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Okay.... right off the bat I want to get some things cleared up. I have been playing online games for the past 8 years. I am probably not what you consider a 'hardcore' or 'powergamer'. I lie somewhere in the middle of casual and hardcore though.
My mmorpg history: I did not enjoy Everquest that much and only played consistently for several months. I have deep roots in MUDing(multi-user-dungeons or whatever you attribute to that acronym) playing, developing, and administers them. My very first 'Massive' graphical online game would be Ultima-Online. I REALLY love UO although I don't play it anymore I had many many good times there and it is still the best gameplay I have ever experienced. Some other MMOG"s and MMORPG's I really enjoy/ed are SWG, A Tale in the Desert, Meridian 59, World War II Online, and Second Life. Also the little time I spent playing Anarchy Online, I thoroughly enjoyed also.
Next, I was accepted into Beta about 3 months ago and played about once or twice a week for at LEAST several hours. I realize that isn't as much as most play their mmog's, heck I usually play the ones I am into more than that, BUT I did spend enough time getting the basics down and checking the game out. This is all my opinion so please don't jump on me if what I say is something you would rather not hear. Also I kept hearing throughout beta that when the game goes live there would be certain things that weren't available to beta testers, different content? I don't know about all that but I hope that's true!
Lastly, I spent very little time involved in the combat aspects of the game, since it wouldn't be fair for me to pass judgement on anything but the newbie monster and critters I will not provide a score. However, I was so dulled by the combat system that I did not want to pursue anything more than a couple levels. Crafting is what I focused in on.
I'll start by talking about the common topics used to rate a game.
Music & Sound: The music is beautiful and tended to work well with the area and conditions you were involved in. Sound effects were pretty nice and seemed to be appropriate for cutting down wood, mining, etc. 8/10
Graphics: The gameworld and scenery is pretty nice, not leading edge but there are definitely some nice vistas. The coolest thing I did see was lightning striking close by as I entered blighted land. It was VERY NEAT and the transition into a blighted area is quick. The sky is also very pretty, with stars et al. However the character models tended to look funky and out of place sometimes(at least my giant did!) 7/10
Combat: I mentioned above my limited views on it. It seemed very straightforward and I often saw the same damage number every time I hit with little variation. Granted I didn't play more than a couple levels. No score(look above).
Crafting: The economy was player driven, every tool and weapon was craftable by the appropriate guild. Houses and pre-designated village areas were built by a mixture of crafting abilities. The way you learn to craft certain items is interesting and provides a system that can be dynamic and unique. Having the same level crafter with the same exact schematics is probably unlikely once past the beginner levels. You gather your own resources be it cutting down trees, mining up in the mountains, etc, etc. The process is also multi-tiered. You must smelt the ore to make ingots, which in turn make the sword. All in all the crafting system is very neat. 9/10
Community & Quest: This was a redeeming factor that I hope they carry over to live servers as frequently as they managed on the test servers. They had quite a few quests where hundreds of players were running all across the world finding npcs to piece together the current quest. There were invasions of the Withered Aegis and even quests where crafters were required to craft special items specific for that quest. Many had both aspects allowing for all players to be involved. On the whole, players were nice and friendly to me 9/10
In closing, Horizons is a solid game with a fun and what seemed like different play style, it may be more niche than mainstream in the end though. Personally I doubt I will be subscribing to Horizons but I implore you all to give it a whirl yourself. The crafting system stands up there with SWG and UO in thoroughness and coolness. All in all I give Horizons a 8/10.
My two cents.
I'd hate to die twice. It's so boring
- Richard P. Feynman, 1988