E3 2006 Preview
Dreamlords offers up a unique take on the MMORPG
Dreamlords takes a different approach to the MMO genre with a real-time strategy style. According to developers the game is much more than just an online RTS. Players will have depth to their avatars and a close relationship with the islands they command. The player begins the game as a deity of the island and controls the population, resources, and armies. Once you have built up the island it is time to go to war against other factions and opponents. The games will take place over a three month era in which each island and Dreamlord grow in strength and abilities. Once the era has ended the Dreamlord continues and a new era begins.
Each Dreamlord has three races at his or her disposal, the Thul, Mihilim and Covenant. Players populate their island with one of the groups and begin setting up resources for their towns, cities and armies. The race chosen by the player can be changed after each era ends. Up to fifteen players can form a group to pool resources. One Dreamlord can focus on gathering while another works on making weapons and so on. These players have the chance to do battle across the game world against all foes.
The Thul are the bestial warlike race of creatures with a savage thirst for conquest. They are lead by the Patriarchs who act as single units on the field. The Thul also have Raw Paws who are the younger recruits in the army. Units of Raw Paws will be much easier to make than say a Patriarch because they make up more of the army. The Ember Fang is a fire blasting shaman class that brings the magical strength to the Thul army make up. If you like the savage races in fantasy, this group may be the right race for you.
The Mihilim are a race based in magic, logic and evil domination. Units have the Blood Drain ability along with magical attacks from casters. The Atrocitus is a mage like single character that can lead troops and work alone on the field. Another special unit for the Mihilim is the Harbingers which rush into close combat wielding two swords to hack up their foes.
We did not get to see the Covenant (who is still in development). The race consists of paladins and knights with holy abilities. The heavy footmen for the army are called the Cataphract. They will also feature mounted knights and archers. No special characters have been named for the Covenant as of yet.
One feature that is exciting about Dreamlords (if not scary for those of us at work) is using the Web interface to control resources on the island. You can log into the website and check maintenance, give commands and build resources. That way when you get home from work the army will be ready to fight in matches that evening. This type of interface can help players check stats and make changes from anywhere at any time of day.
The Dreamlord avatar gains abilities by winning victories and build a strong island. No matter how many eras you play in, the avatar remains persistent. Persona points are used to spec the Dreamlord with different abilities. The game encourages social interaction to keep avatars balanced and working together. There is no level progression for the avatar. Instead the island will gain a certain rating which will match up opponents. Matches are set up for players to fight each other. Games are balanced and no queues are expected. Matches are resolved through a point system, not when every unit is killed. Every victory or loss has a meaning and an impact on the era as well as the Dreamlord.
Developers are working hard to get away from conventional MMO issues such as grinding and boredom. Gathering resources will have dangers and battles with wandering monsters hoping to disrupt player progress. Players work together to master resources, politics and warfare. The Dreamlord beta is expected this summer with the game targeting release for late third or fourth quarter this year. The game certainly changes up the way we think of MMOs and adds large battles to a genre where you are not just one soldier, but the avatar of an entire army.
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