Earlier this week I sat down with with Nick Nieuwoudt from Taitale Studios and had the chance to play Novus Aeterno live on our stream. Novus Aeterno is an MMORTS that is massive not just because it hopes to fit upwards of 30,000 people on a server but because the scope of the game is very ambitious. Read on for my own impressions, as well as Bill Murphy’s who had a private demo with Nick as well.
In Novus Aeterno you start off with control of a single planet. Initially on this planet you will want to build a few starter buildings, a mine for resources, a warehouse for housing those resources, your typical RTS type activities. Then you will want to start building spaceships. Every Admiral has the opportunity to build their own custom ships. You are provided a template but then get to pick your hull, engines, weapon systems, you’ll have to choose whether or not the ship will be allowed to transport troops to distant planets or carry cargo. You can then save your template and set the ships for mass production. For a novice it can be overwhelming and Nick mentioned that most of the choices won’t have a great impact on your gameplay, it was for the Eve players out there who like to have numbers to crunch.
Once you have built your armada you are set to explore space and the galaxies around you. While not infinite the space you are able to explore is nothing less than massive. It would take you months in real time to fly from galaxy to galaxy if you did not have faster than light travel. I choose to just pick the closest rock next to me and set up my next imperial outpost. I parked a few troop transports in low orbit and invaded the planet establishing a foothold. From there, I started building mines and stripping the resources I needed from the planet.
But what happens when I log off? What’s the point of expanding my Empire of Greatness if it can all be captured when I go to sleep for the night? Novus Aeterno has a solution for that. On your initial home world you start off with a set of defense shields. Which I found out the hard way while trying to attack Nick that if you are an enemy player and run into the shields it equals instant destruction. After a period of time players are able to develop a second defense shield and place it around an additional planet of their choice to protect it from hostile forces, but that’s it. Players will only get two. After that you need to start brushing up on your diplomacy and trade skills to seek protection for your other colonies.
Novus Aeterno fills a gap in the current MMO space. We have more MMORPGs than you can shake a stick at, a couple of MMOFPS, but are sorely lacking in the MMORTS genre especially since Trion shifted gears and End of Nations became... something else. If you are itching for persistent strategy game Novus Aeterno just might be for you.
Imagine a never-ending universe filled with planets ripe for the taking. There’s no end to how many planets you can discover and mine for resources, build massive armadas of ships, customize each and every one, and work together with other players or against them to expand your empire. Many times it seems we’ve seen a company come along and try to make an MMORTS. Many times, what we end up with is a browser game that clones Travian. But that’s not Novus Aeterno. From the mind of a 16 year old who began this journey over five year’s ago (Nick is now 21), NA is something every strategy gamer or MMO gamer who longs for an RTS on the massive scale should take notice of. Anyone who said the MMORTS couldn't be done was wrong. Just wait until you see the scope of this thing.
You can move into the surface of your planet, zoom out to the universe view, and then to the galaxy, and scroll left and right and up and down across the stars. Nick told me it would take months for someone’s army to physically travel from one end to the other, and since the galaxy expands as it needs new solar systems, chances are it would never end. Right now, what sort of planets you get to start are random, but every planet has its own set of pros and cons in terms of materials available to mine and harvest. Your lava-based planets will be different from the water-based sort and so forth. Oh, and did we mention that this entire galaxy is all on one server? Everyone will be playing together, spread out across the stars.
Rob covered the way in which you customize your ships above, and it really is empowering. You start with just a few options, but as you learn new tech it expands and expands. Maybe you’re able to make slower moving but more powerful battleships, but that doesn’t mean you need to use them. If you’re the type of unit-control expert that’s used to playing the Zerg in Starcraft, you might feel more at home researching and using hordes of faster but weaker ships. You can mix and match your armies to your heart’s content, but be prepared to lose ships and not stray too far from your territory unless you’re okay with it taking some time and a few FTL jumps to get back with a refitted armada.
There’s a ton of depth to the economy too, and Nick explained to me that you can easily scrounge and hunt down uninhabited planets set up shop, and be there to support local markets with hotly needed goods. Let’s say you have a friend who’s deep within a war that you don’t have a stake in. They give you info saying something like, “we really need iron, and badly”. You can ship it in to them manually by taking cargo there, or you can set up shop on a nearby planet and the game will notify folks in the vicinity that you’ve got the items everyone needs and whammo… you’re a rich man. But be careful, because transporting those goods into hostile territory might not be a picnic either.
We could probably go on and on about NA for a while, and I know Nick and I did when we met up in-game last week. There are so many layers to this game that your average Joe might pass it up. But for anyone who likes 4X strategy games, EVE Online, or loved Pirates of the Burning Sea even, Novus Aeterno is one to keep an eye on and closely. It’ll have an upfront purchase price, but no subscription, and will then be fueled by additional cash purchases such as cosmetics and the like. Nick’s being very careful to make sure that all cash items are not game breaking and won’t give unfair advantages. As a longtime MMO gamer, he knows what he hates about F2P games, and that’s why there’s the upfront cost.
Overall, Novus Aeterno is looking like one of the freshest and most unique Indie MMOs in the on-deck circle this year. It’s already passed its Kickstarter goal, but the team’s trying to hit their stretch goals before they go full-on into the final push on design and into beta later this year. Go check it out, see if you like what you find, and offer your support.
Robert Lashley / Robert Lashley is a Staff Writer and Online host for MMORPG.com. Rob's bald and when he isn't blinding people from the glare on his head talking in front of a camera you can find him spending his free time checking out the latest games and technology. Feel free to hunt him down on twitter @Grakulen