* Valve Corporation have released beta authoring tools for Portal 2.
* Chris Taylor of Gas Powered Games argues that the free-to-play model is the future of PC gaming.
* Cthulhu Saves the World has been approved for Steam release, the creators are hoping for a May release.
* GoG.com have announced a weekend long sale on Activision-themed RPGs, including the Vampire: the Masquerade games.
* Opponents of piracy are pushing a new US Bill to combat piracy. It won’t work, I’m sure.
* The US Navy have taken the fight against Somali pirates online in an MMO, something it’s been building since 2009.
* Valve announced that it has no plans for a Source Engine 2, preferring incremental changes in patches to massive engine shifts.
* Brink has vanished from the UK Steam storm, but Bethesda have been fairly tight-lipped beyond that they are looking into the issue.
* Ars Technica’s Opposable Thumbs looks at the future of the Halo franchise after the release of the Defiant maps.
* After the devastation of the PSN and SOE, Sony Online’s downtime should be only a few more days.
* Also in MMO news, NCSoft has announced that Lineage’s Western servers will be shut down on the 29th June. No new accounts can be created and remaining time will be refunded.
Developed by: Lockpick Entertainment
Published by: Paradox Interactive
Reviewed on: 22nd March, 2011.
Presentation: The graphics look a bit dated compared to what else is out there, but it is nothing too awful. The interface has been updated since Paradox picked up the game and is quite intuitive upon first appearance, I didn’t have too much difficulty finding my way around. The sounds likewise are basic, although the music is good background for the theme and setting.
Atmosphere: The game combines aspects of two genres, MMORPGs and RTS elements with some out of battle 4X for good measure. There is a sense in which a lot of these aspects are still quite embryonic and hardcore fans of a single one of those genres might be pulled away by the lack of depth. However, what it does have from those genres is very solid and well-integrated. It does seem very slow-paced compared to some RTS games though.
Control and Mechanics: Controls use only a mouse with some light keyboard use being mostly optional. No one should have any great difficulty mastering the controls here. The mechanics are moderately simple and not too difficult to grasp quickly and the standard MMO divisions of PvE and PvP are there, as well as trading and item shop purchases.
Who should buy this: Given that it’s a free-to-play game, anyone who finds the concepts appealing, but specifically: those who prefer slower-paced RTS games with more tactical thought in later play. Those who like combinations of RTS and 4X games, with the emphasis more on RTS play.
Who should avoid it: Those who prefer faster pacing in RTS games, those who prefer more complexity in their RTS or 4X games. Those who don’t want a slow build-up to later gameplay. Those who don’t like players being able to pay to get an in-game edge over other players.
If I have to give a score: An interesting game with a lot of potential for growth. There’s some innovation, but nothing to really make it stand out yet. 2.5/4
Dreamlords: Resurrection is the third iteration of this game, picked up by Paradox Interactive after the original publishers abandoned the project. It’s quite an interesting experience because at first I didn’t really see the game as having any strong pull to it, despite the considerable number of players on at any given time. I’m not entirely sure how much that has shifted, but there certainly is something to the game to recommend it. It’s a F2P MMO and so is in a rather crowded market filled with games like the entertaining and unique Champions Online all the way to the very banal Shaiya (a game which, as far as I can tell, seems to be entirely about two goddesses in a lesbian BDSM relationship).
The plot is nothing special, many years ago a race known as the Thul appeared, horrid beastmen who hungrily attacked everything in sight. The humans divided into the Covenant, a group of theocratic warrior-knights and the Nihilim, a group of magic users who disagreed with the religion of their fellows. An act of magic designed to stop the Thul instead ripped the world apart and it now exists as collections of floating islands. New threats emerge as nightmares from the dreams of previous eras come to life and threaten the survivors.
The player begins by creating his character, known as a dreamlord. Each dreamlord is a born leader, composed of the souls of long dead defenders and leaders from times past and each must take control of his or her own island, known as a patria. Character creation is very basic and involves choosing your character’s gender and colour (each character looks like a glowing mass of light formed into a humanoid shape) and then his affiliation between the Thul, Covenant or Nihilim. This bit is important as each faction has its own strengths and there is no going back once the selection is made.
I mean that bit too, each account is allowed one character and you won’t get to change your allegiance until the end of the era (or delete the character). This is unusual given that many players in MMOs like to test the waters with different races, classes and factions before making a permanent choice and often have more than one character anyway. It’s a factor of the game that’s not made as clear during character generation as it could be, so be warned if you are going to give it a go.
Once you have done character generation, you are thrown into the tutorials and I found the tutorial system (along with the optional advisor system) very well thought out and constructed, and there were not many situations where I felt the interface to be alien. All in all, I was able to grasp the controls and mechanics very quickly.
What you do notice is that the graphics look a little dated, but this is largely because the game’s graphics have not seen many updates since the first release back in 2006. The game is still frequently updated and now sports many improvements, both in functionality and bug-fixing. The game traditional has been a more single-player orientated affair, alongside the PvP battles. What this new game has is the ability for co-operative PvE missions later on, something that was truly lacking from the original game.
It mixes elements of RTS, RPG and 4X gaming very well. While it is the case that it does not go too deeply into any of these elements, it does make the transition and interaction between the genres seamless. The 4X, for example, is largely about unlocking new technologies in tech trees for each building. These technologies cover everything from the weapons which with you can equip your troops to the expansion and growth of your cities.
Levelling up is interesting, you have a level system based on generally how tough you and your army are as well as a ranking based on the number of followers you have. As you collect more soul power from gems and items, your influence expands and so does your worker-base and your power. This of course affects the size and power of your army in RTS battles, which often yield items themselves useful to your city’s power and growth.
The game does have a very slow pace, however. This will scare off many RTS fans who love more of a rush into combat. Later levels can get very hard and require more thinking as the troops you start with are often all you are going to get and the game becomes more cerebral than simply overrunning enemies with vast numbers of troops. It will be a while into the game before you will even field enough support to have two units of troops assisting your dreamlord and it’s fairly far into the tech tree that you get improved elite versions of the basic infantry, assault and ranged troops you are given.
Overall, I would say that if you are a fan of more careful, plotted gameplay and want a bit more direct activity than what a classic like Europa Universalis 3 will give you then you should really give this game a try. It certainly has a lot of potential that, with a steady stream of development, will turn into something that rises above the more mundane MMO offerings out there. I’m not sure it pulled me in enough that I’d still be playing it six months from now, but I have to salute the fact that it is clearly trying to go somewhere new and make a new concept in MMO gaming work, let’s hope it succeeds.
Dreamlords: Resurrection is out now, client download and registration is available via their website.
The trailer for Lockpick Entertainment’s new MMORTS Dreamlords: Resurrection, published by Paradox Interactive.
See the review here.