Updated Fri, Dec 07, 2012 by jeffprime
I've long been a fan of steam punk so when the opportunity arose to check out a steam punk-themed MMO, I put on my top hat and goggles and ventured into the world of City of Steam by Mechanist Games. City of Steam has just started their closed beta and I spent the weekend tooling around the city-state of Nexus gathering my first impressions of the state of the game so far.
City of Steam is a browser-based free-to-play. Its hub city of Nexus is broken into multiple zones where players pick up quests that take them into specific dungeons. There is no common adventuring area and all your quests will be instanced, with the exception of those that require you to meet a specific NPC.
Starting off, there are four classes--Arcanist, Warder, Gunner, and Channeler--and ten races to choose from. Each class also has three combat specialties that you determine at character creation. The amount of character customization is pretty limited to some choices for hair style and an accessory (goggles or various hats).
Once you're in the game, you'll pick up quests and venture into various dungeons to complete them. Most of the dungeons have an isometric view and movement is the standard WASD. While moving around is pretty easy, there is no jumping and the paths in the game can be pretty linear. If there is a chasm dividing a room, you can't jump across; you'll have to find an alternate path around. You can't alter the UI and there is no way to change key bindings. I found myself accidentally using my healing potion (called a health jab) from time to time because it's locked to the [E] key, which I normally use to sidestep in other games.
Combat is straightforward and the game gets you into the action quickly. You'll use your class's auto-attack and eventually other abilities that you'll unlock. As you level, you can spend points on skills associated with your specialty and also on talents. Talents can increase your stats, ability with weapons and armor, or impact your inventory space.
In addition to exploring, there are some different challenges that players can undergo in dungeons. They vary from killing a number of specific creatures in a certain time (such as killing 10 corsairs in 3 minutes) to surviving for a specific time to breaking a number of objects within a time limit. These challenges will alter the contents of the dungeon and can make for a fun mini-game.
If you want to engage in PvP, you can easily do so in City of Steam. Access a terminal and you can queue up for a fight ranging from 1 on 1 to 5 on 5. Once you've finished the fight, you'll be sent back to the city.
The thing I enjoyed most in City of Steam was that they got the look and feel of steam punk down. While the graphics won't stress your processor and the character customization is limited, the landscape and creatures are a damn good mix of fantasy and steam technology thrown together. You can even get a cool motorcycle in the cash shop to run around the city on.
Getting quests and finding your way around is easy. You can check on a quest board to see what quests are available in your zone. When you click on one, you will automatically run to the NPC that offers the quest. There are also road signs that have all the various locations (shops, dungeons, PvP terminals, etc.) in the zone on them. Click on their icon and you'll run to that location. While you can sometimes get hung up, overall auto-run is a pretty nifty little feature.