MMO’s claims of being “innovative” and “game changing” seem to be a dime a dozen these days. Every few months comes a new launch with features that will make the experience new, break away from the tried and true WoW formula, and remove the traditional questing format in order to provide new ways for players to interact with the world. Unfortunately most of the times what is produced is actually just a new skin of the same old story, and it becomes very evident after the first few hours of play. The fact of the matter is, when it comes to an MMO there just doesn’t seem to be a system that is able to buck this trend and reach a successful, money making level in order to challenge the big boy MMO’s out there. Chronicles of Elyria is aiming to change that, and for once, I actually believe it.
I have been following the development of the game since it was announced that Soulbound Studios was working on a new, genre-changing MMO with things such as character aging, permadeath, and arching family trees that will influence every aspects of a character’s progression. I know, I know, I was just talking about the failures of “genre defying” up above, and so when I first read about it I shrugged it off and didn’t think anything of it. But then it started getting more and more mainstream attention and the more I read about it, the more I found myself thinking “wow, this might be the one that finally finds a new place among the kings”. Is it going to put Blizzard or Square Enix out of business? Probably not. But it does look like it will breathe some fresh life in the standard MMO formula.
The first thing that grabs your attention and the one that seems to be getting the most attention is the games aging and permadeath system. As you play the game your character is on a ticking clock. They will begin the game with all of the energy and sprightliness that comes with being young, but over the course of a typical lifetime (typically between 10-14 months) they will gradually get older until they eventually succumb to old age. Once that happens the character is dead. Forever. Not only that, but every time your character dies due to combat in the real game it hastens their aging by about two days, inching the character that much closer to their demise. It’s an intriguing idea, as the fact that you are actually able to in some way influence your character’s lifespan through your direct actions means less carelessness. It raises the stakes for how you play, is it worth it to fight an enemy or try an area that is more dangerous if it means you could be dealing with the very real consequences of losing that character forever. The game also allows players to kill other players, however doing so will put a bounty on their heads and increase the chances of themselves being killed. It is a wonderful cause and effect. It attempts to prevent those players who will go all out troll because doing so will just increase the number of deaths they themselves incur, ending their character faster, but it still allows someone to decide to kill a player in those times that they deem the reward outweighs the cost of a bounty.
This is just the start of the fresh ideas that the game is looking to implement upon release. They are also trying to do away with the traditional questing systems, going so far in their videos to say that there will never be an individual npc quest giver that is going to assign you any sort of quest. There will also not be traditional starting or beginner player zones. Every player will instead begin the game wherever their mother and father have decided to put down roots. The family unit concept is a big deal for CoE as well. Players will grow within their families, having children that they can then tab to be their next player character when their current one expires. That child will then be able to inherit specific abilities from the parent, making each one better than the last. This is a similar system to one that is found in Star Wars the Old Republic but whereas in that game it is more of a side feature, this will play heavily in each and every character that is made.
I could go on and on about this game. The fact that it is not solely focused on combat and characters can live out their entire lives instead focusing on trade or resources. They can even just use it as a fantasy Farmville simulator if that was what they want to do. Combat looks to be much more formulaic than the typical point and click affair. Dynamic events. the fact that a character’s reputation is built solely on what they have achieved in-game as opposed to based purely on level. Your character can be a humble peasant or even king of the realm if you play your cards right. That is THE king of the realm, not A king. One thing that the game makers have made adamant is that the idea that when you get to the end of the game every other character is basically your same legendary world saving demigod cheapens how much work you have done on your own character. It is something that has always seemed a paradox in MMO’s when they say that you are the chosen one that is going to save a kingdom and that at the end of the game you get to play with all of the other chosen ones.
All in all, it is still too early to tell how well all of these ideas will be implemented when the game does get an official release date, but I am choosing to stay on the positive side with this one. Soulbound studios is ambitious to say the least, currently in the middle of a kickstarter campaign requesting $900,000.00 to get the game made. So far they have brought in a decent amount of funds from various backers, so it would seem that I am not the only one who is deciding to invest in these guys in the hopes that they make something new and exciting in the world of fantasy MMO’s. It’s a story that we will follow closely, and I will be sure to update if any new news is released. In the meantime feel free to check out their kickstarter video for more discussion by the developers and videos of the game in action.