Earthrise has been on our radar for a while. It is a game that was made independently out of Masthead Studios in Bulgaria. It promised open world settings for players in an old style Ultima Online format. The graphics looked good enough and the sci-fi setting sounded cool. So now that the game has launched, let’s take a look at what it has to offer.
Earthrise has a lot of options for the independent style MMO player. Similar in fashion to Darkfall or Mortal Online, the game is not run or held by a major studio or publisher. This to me is a positive. Earthrise, now that it’s in release, can grow and change with its players. The developers can take the communities insight and apply it to what is best for the game, independent of the financial expectations of a large publisher. In many ways this is the perfect MMO relationship.
The game world is great to explore with some good graphics and style. The landscapes allow you to move about the world with a sense of wonder. In playing through the starting area, the initial impression is a good one. The idea of a sci-fi world that is not devastated or post apocalyptic is interesting to the player. Though the concept of this style world is nothing new, Earthrise does a good job with the environment.
In terms of character there are plenty of options. You can spec skills rather than choosing a specific class. This is always a good system and the player is introduced to a number of options from the beginning. Even in early training you test out and keep a version of each weapon style. Long range rifles to flame throwers, all of them are in your arsenal. The option to spec skills is a system that many MMOs do not use anymore. The interface is easy to figure out and you can customize your character as you see fit. Overall the builds may lead to very specific style characters for PvP and exploration, but that style allows players to create separate characters for things like crafting and combat.
The community in the game was helpful and in going through the opening areas asking for help was easy and players quickly stepped up. It was great asking for help and actually getting from a community. While many games do have good solid communities, Earthrise does have that element of danger where players can kill you once outside the safe zones. Early on in the game launch this does not seem to be the case as players generally were out to help each other.
Overall the game has some very strong positives to offer. The open world and freedom of the game is great for players who like an older style MMO. One where they are not hindered by quests or gaining actual levels. Earthrise is much more open and has more freedom to offer. It is refreshing to see an MMO take the same approach as games like EVE or Ultima Online, two of the most successful MMOs ever made.
While Earthrise shines from being an independent game, it also suffers as well. While larger budget MMOs are being made faster and with better pacing, Earthrise moves much more slowly. You can see where the pitfalls are of being made without some of the major money behind it that some of the AAA titles.
The movement is an issue at the beginning of the game because it just moves slowly. I remember my early days in games like Star Wars: Galaxies, slowly running across the planet. Well, Earthrise has a similar feel early on. The movement takes some getting used too, but once mastered you just have to deal with the speed of the game being slower than some of the more recent titles launched lately. With that said, the older style pace may appeal to some MMO players who came up through the ranks with this pace of movement.
In terms of combat there are a lot of weapon options. This can be seen as a good thing, but there is a dark lining to it. From what the game has to offer it appears that ranged style weapons will become the mainstay of combat. Now granted it is a sci-fi game and there are some great guns. Yet if a player choses to spec hand to hand combat they may be in for a rough ride. This may not be seen totally as a negative, but do not go into this game expecting some great melee experience for your character. Ranged weapons seem to be where it is at, which is not the worst thing, but definitely worth mentioning.
The interface is tricky to figure out. Having to switch from explore mode to combat mode in order to get the fight going just seems like a hurdle that is not needed. If I have a gun I should not have to click to enter combat and then click to use it. Perhaps in the future they will fix the speed in which you can go into combat. For now, it limits the player.
Given the fact that Earthrise is an independent game, I do think it has a lot to offer the MMO audience. The players who grew up on Warcraft may not like it because it is not a spoon fed game. It has definite challenges and strategies to survive. I do think it will appeal to older style MMO players who might have come up with EverQuest or Dark Age of Camelot. The game world is fun and the sci-fi style is well done. In terms of community the jury is still out, this game can become cut throat based on their design philosophy and that may turn off players in the future. Still it may also bring communities together into waring factions and guilds that use Earthrise as their battleground, which is what the game is intended for. For MMO players Earthrise is a definite TRY IT! You may discover some great things in the game that keep you playing. You also may find a group of like-minded players and launch into a crusade that will last months or even years of game play. So give Earthrise a try it has a refreshing old school style that challenges its players.