (shaped much like the Playstation controller buttons). While this is simple and intuitive to do with a game controller, it’s often an exercise in tedium and misclicks when using keyboard and mouse. Unless they intend to change their system of skills when using a keyboard and mouse, I’d say the game controller is currently mandatory to be competitive.

Elemental weaknesses are also a vital tactic that must be used to overcome tougher enemies. However most elemental attacks are based on spirit and you can only restore spirit by breaking from combat and drinking a potion or killing an enemy and absorbing their essence. As you can imagine boss battles go on quite a while and there is little to no essence to absorb so you’ll have to plan ahead and bring fire and lightning grenades, oil canisters and torches, bear traps, and more to cleverly overcome your opponent. Proper strategy can even result in breaking a piece of the boss off that you can use against them.

I also had a chance to see the basic alpha state of the crafting system and character development. Weapons in Core Blaze have a sharpness system based on colors ranging from white being useless to blue (probably further) being the best. As you use a weapon it will degrade across the bar towards the lower end of the spectrum, decreasing the effectiveness of the weapon over time until it finally becomes useless. Weapons can then be repaired but with the chance that your overall sharpness spectrum may be downgraded in the process. The higher quality the weapon, the more of the color spectrum you can expect to see on the weapon. I took this shaky image below to demonstrate what the weapon stats look like. I don’t have any more information confirmed but you can infer plenty from it.

The customization was what I’d describe as somewhere between basic and advanced. I say basic because I didn’t really see any toggles where you could adjust the nose angle or chin depth by marginal degrees. Most of the face features are based on presets. I however say advanced because you can customization about 14 different categories of your character with about 10+ different presets each. So thought it might not that super personal feel games like Perfect World offer, you’ll still probably feel pretty unique in the actual game world. Also you can customize your underwear and who doesn’t want that feature.

Following the Core Blaze event, Michael took off to get a second deeper look at Age of Wushu while I attended the Bethesda event. Bethesda forced a no camera and no audio recording rules on their demo so I have to go off memory but here’s what I saw.

Elder Scrolls Online has such a strong resemblance in my mind to Guild Wars 2. The mechanics and combat are definitely on par and I think it really will come down to how much players are in love with the Elder Scrolls world when deciding which game they will choose. And I know it might come as a surprise but I seriously feel some people may choose Elder Scrolls Online over GW2 because it offers a solid and fun package.

The basic concept of the title is you join into the world of Tamriel as one of three factions whose land makes up the three corners of the continent. So you’ll have your trader types ruling the day in the top left, your barbaric world-like tribes in the top right, and your high elves and other snooty empire builders in the bottom left. Each of the main races like Nords, Khajiit, Brentons, Argonians, and more will be playable and define which of the three factions you belong to. Your reason for joining forces? Why the throne in Cyrodiil of course! Guilds will take part in impressive 100 vs 100 battles where last man standing takes all to control the numerous forts surrounded the great central throne, as well as the throne itself. If you’re part of the group that still holds Dark Age of Camelot in high regard, this system will be just your style.

There is a lot going on with this game so I will be dedicating an entire article to it later today. But until then I’d just like to say that the silly rumors that this game is designed to be single player with multiplayer as a secondary option if you choose… is utter nonsense. Instanced dungeons are balanced around 4 players joining together and if you think you’re going to solo them, you better be ready to grind Final Fantasy 1 style in preparation for it.

Next up we hit up the team at InnoGames who have really been pushing the envelope in recent months. As soon as they said pirates and Unity engine in the same sentence I couldn’t get the smile off my face.

Kartuga offers a world of freedom and rpg growth with plenty of competitive action between players in real-time. Yes all this in a browser. How can you not love the Unity Engine! The basic premise is there are massive towns that act as quest hubs called demilitarized zones. Once you leave them you are open game for any randomly spawning pirate NPCs as well as other players in the area who may be going after the same treasure as you. At first you must choose from one of three ship types. Though the names may change the premise is one is a support, one is a tank, and one is an offensive type. From there you level up and can unlock new models to demonstrate your power through looks, as well as go down any of 3 skill trees to unlock new powers which you can set up on a 4 space hotkey bar.

The ships control flawlessly and the better your upgrades become, the more mobile and the sharper the turns you can take. Like real ships of the era Kartuga represents, you will need to line up the side of your boat with another ship to do damage. From powerful cannon blasts to cannon barrages to fire torches and even supernatural magic, you will see plenty of variety between ships. The best part of all is instead of locking you into one skill tree to get to the ultimate skills, you can pick and choose from any of the three trees at any time! As you level up your skills a progress bar behind the skills will slowly fill until you reach the next tier and all three skill trees become available.

