Pantheon had its first showing to the media at GDC today and we were lucky enough to be there right away to check things out. The game is coming along nicely and really heralds back to the classic MMOs we love with a fantastic push into the future of how MMO are made. We got to watch a solid demo as well as see some of the new features that will impact characters and their interaction with the environment.
The game world looked great and was really coming along in development. That is important because how much of the game is about the environment. The team is serious about the landscape because it matters to players and how they explore. The quest we got to see showed us ruins off in the distance, no points on a map, no follow the golden path, the game is all about exploration. So if you see something off in the distance, go check it out.
The class combinations are also important. Brad and the team want players to form parties and do their jobs well. They want players to enjoying all the great classes that were in the old MMOs. We got to see the demo through the cleric who had some great healing abilities as well as strong attacks and buffs. The party fought off a camp of orcs who had moved into the area. When players form up into a party they get to decide how loot works as well to keep things fair.
One of the biggest elements the team showed off was how the environment and climate impact the players. This feature really brings something new to our genre that we have not seen before. The first example we saw was how you entered into an invisible magic zone. You were given subtle clues in the game that you suddenly felt different. If you took a few minutes in the zone and went through your inventory you realized you were in a mana zone. The red gem you carried as an artifact (when equipped) would begin to fill up with mana. This was a way to recharge and more importantly boost your spells and effects. The team was quick to explain that some of the mana in the game is set to enhance your abilities. While a cleric may not use red mana in his normal spell set, it can be used to offer enhancements, making the effects stronger. This system was fantastic to watch and really made the yearning to explore much much stronger.
That was not the only climate affect the team showed us. We next journeyed up to a set of ruins. Inside there was an evil cult surrounding this large vortex of magic. The Union of Shadow as they were called had taken over a big area within the keep. This allows for multiple groups of players to enter the area and battle the NPCs. The vortex that the cultists are surrounding is very deadly to the players. The closer they get, the faster they start to lose their health. So how do you solve this problem? There are some powerful bosses in there that you are going to want to fight.
The team took us through a quest which brought us to the house of a crazed hermit. Inside he invited us to look around and make ourselves at home. As we explored the rock, we found some loose stone. After searching a bit, we found a ring which would protect us from the magic vortex. It is these clues that really bring the depth into Pantheon. Brad and his team felt strongly that artifacts like the Ring of Anchors we found would be used to mitigate the climate effects on players. This leads into the perception system. If you enter a heavy magic zone then mages may have a heightened awareness. Flip over to the thief and he will be much better at finding traps in a zone. These types of climate changes and character interaction are all interwoven throughout Pantheon for players to enjoy. What made the system to much fun to see in action is that nothing is spelled out for you, it is all about player discovery.
Pantheon remains in pre-alpha development but as big fans of the game we are working to bring you the best coverage we can. We will have much more on the game in the coming months and we’re looking to set up some fun streams as well as full coverage of the classes and more of the stories you will experience. For now, the environmental gameplay in Pantheon really did it justice.