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City of Steam Previews: Steampunk Impresses at GDC

By Garrett Fuller on April 08, 2013

Steampunk has been a growing genre over the last few years. There are conventions all over and loads of books, games, and yes even music. The team over at Mechanist Games is doing an amazing job with City of Steam, the first full on Steampunk MMO.  We met with Gabriel Laforge and Andrew Woodruff to talk about the game and see the demo.

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City of Steam offers ten races for players to choose from, everything from humans (with lots of factions), orcs, goblins, and even elves. There is a lot of customization in the character creation phase and players will enjoy some of the choices. We created a steamed out orc for the demo. Getting into the game and starting quickly is extremely important to Mechanist Games: we started up very quickly and were able to move around easily. The gameplay had flow to it and character movement was smooth.

Once you choose your race, there are four classes to choose from. The Arcanist was the magic user with some heavy-looking steampunk tech thrown in. The Gunner is the ranged DPS class, with all sorts of weapons at their disposal, more on them later. The Warder is the tank style class with lots of melee options. The last is the Channeler which is the healing or support class. Gabriel pointed out though that the builds for the game are totally open. So players are not locked into a single play-style. We saw the Warder in action as an Orc.

The design of the game world is extremely clockwork which plays right into the steampunk mindset. You find a lot of tech with that design throughout the game and the environments reflect a weird sci-fi of the early 1900s. Guilds in the game are called Companies and players can join up to adventure out into instances. The game is free to play with a cash shop for options. We got to see the steam-powered jet pack which allowed players to fly around in short bursts. There is also a steam bike players can get. The game is also full of rewards and bonuses for players. You even get a reward for logging in. These were some of the quick features we went over before we talked about weapons and combat in the game.

City of Steam has a lot to draw from in terms of combat. There is magic but with a sci-fi element. There is melee but with some crazy piston powered weapons. Guns are also very important and the team continues to work on getting everything balanced in the game. Characters will have access to pistols, blunderbusses, and scatterguns. Each has a very different function in the battles. The pistols and blunderbusses are more focused vs. the scattergun which is more for AOE.  If you want to go more melee you can fight with great weapons, weapon and shield, or two-weapon. Magic has three trees you can choose from: fire, ice, and lightning. Keep in mind all of these designs are heavily influenced by the steam style of the game. You are not locked into choices and players can customize as they go. We only saw a demo but the depth of customization was clear. In the end combat comes down to timing the use of your skills no matter what form you choose.

City of Steam has a central hub for players, obviously: the city of steam itself. In terms of PvP, they offer arenas as well as a public PvP instance. So players can do some small combat but also enter into larger areas where things are not nearly as structured or safe. Up to five people can join a group in both PvE and PvP to head out and explore the city. The level cap for players will be forty with lots of skill options as you level through the content.

Steampunk is an underrepresented genre and City of Steam mixes a lot of styles into a very vibrant world. From the demo we saw the game was much bigger than we expected and is definitely one to watch in the coming months.


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