In terms of organized PvP, Kartuga currently offers an instanced map in which two teams battle it out to capture towers set across various islands while sinking enemy ships that stand in your way. For a browser title, PvP is incredibly skill-based and I even managed to sink the producer’s level 29 offensive ship with my level 13 tank ship by out flanking him with a wake of water I could leave behind my ship that blocks incoming attacks, and then shooting fire through the wave until he burnt down. Kartuga’s launch isn’t far off and if you’re looking for a great title to kill a couple minutes on or play at work, not many titles currently hold a candle to it.

After my meeting with InnoGames I hit the Concourse business hall hard to scoop out what was going on behind the scenes. Frogster was first up and while they were touting Runes of Magic’s Chapter 5 with dark magical dwarves as their big story, it was their partnership with a cloud streaming service that really caught my attention. Soon players will be able to hop into game through a browser with no download required to experience Runes of Magic in its entirety. And what better time than now with Chapter 5 launching this coming week to try the new starting zone deep in the dwarven mines offering some of the most impressively designed towns and dungeons I’ve seen in the game.

Next up we met with a new starter development studio stationed out of Wuxia, China who are bringing to life the title Brahma Online. Brahma had rather a Sevencore feel to it with a fantasy world meshed flawlessly with mechanized weapons, jet packs, and giant low orbital cruisers. Although the game is just barely in a playable state, their promise of giant airborn battles to conquer player built islands using massive airships that act as cruisers to transport your guild’s infantry definitely sounds like fun. They’re also looking for publishers around the world so if you have the money and want to partner with them, don’t miss out!

After that I met up with an old associate, Miso Kwon, of CJ E&M who was very excited about the opening of their North American publishing studio. I finally got the full story of Prius Online from her who explained that they had licensed it to gPotato but now intended to republish it under their new house with an extra years worth of content never released under gPotato. It’ll likely have a new name and branding so I’ll keep you readers posted on how that story develops.

In addition they are also planning to expand their FPS titles with Sin Streets and Sudden Attack. Sin Streets seems to take place in a world where organized governments are collapsing and street gangs are replacing them as the local rulers of the land. Sudden Attack seemed more like a zombie apocalypse setting but the visuals are truly mind blowing to the point that I’d classify it as FPS horror. I really don’t have much info beyond that on either title so I’ll end the discussion on CJ E&M there.

The last stop on the Concourse Hall tour was Gamigo to see the progress of Otherlands and Grimlands. Grimlands is looking to be a powerful contender to Fallen Earth’s current monopoly on the online post-apocalyptic survival setting. Grimlands has fully functional day/night and weather systems that actually impact gameplay. Players will constantly have to monitor an orange and blue bar at the bottom of their screen representing how loud they are being and how hidden they are. Naturally hiding in dark corners or moving about at night will give you a sneak advantage which may buy you a few extra seconds to open fire on incoming foes before they take the fight to you. On the other hand if you fly through town in a custom rigged Humvee blaring your horn, you can expect every mutant and zombie in earshot to come running as your orange sound meter will be filled to the brink.

The crafting system is fantastically detailed as well, allowing you to place a set number of points into various stats when crafting a weapon to really make it feel like your own. Are you a bad shot? Increase the clip capacity on your pistol. Need something to take out lumbering mutant juggernauts? Force your points into the power stat. Need to take out a target in a heavily fortified area? Increase your accuracy to fire off a kill shot from a huge distance. The choices are totally yours and you’ll even be able to craft vehicles and other nifty items to help you in your journey to.. well I guess survive. That’s the only real goal in the game currently with quests just offering rewards to help you make whatever you feel like at the time. Controls are crisp and responsive currently and the graphics are improving rapidly. I can’t wait to get my hands on the game for a long duration to give it a full review.

Otherland on the other hand very much seems to be in an early alpha stage. The elements of something unique and different are there but it still needs a lot of work before it is going to compete on the open market. The setting though is astounding and from the little I’ve read, really matches the Otherland book series to a tee. It feels like how a Matrix MMO should have looked with data and coding swirling in the breeze in the trees and the current in the rivers. Player customization is key and you’ll never have to recreate a new character to change your look as it’s as simple as changing clothes. One day you can be a knight in shining armor and the next a crouching lizard man. You can also use the data you collect to build a personal studio complete with arcade minigames, a lounge, and who knows what else. For griefers you can learn to hack and steal data from players for your own, making for a tense atmosphere in which you can never really trust people. For those who highly value social elements in an MMO I’d suggest keep watching this title as they really are pushing the envelope on what a successful MMO can be.

I rushed over to get some more playtime with Age of Wushu after this but was escorted out by some seriously aggressive cosplay girls who definitely knew how to use their equipment. We then closed out the day with a dinner with the International Gamania Team where my PR contact Yuwei promised to set us up with a studio tour once Core Blaze was closer to launch.

Thanks for following OnRPG/MMOHut’s E3 recap. I’ll be doing a couple more focused articles on some of the major titles of the convention so stay tuned for that, as well as our video interviews coming later next week!

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