Bluehole has been rolling out plenty of Ascent: Infinite Realm teasers over the last couple of weeks. Today’s concept art reveal features armor for the Mystics (crowd-control DPSers), Elementalists (ice and fire mages) and Warlords (heavy-plate tanks – obviously, when you meet one of these ladies, aim for the inexplicably exposed leg artery, duh). Classes aren’t gender-locked, by the way.
“One reappearing question since the first A:IR announcement has been the query if all classes can be played as male and female characters. The answer has always been ‘Yes’ and today we are able to back this up with concept art for the Mystic and Warlord class.”
We first learned the game was coming westward – indeed, with a western focus – in November of last year, when Kakao announced it was acting as the western publisher for Bluehole and the studios took the veil off what was formerly codenamed Project M. Both companies seem to have high hopes for the RVR steampunk-fantasy open-world MMORPG; Bluehole has talked about meeting the desire for AAA MMORPGs in the west, while Kakao, which also publishes Black Desert in the west for Pearl Abyss, sees BDO and A:IR as the gateway to successful international development.
Before you take flight with Ascent: Infinite Realm, you are going to need to choose the best possible class for you. Bluehole gave a tantalizing teaser of the first two classes that will be coming with this steampunk title next year: the Assassin and the Gunslinger. Both seem deadly, stylish, and capable. But which one will be the best?
The Assassin wears light armor and hides her face for that extra shadowy persona, and her concept art boasts snakeskin material and stockings. This, to the artist, conjurs up a “sexy but inaccessible and dangerous atmosphere.” Moving on to the Gunslinger, this light armor class is more about leather, metal patches, casual clothes, capes, and long goats.
The artists also showed off one of the beast mounts that will be in the game: “Tamed mounts (bio-type vehicles) enable characters to freely fight while riding. Flying mounts are utilized as key tools in aerial combat and can be further grown to higher tier in residential ranches.”
Let’s drop the TLDR version of Ascent: Infinite Realm‘s backstory here to make sure we’re all on the same page. There’s lots of war on the planet, one faction takes off into the sky, catastrophe hits and everyone else dies, the sky faction starts bringing back souls. Good? Awesome. Because not all of the souls brought around during the aforementioned “everyone dies” bit have wound up on the metaphorical side of the angels, some of them have wound up in the soldiers of a group called the Black Hand.
Surprising absolutely no one, these guys seem pretty sinister! You can check out some of their enemy designs now, including the Gradog (big dudes with hammers), the Grazard (lizardmen with gas masks), and the Grawise (probably someone’s Bloodborne OC). They look appropriately weird and creepy to make up an enemy group, so check them out if you haven’t already.
AIR is the steampunk/fantasy MMORPG announced by Bluehole (yes that Bluehole) at the tail end of 2017, set to port westward under the watch of Kakao (yes that Kakao). It is expected to launch in the west in 2019.
Last year’s announcement that Kakao would be bringing the steampunk-flavored Ascent: Infinite Realm to the west was a much-needed shot of encouragement to MMO players who have been desperate for new titles. There was a good month or two in late 2017 when we were genuinely excited for this game as it showed off its trailer, talked about its lofty ambitions, and started Korean beta testing.
Then it kind of dropped off the map, and for the last four months, we’ve heard very little about this game. But now it’s back, baby, and things look like they’re progressing just fine. (True story: This author was just writing a “whatever happened to this game?” post when the official account sent out an update.)
The dev team said that the game is being “refined” following its initial Korean beta test. In the meanwhile, some new teasers and art will hopefully rekindle players’ interest. More previews are promised for upcoming weeks.
Back in January, we expressed concern for the brilliant one-man space indie sandbox MMORPG called Ascent: The Space Game (not to be confused with that other Ascent). Talks with an investor were supposed to come to fruition in December, when a studio liaison (the in-game president) reported that developer James Hicks was also working on a second game, changing Ascent’s engine, and building out the new update and client. And while the game could run in maintenance mode indefinitely, according to the dev, that’s obviously not ideal for what remains of the entrenched playerbase.
But in February, hope arrived. Fluffy Kitten Studios posted a market update on Steam and said the “new client [was] at last approaching beta.” And over the last few weeks, Hicks told forumgoers through the surrogate that the patch does indeed switch the game to Unity and the new client as well as adds terraforming, NPC commands, and camera tweaks.
South Korea’s Bluehole has been busy as the rise of PUBG has filled its coffers. It partnered with Tencent. It’s been hiring for TERA’s mobile port and even snapping up execs from Riot. It fended off rumors of a Microsoft buyout. It teamed up with Kakao for Project W. It built subsidiary PUBG Corp offices in four corners of the globe. And now, it’s picked up two more studios.
