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Looking for something different? The Chronicles of Spellborn delivers where others fail

Storm

“Blind we are, if creation of this clone army we could not see.”

Yoda said this in Star Wars Episode 3. There he was of course referencing the creation of the clone army that led to the fall of the Old Republic. However these words have some relevance as well to the online gaming world, as more and more releases are cropping up.... and more and more people are realizing that these games are just reskinned versions of World of Warcraft.

Many online gamers are understandably jaded, and almost as quickly as new gamers are discovering the genre old gamers are getting sick of the hype, sick of the grind, and sick of the mash-and-forget style of online gaming.

But while some gamers are venting their frutrations on newbies screaming at them to go back to WoW (nevermind that the player whos saying this hasnt really left it!), other gamers are adopting a philosophy of let no stone go unturned. These gamers have embarked on their own quest to find the holy grail.

No Stone Unturned...

My own personal quest has brought me through many games. Ultima Online was where it began for me, in late September 1997. As many are no doubt familiar, this was the beginning of the old great days of UO. Unprecedented freedom. Unheard of brutality. Amazing fun. But it didnt last. A year later EverQuest was opening its doors. I checked it out... but something about the game bored me.

UO

Fortunately Asheron's Call came along, not a second too late either, and gamers like myself congregated on the Darktide Server where everyone was a cutthroat, no matter how good you pretended to be on the surface!

DT

Since then Ive migrated. Asheron's Call 2 was great, but was a departure from the original game and didnt garner enough new playerbase to replace the old playerbase who had voiced lack of enthusiasm for the product. Shadowbane.. meh.. too easy. Toss in a few free to play games, Age of COnan, a home purchase, and some career time, and you had enough time for the epic holy grail of grails.

DF1

Except that it wasnt.

Darkfall Online turned out to be absolutely horrible. Not in the game itself. The concepts were great, and the gameplay was too. The game was however a grind on such a scale that most Korean MMO publishers now will try to imitate it only to squeeze that much more cash out of their item mall players. The game was also very hacker friendly. Who hasnt seen the video of the boat bouncing away like a beach ball, leaving an army of stranded swimmers goggling and asking "WTF?" And I wont even get into the lack of promised features.

FAIL

Toss in some free to play games by Perfect World just to kick up a few more stones. Fun, but basically watered down, expensive versions of WoW. Im still there, but its more for the community than the game itself.

Zenko

On a whim I tried Chronicles of Spellborn, a game recommended to me a few months ago by a guy who I considered an epic MMO Tourist and consumnate gaming failure.

Can I please buy a ticket?

Chronicles of Spellborn has polish. The graphics engine isnt the most modern, but its far from Asheron's Call! It passes for modern, and fortunately has low system requirements. Though my girlfriends laptop cant run it, it only just barely fails with a GeForceM 5200 128MB Shared graphics card and 3GB system RAM (on Vista). I suspect on XP it would probably do ok, though she would miss some of the immersive glitz. What glitz you say? How about wildlife you can kill that doesnt exist for your XP gain. Like squirrels. How about airships constantly in the sky above you, moving people in and out of the area? How about full day/night cycles that arent just boring slight dimming of the lighting in the sky? Theres more of a list.

  • Excellent sountrack, both ambient and musical
  • Excellent series of emotes where the voice you choose for your character says various things, attempts to whistle, and taunts your enemies
  • Blood Spatters during combat
  • Moving NPCs
  • Talking NPCs
  • Gravity with all its ill effects
  • Solid landscape items with tactical uses

Im going to skip character creation, mainly because I could write quite a few paragraphs on it. Theyd be true, but theyd be boring. Suffice it to say you make a detailed character with a unique appearance.

Immediately you are thrown into a tutorial, like most games, and if you pay attention you will learn basic mechanics. Since you cant really pass it, I guess you need to take your 10 minutes and do it. So do it, noober!

At the end of the tutorial you get an epic combat sequence vaguely reminiscent of Final Fantasy XI. Not a hard combat, but it sure looks deadly! Youre then thrown into the newbie starter town.

