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E3 2006 Preview

Carolyn Koh Posted:
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Unleash the Fury: Auran's Newly Announced MMORPG

“No ganking, no grinding, no waiting, no wimps.” Is the motto Auran Games’ Unleash the Fury lives by. Billed as the ultimate competitive online game, the game is just that. Developed with the Unreal engine, the concept intrigued both Michael Hampden and I as Lead Designer Adam Carpenter, took us through the game.

“We’ve taken the best elements of an MMO. The combat, the advancement and teamwork, and blended it with the fast paced combat system of an FPS.”

No ganking in a pure PvP setting? No grinding in an MMO? This I had to see. But first to describe the game so our readers know what I am talking about.

In a nutshell, Unleash the Fury is based in the world of sword and sorcery. Melee and magic is what you have to use against your enemy.

Not a Twitch Game
Adam was emphatic that Unleash the Fury was not a “Twitch” game but a game based on skills.

“Strafing and jumping’s not going to save your life. It’s a fast paced game. The maximum spell range is about 40 meters, and your character moves at 7 meters per second.”

It is a skill based system and players advance by taking on PvP advancement trials to earn and learn skills. Each skill or ability has 10 ranks and there are about 300 to 400 skills in the game, and a player gains numbers of skills he can load, to a maximum of 24 onto 2 hotbars.

Game Concept
The concept that caught my attention was that a player could, if he or she wished, learn every single skill and train them all to the highest rank possible. The game also provides you a method of saving hotbar templates in a Persona interface, so that you can quickly take which ever incarnation of your character you wish into the game. A Warrior with healing skills for a little soloing in advancement trials. A pure defensive tank if that suits your play style, a light tank with some wicked fire power… the combinations are endless.

In an interesting twist of the PvP concept, Auran Games intends to pit server against server. Not realm against realm or guild against guild on the same server. The goal behind this concept is to foster cooperation on a server, as well as to be able to draw on larger pools of players to match the teams against.

Also available are consensual duels which are more for learning and gaining experience and fun than anything else as players do not gain reputation or experience in duels.

Group Size
The maximum group size is four and team play can group up to 8 groups for a 32 man team. Why four?

“Five or six can get you close to the perfect group and we wanted to stay away from that. Four makes you make choices.”

It still can happen. In EverQuest, you had the holy trinity of the cleric, warrior and enchanter. Like Guild Wars, players will come up with the best character templates and best combinations of character types. Auran Games expects that to happen and even provides a few classic archtypes for players to use when they first adopt the game.

War Zones
At present, 4 war different war zones are planned, each with about 5 different maps and other differentiations, ranging from a team of 4 against 4 in a “capture the flag” scenario which was demonstrated, to a “capture the fortress” scenario with a team of 8 groups. Also planned is the “Bloodbath” - a “Free for All” where the last team standing wins the bout.

Battle against NPCs will be minimal although there may be some guards to eliminate in any of the war zone scenarios. This game is pure PvP. No wimps.

Matchmaking & Social Play
Whazzat? Matchmaking! Auran Games has created a matchmaking system which will pit teams against teams of similar levels, searching through other teams that are formed in the prep areas of every server. Although not instantaneous, the wait will not be long with a large pool of players to select from.

A gripe heard often in MMOs are the inability of late adopters to play with early adopters of a game as their friends have far outranked them. In Unleash the Fury, higher ranking skills do not replace the lower ranks in your spell book and this allows and encourages more experienced players to play with less experienced ones by selecting matching skills.

Players on the same server mingle and interact in town areas called Sanctuaries. Since players on the same server are not pitted against each other, there isn’t a sense of fraternizing with the enemy. There is no interaction against the “enemy” except in war zones, and it is the servers that will have a ladder system. Auran hopes that this will encourage players to share their experience with their fellow guilds on the same server and foster the server community. More ideas to strengthen community and guild ties are still on the drawing board.

Players can purchase items from vendors or gain them in game. No camping here either. Item drops are generated when an enemy dies and the type of drops are based on the skills of the enemy. Kill a healer and a healer type item may be generated. Loot is team based. Cash is split and items fall into a team coffer. At the end of the battle, players get to decide on 3 items they wish to roll on, and the item is transferred to the winner’s inventory. Quite a nifty system.

Being a straight out competitive online game rather than an RPG, there are no crafting systems planned. The game economy will be limited as better items will be soul bound and non tradeable.

There will also be consumables in game to spend your gold on, such as potions and scrolls, and trainers have to be paid to teach you some abilities and skills.

Prettiness Factor
So what does it look like? It looks fine! We are told that the computing power will be demanding. Not bleeding edge, but still demanding. I quite enjoyed the excellent combat animations and the fact that spells, while varied did not blind in particle intensity. Interesting use of graphics also give visual cues to the spells and skills being used.

The interface is clean and organized, with drop down menus and skill filtering capabilities providing a quick, easy way to search and categorize your skills. A small mini-map assists in travel. The world is simple with the town or sanctuary in the center and training schools and war zones branching off of it.

Player test emotes and animated emotes are already in game and Adam enjoyed showing off a martial arts stance. Players can customize their armor by purchasing dyes from vendors as well as change their appearance in game. Don’t like your bald warrior with blue eyes. Buy some hair and green eyes. The only thing you can’t change is your gender and your name.

When can we play?
The game is still in the early stages of development as yet. Auran Games is currently seeking a publisher to partner with in the US market, then it will progress in the usual way with a friends and family alpha, a closed beta, an open beta, then release. The business model? To be determined. That’s all I have as a first look and preview on this first day of E3.

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Carolyn Koh

Carolyn Koh / Carolyn Koh has been writing for MMORPG.com since 2004 and about the MMO genre since 1999. These days she plays mobile RTS games more, but MMOs will always remain near and dear to her heart.