GIbiz reports that Bluehole and PUBG Corp have bought up MadGlory. We don’t know how much money changed hands, but we do know that the company is primarily focused on “custom matchmaking engines” and other multiplayer tools. The publication suggests that the newly dubbed PUBG MadGlory will be working on the PUBG Developer Portal coming out in April, which will basically allow community modders access to the API.
And MMO Culture has a brief piece out on Bluehole’s acqusition of Red Sahara Studio, a mobile studio that will be working on another TERA spinoff.
Bless Online is one of the biggest MMORPGs we’re expecting to launch in the west in 2018. Over the last six years, we’ve watched it blossom in South Korea, switch publishers, and even go back to the drawing board for a revamp before Neowiz pushes it westward. That’s left a lot of gamers, including us, with questions about the game’s future. And to get answers to those questions, we spoke with Game Director Jae-hoon Jeon all about the game’s planned monetization, early access, and just what sets Bless apart in a field of high-quality import MMORPGs. Read on for the details!
Has the pace of news moved so quickly that we’ve already forgotten about Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene’s statement that video games lack any IP copyright protection? Because that was really ridiculous. Especially since what he was referring to was not actually even remotely related to copyright, but covered something that would be handled via patent. And even that wouldn’t have worked!
Of course, you can’t really blame him. By which I mean you can totally blame him, but it’s a common misconception that turns up time and again. People talk about copyright, trademark, and patent issues in the same general melange of “this company owns this,” and the thing is that they’re related terms and concepts that nevertheless mean very, very different things.
Avast, feast your eyes here, ye swabbies: Sea of Thieves be settin’ sail for the waters of closed beta on the 24th of January for both PC and the Box of X. Hoist the mainsails and prepare to have your senses bedazzled, as no shroud separates ye from the testing, nor any NDA. Ye can even read up on the intelligence what governs those fancy skeletons that be dancin’ about, or ye could pick up a fine new hand-held controller for a heft spot of dubloons.
Other news for betas? Aye, ’tis a fine time to discuss the other ships what sit full in the water.
Now, I’ve told my tale and told it true, so ye ought let me be. But first, cast your eyes to the horizon, and ye can see our full list of games what be in beta testin’ right now! Aye, a beautiful sight; take a fine boat below, and keep your eyes peeled if one of those salty dogs what slipped into a new test phase without us recognizin’ it ahead of time.
If you’re looking forward to Ascent: Infinite Realm when it arrives on these shores, you’re probably also looking forward to learning about the world beyond “there are airships and steampunk robots.” You don’t need to know more, because who wouldn’t be sold from those concepts alone? But just so that you can actually know more all the same, you can check out the English-dubbed trailer for the game just below.
The trailer serves as a top-level overview of the concepts going on in the game. Short version? The surface of the planet got destroyed, two of the three kingdoms were blown to heck, and the king of the third kingdom had the bright idea of taking the souls of the two destroyed kingdoms, wiping their memories, and using them as a cheap force to help rebuild that third kingdom on a floating island. Presumably, that’s where the player characters come from; you can get slightly more details in the cinematic itself.
Good news, Ascent: Infinite Realm! The future of Kakao’s international plans and possible acquisition of western development studios hinges upon your success! Not that the publisher behind Black Desert is hurting for cash or anything; no, it’s a simple matter of seeing whether or not lightning can strike twice. The international success of the latter title was considered a surprise, but if A:IR exceeds expectations, a recent interview with CEO Min Kim suggests that the publisher may look into more western development studios to purchase.
Of course, this is not something that the company expects to know for some time, as A:IR is not expected to have a full release until 2019, but the suggestion of the future is still there. The current belief is that quality sells internationally, compared to the prevailing Korean notion that breaking into other markets is difficult at best. If you’d like to see more products bankrolled by Kakao, then, you may want to keep a close eye on A:IR’s performance as it moves into beta testing.
One of the frustrating bits about our end-of-the-year content rollouts is that sometimes predictions and story roundups can come across as negative. It’s way too easy to assume that if someone is predicting game X will flop, she wants it to happen and is gleefully steepling her fingers and cackling madly over its future demise. Which is just not so! I never steeple my fingers.
But all the same, for tonight’s Massively Overthinking, we’d like to take a moment to set aside our fears and expectations and just talk about our hopes and wishes for 2018 in an MMORPG context. That was what we think will happen. This is a summary of our most optimistic daydreams.
Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2017 awards continue today with our award for Most Anticipated MMORPG, which was awarded to Star Citizen last year for the third year in a row, though it was an incredibly close vote. (And yes, we recognize the irony of Star Citizen mopping up both negative and positive awards.) This year’s discussion on most anticipated was close too, but there’s more a sense of frustration since a lot of the games we’re picking from here year after year are the same – because they still aren’t out.
Don’t forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end!
The Massively OP staff pick for Most Anticipated MMORPG of 2018 and Beyond is…