Usually when you back a game on Kickstarter it can take several months or (in some unlucky cases) years before you see ever anything even remotely good looking or playable. Fortunately, the backers of Ashes of Creation look like they don’t have to worry about being overly patient. After just successfully completing their crowd-funding campaign three short months ago they were determined to have a playable pre-alpha demo at PAX this year. But I don’t think anyone would have expected them to accomplish what they did in such a short time.
You really have to give some credit to the dev team for rolling out to a major consumer convention so soon with such a good-looking product. Maybe some of that cred could be directed towards the Unreal Engine and the powerful tools it offers to game makers, but it still takes people to implement them in unique ways. Ashes from the start looks better than any pre-alpha I’ve ever got a chance to play. Especially when it comes to the environments that were being shown off. The character models, though nowhere near perfect yet, even had a lot of detail to them. Even naysayers would have to admit that the game is at the very least in a good place visually for only three months out.
When it comes to gameplay Ashes is promising an immersive node system that tracks players activities within certain areas and collects that data to decide how villages and towns will grow into larger populaces or perhaps stagnate. As you accomplish deeds like fighting monsters, growing local commerce, or growing fields of crops as a farmer you’ll watch more NPC’s arrive in your node. You can then expand your territory by doing things like laying siege to surrounding nodes.
But before all that, you’ve got to start out small, like we did during our hands-on time. Now normally I wouldn’t do this, but I feel I have to note that my demo was a bit hindered by the fact that my time with Ashes of Creation was shared with a darling and wonderful gameplaying youtube grandma who mostly only plays Skyrim. But with that being said I was still able to get some decent gameplay time in, though it was somewhat brief.
My mission was straightforward enough: go into the a nearby cave and gather some mushrooms, then bring those back to a caravan and escort said caravan to a nearby encampment to improve trading standings with each other and grow commerce. The gathering part of the mission went by fairly well and offered a glimpse at the QTE system built into the supply and combat systems, but what would an escort mission be without a good old fashioned ambush?
While I’m not sure how or if it will affect taking on various communal roles within nodes, you will definitely have 8 character archetypes to choose from when it comes to combat. They all seem to stem from your more traditional RPG classes, like the dexterous ranger who fights with a bow and arrow, or the cleric who can smash enemies with their battle staff and siphon energy from nearby creatures to heal their party. I happened to take on the role of a mage during my demo and did my best stave off the first lizardman who attacked our caravan of supplies with magic missiles and elemental attacks while gam-gam learned the basics of controlling a fighter in a MMO. The QTE combos of my basic magic missile helped a lot in keeping that first lizardman at bay but even my fully charged earthquake super move was not enough to fell the remaining enemies. If anything, it’s a testament to the “multiplayer” aspect of the abbreviation MMO, in that it shows that you will have to work with other players in order to grow your areas out and be successful, but sadly it also meant I was left to wonder what waited for me at the other encampment and beyond.
Ashes of Creation is still in its pre-Alpha phase, but the team behind it pushing to have a Zero-Alpha in the hands of select players come this December. We’ll be sure to keep you and all your grandmas up to date as we get more info.