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World of Darkness Previews: Pulling Back the Veil

By Blake Morse on May 02, 2013

I am about to admit something to you, my dearest readers, that I very rarely reveal: Back in the mid-nineties, during my teen years, I was a Goth. Yes, I had long, dyed black hair, a trenchcoat and piercings all over my over my face. I was like a spooky Silent Bob. My girlfriend at the time was even more spooky than me and she loved LARPing a little RPG game called Vampire: The Masquerade. I was more into the tabletop myself, but when you’re an awkward teenager dating a cute girl, you do strange things to keep them around. So yes, dark, gloomy teen Blake LARPed to keep his budding relationship alive. In the end my interest in pen and paper games lasted longer than my love affair. And as time passed I gave up the goth look and evolved into the amalgam of geekery I am today with my video game t-shirts and natural hair color.

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It had been years since I’d even had an afterthought about The Masquerade, but as I watched the CCP Fanfest keynote on the still in early development MMORPG, World of Darkness based off the analog vampire game, it all came rushing back to me. The clans, the seedy underground of the undead, somehow my brain had retained all this knowledge and quickly compelled me to take notice of its digital counterpart.

Although WoD has been in development for a few years, it seems as if they’re just scraping the surface of what they wish to accomplish. Chris McDonough, the Executive Producer for World of Darkness made it abundantly clear during his presentation that while the game has come a long way, they still have an even longer way to go. The last few years have spent focused on the technological foundation of the newest CCP franchise and most of the keynote was focused on that fact. Videos highlighting the techniques and programs the developers were using to create their immersive world occupied a heavy amount of presentation time. Tools such as Athena, which is used for scripting the games code and Genesis, which is used to generate cities by populating "kits" which themselves are groups of graphics, were given the floor to show how the devs were busting their butts to generate the dark cities that will make up the game world.

But let's face facts, most of you aren't programmers and while I'm sure you can appreciate the hard work and effort these folks are putting into making you a title, it's probably not what you're really curious about. You're probably more interested in how the game will actually play. While it is still extremely early on, it is clear that CCP is taking everything they've learned making EVE Online a success and funneling it into WoD. CCP standards such as a single shard server will put players from all over the world into the same environment. Clans will fight for territories just like Corporations do in EVE and players will slaughter each other for fun and profit as they expand their reach.

We were treated to a very brief gameplay that showed off a few of the gameplay mechanics, but keep in mind as I describe this that it was very early on and was pretty much put together just to show at Fan Fest and prove that yes, this is indeed a real game. It started with a svelte female vamp walking up to a man in an alleyway and making physical gestures that seemed to imply she was interested in perhaps making babies with this young fellow, or at least making out for a bit. As the man placed his hand upon her hip, he was met with a sudden shove back and a hand wringing his throat. The Vamp sinked her teeth into her fresh prey and left the poor guy drained of his blood, apparently dead, lying in a back alley.

The fatal temptress then made a quick leap up a rather steep wall and hopped onto the mezzanine of what appeared to be a rooftop Vampire dance club, complete with fang-like logo and blaring techno music. She made her way to the other side of the balcony and took a huuuuuge jump to another rooftop across the street from the swanky club. Waiting for her there was a singular target, but he didn't look like he’d be as much of a pushover as the last guy in the alley. She then made herself invisible and began stalking her prey, slowly making her way closer and closer until she was near enough to make a charging punch, the force of which pushed the man off the building and sent him falling to the pavement stories below. The nightstalker leapt down and, in a gory, final last hurrah for the demo, slit it’s prey’s throat with her claws and drained him of his life-force.

Overall the demo gave me the impression that when World of Darkness finally launches it will be a combination of the open world third-person action and sandbox environmental atmosphere of Defiance and the stealth combat and climbing of Assassin's Creed mixed with a hefty portion of the supernatural and dark. But it is much, much too early to tell from the brief glimpse given of a demo made just for CCP's Fan Fest what we’ll actually get in the end. But all the regular MMO tropes like PvE and PvP matches can be expected as well as a variety of vampiric disciplines to learn which will more than likely change depending on which of the many clans that already exist in the Masquerade universe players choose to join. As clans compete for territories within virtual cities, the areas they control will change to reflect the personality and traits of their rulers.

White Wolf also has a ton of other creature-based properties they’d like to eventually add into the fray. For the meantime though, there’s plenty of work to be done just to get World of Darkness to market and there’s no set release date. This is going to be done when it’s done and fans of the macabre are just going to have to be patient for the PC only MMO. I’m sure we’ll hear more before next year’s Fan Fest on their progress, but for now there’s a long road ahead. If you want something right though, you need to take the time to do it right. 

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