Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising First Impressions
Every time I attend an E3 I come away with one appointment in particular that was particularly enjoyable and usually surprising. At E3 2005 that appointment was with the Perpetual Entertainment team and covered their title, Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising.
Steig Heidlund, former designer of Diablo 2 and Starcraft is now the main man in charge of design for Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising. Chris McKibbin, the president of Perpetual orchestrated a fantastic demonstration that left me wanting to see more.
First off, this ain't your Momma's MMORPG. This is Rome and you are the child of a God. That's right folks, player characters are children of the Gods and from the hour long demo it looks like you are going to feel mighty Godly.
As a hero, you are expected to do heroic things, not only by your parent who wants you to follow in their footsteps, but by the populace who sees you as a saviour capable of helping them in their times of need.
Each God will bestoy specific abilities on their children. So far, these abilities have not been publicly announced, but expect them to put a smile on your face and in many cases a world of hurt on the enemy. Much like mana is used to cast spells, Gods and Heroes uses "Favour" with your God as the measuring stick by which you can use your Godly powers. Striking down your foes with Godly wrath might whisk you through an encounter, but you will then need to regain favour to use the powers again. Favour regenerates slowly on its own, but can also be gained by greasing palms at the temple or by questing for your God.
The game will have instanced zones, one of which is the Colusseum where pitched battles will take place. An interesting tidbit of information is that the Colusseum wasn't actually built yet in the timeframe that Gods and Heroes takes place in, but putting fun at the forefront is part of the design plan for the game.
What would a child of a God be without followers? Players will be able to recruit NPCs to join their ranks and include them in groups. An incredibly cool part of this feature is the ability to gain mythical creatures as followers. In our demonstration the team had a minotaur as part of their squad. He showed some Greek soldiers the business end of an arse kicking. Followers will expect to be paid, but many encounters will be impossible without a squad to back you up.
Segway to squads, this is a squad based combat game. You won't be running around by yourself looking for others to group with you. Well, you might be because let's face it grouping with pals is fun, but those other player characters will also have squads and you will be able to combine forces to take on the bad guys. Groups will be able to have a combination of up to 56 player and non-player characters at once! Awesome! Why hasn't someone done this before?
Your squad can be arranged in default formations which are smart enough to put the weakling, toothpick archers at the back or in formations that you dream up on the "formation chessboard" as I came to call it. Basically you move tokens representing your followers into position on the "chessboard" and then click "Done". The formation is automagically added to your interface and your followers will take position just as you ask. The melee NPCs are smart enough to defend the archers and the archers are smart enough to let the melee fighters take the beatings. It's a fantastic system to watch as not only is your squad split into groups based on class type, but so are the NPC bad guys. Strategy, let me introduce you to the MMO genre. You won't be pulling one Greek soldier out from the rest of the pals in his squad. In Gods and Heroes he is smart enough to let them know he is being attacked and bring them all down on you. I can't impress upon you enough how cool it was to see squad combat in a MMORPG.
Travel, the bane of many MMO titles is going to be handled in some familiar and not so familiar ways. Boats and teleportation are being implemented, but what is cool is that mythological creatures will also be able to whisk you across the land. I only ask that we leave the poor griffins alone. They have been abused enough in other games. Personally, I'd like to ride a harpy.
How many of you have played a MMO and wanted to join a group with your pals only to be told you were not the right level? I see a lot of raised hands. Let me introduce you to "adoption" where a hero can adopt a lower level hero allowing friends to play the game together.
The goal for character development is to take the "grind" out of the game and introduce a "Quest Driven" levelling process. Players will be introduced to areas via quests that they may be currently unable to conquer, but will be drawn back through the quest system to eventually complete quests in the previously overly dangerous area. This mechanism is meant to increase interaction between the higher and lower level players.
More on this game as I have time to ask a few more question post-show and write a true preview, but it was my favourite game of the show.
– John "Boomjack" Hoskin