By Gabriele Giorgi (Darak), Onrpg writer
You are on a ship sailing through a sea of stars. Abruptly, from the outer void, a sinister creature looms over you, a huge mouth in a gigantic, shapeless body. All around, his minions start appearing out of thin air, their hands like sickles. It’s up to you to fend them off with your weapon. As strange as it may sound, this is not a science-fiction game, but the Chronicles of Spellborn, the new fantasy MMORPG distributed by Acclaim.
A strange new world
In tCoS you will be launched in a strange new world like no other you have seen before. It might be classified as a fantasy setting, but just look upwards and you will not see the sky but an uncanny rocky vault with the light leaking through wide holes. Fauna, flora, architecture, they all contribute to create a unique setting that might remind you the works of the great comic-artist Moebius.
The sound is particularly painstaking as well: venture in the wilderness and put your headset on, and you will feel like you are immersed in a forest, with the constant buzzing and chattering of the wildlife, the rustling of leaves and the creaking of wood… quite a remarkable job, the sound is something almost unheard of so far (pun intended).
A character’s style
When you create your character, you get to choose between human and daevi race (slightly bigger and more muscular than men, and with horns protruding from their bodies). Daevi are not the usual elves or dwarves, true, and their background is very detailed as well as the world’s, but a wider choice with one or two races more would have been appreciated.
For what regards classes, at the beginning you have to select one of the three main branches: warrior, rogue and spellcaster; once attained level 5, you will be able to choose your specific path, three options for each archetype; this choice is final and cannot be changed later in the game.
So there’s a total of nine classes to choose from, and the concept of each of them is quite innovative and interesting, with some unique skills as well, although in the end their role is the same as in most MMORPGs.
One interesting feature is that you can select your looks right from the beginning, so you don’t have to wait to reach higher levels in order to get the outfit you want: just choose the garments you prefer, along with armor and weapons, and dye them with the colours of your liking… and you do not even need to change it later: should you find “better” equipment, you just need to transfer the “sigils” to the item you like more. It’s somewhat similar to the tailor system of City of Heroes/Villains (with less options… but then, CoX is still unrivaled with it).
Aim your blows
The game uses a sort of dynamic combat system: differently from other MMORPGs, you cannot just target an enemy and select the skills you want to use against it; in tCoS you actually have to aim. Of course this is easy in melee, since your opponents are in front of you, but using ranged attacks or spells might be trickier.
Another innovation of this game is the skill cylinder: actually this is an upgrade of the skill chain most people use when playing (many MMORPGs allow to bind it as well), but it makes combat a bit more challenging, since not all the skills are available at every time, and you have to organize your cylinder according to your possible strategies.
Combat is also interesting since it involves not only Health and Power points, but also States like Physique, Morale and Concentration that might increase or decrease during battle, affecting movement speed, damage output and resistances.
It is a bit too early to say if this system will be successful and will gain the players’ favour, but it’s certainly worth trying.
In tCoS there is no real penalty for death; on the other hand, you are rewarded for not dying, in the form of so-called Personal experience Points (PeP): you can gather up to five levels of PeP and, as long as you are not defeated, you will gain increasing bonuses for each level. Of course, when you are killed and forced to respawn, you will have to start from scratch.
Looking for more
There’s been a real hype around this title, and many people have been waiting for it for a long time. Someone might remember one of the slogans of tCoS during its development phase: “What lies hidden must be found.” Actually, it seems there are not many “secret contents” just waiting for you to find them, and the quests are similar to many MMORPGs, just as the overall gameplay.
This does not mean you will be disappointed by this game, but maybe it’s not going to be as groundbreaking as it claimed to be in the beginning.
There are still some bugs, but the staff looks very dedicated and they will probably be fixed before launch. Most important, they seem keen to organize events like, for instance, a PvP contest during this Beta phase.
Also keep in mind that you are allowed to play for free until you reach level 8… well, the character advancement will be stopped 100 XP before level 8, actually. This might give you an overview of the game, although a couple of levels more would have been welcome, especially since also your current quests will be completely halted and you will not be able to complete any of them… unless you buy the game, of course.
The Chronicles of Spellborn sports a unique fantasy world quite different from the others we have seen so far. Along with some new features in the combat system, this makes this game worth a try, even if the overall gameplay is similar to most MMORPGs.
• A brand new setting with a detailed world
• Astounding sound
• Many innovations in the combat system
• Only two playable races to choose from
• Gameplay and quests quite standard
• Only 8 levels to try out the game