Bigpoint Games, a successful publisher of many casual free-to-play MMOs in Europe, was recently revealed as heading up a new MMO based on the Battlestar Galactica IP. We literally knew just about nothing else about the game until the reveal of the game's first trailer just before E3 , where we learned that we'd be able to play as either Humans or Cylons.
Needless to say we were intrigued to find out more about the game when E3 rolled around, and so I stopped by the Bigpoint booth on the E3 show floor to find out what the game was all about.
To start, Battlestar Galactica is not a full fledged traditional MMO that you might be expecting from such a significant IP. Instead, the game will be a fairly casual free-to-play browser-based MMO developed on the extremely versatile Unity engine that appears to be so popular with developers these days.
For the uninitiated, Battlestar Galactica is based off of the recent reboot of the popular 70's sci-fi series of the same name where humans create robotic beings known as Cylons to assist them as soldiers of war. In true sci-fi fashion they eventually turn on their Human masters. The Cylons were actually quite successful in their near genocide, eradicating all but roughly 50,000 humans who escape along with the Battlestar Galactica (an aging human warship) to settle elsewhere in the galaxy, but are subsequently pursued by the relentless Cylons.
The game is set following the events of season two of the 2003 re-imagining of the series and is focused primarily on combat, though there will be a number of minable resources and economy features, however our Bigpoint rep was unable to provide any further details here. Battlestar Galactica Online features a hybrid skill based and level based system, where players can eventually learn just about any skill but will also be able to ascend various ranks. Like EVE Online (at least for now), Jumpgate Evolution and Black Prophecy, Battlestar Galactica Online will not feature any ground based interaction as players will be restricted to their ships, which by the way, will be customizable in a number of ways.
I was given a brief demo of pre-alpha BSG:O gameplay, which I was genuinely surprised to see as I'd honestly expected a brief introduction to the game, but I was pleasantly surprised that Bigpoint was confident enough to show off their game. The person demoing the game was flying a medium sized starfighter that appeared to have an action-y control scheme similar to Jumpgate Evolution. We weren't shown too much of the game, but we could see the Battlestar Galactica itself out in the distance. I also noticed an experience bar and some hotkeyed abilities.
Given the fact that BSG:O is a free-to-play title I had to ask about how Bigpoint plans on going about implementing the item shop with this game. The Bigpoint rep revealed that your typical item shop trappings will be available containing convenience items and fluff, but that we'd also be seeing gameplay affecting items in the shop as well. I raised this as a concern, given that while Western games are slowly warming up to the Free to Play model, many of us are decidedly against items that affect gameplay. I was told that in Europe, players are fairly accepting of this sort of thing, and they don't anticipate it to be a huge issue here in the US. I guess we'll have to find out when the game launches later this year.