Mythos Beta Journal #1

Where to begin? I guess I should first remind you that I am a colossal Diablo fan.
Where to begin? I guess I should first remind you that I am a colossal Diablo fan. I've been telling you that for years now. Just as recently as last Tuesday, I spent 3-4 hours scouring the Internet, looking for the rumors of a Diablo III. I watched fake (but entertaining) trailers on YouTube. I went to a site dedicated to the game and read through the forums. I perused Blizzard press releases. I ended my day discouraged. With over 8 years gone by since the release of Diablo II, and nearly 7 years since its expansion, Lord of Destruction, we fans have been waiting a long time. And with Blizzard soaking up money from World of Warcraft the way a sponge absorbs water, and with Starcraft II in full development on the horizon, the prospects of that Diablo III title seemed bleaker than ever.

Mythos has a fair amount of blood. Expect a rating of M for Mature.

How I heard of Mythos
I happened to mention my burning love for Blizzard's tale of demons and the struggle between heaven and hell on another gaming forum, and a member there told me I should go check out a game called Mythos. I'd never heard of it but quickly found it through the magic of the Internet. From the Ten Ton Wiki, I learned that Mythos is a free-to-play MMORPG in development by Flagship Studios, the makers of Hellgate: London. It can be considered a mixture of World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Guild Wars. Like Guild Wars, players can meet and interact with other players in the town areas. They can group with other players to traverse epic dungeons (like World of Warcraft), and the stat allocation is reminiscent of the Diablo games. Next I watched the preview video here at Ten Ton Hammer. I needed to get my hands on this.

So, I went to the Mythos website and poked around. Not a lot to see right now. The game is in a closed beta without NDA (non-disclosure agreement). In other words, you need an invitation to get in, but you can talk about what you see there once you're on the inside. The main thing to remember is that the game is in beta, and that design elements are subject to change. I did a little research and ended up in touch with Taylor Balbi, the Mythos Community Manager. Taylor was glad to hear from a Diablo nut, and he was kind enough to invite me to the beta so I could help test the game.

Installation and Character Creation
I downloaded the beta client (one file in .msi format) last Wednesday. It was roughly 325MB. Installation was smooth for me. It took about 5 minutes to install and patch. Then I created my first character, a human Gadgeteer named Silek. My other racial choices were satyr and gremlin. The other classes were Bloodletter and Pyromancer. Flagship has intentionally chosen races and classes that vary just slightly from the norm. They want the game to be familiar to Diablo II veterans like myself but different enough so that the game has its own identity. At this point, character customization at creation offers a few choices of skin tone, hair style and color, faces, and accessories. On my human, accessories seemed to add nothing, but I may find out it makes a big difference in the look of a gremlin or satyr. No matter, I wanted action--not a pretty doll! I saw an option to make my character hardcore, but I knew that meant permanence at death and left that option unchecked. The other option I saw was a check box for Elite. I later learned on the beta forums that it would ramp up the difficulty of the monsters, reduce the cash I make on vendoring items, and remove the option to respec my character (reallocate skill points).

Vanity cam makes for some great stills, but players need to realize that this is the primary perspective for the action.

First Impression: Graphics and UI
I landed in a small little town and immediately saw global chat running. People were discussing builds, quests, and strategies for bosses. I saw a few people trying to trade one rare for another, too. The environment around me was much more vibrant than the land of Sanctuary in Diablo games. The grass was a cheerful green, and the sun lit up the hamlet. I saw a few shadows created by trees or buildings. My perspective was the standard 3/4 view, but I could check out my character with the "Vanity Cam" by pressing the V key. This was a frontal view of my character, like at the character creation screen, but it's not the mode for the action. The UI looked a lot like that from the games that inspired Mythos; a belt with slots corresponding to my 1 through = keys was centered on the bottom. I could see a visual representation of my health and mana to the left of the belt, and a miniature options panel sat to the right of the belt. The mini-map was on the bottom right of the screen.

My first quest came from a non-player character (NPC) right beside me. He asked me to go into the abbey and destroy whatever was causing the dead to walk again and drink blood in macabre rituals. It's not unlike the first quest players get in Tristram in the original Diablo. When I went into the dungeon, I really paid attention to my character for the first time. I have to say that Silek looked pretty badass. He wore a brown duster and a full-brim hat. The shotgun at his side gleaned in the light. Now, normally I get pretty pissy about the introduction of firearms into my fantasy settings, but I wanted to try out the class and give it a chance. I'm so glad I did.

Keep reading. Next up, I cover skills, Achievements, and monster AI.

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