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I'm looking forward to SOTA, here are a few reasons why;
1. Lore, they have 2 amazing storytellers on board Tracy Hickman & Richard Garriott.
I don't know much about the lore yet, but this bit of possible lore has got me interested, Steampunk society Vs. Magic society. That alone sounds like a very cool idea. Just think, a society that bases their religion, their use of fire, their use of hunting, protection all on magic which unlike real life actually works and is real. Then the clash against an anti-magic society that have invented Tesla type technology with Tesla like towers, perhaps primitive robotic like instruments, electricity. It just makes for an interesting setting. No overkill on the steampunk, still very Medieval setting.
2. Non-Instanced Player Housing.
This only exists in a few games, let me name a few that I can think of off the top of my head. Ultima Online and.... and... I can't think of a single other game that has this, this is an Awesome feature that other MMOs have seriously dropped the ball on, for those that don't know what non-instanced means, it means everyone can see your house, and potentially can walk into it if you leave the door open, you can decorate and everyone can see your decorations, a little thing that gives great power to a game.
3. Innovation, Garriott is the one who perfected such things as NPC schedules, In-Game Weather that affects the players resulting in a wardrobe change, Intelligent NPC monsters who don't just stand there waiting to be killed but acively do things, such as raid cities in stages moving across the land, unique languages, etc, now I don't know how many of these things will be in SOTA I know some of these things already will be in SOTA and perhaps new things we have yet to see.