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One of the PFO community members wrote this up and thought it would be worth posting here to give people some more insight into PFO.
Pathfinder Online is a fantasy sandbox MMO by Goblinworks based on the Pathfinder tabletop game. It uses a unique process called "Crowdforging" to determine what features are implemented in the game, in what order.
Here is a brief list of some of the highlights of this game:
1. No Grinding- Pathfinder Online uses a skill training system like that of EVE Online. You train skills by choosing what skill you want to train and allowing the time required to elapse. You don't train any faster by farming mobs or spamming your abilities than you do exploring the world, role playing with your friends, or even being offline. You will need to complete certain achievements to complete a skill and open up new avenues of training, but time-based training means you always get full value from your purchased game time whether you're casual or 'hardcore', an adventurer or crafter, or one who enjoys a lot of roleplaying chat or one who spends much of their time in combat.
2. No Classes- Unlike other games that give you a narrow range of abilities as you train your class, in Pathfinder you gain levels in different Roles based off what you have trained.
3. Player Structures- Build your own homes, taverns, farms, and even cities! The Pathfinder Online world will be filled with places players can use to build and customize their own homes, businesses and communities.
4. Freedom of Allegiance- Unlike games that give you a few factions to pick from like Alliance vs. Horde, in Pathfinder Online you can join a vast array of organizations run by players, create your own organization, or even be a lone wolf! Fight for your friends, your ideals, power, profits, or personal freedom. The choice is yours. The alliances, the betrayals, crushing defeats and glorious victories are all real, meaningful, and player-driven.
5. More Than A Gankfest- Unlike other Open World PVP MMO's currently on the market, Pathfinder Online actively discourages meaningless PVP. A meaningful alignment system that actually offers mechanical advantages to lawful and good aligned organizations, and a functional bounty system that allows the player to choose which players and organizations can collect the bounties they set discourages random and meaningless killing. Beyond this, the admins are taking a hard stance against 'griefing', in which players specifically seek to ruin the experience of other players, often through using game mechanics in ways that weren't intended. Griefing in PFO can be a bannable offence.
6. Real Battles- Large scale combat won't be the total chaos most MMO players are used to. PFO will make use of a formation system that gives groups significant bonuses for fighting in formation and coordinating their ability usage.
7. Less Tedious Crafting- Crafting won't be done by sitting and watching your character create the same recipe over and over. First you build the structure you need for the kind of crafting you want to do, like a sawmill, bakery, or smithy. Then you fill out work orders that your NPC subordinates execute for you. Meanwhile, you can go do other things, or later in the game's development there may be activities you can do to help the process along. PFO will also launch with both traditional resource harvesting and camp-based harvesting.
8. More Meaningful PVE- NPCs aren't all just sitting there in groups which never move, never change in size, and respawn every few minutes. There will be random NPC infestations that escalate in severity if not dealt with. For instance, a goblin camp left undealt with may turn into a goblin tribe that begins attacking your harvesting camps. Leave dragons, vampires, or giants alone long enough and they may attack your town. This creates a need to work together to deal with these threats and generates demand for players who train abilities specialized for hunting NPC types like vampire hunters and dragon slayers.
9. All Players are Useful- This won't be like games where a new player has 49 health and a veteran has 49,000. The attacks from that new player won't automatically miss the veteran. A new player will be weaker, but still able to make a meaningful contribution to combat. As a sandbox where group sizes aren't limited, this means all players are useful, and don't have to segregate themselves by level.
10. Trade is Meaningful- In Pathfinder Online players must manually transport items to their intended destination. Most shops are player-run, and there will be goods more abundant in or even exclusive to certain regions. Merchants, traders, and even auctioneers are all viable professions.