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Spellborn International
MMORPG | Genre:Fantasy | Status:Cancelled  (est.rel 04/23/09)  | Pub:Frogster Interactive / Mindscape / Acclaim
PVP:Yes | Distribution:Download | Retail Price:Free | Pay Type:Free | Monthly Fee:Free
System Req: PC | Out of date info? Let us know!

The Chronicles of Spellborn: Character Creation Preview

MMORPG.com Managing Editor Jon Wood had the recent opportunity to take a run through the beta for Acclaim's upcoming MMORPG, The Chronicles of Spellborn. Today, he offers an overview of and his thoughts on the unique character creation process for the game.

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Recently, I had the opportunity to get my hands on some test time with Acclaim’s upcoming MMORPG, The Chronicles of Spellborn.

I’ve said before that I think that this game could be what some players, who have felt left behind by the more recent major MMO launches in terms of their ease and structure, have been waiting for.

The journey, like almost any other journey through almost any other MMO, begins with character creation. For those who might not be aware, I’ll go into some detail about what’s available to you:

The first thing that you’re going to be asked to do is to choose your character archetype. There are three: Warrior, Rogue and Spellcaster. These archetypes aren’t full-blown classes just yet though. TCoS lets players get comfortable with their Archetype before asking them to settle on a more specific class. This happens only when the player is at level five and to keep it in the context of the game, it happens at The Academy rather than through a single dropdown menu.

From there, there are two races to choose from in TCoS, Humans and the Daevi. Each has a male and a female version available. There are three body types to choose from in TCoS: Thin, Muscular and Fat. While these might seem pretty ho-hum and run of the mill on paper, they are anything but. Thin is indeed small and spindly rather than just slightly less muscled and Fat is… well, obese rather than just slightly thicker. It’s actually a refreshing change from the MMO norm.

All of that being said, this is probably the best time to talk about the art style in TCoS. As you can probably see from looking at the screenshots provided, TCoS doesn’t look like any other game on the market. First, its design is very European in terms of the architecture and overall look of the game, but the character models have a very unique style themselves. Anyone looking for photorealistic graphics is going to be sorely disappointed, but on the other side of the coin, anyone looking for something visually different should certainly give it a go. It isn’t that it looks bad. Far from it, it actually looks great.

So, back to the character creation process: As with most games, you get to choose your head, your hair, your voice, etc. It should be noted here that the color palette for hair is pretty non-restrictive so if you want to look wacky, you can. You can also choose tattoos.

TCoS Screenshot

Still, what’s really going to get you about the character creation process are the sheer number of options in terms of what you character is going to look like. It’s important to point out here that equipment in The Chronicles of Spellborn is almost entirely without statistical function. Armor, cloth, shield, axe, staff… They are all just props.

Somewhere along the lines in the creation process, the developers at Spellborn decided that they didn’t want to go the homogeneous route where it came to what your character looked like. Too often in MMOs, a rogue looks like a rogue, looks like a rogue. This is great for identification purposes, but in the end it lacks depth of character and players are often left feeling like their character isn’t in any way unique. In an effort to combat that feeling, the folks at Spellborn have decided to strip it all away. Any character can literally wear anything they want and carry whatever items they like. The end result is beginning characters who can easily distinguish themselves visually from the crowd.

All in all, I have to say that I enjoyed TCoS’s character creation far more than I have any other MMO to date and I can see players who have very specific thoughts in mind for character appearance spending a great deal of time on their creations.

So, what were my thoughts overall?

  • I thought that starting with a class archetype rather than locking yourself into a specific class from the get-go was a refreshing change. It really does feel like it takes a lot of the pressure off and lets me find my play style before making a decision I might regret not to long down the line.
  • I thought that the different character models, including a shockingly obese body type, was a nice touch. It certainly changes the dynamic
  • I thought that the art style in terms of the characters was interesting and different. This game certainly won’t be called a clone of anything else based on its looks. I do worry, however, that the character models might be just a touch too stylized to really resonate with a broad audience here in North America. They also have a kind of comic-booky feeling to them with some exaggerated features that will be a draw for some, but something that may make the average MMO player think twice.
  • I thought that the clothing system was totally unparalleled in today’s MMO market, at least in terms of recent releases (with the possible exception of LotRO which does something vaguely similar, but not from the get-go). It’s great to be able to decide what you character is going to look like without being locked into: These are the starting clothes for a first level fighter. You will look exactly like every other first level fighter. Please enjoy your generic first level fighter. I could spend hours, I think, playing with equipment to make everything look just the way I wanted it to.
    • I did have one complaint, and I don’t know if this is a beta issue or if it will be a launch feature, but there are no dropdown menus for the equipment, meaning that I had to cycle through every piece in order to look for something I liked. The problem came in though when I saw something I thought I might like, but wanted to see more. It was a pain to return later to choose the item I had looked at earlier.

Overall, the system is pretty intuitive and I have to be honest when I say that from the moment a player steps into TCoS, they will immediately have the feeling that this isn’t a typical MMO, but rather an innovation in the genre and a chance to really try something new.

Next week, we will look at some of the gameplay elements that I experienced during my brief time in-game.

TCoS Screenshot

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