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E3 2012 Preview

Michael Bitton Posted:
Previews 0

E3 2012 wasn’t an amazing show for MMOs in general, but I did have a chance to see Otherland, an MMO I’ve been curious about since I saw a trailer for the game earlier this year. While we weren’t able to get hands-on this time around, we were treated to an in-depth live demo of the game and that’s what we’ll be talking about today!

Developed by RealU and dtp entertainment, and published by the folks at Gamigo, Otherland is a free-to-play MMO based on the eponymous cyberpunk book series by Tad Williams. The setting uniquely fits the MMO genre as characters within the series regularly make use of a virtual reality called the Net as part of their daily lives.  As one might expect, players will spend their time within the Net when playing the game.

The setting offers the developers the opportunity to really allow their imaginations run wild when developing the game world, since different zones can range anywhere from high fantasy to pure science fiction. Of course, iconic locations such as the Lambda Mall and the especially trippy EightSquared will appear in the game as well.

EightSquared consists of verdant fields dotted with Victorian architecture, and, well, giant floating chess pieces! These chess pieces are locked in an eternal struggle and according to our Gamigo representative, players will even be able to explore them in a variety of dungeon romps found later in the game.

 The aforementioned Lambda Mall looks like something out of Blade Runner, a stark contrast from EightSquared, and serves as kind of the central hub for the game. Jumping in between these locations seems both jarring and awesome at the same time.  The Lambda Mall is where you’ll do much of your socializing, mini-game playing, and character customization. The latter bit is noteworthy since you can basically just re-customize your character any point in the game, a departure from most MMOs. The range of options for customizing your character is, by the way, seemingly just as endless as the variety in zones.

Similar in concept to The Elder Scrolls’ Radiant AI, NPCs in Otherland live their own lives. We were given the example a fisherman who may be fishing (as you would expect) when you find him, but could later be found delivering his fish to the market, or even back at his house. This is a nice little touch that should hopefully bring the characters of the game’s world to life.

As for combat, the developers are definitely going for the action-oriented approach that appears to be all the rage these days. And why shouldn’t they? You can choose from one of four classes when you create your character, but much like your physical appearance you can also switch your class with little fuss. We didn’t see a whole lot of the game’s combat, but any sort of tab-targeting was clearly absent. You’ll have to physically connect with your opponents if you want to hit.

Probably one of the most interesting aspects of Otherland is the focus on PvP via the unique ClanLand space. In ClanLand, players will be able to use a specific resource to customize (and expand) their own space. Those kind of float in the middle of space and you can even see other ClanLands owned by other clans from atop your own. If other players discover your ClanLand’s “IP Address” they can even invade and pillage it for all its resources.

Fortunately, players can collect eDNA from defeating creatures in PvE that can be used to then generate monsters to defend your ClanLand space. Similar to the differences between the game’s PvE zones, ClanLands can also run the gamut as far as visual style and themes. The first ClanLand we saw was a sparsely decorated area full of lush grass and tall trees while the second ClanLand made me feel like we were practically in a rave. ClanLands are an impressive design that sort of reminds me of City of Heroes’ base building and invasion features.

If you’re a fan of Tad Williams’ series or you’re just looking for something different, you’ll definitely want to keep an eye on Otherland, which launches on the PC later this year.


Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB