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The RPG Files: Undead Labs Brings Us… Pokemon?

Column By Christopher Coke on August 08, 2014

After a couple of slow weeks in RPG news, the presses are back with a vengeance. The most interesting news of the week is easily Undead Labs new RPG, Moonrise. While it’s not exactly Pokemon, it certainly scratches a similar itch and we couldn’t be more excited. In other news, we have a new IP from Bioware, an expansion for Path of Exile, and Ultima: Forever proving that, sadly, nothing is forever. Read on for that and so much more in this week’s RPG Files!

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Raise your hand if you expected Undead Labs’ next game to be a mobile pet battler. Me neither, but don’t let that get you down. The studio’s sophomore release looks to be quite interesting. Undead announced this week that their next game will be Moonrise, a multiplayer RPG for handheld devices. Players will take on the role of Wardens to pit teams of trainable battle pets against one another and save the world. In a recent interview, Design Director, Richard Foge, revealed to us that the Warden will play an important, active role in battle, making it stand out from other RPGs of its type and bringing it, in my mind, much closer to the likes of Ni No Kuni. Both of those are very good things.

I have to admit, my first reaction was one of dismay. As an MMO player, I was hoping the next news I heard from Undead Labs would be something about the secretive zombie MMO, a game I first began writing about way back in 2010. Or maybe a sequel to the super cool State of Decay. But stay with me here because I think they’re on to something.

Who here hasn’t hoped for a Pokemon MMO? I would also bet that I’m not alone in searching for a good play-alike across the different app stores. There’s nothing like that worth playing right now -- believe me, I’ve tried. Undead Labs has the chops to make those things a reality, but with a spin that moves it from being a rip-off into something unique and truly worth the time.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Moonrise isn’t claiming to be an MMO and it doesn’t need to be. The truth is, it’s already well away from Pokemon, too. The thing is, it scratches the same itch. Battle pets. RPG combat. Multiplayer battles. Those are the heart and soul of the experience we’ve been clamoring for the last decade. If Undead Labs can apply the same skill and unique flourish to Moonrise that they applied to State of Decay, then we’re in for something good.

Let’s just hope micro-transactions stay out of it.

In other news…

The tease is strong with this one. Bioware has released three live action trailers for a mysterious, as yet unknown, IP set to be revealed on August 13th.  It’s a contemporary setting big on alley ways, neon colors, electricity, and hoodies. Also, people with light and smoke where their faces should be. It reminds me quite a bit of The Secret World and if that’s the case, I’m sold. Who are we kidding? This is Bioware, we’re already sold. Still, I wouldn’t get too excited yet. Remember, EA announced at E3 this year that they have a new initiative to reveal games earlier in the development process, so whatever this is will likely be several years out.

While we’re talking Bioware, EA UK also released a new trailer for Dragon Age: Inquisition this week. There doesn’t seem to be much new information but any chance we get to look at that gorgeous world is worth taking. Strangely, the brief glimpse of Undead looked very muddy and kind of bad. Alpha build footage or plain poor model?

Big news for the Path of Exile faithful! One of the best values in F2P gaming is getting even more valuable. August 20th will see the release of the game’s first expansion, Forsaken Masters. The expansion will bring new missions associated with the seven Forsaken Masters of Wraeclast, but also customizable towns, Rampage and Beyond Challenge Leagues, revamped boss fights, a spectator mode for PVP (this is how it’s done, Blizzard), and new support and skill gems. This is the game that out Diablo’s Diablo, and an expansion like this is easily incentive enough for me to return.

Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms released its first patch for Early Access backers and it’s a biggun’. The version update brings controller support, new characters, voiceovers, zones, performance optimizations, and more. Their trailer helpfully shares that their “last hope for salvation is a demon that can swallow souls and control tortured heroes.” I would say salvation is pretty much screwed, wouldn’t you? You should probably go help with that.

Sacred 3 released this week. Metacritic pegs the game at 62 which seems about right. Hooked Gamers, another site I write for, gives the game a 71 but criticizes it for “lackluster writing” and action that is “very standard.” All in all, it doesn’t sound deep but not terrible either.

Wasteland 2 joins the increasing list of slipping release dates this week, except unlike the others, they’re slipping closer to October. Apocalypse fans can probe the Wasteland beginning the “first or second week of September” due to fulfillment issues related to physical discs. At this point, waiting another few weeks shouldn’t be that difficult, especially since fans have already waited since the late 80s.

Lastly, Ultima: Forever will be closing its doors at the end of this month, officially shutting down on August 29th. This isn’t surprising considering that its developer, Mythic Entertainment, was closed in May of this year. With only a year of uptime, we conclude that diamonds are forever but Ultima is not.

That’s all from us, folks. Let us know what you think in the comments below!


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Christopher Coke / Chris has been a fan of MMOs since the mid-1990s when he cut his teeth on MUDs. These days he scours the internet for the latest and greatest multiplayer gaming experiences.

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