The Repopulation is a sandbox Sci-Fi MMO in development by Above and Beyond Technologies, an independent studio with great ambition and drive. It isn’t a wide open sandbox but will also contain elements from your regular theme-park type MMOs, while taking as touch-stones and inspiration elements from games like Star Wars Galaxies, Shadowbane and EVE Online.
Players choose between two factions, Owon and FPR but they can also choose to go rogue and ally themselves with whichever faction they feel like – doing quests from either to gain faction. They can reach a tipping point and have to decide if they want to remain “rogue” or ally themselves with one faction to gain higher favor and rewards.
Character development is skill-based with no levels and no classes, and players can go the non-combat route if they prefer, specializing in resource gathering and trading or crafting. Crafting can be as simple as creating a stool for player housing or as complex as building vehicles and combat mechs.
Equipment is modular which will certainly help with crafting, and armor is socketed to improve them. Armor, weapons, vehicles are all in the plans, and products can be bought and sold in either the public auction system, or crafters can choose to build a shop and place items there.
Player housing has three flavors. One is instanced – your nice, safe apartment in a major town. The second can also be safe though, so don't worry. There will be some plots of land in PvE areas that players can buy to build a house on. Like your apartment, you can give friends different levels of access – to only enter or to interact with your belongings. The third is the ability to build houses in player cities, a type more open to PVP shenanigans. Alliances can designate an area for their members to build houses and shops. One interesting thing about player run cities is the ability to build not only on the ground and upwards, but also below ground. You want to keep your bank areas, your resources, your merchants safe? Build an easily defendable underground market area.
There is going to be PvP in this world with choices of normal and hard-core PvP servers. Normal servers will still have PvP but only in contested areas. About two-thirds of content on a normal server will be PvE content and a third of it the contested area where player clans can form alliances to take over and control plots of land to build cities, bases and attack each other. Once these player cities are established, then the fun begins. Their plans for player warfare are quite interesting, having learned from other games such as Dark Ages of Camelot where different regions of the world played “Pass the Relic” by stealing them back and forth while the other part slept.
The siege process will take about three days and the defending city gets to set the time windows. A two hour combat window is set for two days during which time the assaulting teams can set up siege camps and make preparations as well as test the cities defenses. The city at this time also gets to set up defense towers. During this time, the camps can also be attacked. On the third day, a four hour combat window opens up for the siege and attempted take over. These sieges are not lightly undertaken as a lot of resources will be used. An energy shield is set up and the Offense has to take the shield down first before they can invade and get to the player combat. A city can be built also, in such a way to prevent Mechs from entering. Low doorways and narrow streets will certainly hamper them.
Travel in Repopulation doesn't have any of that fast-travel teleporting. It is either hoof it, ride player created vehicles, or use the rail system between major hubs. In time, player cities will be able to tie into these hubs.
The game is in alpha at this time, and I was shown and had a little hands-on with a soldier in a city under siege, running, gunning, jumping off a wall (I had high health), dying (a few times) and repopping, colliding with the enemy mech – no trampling damage – which was just FINE with me!
I did see some features that were still being worked on, like the UI. At present, different modes that your character is in will bring up the different UIs. The Combat UI brings up your combat skills, your weapons and slotted items.
The plan right now is for the game to be free to play, with the usual gameplay enhancements for sale, such as bank and player inventory space and minor short-term boots such as minor XP gains, etc. and cosmetic items, but nothing that will provide players with a strategic advantage.
The Repopulation is a massive undertaking. I was frankly blown away that a small independent studio was attempting this. Player driven events, player created cities, customizable pets, siege engines, the list goes on. They plan to go into beta at the end of 2013, so if any of this appeals to you, there is a ton of information and a beta sign up at http://www.therepopulation.com/.