We last checked in with Derek Smart’s upcoming free-to-play MMO, Line of Defense, during this year’s GDC in San Francisco. I honestly came away a bit surprised at how well the game was coming along and more importantly, that Derek Smart was building a game I could actually understand at a glance!
Just a short couple of months later, we had a chance to check out the game once again during this year’s E3. Since I had already seen the game before, Derek spared me the spiel and we instead focused mainly on the bits that had changed since I last saw the game.
Before we get to that, though, let’s recap what Line of Defense actually is. Line of Defense is an MMOFPS (or TPS, if you like) featuring vast maps (for up to 256 players) dotted with controllable (and destructible!) territory. Vehicles are available as well, including air vehicles, and players can even jump into space and participate in space battles. While the game is certainly more accessible than most games Derek Smart tends to work on, it’s still a bit hardcore in some ways. Players will have to select their armaments carefully, for example, as carrying a portable anti-air may limit you from putting on a jetpack. Derek also isn’t bothering to herd players into the action. You’re probably going to get lost for a little bit while starting out in Line of Defense, and you may even get blown up a couple of times before you get acclimated and find out where the main fight is taking place.
If Line of Defense is starting to sound like PlanetSide or PlanetSide 2, you’d be right to think there are some pretty obvious similarities. The fairly seamless travel, the ability to create your own bases for your guild (or yourself), and interesting server structure set the game apart, however. The latter bit was of particular note to me. Players can jump between game servers on the fly using teleporters normally used for warping to different areas of the game. Additionally, these game servers are run via cloud technology so the game will dynamically create servers to accommodate and maintain healthy population levels.
The most striking improvement to the game since I’d last seen it was the in the graphics. Line of Defense isn’t the most technically advanced game, but the improvements to lighting and shadowing were quite evident and the game’s various locales looked all the better for it. Visually, Derek emphasized the population of the game’s environments as a notable improvement since the GDC build. While the game’s worlds are massive spaces, one war-torn world Derek showed us was strewn with debris cutting off many pathways of travel. This seemed like a world that would be more advantageous to infantry than vehicle pilots due to the inability to easily cross areas with armor.
Sound interesting? Well, you’ll be glad to know that 3000AD is looking to launch the game’s beta program this July and are currently aiming for a Q3 2012 release.