By Bryan King (Bryan), OnRPG Journalist
The Steampunk genre hasmostly kept to the basic forms of art. However, times have changed and Atlus Online brings a steampunk game to the MMO market named Neosteam: The Shattered Continent. The game promises exciting PvP, a charming and unusual story, and extensive customization, among other things. But there's one question involved in the slew of promised features... does it deliver?
The storyline of the game is summarized and given to new users in a brief but basic cutscene before creating a character. Here is some bits and pieces from the story from the Neosteam home page.
"Before the shattering of the land, the citizens of Chrysalis learned to harness Neo Steam. This gaseous resource became an integral part of society, giving life to all manner of machinery, from small hand tools to giant vehicles and factories. It reshaped the world and brought civilization into an era of peace and prosperity."
"Therefore, the ancient Maestros devised a network of receivers and transmitters to safely transfer Neo Steam from one location to another."
"When the King banished the Maestros, fearing they would become too powerful and overthrow him, the rest of civilization continued harvesting Neo Steam at an alarming rate. Without the Maestros there to oversee Neo Steam consumption, the balance of the world began to teeter, until one day, the very land itself was torn apart in a massive earthquake."
"Centuries passed, and as the fledgling nations of Elerd and Rogwel began to rise, and both nations began harvesting Energy Stones once more. In time, blood was shed, and the two nations realized they could no longer harvest Energy Stones in peace. In a bitter irony, the same resource that helped shatter the land is now the fuel for a war that threatens to destroy civilization once and for all.."
The story brings a main intriguing point before the game even starts. It raises the question for gamers... how will I defend my nation? How will we work together to gain Neosteam? All of these questions are answered within the game.
That's the sound you hear when you'll emit when you land on your face as a beginner. That shouldn't be taken literally, but Neosteam really just puts you in the game with tutorial quest as every other game does. Your pet (which can be later evolved to give you even more special abilities) helps you along the way by throwing you some decent tips, but the beginner portions of the game doesn't do much toimpress players from the start. Unfortunately, this is true of almost all quests in the game. Quests relate back to the global story, but it all feels broken. It didn't really click together like it should for such an impressive story.
However, the game does include a geographical quest marker that puts a flag where your quest item/mob/etc. is located. This pits well as opposed to games where you have to spend endless amounts of time asking, searching, and browsing areas all over the map looking for something.
Neosteam is plagued by a severe amount of bugs and glitches. Atlus Online took an dated version of Neosteam from a previous publisher and brushed it up, and honestly did add new features to the game such as renaming the towns, classes, and skills, among other things. But it seems as if the controls were overlooked. The WASD system is extremely clunky and it's hard to control your character without the camera shifting in another direction. If Neosteam: The Shattered Continent wants to compete in the controls department with other games, they're going to need to renovate the controls system even further.
Neosteam provides a bundle of classes, some of which are very unique, such as the Elerd Paladin, a holy warriorwho can summon both a ranged summon or a melee summon. Another unique job tree is the Craftor, who specializes in building weapons, armor, and for wars can create siege vehicles. This feature puts Neosteam's gameplay over most other free games.
In Neosteam: The Shattered Continent, skills can be learned at a certain character level with Skill Points, and later be leveled with Training Points. One skill point is earned per level. Early in the game, TP is easy to come by due to such low requirements for skills, but later in the game, TP becomes painstakingly hard to earn. Yes, there is a TP system in the game that allows you to gain TP while away for being inside an engine, but this isn't enough either.
People who buy premium membership earn higher rates of TP, EXP, and gold, which may substantially drive MMO gamers away due to such an objectively seen 'unfair advantage' for people who regularly use the cash shop. On the other hand, this system may be perfect for the hardcore gamer who likes a challenge and would be willing to earn TP from completing quests or defeating monsters. Stat points are automatically distributed depending on race and class. Each race (Human, Elf, Pom Luife, or Taroon) has special racial skills that give them perks, and their stat builds separate races for being better for certain classes. A racial skill for a Luife (that has the appearance of a werewolf) is increased run speed and higher HP recovery. These skills do bring some sort of new immersion levels to the game, easing players into whatever they play.
Player vs. Player
The Player vs. Player system in Neosteam is probably Neosteam's shining star in terms of gameplay. There is an amazing Realm vs. Realm battlefield that brings a substantial bonus to whomever may capture one of the eight castles in the War Field. In order for Elerd or Rogwel to capture a castle, they must work their way inside a castle and destroy a Steam Core in the middle. Capturing a castle gives a nation:
+3% Increased experience
+5% gold gain
+1500 Neo Steam
-3% on Renovation item cost
Energy stones are items that are mined throughout exploring through the game, finding them after raiding a strong boss, or trading them with an NPC. These energy stones can be used to build a personal weapon, siege weapon, blocks, or pylons. Each of these weapons can be used to attack castles, players, defend key points, cut-off a maneuver, or whatever you want to do with them. It all just goes to show how intricate Neosteam's war system is, and fortunately, it is not the only PvP feature.
There are neutral maps (the first of which you encounter after choosing your advanced class and going to Riall). The first being Jarit's Garden, an area where players up to level 30 can level at an accelerated rate, but risk being killed by players of the opposite faction. This adds an exhilaration factor for players who do love PvP, but may have some dislikes by players who don't.
Battlefields are for players level 41 and up, and divided into level tiers from there. For 20 minutes, players of opposite factions compete by capturing five steam cores throughout the entire field, and possibly having the discomfort of fending off from a very strong boss that can spawn in the middle of the havoc. In conclusion, the player vs. player system of the game has many functions that will be enjoyed by both casual and hardcore PvPers alike.
Graphics & Sound:
Neosteam doesn't have the best graphics ever, but the bloom effect, steampunk atmosphere, character weapon design, and building models make the game stand out from the rest of the crowd. Unlike the typical medieval background you see, this game does have a retro-futuristic background that makes it unique to the naked eye.
As for sound, Neosteam has appropriate sound for each skill and action, no more, and no less. Sadly, this audio ends up being subpar in the end of it all. The same basic 'boom boom' sound for regular hits gets recycled easily, and some skills share the same casting sound which sounds like a 'whoosh'.
And the judgement is...:
Neosteam features a lackluster quest system, but it is made up for by the ease it does have. It contains unique classes, and a dynamic skill system which may be found pesky or great by players of various tastes. There are a slew of races, each of which has unique traits. The game is plagued by glitches and the controls are clunky. You simply cannot go wrong with the Player vs. Player features in Neosteam. The graphics are new, following a retro-steampunk following, but unfortunately, the sound is repetitive.
- Storyline is detailed
- Quest marking makes the game simpler
-Slew of unique classes & races
-PvP is a definite highlight for Neosteam.
-Lackluster quest system
-Training points system may be annoying
-Large amount of glitches