A Galaxy of Features - A Preview of Black Prophecy at gamescom 2010

Reakktor Media's Black Prophecy, published by gamigo, may be one of the most anticipated MMOGs coming up in the free-to-play market.
Reakktor Media's Black Prophecy, published by gamigo, may be one of the most anticipated MMOGs coming up in the free-to-play market. Our fans here at Ten Ton Hammer have liked what they've seen so far and have made it clear they want to see more. We stopped by the gamigo booth at gamescom this year to check in with gamigo PR Manager, Dennis Hartmann. Dennis took us through a demo of the game to show off its features, and boy, did it have a lot of features.

Starting from the logical beginning, we saw character creation. Even though you'll be flying a ship for most of your career in Black Prophecy, you will still be able to create a 3D model of your character avatar. The options are plenty from piercings to width and tone; standard for many MMORPGs, but maybe not so standard in a space combat MMOG.

From there we saw some beginning missions. Players will start at a Portal which contains nine missions. The first of these will teach the player how to interact with the game: basic tutorials on how to shoot and aim. The treat during these and other missions are the game's cutscenes. Though rendered with the game client, the story does evolve and changing camera angles put to use with a powerfully epic musical score rivaling that of any feature film set the mood quickly and quite effectively. Full voice-overs will compliment the cutscenes.

Black Prophecy Space Station
Inside a space station in Black Prophecy

Without giving away the story, the first cutscene we watched put us into a defensive turret to protect our colony ship from attack. The turret was static, placed securely atop a large vessel, but that didn't at all put a dent in the feel of raw sci-fi combat. Hartmann fired the turret at dozens of intruding ships which approached wave after wave. Radar and HUD displays assisted with aiming as enemies were blown out of the sky in a rapid show of fireworks. The camera angles available reinforced the game's overall theme of action, arcade and simulator all rolled into one. Players can select from simple views where only the HUD is displayed for a minimalistic view, or one of the interior of the turret, which renders nicely the inside of the pit along with protective windowpanes and panels. Near the end of the mission the attacking battleship will approach, where turrets of its own need to be attacked before the final climax of the destruction of the enemy battleship.

After the tutorial shooting missions players will then select their faction and receive their first ship. The next missions will teach gamers how to fly their newly acquired ships. Again, several views are available in the main gameplay of Black Prophecy and players can switch between cockpit, first person and third person views.

The environmental objects in the game set the mood and develop the universe's setting. From space docks to eateries to adult entertainment districts, Black Prophecy builds a believable society within the game. It's not all about blowing stuff up and exploration can be an enjoyable treat within the game. To illustrate further, Hermann then took us to an icy galaxy where all the asteroids and planets were packed in closely and he navigated through the crystalline galaxy. It was breathtaking, but also very dangerous as it was easy to see how one could get lost and end up in a collision or worse.

Next we took a look at the stations in which players will be able to upgrade their ships and perform crafting. Though not planned for launch, Reakktor does intend to allow players to walk around the stations in the future. Here players can also find more missions for solo or group play. The group size has changed, now allowing up to ten players in a single group. The most captivating part of the station was its clan missions. These missions will allow a clan to join together for what can only be described as an epic battle. Battleships will be deployed, which will have several wings. These wings can then be assigned different roles. For example, one wing will be charged with defense of the battleship while another wing will be on patrol duty, engaging  dogfights with patrolling enemies. Heavy fighters could be sent in to attack the opposing battleship. Clan missions are designed to be intense and strategic and will require good team coordination to accomplish.

Mods to a player ship will affect not only its combat and defensive power, but also its maneuverability. Heavy ships will be slow and heavy but will be well armored. Lighter ships will be more agile but will be able to take fewer hits. As modifications are applied to the ship in terms of weaponry, engines or armor, the appearance of the ship will change as well. The higher level the modification, the greater the change in appearance. In addition, the item shop will contain some visual-only modifications for player ships. The options are many, so the look of player ships will vary greatly.

Space combat in Black Prophecy
Fast, gorgeous space combat in Black Prophecy

Crafting is done by obtaining blueprints from enemies. With these blueprints components will need to be gathered and then can be assembled to make various items including ship modifications. The components will be available as loot from enemies as well as collected at resource stations. Resource stations will be contested and clans can fight for control. The more powerful the clan, the more resources, and the better the items and mods they'll be able to manufacture. Crafting is a bit of a gamble in the way that if you fail at your attempt you will lose all your resources, but retain the blueprint for another attempt. This system will prevent mass manufacturing and also provoke players into a sense of need for control over the resource stations. On the other hand, critical successes are a part of crafting too, which will occasionally cause crafted items to be far superior than planned. Insurance will be available if players don't want to risk losing their components.

The PvP zones will contain NPCs to fight, so there will be some extra strategy involved when entering the zones. NPCs also serve the purpose of guaranteeing there will always be a battle to be had, whether there are opposing players in the area or not.

There is currently no death penalty in the game. Downed players will simply respawn near their death point. Discussions are in place about whether or not to include a penalty.

It's not hard to see what our readers are excited about. Black Prophecy promises to be a full-featured space combat MMOG with plenty to do and even more to see.

The next wave of beta testers will be invited in late September with open beta scheduled for November and the game will be available in German and English at launch. Servers will be available in both North America and in Europe to ensure good ping times for players.

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