This isnt a hold your hand kinda place. The mobs are aggressive. They will kill you. The quests have no guide saying "Heres how you finish! Press enter to be routed to your destination!" There's no easy button. But its not hard. You simply have to play the game! And surprise, its fun!

How about a slice of quiche?

Give you a dollar if you can name the game that quote is from!

Combat is engaging. The scrolling combat bar keeps the pace steady, and the FPS style combat means you can control your hit rate, dodge rate, and position while at the same time fighting the mob. No lame invisible dice rolls! The NPCs are also interactive. In the shot below I was being attacked by a large group of mobs that came out of nowhere. I ran to the safety of town and what happened? The guards started helping me fight! And a few of the guards died helping me! RIP.

At 200+ ping time (Im in California) I still find the game quite playable, thanks in part to the rotating skill bar. Its got its own internal timer, so regardless of how fast your connection is, you still have the same rate of fire as someone with a slower connection, by and large. While dodging is tricky for me, I still manage to pull it off. So its not bad.

Just when you think youre getting the hang of the PvE though, suddenly it gets tougher. The quest chain will lead you into fighting mobs youll have to manage in groups of 2-3 instead of singularly. You can try to kite one away, but the AI is reasonable in this game. An injured foe will sometimes run back to its friends, or you think youve got one mob, then realize that some are in the trees firing spells at you. Its at that point you realize that if you can run and hide, you'd better do it. Also the terrain itself acts as a shield sometimes. High grasses make you hard to spot. Jump over walls to your safety as enemies struggle to find a way into your haven! Sneak up on enemies by using terrain to your advantage! Very reminiscent of Darkfall. I like it!

PvP from what I hear is pretty balanced. You can however test this out for yourself. Theres arenas near every town where you can engage in single fights, or in group brawls, which are scored on your own personal ranking sheet.

This house for rent...

Not every story has a happy ending though. The developers of TCOS went bankrupt, and the game is now in the hands of Frogster (Runes of Magic) and Acclaim (2Moons). Not saying thats a good or bad thing, however Frogster has committed to turning this game into a Free to Play game. Of course the cynics are coming out of the woodwork, crying failure, etc.

The truth is TCOS was released in May, 2009 after a beta period encompassing late 2008 until mid spring 2009. Can you guess what was being hyped up, open beta tested, and released during that exact time period?

If you guessed Darkfall you are correct.

This game is a great product, but at the time it probably looked like Darkfall Lite. Since Darkfall has not been able to deliver though on any of its promises in a truly complete manner, this game may have a chance at redemption on the markets.

There are some things though that I personally think need work in order for this to happen, though, the most important of which is the guild system.

The guild system in TCOS is pretty much just a tag over your head and a chatroom to call your own. There's no real point to it currently. Rumor has it this is being looked at by Frogster, and theres a possibility of Shard Conquest being added to the game as a guild feature. Sounds like a start. The original developers were rumored to have been working on housing. This should be expanded into the guild scope, and implemented both as single player housing and guild halls.

We dont need to build a town of our own. But it would be nice to own parts of one!

I'll stop on this topic though and save it for another day.

The long and short of it...

To keep a long story short (or an epic review slightly less beastial), TCOS is a great game, with alot of unrealized potential. Done right TCOS can be an amazing free to play product, and as a standalone product even now it is quite alot of fun.

If you are looking for a unique gaming experience, in a world that is not your standard fantasy clone, with a method of playing that is not a World of Warcraft wannabe, definitely check this game out.

And tell your friends. The best way for a game like this to survive and flourish is if we the players make it happen.

Thanks for reading. If any current Spellborn players want to take retributive action on me for my words here, my name is Magyar, and Im a noob on the PvP server! [i]Raaar![/i]



 

Crappy, petty people breed and raise crappy, petty kids.

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Comments

  • Sptn117Sptn117 Member Posts: 20

    Only problem, lack of advertising for gaining player base. No support from Acclaim as it is in redevelopment, basically in the shadows. Other than those I found the game to be wonderful and a great change from the mainstream games.

