Legends of Aria is a newly-fledged MMO hatching from the egg that was Shards Online. The game is based on a multiversal concept, where many realities can be created to fulfill player desires. The game is currently in alpha and still under heavy development with the question of its ultimate identity as sandbox or themepark yet to be answered. When I gave it a test spin at PAX East, I was immediately getting a Diablo-style vibe due to the isometric design, but was inordinately happy to find out that you can change camera angles for better views.
The game offers players open-world building in the vein of Star Wars Galaxies now in a persistent setting, unlike before with Shards Online. We were told that it was player feedback that drove the conversion to a proper MMO. When the game ships, it’s intended for it to have a core set of modes for players of all stripes, such as hardcore PVP or permadeath. With both official and player-run servers, the team is expecting that every player will find something they’re looking for in the game.
One of the more exciting features of Legends of Aria is just how customizable a player-run server can be. With robust dungeon-creating tools on hand, similar to Neverwinter Nights and the like, players will be able to create their own experiences to share with other players. Citadel Studios is offering server space for players to administrate their own customized servers based on a regional or cluster technology, with both private and public server options. On their website, the description of player abilities within a custom server strongly reminded me of the power structures in the old-school MUDs or MUSHes, where a player can ascend to a new title such as Immortal or Demi-god and acquire many of the GM abilities we see on your average MMO wielded by studio employees.
Legends of Aria will offer quests like a themepark, but we were assured that the quests were discovered by exploring rather than breadcrumbs which tell you where to go, which will allow for a more organic means of storytelling and also a bit of choose your own adventure feelings. Most of what I looked at involved traveling to a town and killing a few critters along the way, then looking for a spot to plop down a house. Now, the house was pretty basic, and we were told that as development continues, there will be more models for homes and more options to customize, but for now, it was pre-alpha sort of choice. As I was looking through their context menu, accessed by ‘alt’, I was struck by how it felt a bit like Landmark and where its potential was going.
A quick demonstration was only the tip of the iceberg for Legends of Aria and it left me wanting to have a proper sit-down with it and press all the buttons and see what happened. If you dive into their website, you can see a lot more going on and in the works for the game, including new play areas other than the current main advertised area of Celador. So far, the basic model seems pretty solid, with housing, character skills, crafting, all the usual facets of a fully-fledged MMO in the works.
We’re going to keep an eye on this game to see where it goes. Like many games in some form of early public access, there is a paid element to it with pledges offering both in-game and physical rewards from $40 on upward. Curiously enough, the lowest-end digital-only pledge option is flagged as sold out.
Legends of Aria is due to come out on Steam later this year and you can check them out now at legendsofaria.com.
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