What do I mean by snapshot? Well, lets try to break this newly announced Kickstarter MMO into some neat bullet points for easy digestion. In case you haven’t heard, Aradune (Brad McQuaid), one of the original creators of Everquest (yes the one thats still around 2 decades later), launched a new MMO Kickstarter; Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen.
Why is this noteworthy, other then the fact that one of the original creators of the MMO genre (the reason you have a World of Warcraft) is involved? Trick question. Its mostly (all of it) about him.
Something about the nostalgia of a different era of MMO history HAS struck a chord with me though. Brad comes from a time when levels weren’t given, but earned. The distinction is both small and subtle, but its an important difference thats almost entirely been lost over the last ten years. Brad McQuaid seems destined to bring back that feeling of accomplishment when you hit a new level, or earn a powerful item. Its one I’ve personally noticed absent from the modern genre of MMOs.
So lets break down why his game will be different;
Difficulty; The game is catered to group play and supposedly soloing will NOT be a viable means of leveling. This important for a few reasons;
Travel; Details are still sketchy, but travel will not be instantaneous between destinations. Some locations will be connected by teleporting destinations, but the vast majority will require you to traverse the world (and encounter people). Exploration and discovery become that much more interesting (hopefully zone maps is maybe on the table as a no?)
Holy Trinity Shattered (maybe); The Holy Trinity has always been a Tank, DPS, and Healing based player roles (dating back to somewhat inaccurately, Everquest). Pantheon is seemingly bringing back the Support role initially with the Enchanter class (possibly also Shaman as Support?). Support was always a powerful role to include in vanilla Everquest and hopefully its return in Pantheon signals the end of the dreaded trinity. For those of you unfamiliar with Support, its a role that sometimes includes minor capabilities in Healing or DPS, but primarily enhances the abilities of the other roles around him (making everyone else that much more powerful).
While these three are not the only reasons this game looks interesting (its about time we got a fucking hard-er-ish MMO design), the fact that Brad McQuaid is designing it brings another interesting bit of drama to the table. Brad McQuaid has a history. Not so long ago, shortly after leaving EverQuest, Brad set out on an adventure to make a new MMO. This adventured was called “Vanguard”. It was heralded as a sequel to EverQuest, an alternative world to play in. It was plagued by one of the worst launches in history and a rescue by Sony Online Entertainment (his former employer) was necessary to keep it up and running.
While I care not about the details of Vanguards sordid past, it is important that their was other drama associated from Brad in what could only be called a “personal meltdown”. While Vanguard certainly proved to be a mostly pain in the ass sized disappointment, its Brads personal history that has many who went through it scratching their heads wondering why he thinks his reputation will help this games Kickstarter and subsequent development efforts. So far Twitter and others in the gaming industry seem to be mostly cautious (no optimism either) about this title.
I’m actually pretty skeptical this title will turn into something worthwhile myself. I’m also not a big fan of the games name or its first revealed class “Dark Knight” (I mean really?). Despite these reservations, a title like Pantheon is absolutely something to keep an eye on. Far too many games are easy, and hand their content over in easily consumed, casual-friendly, chunks of game. Its about time someone took notice that many players are looking for a hardcore MMO just like Pantheon. So I for one, applaud the games stated design goals. I just hope history doesn’t repeat itself for this games sake.