    Played:runescape, WOW, Mu, Hellgate london, Floresia, Runes of magic, DDO, Rose online, Alantica, Flyff, Guild wars, Allods, Forsaken world,

    playing: nothing

    Loved: Guild wars series

    future: GW2

  • dar_es_balatdar_es_balat Member Posts: 438

    Yeh its pretty much up to the players to decide whether this game survives or dies.   We are its advertising at this point.  So this is my start at a contribution to the community there.

    Crappy, petty people breed and raise crappy, petty kids.

  • vkaynevkayne Member Posts: 42

    Owe, my eyes.....wall of shill FTL.  Game is terrible, especially their "revolutionary" combat system.

  • Sptn117Sptn117 Member Posts: 20

    Yeah I understand that, we, the players should help to advertise the game. But come on, no support at all is what gets me. They want to revive the game, but they cast it behind everything else and just expect it to survive. Plenty of suggestions have been made, As i myself and made some. I know it is in "redevelopment" but still i don't think that leaving it there on its own is a good way to go about it.

    And also, 200 ping is not bad. Playing down under, 500 regularly and 1000 some nights, absolutely shocking. XD

    Played:runescape, WOW, Mu, Hellgate london, Floresia, Runes of magic, DDO, Rose online, Alantica, Flyff, Guild wars, Allods, Forsaken world,

    playing: nothing

    Loved: Guild wars series

    future: GW2

  • AcidonAcidon Member UncommonPosts: 795
    Originally posted by vkayne


    Owe, my eyes.....wall of shill FTL.  Game is terrible, especially their "revolutionary" combat system.

     

    In my experience (whether or not this actually applies to you), the people that stated the combat system was "terrible", are the people that refused to spend the time to understand it (or just simply couldn't grasp it).  It's different, therefore the danger is always there that people will hate it without learning it.

    Sometimes it's a good thing when a developer takes something that everyone knows how to use and makes it more complicated - IF it actually improves it.  I believe this is the case with TCoS.

    I don't play it myself.  If I had the time it would probably be on my personal list, but there are other games that I enjoy more at this point.  Mainly Ryzom (custom actions = awesome). 

    But TCoS is a great game that doesn't get near the attention it deserves.

    To the OP.  Excellent post.  It's obvious that you spent some time on that and you care about the fate of the game.  Good for you. 

    Acidon

  • dar_es_balatdar_es_balat Member Posts: 438
    Originally posted by Sptn117


    Yeah I understand that, we, the players should help to advertise the game. But come on, no support at all is what gets me. They want to revive the game, but they cast it behind everything else and just expect it to survive. Plenty of suggestions have been made, As i myself and made some. I know it is in "redevelopment" but still i don't think that leaving it there on its own is a good way to go about it.
    And also, 200 ping is not bad. Playing down under, 500 regularly and 1000 some nights, absolutely shocking. XD



     

    I think its a matter of patience.  With the developer essentially dead a whole new team has to be trained on the game, what features are able to be implemented, and how best to redevelop the product.   Its a little like reverse engineering, except they have the code already so theyve got a step saved.

    6 months of no outright support I think is perfectly acceptable given the scope of work they have to do.  To continue to patch a product they are planning on rewriting would be wasting effort.

    I think it was very nice of the team there though to let the servers stay online and let folks enjoy it.  Perhaps theyre hoping this game will go viral while they redevelop its driving mechanisms.

    And wow... 1000?  You must be halfway across the world!

    Crappy, petty people breed and raise crappy, petty kids.

  • Frostbite05Frostbite05 Member Posts: 1,880
    Originally posted by vkayne


    Owe, my eyes.....wall of shill FTL.  Game is terrible, especially their "revolutionary" combat system.

     

    sorry you weren't able to grasp the easy and unique combat system.

