Faxion Online is a free-to-play PvP centric MMORPG developed by UTV True Games , and if you’re thinking that the game sounds familiar but you can’t quite place it, former Star Wars: The Old Republic Community Manager Sean “AshenTemper” Dahlberg left BioWare in order to take up the mantle as Faxion’s Senior Game Systems Designer. For my preview, Sean was on hand to guide me and a few others through the game and answer questions we had.
Faxion Online is set in the world of Limbo where the forces of Heaven and Hell are in a constant war as they vie for control of Limbo’s seven realms, each of which is inspired by one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Faxion Online takes a fairly tongue-in-cheek humorous approach to the world as well, making use of a style of humor similar to that of the Dungeon Keeper games or the TV series Family Guy, which is accomplished with the help of the game’s stylized art style and exaggerated character proportions.
During my preview we traipsed through the Fields of Hunger, an area inspired by the sin of Gluttony, which was filled by some disgustingly huge creatures and was utterly bountiful with food. The inhabitants of the area had also constructed a giant wall around a landfill where they dump the surplus food and trash, taking a sweep it under the rug approach. If they can’t see it, it may as well not be there.
As a PvP game, Faxion Online doesn’t focus heavily on levelling or really even PvE content. Players of either faction both start out in the safe-zone of Purgatory, but once venturing outside into one of the game’s seven zones it’s a heavily PvP focused experience.
The game hearkens back to the MMOs of yore as an entirely seamless and instance free world. There aren’t any instanced PvP battlegrounds or even dungeons from what I understand; instead players will duke it in a territorial control based PvP meta-game to secure the game’s seven zones for their side. One thing that Sean mentioned that stood out to me was their emphasis on the terrain design. When I played Warhammer Online, I ran into a number of Shadowbane veterans who drew comparisons between Shadowbane’s zones and WAR’s RvR lakes, which were often flat, and as a result didn’t offer much in the way of using the terrain as a tactical advantage. Those Shadowbane fans will be glad to know that UTV True Games appears to be putting a great deal of emphasis on the use of terrain in PvP. For example, the aforementioned landfill is strewn with pipe tunnels and hills of trash that are sure to be of great tactical use.
The zones are broken up into several smaller territories that must be held in order to drive up a faction’s score, which culminates in a tally at the end of the day to determine the zone’s control. This ensures that zergs of players don’t just turtle up in one area, which is beneficial from both a gameplay and server-side perspective (Sean noted that having too many players in one area is never a good thing). Players will want to control these zones too, as they offer access to special vendors and other amenities that are sure to be attractive to players looking to better their characters. It should also be noted that PvP kills reward XP and even loot (though not the killed player's actual loot, each player has a “loot table” and will drop appropriate loot), so it is entirely possible to level through PvP.
As far as character development goes, Faxion Online offers three classes per faction (they are fairly symmetrical, though there are a few differences). Crusaders (Heaven) and Reavers (Hell) make up the Warrior offerings, Diviner (Heaven) and Occultist (Hell) are the Mages, and Guardian (Heaven) and Zealot (Hell) are the Healer classes. Attribute points can also be allocated as they are earned whichever way a player sees fit.
If this is all sounding fairly typical, there is a twist. Faxion Online heavily favors multi-classing. To that end, players have a certain amount of skill points they acquire throughout their leveling progression, but they can be spent across all three classes. What’s the point of choosing a class then? Well, the catch is that a skill that would cost you two points in your chosen class will cost you double that in a second class, and triple that if you’ve already got two classes trained and you’ve opted to go down a third. Points are spent in “circles” instead of a branching talent tree, and each class has multiple circles to spend points in. There aren’t any pre-requisites to progress through the circles beyond just having a certain amount of points spent to unlock the next circle. As long as a circle has been unlocked players can freely choose any ability they want within it, provided they have enough points. In addition to putting together a customized skill template made up of abilities from up to three classes, players can also train individual abilities using a time-based system in order to rank them up and increase their power. Skill training can be queued up and will progress while offline.
Combat is a bit more tactical than your standard fare MMO. There is less of a focus on giving players 100 hotbars and buttons to press, and more of a focus on using the abilities that are available. The depth comes through Faxion Online’s “Charge” system, which allows for many of the games abilities to be charged to greater effect. When a chargeable ability is activated a notched vertical bar begins to fill and the player can then hit the ability again to cast it whenever they are ready. As the skill crosses different thresholds on the meter it will be augmented in a variety of ways depending on the skill, so players will have to choose between executing ability quickly and charging up for a vastly more powerful version. As a PvP game, Faxion Online also doesn’t put as much of a focus on items as say World of Warcraft, either. While items are designed to be desirable, Sean emphasized the fact they don’t want to be in a situation where a player wins simply because he’s decked out in the best stuff.
Finally, Sean noted that UTV True Games is cognizant of the fact that PvP gamers are wary of microtransaction based games as they are even more sensitive to players being able to “Pay-to-Win” and so things or services available through the item shop will be earnable in game as well. For example, extra bag slots can be purchased for gold or “True Coins”, additional skill training queue slots can be purchased, and skill training itself can be accelerated by one hour per True Coin if a player desires. The short of it is, those of you afraid some guy is going to kill you using his Claymore of WTFPWN +3 that he bought in the game’s item shop for $50 need not worry.