If you were to ask me exactly what Nether is at this point, you may find me at a loss for words. The because beyond the core concept, some basic rules, graphics and other standard gaming type things, Nether is not set completely in stone. At its core this is definitely a survival game, but it’s one that’s allowing itself the freedom to adapt to its community and their demands. But before we get to what it could be, let’s talk about what we can definitely confirm will be in the game.
Nether takes place in a post-apocalyptic world that about 10 years ago experienced an event called “The Cull”, and thankfully, for once, it has no zombies! Yup. You heard that right. Not a single, god-damned undead anywhere to be found. There are however a plethora of mutants known as “Nethers” that appeared after the cull and roam the land making quick work of survivors they come across. Nethers come in a few variations: hunters that can teleport, shriekers who will make your presence in their territory to other nearby Nethers, and brutes that will more than likely kill you if you run into one alone. The team at Phosphor Studios really want these ghouls to provide an actual challenge. They want the AI to do more than get kited around as players walk in a circle around them hacking or shooting them to death. And just like any other survivor game, players will find themselves facing off against other survivors for their lives.
Unlike many survival MMOs, the world of Nether is a vast cityscape with tall buildings, abandoned cars, wrecked helicopters and one hell of a gloomy atmosphere. One word that came up several times during the hands-off demo was “vertical” as one of the games key features are the tall, decaying skyscrapers that litter the city. If you want to sneak around and take things slowly (as you more than likely should, if you want to survive) there are a lot of options. There aren’t any long stretches of wilderness with pockets of humanity’s remnants everywhere, this is ground zero for the end of the world.
Players will scavenge for supplies and try and make their way through a world where everything is out to kill them. If you do die, you’ll only lose the supplies on you at the time and will retain your cash, XP and character customizations. Finding a group of people you can trust will not be necessary to get through it all, but it might help.
Another interesting thing about Nether is the fact that the whole game is first-person perspective to give it a more immersive feel. Firearms combat also has more of an FPS-vibe according to the developers. But this could all change.
You see, like I mentioned earlier, Phosphor Games is keeping the rules and mechanics open and flexible to what the players want. If the community decides they want less stealth, they might get a faster paced game. They want more of a challenge? A perma-death hardcore mode? More areas to explore on the maps? Sure! It’s all a possibility, depending on how vocal fans are for the changes. The potential for players to shape this game is what they’re hoping to deliver by giving players the basics and letting them choose how the world develops from there. Some things may get their own server, other ideas may find their way into the full game and I’m sure many, many more will fall by the wayside. I’m hoping my dinosaurs with chainsaw arms idea gets the greenlight though, and hopefully you will all rally around my cause and they’ll put it in the game. But we’ll have to wait and see.
Nether is looking to launch in late fall of this year with early access. The pricing model is a one-time purchase with some microtransactions for cosmetic or convenience items, but no word on what the price point of the base game will be as of yet. Its unique approach to its world building and community-focused mindset are definitely an interesting take on the genre, but will have what it takes to stand up against its competitors? We’ll find out later this year when select gamers get early access.