  • CorthalaCorthala Member UncommonPosts: 283
    Originally posted by Frostbite05

    Originally posted by vkayne


    Owe, my eyes.....wall of shill FTL.  Game is terrible, especially their "revolutionary" combat system.

     

    sorry you weren't able to grasp the easy and unique combat system.

     

    I love the skill deck, it takes a while to get the hand of it and once you do it and you will miss it in other games:)

    "you are like the world revenge on sarcasm, you know that?"

    One of those great lines from The Secret World

  • Sptn117Sptn117 Member Posts: 20

    Yah, Australia land of the high ping on every game. But yeah I  understand how the new development team has to learn the ropes of the game, and figure out all the bright and wonderful ideas and how to implement them takes time. But not to contradict myself, i think that 6 months of no game updates and full time support is necessary, and possibly essential. But I think a basic news system, very basic support, Gms to run events, updates on development of the game all the kind of stuff which makes you feel as though the development of the game is underway and its there for you, the player.

    Played:runescape, WOW, Mu, Hellgate london, Floresia, Runes of magic, DDO, Rose online, Alantica, Flyff, Guild wars, Allods, Forsaken world,

    playing: nothing

    Loved: Guild wars series

    future: GW2

  • metallihammetalliham Member Posts: 94

    Great post! Going to give this a shot now for sure.

    To be honest, I never really heard of this game before today.

    If it's as good as you say, I'm sold.

  • dar_es_balatdar_es_balat Member Posts: 438

    No need to be sold on anything.  At the moment its completely free.

    At the moment its also pretty much a solo game.  You'll find a group on occasion, but its a game waiting for players.  The current lack of any kind of advertisement is the culprit here.

    Crappy, petty people breed and raise crappy, petty kids.

  • TyrantasTyrantas Member UncommonPosts: 369

     Really great post here.

    People keeps asking for something different in this genre, but when they get it they don't even look at it. And then they are asking why every game tries to be copy of something... The answer is, that with something different and even really good game won't get high player base, cos it's different and people won't play it. Then people blames developers that's it's just a copy of one or another mmo. It's not developers fault that u don't get anything new.

     

  • dar_es_balatdar_es_balat Member Posts: 438

    Honestly if it werent for 2 factors I would have tried this game out long ago.

    1)  The release of this game coincided with Darkfall's release.  8 years of Hype cant be beat!

    2)  Acclaim.  Ive played a couple MMO titles by Acclaim.  They were all woefully underfinished with some pretty severe flaws.  This one is no exception.  However in this case its not the game itself thats flawed.   Its the freaking publisher.   The publishers job is to advertise the product.  Thats why theyre hired.   A publisher has 2 responsibilities:  Distribute the product and Advertise it.

    I swore I would never play another Acclaim game after playing 9 Dragons.  What an epic piece of trash that game was.   However boredom  inspired me to read a few reviews on this particular title after remembering the hype my buddy had spewed at me.  Im glad I tried it out.

     

    Crappy, petty people breed and raise crappy, petty kids.

  • avalon1000avalon1000 Member UncommonPosts: 790

    This is a great little niche game.  I played it when it was sub fee.  It was a little too intense for me at higher levels, but will appeal to the hard core gamer thirsting for something challenging and different.  Loved the music too (and the fact that seemingly friendly NPC's can and will attack you without warning).  

  • MelanaMelana Member Posts: 32

    hey this is a very nice thread =)

     

    i still love this game <3

  • CzelsiorCzelsior Member Posts: 41

    the best part of this game is the battlesystem.especially at higher lvls it rocks.

    too bad that the playerbase is very small so its more a solo game atm.

    i hope that the playerbase will grow in 2010 because this game have alot of potencial.

    -The Chronicles of Spellborn-
    Czelsior - Wrathguard LvL 50 -Dorzhan
    Kaiyn - Trickster LvL 50 - Deiquonril

    TCoS Gameplay videos

    http://www.youtube.com/user/czelsior

  • irukandjiirukandji Member Posts: 253

    I have enjoyed this game for the past few days. Nice change of pace from Ryzom. Actually having to move around while I fight is fun. I also like that any equipment you have, even your starting gear, can be used through the whole game, even endgame- great idea! This is gotta be the best FREE game out there! Hope they don't mess it up later with cash shop....

