Hello again, friends, and welcome to a new cycle of Choose My Adventure. You may remember that last time around, I bypassed the whole game-voting process and jumped straight into Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, but this time around, I figured I’d take a step back and give you folks a bit more say in the matter.
Mind you, I’m not quite so masochistic as to give y’all complete free rein over the game selection; I’m sure you’re kind, caring, lovely people, but I’m not so sure that you’d be able to resist the opportunity to force me into the most mind-numbingly terrible game you could find just so that you could watch my slow-but-inevitable spiral into insanity. So with that in mind, I’ve created a little round-up of games that are currently topical in one way or another, and it’s up to y’all to choose my destiny. I’ve done my best to pick out a diverse group of titles that I hope will offer a little something for fans of all tastes and preferences, so without further preamble, allow me to introduce the contenders.
Our first candidate is Skyforge, the latest entry into the MMO arena from Allods Team, creator of — you guessed it — Allods Online. Like Allods, Skyforge is a bit of a genre mash-up, crossing high-tech sci-fi with magical fantasy. The game puts a strong focus on frenetic, fast-paced combat and is billed as being “inspired by the best action-combat console games,” allowing players to actively block, dodge, and combo their way to victory. It also places significant emphasis on granting players a great degree of freedom-of-choice by allowing them to change classes on a whim and providing a wide range of activities — “PvP, PvE, group or solo, open world play, short instance or large raid,” touts the official site — to satisfy fans of any playstyle.
On the lore side of things, Skyforge casts players in the role of “immortal warriors” who are tasked with the literally deific duty of protecting the mortal inhabitants of the world of Aelion. Throughout their journeys, players accumulate power and amass followers in the hopes of ascending to godhood and perhaps even earning the title of Elder God. “The best of the best,” says the game’s official site, “will join the Order of Keepers and shape the fate of the world.” As if wielding the supreme power of divine judgment and retribution with extreme prejudice is a big deal or something. Psh.
Skyforge officially launched only about a month ago, but the devs have already released the game’s first major patch, adding a number of features including level scaling, more robust PvP options, and a variety of high-level content to the game. As an added bonus, Skyforge is one of the two titles on this list that is free-to-play, meaning that if any of you lovely readers wanted to join me on my adventures for some ungodly (ha) reason — or if you’d just like the opportunity to punish me for that pun by bludgeoning my face in some PvP — it’s just a download away.
The premiere project of new game development studio Goblinworks, Pathfinder Online is based on the beloved Pathfinder tabletop roleplaying game. The title looks to remain close to its origins by attempting to translate the mechanics and overall atmosphere of its PnP predecessor to a virtual space as faithfully as is possible without resorting to having players roll digital d20s every five seconds while occasionally being asked, “Are you sure you want to do that?”
A major part of that atmospheric translation also relies on the fact that PFO falls soundly on the sandbox end of the MMO spectrum. Rather than guiding players from point A to point B by way of quest hubs and bread-crumb trails, the game plops them down in an expansive world, provides them with a big box of tools, and lets them make their own adventures and set their own goals. Would-be conquerors can attempt to make names for themselves on the battlefield through the game’s territorial control system, while more industrious (or cowardly, depending on your perspective) players can put the hammer to the anvil and peddle their wares on the open market, and that’s just a couple of the myriad paths the game provides.
Players are also given a great deal of control over character development in keeping with the spirit of the tabletop game, although PFO’s system does deviate somewhat from the source material. Rather than utilizing the traditional class system of the PnP game, PFO instead puts the focus of character development on roles, which the devs hope will “capture the flavor of the class system while still allowing characters to pursue many different ability specializations.”
In essence, the system works by organizing the various skills into groups, or “collections,” each of which roughly mirrors the abilities of a specific class in the tabletop game, though the selection is currently limited to the four “traditional” base classes of Fighter, Wizard, Rogue, and Cleric. Though players can choose to mix-and-match a character’s skills from multiple collections, they can also specialize in a particular collection, thereby granting that character a dedication bonus when using skills from that collection. This seems to roughly parallel one of the core decisions of character development in the tabletop game: Do you stick with a single class, building a character especially adept in a narrow domain of skills, or do you choose to multiclass, sacrificing some of that proficiency for versatility?
It should be noted that the game is still in a state of ongoing development, though Goblinworks recently announced the release of early enrollment version 10.1, which most notably added the holding and outpost warfare systems to the game, allowing players to vie for control of outposts and settlements.
One of the most recent additions to Trion Worlds‘s stable of games, Trove is a bit of an odd duck compared to the other two titles on this list, as it combines more “traditional” MMORPG elements — earning experience, gaining levels, acquiring new and more powerful equipment, and so on — with a procedurally generated, destructible (and constructible!), voxel-based world à la Minecraft and its countless progeny.
On the “traditional RPG” side of the spectrum, Trove provides players with an array of character classes to play and level up, ranging from the mundane, such as the Knight and the Gunslinger, to the decidedly eccentric, such as the Neon Ninja, the Boomeranger, and — I’m completely serious — the Candy Barbarian, which is exactly what it sounds like. It also, I feel I should note, features quite possibly the greatest ability names I’ve ever seen, including an AoE attack called “Vanilla Swirlwind,” and the class’s ultimate attack that calls upon the power of the Candy Barbarian deity Eis-Crom, known as the “Eis-Crom Cone.” I’d normally say something like, “You can’t make this stuff up,” but someone did, and I hate that person because he or she is clearly more clever than I.
In addition to delving into dangerous dungeons in search of valuable loot and experience, players can reshape the world around them in a number of ways. Each player has a personal “home away from home” known as a cornerstone, which is simply a small plot of land on which players can construct a home-base of sorts, designing it as they so desire. There are also Club Worlds which, as the name implies, are worlds where members of a Club (Trove‘s version of a guild) can freely build as they see fit.
But the game’s customization capabilities aren’t limited to the world itself; players can also use voxels to modify the appearance of their equipment and can even submit their creations for consideration to become permanent additions to the game. And if that’s not enough to scratch your creative itch, the most ambitious of architects can design and construct entire dungeons that, should the devs deem them fit, will be implemented into the game for all players to explore.
Like Skyforge, Trove is free-to-play, so if you’d like to keep me company on my journey, it won’t cost you a penny, and I’d be glad for the companions. If you wanna delve dungeons, beat baddies, and help my architecturally incompetent self try to build something more advanced than a little cube hut that even the most minimalist of minimalists would call bland, Trove probably deserves your vote.
Now that y’all are acquainted with this round’s contestants, my fate is in your hands: Will I walk the path to godhood in Skyforge, set forth on a fantastic sandbox adventure in Pathfinder Online, or shape the voxelated (Wiktionary says it’s a word, just roll with it) realms of Trove? The decision, as always, is yours. Cast your votes before the polls close on Friday, August 14th, at 11:59 p.m. EDT, and then be sure to join me next week when I announce the winner and take the first step of my latest odyssey. Until then, friends!
CMA: Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets! Or cast your votes. Whichever, really.
- Skyforge (29%, 386 Votes)
- Pathfinder Online (24%, 312 Votes)
- Trove (47%, 619 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,317