Shards Online's always-on alpha is now live

Citadel Studios' MMORPG Shards Online has formally launched its alpha today. "Alpha for a game like this means we’ve pretty much got all the major systems working cohesively, and that we’ve got a lot of the game’s launch content nailed down," CEO Derek Brinkmann says. "We’ve hit all the major milestones from our Kickstarter, and we’re finally ready to keep the servers up 24/7. By no means is our work done, but we’re at a point now where we really think we've delivered on promise that was made during our Kickstarter campaign."

If you've ever played the game on a trial key in the past, your trial has been renewed for the weekend. If you aren't one of those lucky souls, then you can either back the game ($40) to get in or enter to win a trial key from us right here, as Citadel has granted Massively OP 100 keys for this weekend's alpha test, which we'll be raffling off in time for you to hop in tomorrow. Read on to enter to win (and to check out the brand-new trailer)!

For this giveaway, we'll be using Rafflecopter to count the entries for us. You can earn entries in the giveaway by completing different steps in Rafflecopter; the question field is mandatory, but following us on Twitter and tweeting about this giveaway result in more entries. Rafflecopter uses javascript, so you'll need to enable it to see the entry widget below:

Four hundred and eighty winners selected at random from the total of entries submitted to Rafflecopter will be contacted via email by Massively Overpowered to receive one Shards Online alpha trial key apiece. Entrants are subject to our official contest and giveaway rules (and cheaters will be disqualified). Entries will be accepted until the giveaway's end on Friday, January 13th, at 12:00 a.m. EDT (midnight Thursday night). We'll draw the winners and send out keys and redemption instructions by Friday afternoon (EST) so that you'll have time to hop into the test, so make sure you've submitted a working email address in Rafflecopter.

From the press release: Highlights of the alpha version of Shards Online:
· Sandbox Persistent Dynamic World - Almost anyone can be attacked, almost every item has a purpose.
· Player Housing w/ Merchants - Decorate your house inside and out with any item you find or craft. Merchants display their wares in the real world.
· Animal Taming - Tame many of the creatures you find in the world, including dragons, and watch them grow stronger as you adventure with them by your side.
· Skill Based Character Development - 27 skills, 60+ active abilities, hundreds of usable items
· Open World PvP with Criminal System - Aggressive actions have consequences. Players who murder others unprovoked are not welcome in town and aggressors can be attacked freely.
· Deep NPC Dialogue and Quest System - Every NPC has a story to tell, quests are more than just bring me 5 of these, or kill 10 of that.
· 3 World Dungeons and The Catacombs- In addition to the 3 new world dungeons, players can discover an entire underground world. More than just a dungeon run, Catacombs is a maze of rooms and hallways filled with badass bosses and loot. The final boss intended for groups of 10 or more is Death himself.

Massively OP's MJ Guthrie will be streaming the game alongside Brinkmann on Saturday at 2 p.m. EST for those of you who just want to peek in and pepper him with questions. Don't miss it on our Twitch channel this weekend. And good luck everyone!

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