    "Hurray, finally a game where I can fulfill my lifelong dream of taking emotionally dead women and finding the most financially viable means to exploit their bodies with the ultimate goal of making them Hugh Hefner's personal furniture."

  • CzelsiorCzelsior Member Posts: 41

    if they do the right things with the item i won't be a problem.

     

    unfair advantages from the itemshop like better sigils or imba buffs would be a shame.

    -The Chronicles of Spellborn-
    Czelsior - Wrathguard LvL 50 -Dorzhan
    Kaiyn - Trickster LvL 50 - Deiquonril

    TCoS Gameplay videos

    http://www.youtube.com/user/czelsior

  • CecropiaCecropia Member RarePosts: 3,972

    Nice thread, very well put together.

     

    Amazing how little I know about this game. I will definitely end up downloading this at some point and giving it a go.

     

    "Mr. Rothstein, your people never will understand... the way it works out here. You're all just our guests. But you act like you're at home. Let me tell you something, partner. You ain't home. But that's where we're gonna send you if it harelips the governor." - Pat Webb

  • Dru998Dru998 Member CommonPosts: 85

    I started MMO's with AO back in the pre-shadowlands days(oh they were great!).  I played WoW of course but never found any real depth with it,  I have tried to play Eve, couldn't get into it. Vangaurd, Pirates of the burning Sea, LoTRO, I played the trials.  I could not get into any.  They all seemed so dated, and the same. 

    Then I tried TCOS!  I have been playing for the last  3 weeks and so far find that it really starts to grow on you.  I love the skill deck and the fact that the game is a challenge to play.  You will die, and I love the fact that there are consequences to death in this game(losing PeP).  The quests are interesting and well written.  It sometimes feels like you are playing a single player rpg the quests are so good.  The atmosphere is great in the game, along with the music.

    If they support the game, and do minor tweaks and fixes I would glady pay to play this game.  It has real potential.

    All I can say for anyone trying it for the first time is to not judge it as a failed game.  Take your time and read the quests and learn the fantastic combat system.

    _____________________________________________________________________________________
    Science has never proven that what we see in front of us is in fact real.

  • TyrantasTyrantas Member UncommonPosts: 369

    Quests are indeed awesome in tcos, it's like in another level compared to other mmos (p2p ones aswell ofc). Only questing keeps me interested to play, and adding whole other stuff? :) I also like that pvp is skill based and it happens to fight vs other house players often even with not that high population and i just love that world pvp. Yes population isn't to high, but u can always find someone to quest with and to say that it's like single player is really wrong. Finding populated guild helps aswell, in my current guild there is up to 20ppl online so i don't feel that lack of population which the game has somehow.

     

  • CzelsiorCzelsior Member Posts: 41

    nice to see that there are more people who like this game.

     

    -The Chronicles of Spellborn-
    Czelsior - Wrathguard LvL 50 -Dorzhan
    Kaiyn - Trickster LvL 50 - Deiquonril

    TCoS Gameplay videos

    http://www.youtube.com/user/czelsior

  • MelanaMelana Member Posts: 32

    yeah its great so see that some people are stil interested in this game  =)

    lets hope that this game will have success soon :)

  • jawalijawali Member UncommonPosts: 195

    This is  relly amazing game, the only bad thing in this game is that this game is not AMD and ATI friendly :/ you can have high end PC with ATI/ AMD hardware and you have 15 fps :/ hope they will release some patch in 2010 whne this game is redeveloped...

    image
  • DactylDactyl Member Posts: 44

    I hope Gameguard really does work to keep lots of cheaters/hackers away.

    Because its shoddy design and lack of support just kept one potential legitimate customer away. 

    <-----this guy

    Its my own fault though, I should know that if you don't pay for shit you should expect nothing more than shit.

    stuff and things

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