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GDC 2012 Preview

Som Pourfarzaneh Posted:
Previews 0

If you can imagine TERA and Aika having a baby and raising it in EverQuest's world of Norrath, you'll pretty much capture the artistic theme in Seven Souls Online (SSO).  NEOWIZ GAMES' new free-to-play MMORPG is being developed in Korea, and has an eye-catching art style, with an interesting story to match.  In SSO's setting of Arcadia, you've become a guardian of the Seven Souls of elemental power, which were originally brought to the world by the Babylonians.  In the current era, the main antagonists known as the Elysium have come to control the Souls, but you come from Elysium-whooping town and are starting to feel homesick.

In our preview at GDC, we got to see SSO's three class archetypes, in the form of the Imperial Guard, Exiled Avenger, and Manatech Rebel, which will each have different roles and playstyles within them to choose from.  The game has a robust character creator, and you'll be encouraged to use the different natural elements to support your playstyle, like using Fire to create a more offensive approach.  SSO doesn't have a dedicated healer class, but all classes will have common heal and buff skills that players can use to round out their roles.

SSO has a pretty active combat system with flashy animations, and it's based on a combo system that increases your damage bonus as you stack up multiple hits between enemies.  These hit combos also unlock combo-based skills, which generally encourage you to keep making your fist meet other people's faces to increase your combo meter.  You'll also fill up a "Rage" meter while engaging in combat which you can use to enter "Rage Mode," turning into a demon form and doubling your damage for a certain amount of time.

NEOWIZ's game will have a "cube" system that will allow you to create "Terres" that are used in item crafting, as you won't be able to farm resource nodes in the world.  You'll be able to craft anywhere with your cube, and can use it to combine items that you might ordinarily vendor.  Alternatively, you can use the "dismantle" function of your cube to create enchantment jewels to slot in your armor, which will make your outfits glow righteously at certain levels.  If you're the gambling type, you can try to copy materials and jewels to double their quantity, but there will be a chance that you'll destroy the item in the process, so buyer beware.

And then there's the Book of Lost Souls.  I'm a sucker for trading card games, and the Book of Lost Souls has some TCG elements to it, as you can get special elemental cards from monster drops and equip them to boost your stats.  There are three classes of cards based on their rarity, and you can attempt to enchant them and level them up, with a chance to destroy the card that's being enhanced.  There will also be a marketplace on each server that you can use to buy and sell cards as they will all be tradable, and there are currently 100 cards available in the game.  Considering how much money I've spent on other collectable card games, I'm afraid of what I could do with the Book of Lost Souls marketplace.

Our previewers showed us SSO's "Jackpot" system which will allow you to win items, buffs, virtual money and XP with the crank of a lever on your UI.  As you fight monsters, you'll build points to get a spin on the jackpot, which adds to the combo system's encouragement to constantly engage in combat.

We also got to see some story and group quest content, including a dungeon called the "Netherworld," which would require a full (4-player) party to complete.  I was initially impressed by the Eastern-themed armor and weapon models, and the character models are pretty detailed as well, although the environments and monsters seem to be less so in comparison.  The build we saw was still early, however, and the game will likely look very different on various rig setups, so I'm hopeful that all of SSO will look as good as the character models in the launch version.  Plus, we were told that progressing through the game takes you from Eastern- to Western-themed areas, which could provide for some neat variety.

SSO will be a free-to-play game, although NEOWIZ is still discussing exactly what content will be F2P and how microtransactions will work.  They assured us that whatever form the payment model takes, it won't be a pay-to-win scenario.  They're also still deciding through the open beta, which started the week after GDC, on the exact level cap and launch dates for the game.

During the open beta, NEOWIZ will be showing off player-vs-player combat in the game, which starts at level 31 and will include open world and battleground PvP modes.  They're very interested in player feedback and adjusting the game to the community's requests, so if you're participating in the beta, you may have a good chance of influencing the shape of some of SSO's features.

To combat some of the spam-related issues prevalent in most MMOs, the developers will be implementing an anti-farming system and several anti-spam, anti-bot techniques, such as having GMs sending chat questions to suspended accounts to confirm human beings on the other side of the screen.  In our demo, the previewers were keen to relate that the level of polish, attention to detail and localization of the game are all very important to the developers, who have created a dedicated North American team to increase their responsiveness to player requests.

NEOWIZ is working on several newbie-friendly features for Seven Souls Online and has a bunch of post-launch content planned, so there will be plenty to do in-game once it launches.

Are you in the Seven Souls Online open beta?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


Som Pourfarzaneh

Som has been hanging out with the MMORPG.com crew since 2011, and is an Associate Director & Lecturer in Media, Anthropology, and Religious Studies. He’s a former Community Manager for Neverwinter, the free-to-play Dungeons & Dragons MMORPG from Cryptic Studios and Perfect World Entertainment, and is unreasonably good at Maze Craze for the Atari 2600. You can exchange puns and chat (European) football with him on Twitter @sominator.