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Artifact Entertainment | Official Site
MMORPG | Genre:Fantasy | Status:Final  (rel 12/08/03)  | Pub:Virtrium
Distribution:Download | Retail Price:Free | Pay Type:Subscription
System Req: PC | ESRB:TOut of date info? Let us know!

Istaria: Chronicles of the Gifted Editorial: Revisited

By Dana Massey on June 09, 2005

Page Two of Two

Finally, we come to content. The list here is extensive. The game features one-thousand-ninety-six new bipedal quests, three-hundred-and-eighty new dragon quests, two-thousand-forty-five new monster types, two-thousand-five-hundred-and-fifty new player owned plots of land, two-hundred-and-five square kilometers of new lands to explore and a host of other numbers I chose to leave out in the interests of word count. In practical terms, the game also now features adult dragon rites of passage quests, with the ancient dragon rite of passage quest to follow within approximately two months.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard that they have also expanded beyond the concept of monster loot only being components for crafting. Players can now loot things like blight armor and other ready to go items from the monsters they kill. David explained how the game had always been geared towards crafting, but how they had gone too far. Now they also take care of adventurers with the same vigor. The game no longer forces players to craft.

That is not to say they were resting on their crafting laurels. They have added dye crafting, crystals, and a dragon-scale armor line. There is now more substance than ever in the most prominent area of the game.

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One area where they felt they were always strong was the concept of schools and multi-schooling. This system essentially allows players to mix and match their “class” to create the character they want. Among other things, it ensures the game is solo friendly. Unfortunately, players found this to be a daunting experience. The game threw them into a world and a tutorial that was often hard to follow. With this in mind, Tulga has turned its attention to the redefinition of their newbie experience.

This week, the game debuts a brand new dragon tutorial. Being a dragon in Horizons is essentially a completely different game than playing a biped. Now they have a tutorial to themselves that helps them find their way. Next up, is the bipeds. In the coming weeks, players can expect to see that experience rebuilt from the ground up to ensure that new players can easily get into the game.

Live Events are another huge part of Horizons. Since launch, they have undertaken twenty-two live events on their servers. This creates a world where players actually take an active hand in its evolution. Earlier, I mentioned 205 km2 of new space. These new areas did not simply just appear out of the ocean. These additions were the cumulative totals of eight separate player discovers. There are also two playable races that players will not remember from beta – once again brought to life through Live Events. The Satyrs and Dryads are available from the get-go. With a reduced team, these events are less frequent, but David spoke at length about how they learned from their past and which events went well. I can safely say, you can be sure there will be more in the future.

One huge landmine at launch was not a flaw in the game itself, but the way they ran it. In short, the billing system was among the worst in the industry. This too is no longer a concern. With lessons learned, the game features an entirely new billing system that allows you to play and not have to worry about paying more than you were supposed to.

Overall, Horizons has a lot to offer. The game is both solo and casual friendly, it packs a complex crafting system unlike anything the other major games have to offer, it has solid character customization, crisp graphics and lets you own and develop property in one of the neatest systems I’ve ever played with. Furthermore, the game is in some ways two games in one. It is simultaneously both the more traditional MMORPG experience, and the dragon game. The later is a very different beast. At this time, 24% of players play dragons for a more action oriented game play experience with less of a focus on crafting. Throw in the metamorphosis aspects of character evolution and it offers a truly unique opportunity to the jaded gamer.

Long term, Tulga and David Bowman are not simply content to subsist off their current game. For Horizons to rebuild, they wish to re-enter the retail marketplace. They are currently in talks to secure funding for a commercial expansion release that bundles all the changes discussed in this article and many new features. Not stopping there, the next step would be a sequel. This would offer them the chance to start fresh, with a solid foundation and design a completely new product. Tentatively, they want to continue the Horizons franchise with a full out player vs. player title. David emphasized that to do PvP right it needs to be its own game, not simply a square peg shoved into the round hole of a PvE title. They emphasized that all of this is simply conversation at this stage. There are no agreements in place, and with a company of that size, the entire team remains squarely focused on what is most important: Horizons.

The question becomes: is Horizons worth another look? The software is free and a trial available, so yes, I would say it is worth a try. The game is not everything to everyone, nor is it likely to win any awards. However, in the mold of a game like Asheron’s Call 2, it has finally come into its own and evolved into a solid well-rounded experience that has the potential to give players hours of fun. That said, the game has seen things turn around, as their playerbase slowly regrows. The game features a very mature community – David claims that they are statistically the most mature – a crafting system that no other game rivals, solid graphics and a wealth of content. If you never tried Horizons or gave up on it during beta or the disastrous debut, it is – finally – ready for people to give it a second chance. Will you?

We would love to hear your thoughts on this article. Be sure to leave them in this thread and on their rating meter.

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