Asheron Blows Up Again!
Microsoft recently announced the upcoming release of Asheron's Call 2, the sequel to the massively multiplayer online roleplaying game. AC2 will feature new dynamic, evolving world that reacts to player behavior and actions; a next-generation MMORPG graphics engine; a revamped combat system and a new in-depth crafting system that gives players a chance to pursue noncombative skills. Read on to find out more...
Microsoft recently announced the upcoming release of Asheron's Call 2, the sequel to the massively multiplayer online roleplaying game. AC2 will feature new dynamic, evolving world that reacts to player behavior and actions; a next-generation MMORPG graphics engine; a revamped combat system and a new in-depth crafting system that gives players a chance to pursue noncombative skills. Players will be challenged to rebuild a world that has been devastated by a great disaster. Their actions will help determine where and how the world is restored.
In their quest to rebuild the world, players also must deal with ongoing events, including such world-shaking calamities as blizzards, volcanoes and hordes of invading forces, as the story unfolds. Players can align with one of three kingdoms and battle both monsters and opposing players to capture and control precious resources and ultimately, survive.
Game and Graphics Engine
Turbine Games, the creators of the original Asheron's Call, set out to create a next generation engine for MMORPGs that would be capable of creating worlds massive in scale, seamless in layout and utterly compelling in graphical presentation. After two years of work, the result is a game engine capable of scaling down to the capabilities of older graphic cards and scaling up as newer cards and technology is developed. The engine also includes an "appearance system" which controls the visible and auditory representation of every object, and allows Turbine developers infinite control over every model in the game.
Characters range from 2,000 to 5,000 polygons apiece and can swap out sections of their models while still remaining seamless, allowing a wide range of facial features, hairstyles, armors and clothing styles, as well as new options such as height and build. When characters put on metal boots, you'll hear the slight clanking as they walk. When they're hit with a blow to their armor, you'll hear the sound of the metal instead of their flesh. Also included in the engine is an advanced shading system (allowing such effects as dents in your armor which properly reflect the light and environment around them), blended animations (your character can tap his foot while waving or may appear winded when low in vigor), environmental and weather effects (clouds change shape, trees sway in the breeze and cast shadows on the ground below, characters can see their reflection in water or get visually distorted by the heat from their torches).
The AC2 combat system focuses on speed and tactics. Combat dynamics pay an important role and players do not simply hit a button and sit back waiting to see if they live or die. Character's vital statistics have been simplified into health and vigor: the latter being a combined resevoir for stamina and mana. Downtime has been kept to a minimum as well with health and vigor regenerating quickly and supplies like spell components or arrows being eliminated from the game. Rewards have been scaled to match the challenge of encounters. Both experience and treasure will be calculated from the difficulty the player(s) face in a given encounter.
The developers also made efforts to creatively expand the treasures players will find. Such weapons have been added as double-bladed staffs, strange pole arm designs and even a double-bladed boomerang; providing an incredible variety in the weapons and equipment visuals. One weapon model can boast dozens of appearances, whether shiny, rusty, new or old. Dozens of particle effects can be added, and unique items generated through the treasure system, or even tweaked by hand.
Character Races and Skills
The original AC features three different kinds of humans as player races. AC2 expands upon two of the "monster" races that have been explored in AC's ongoing events by making them available as player races as well. In addition to humans, players will be able to play as the giant Lugians or the savage Tumeroks. Choosing a race will open up unique skills and equipment to a player that is only available to that race. The skill system itself is flexible allowing players to "sell back" skills they no longer want and eventually allowing them to get back the points in order to buy new skills. Skills are broken into magic, melee and missle combat trees, different for each race. An open tree for defense and transportation is open to all races and a fifth tree has been mentioned by the developers though not revealed as of yet, though trade skills have been discussed as being greatly expanded in the game.
Asheron's Call 2 is scheduled to be released in Winter 2002 and a public beta is planned for the summer. For more information visit the official site, which also includes a gameplay movie to download, as well as these links to some "hidden" screenshots on the site.
"Hidden" Screenshot Links: