Imperator Online Preview
Article based on visit to Fairfax, interviews with developers, and hands-on demo time.
Imperator has been designed as a character-centric game, with an emphasis on personal development. Sound familiar? It should. This is the basis of many single-player-RPGs. Mythic hopes to take that personal approach and apply it to a massive scale. Characters take part in Life Events, which are quests specifically designed not to go kill and get loot, but to advance your character. They define who you are and what you want to be. Through Life Events, you can pursue fame, fortune, heroism, etc. They are the key to preventing you from becoming a faceless peon in a faceless universe.
Terra Nova being such a rigidly defined experience, begged the question of how open the game play experience will be. Mythic's answer is not very. Imperator Online is not a sandbox. They want to create a vast, varied game, but they also want to define the player experiences and give them guidance and fun. The goal is not to make a virtual world – or universe as the case may be – but to make a virtual game. Fun is the emphasis and every inch of the world built to maximize fun and purpose. There will be not forests for forest's sake; travel time will be short, quests focused, and even a casual time investment can provide an entertaining experience.
Game WorldIn terms of setting, as previously mentioned, functionality is the focus. You will not find vast rolling hills of mindless mobs. All zones have a purpose. The current estimate, given from super-producer Matt Firor was that the world would be approximately the size of one-hundred Camelot zones at launch. They divided the game-world into five planets, plus the original tutorial planet. They are as follows:
Playable RacesPlayers have the choice of three races to play, a far cry from the numbers in Dark Age of Camelot, but a decision they think will let them do a better and more detailed job on each. The game forces players to be "good" and "Roman". They must join against the Mayans, and being evil is essentially not an option. In the back-story, Romans created three servitor races that over time came to be seen as equals and independent of the Romans. They now walk among them. As a player your choices are:
A fourth race, a strong cat-like race called the Tigris, have been rethought since we were in Fairfax. They are no longer part of the game. Word on possible replacements is not yet available. The three known races should give Imperator a good mix. All will be bi-pedal, upright races. This plays right into the frills of their combat system and animated visual queues.
Class System, Skill System and ProgressionImperator Online has taken a rather unique approach to character progression in terms of mechanics. The game is both level and skill based, with a cap of one-hundred, and fans of Dark Age of Camelot should be familiar with the concept of five base choices that branch out as you advance, in this case at level ten. Each base class has two or three classes that you can choose to evolve into. All information in this section is still under discussion at Mythic and may well change. Originally, I was presented with four base classes, and since the trip that has changed to five. Here is what we know as of today: