With their third expansion pack, Perfect World International wanted to strike a broader focus than they had in their first two attempts. Their first update focused on content, their second introduced new systems. Rising Tide gives players a hefty dose of both as they must unravel the mysteries behind a new player race, the Tideborn.
The Tideborn emerge from the sea on December 9rd. Like the other races in PWI, the Tideborn start in their own unique area where they stay separated from the others for the first 19 levels. At 20, the races merge.
For those who don’t like the fishy new race, but do want a new challenge, the team has also added two new classes.
The Assassin is “a true stealth class.” They hide, they fight hand-to-hand and they’re a great source of quick damage (DPS). The twist is that they are far more group oriented than the average player might imagine them to be. Assassins in PWI are not lone stalks of the night. They should become a key component of any group. Why? As they injure their enemies, it sucks life from them and disperses it into the group around them.
The Psychic should also bring some fundamental changes to the way people play. In fact, it is likely to have far reaching effects beyond even its own class. At its root, this is a support character who helps out with buffs and debuffs. Unlike other classes, which derive their magic from the elements, Psychics use “Soul” as the source of their magic. What PWI has tried to accomplish with them is to use their support to make other classes work in situations where they may not otherwise have been able to. For example, the Barbarian was of pretty much no use in an AOE (area of effect) oriented party. With the help of psychic, he now can be.
On the content side, they’ve added quite a bit for the average player to do day-to-day. The first is a Public Quest system. People should be familiar with these as they were first introduced in Warhammer Online, but have since become a staple of every MMO on the market. These are open quests that anyone can participate in, regardless of group, confined to an area.
Higher level players can look forward to the Palace of Nirvana, which they assure us won’t have any grunge rock flavor to it. This dungeon will feature seven bosses for groups to take down. Three will always be the same, but four will be randomized from a pool of 15 possible enemies. This should make things a bit less predictable, but they assure us, they’ve intentionally tuned the content so that players with any reasonable group will be able to take on these random bosses sight unseen.
This new dungeon will also introduce Nirvana gear. Aware that many players are already quite attached to their top tier gear, likely from the Twilight Temple (no word on whether or not that one has vampires), so they’ve added a twist. In Nirvana, players earn tokens, these tokens can then be used to upgrade their Twilight Temple ear into the new gear.
Nirvana gear gets a new look, and upgrades the core stats of the previous stuff, but lets people retain the modifications they’ve made.
They’ve also expanded the Marriage system with Couples Quests. These are daily quests – people can do them each day – for players who have taken advantage of the in-game marriage system.
“They’re all based off famous Chinese love novels,” Product Manager Jonathan Belliss told us.
Players travel through these famous Chinese stories and help shape the course of events for a major couple. It’s reminiscent of how Lord of the Rings Online lets players help the Fellowship, without actually being in it.
Naturally, marriage in video games brings up a hot debate. In PWI, marriage must be between a male and female character. Why the restriction? They told us that simply, their game is originally developed for the Chinese market where content is much more heavily controlled than in the West. This restriction was hard coded into the game and while the North American arm of the company does have the ability to configure some elements, they cannot recode the game.
The advantage of being a Chinese game, though, is that unlike many western companies – like Blizzard’s World of Warcraft – they have not at all been affected by the recent Chinese government crackdown on MMORPGs.
Rising Tide launches in China on November 27th, and as of now, is slated for a December 9th release in North America.