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OP 4/19/12 1:58:36 AM#1
There doesn't seem to be anything on MMORPG (features, news, etc.) about Illyriad, so I figured I'd write a quick intro.
I'll admit that I'm a huge fan (I keep a blog of my musings on Illy - http://wisdomofkurdruk.wordpress.com/ ), so if you've played the game and think I'm being too frothy please do put me right ;-)
Illyriad's a sandbox city building game, with an increasing amount of depth in various areas. The complexity of the military features put most war/strategy browser games to shame, there are various little mysteries and challenges that crop up (a lot of the players are currently trying to work out why a giant heart in the southern jungles has started beating - hundreds of players seem to have cooperated to work out how to mnipulate the heart and get it to do things), the developers have promised a major overhaul to the trade system, etc.
The result is a game that can be played as you wish. Most strategy games have "a way of playing them" - even classics like Civ (which I love) tend to have "a way to play them effectively". Illyriad is different. It's possible to come to it thinking "I'm going to play as this sort of ruler...", rather than "what do I have to do here?" What helps here is that players are rarely in peril. The community is amazingly supportive of new players, and if anyone tries picking on a small player they will get battered by their peers. This means that there's no preassure (As in a strategy war game like Grepolis) to build as fast as possible to keep ahead of your warlike neighbours. In Illyriad, the impetus to building is that the more you build the more you can do in the world (exploring with different types of units, taking art in tournaments, etc.)
Is it an RPG? Not in any first person sense - people in Illy rarely speak "in character" and you don't control an avatar. But it's unique amongst city building stargey games in that it has a great sense of this being a waorld where you can be the sort of ruler you want to be. And it doesn't hurt that some of the details in the world are genuinely really interesting - some of the NPC Faction descriptions make me think of Neil Gaiman much more than pulp fantasy. So, personally I think of my playing possition in game as being a character (with attitudes and motivations different to my own), and I believe in a world in a way that I rarely believe in RPG worlds, so for me it's a weird mix of city building from a RP perspective, without any real RP interaction.