Westeros, the world from George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones series, isn’t your typical fantasy setting. It’s not about
hacking and slashing (though there’s a fair amount of that going on), it’s
about political intrigue and backstabbing. It’s about winning the Game of
Thrones… or dying.
And that’s the approach BigPoint is taking with its
upcoming Game of Thrones MMO, which is due out later this year: to create a browser-based, free-to-play MMO with as heavy an emphasis on the political side of the setting as the combat. Before you write it off at the words "browser-based" look at the screenshots below and they'll probably change your mind.
BigPoint's Game of Thrones MMO is based on the TV series, meaning the developer has access to many of the assets from the show, including the award-winning main theme and the introduction itself, which will actually serve as the game's map. It even secured some actors' likenessess for "Hero cards," which can be used to summon different characters to battle. Being able to drop down a Jamie Lannister card during a fight to bring the beautiful, beautiful Nikolaj Coster-Waldau to help turn the tide of a battle sounds awesome.
Story-wise, it takes place near the end of season one. We won't spoil things for those who haven't caught up, because that would be rude, but it's safe to say that the world is in turmoil. The different family houses are mobilizing for war, fighting each other and trying to take over the throne.
You can decide if your character throws his loyalty in with the Starks, Lannisters, or Baratheons, but you won't need to make that call right away, and the choice won't be permanent. Sure, there will be benefits to picking a side and staying with it, but that's not how Game of Thrones works.
If you want to take your guild and change sides you'll be able to -
that's part of the game. BigPoint says that it's planning some sort of
slight punishment for this, possibly by putting the choice on a
cooldown, though it's not planning on making it too severe. They figure
the community's response to those who switch sides too often will be
enough of a punishment, and they're just leaving it to them.
That's not to say there won't be combat at all. On the contrary - Game of Thrones' battles will be a major part of the experience, with a majority of the game's focus being placed on player-versus-player battles. This will be available in both the open world (which we're being told is massive), focused around taking over forts and castles, and in ranked 5 on 5 fights.
And these battles won't be spent clicking on attacks and waiting for cooldowns. It's an action-based system, with players choosing to attack high, medium, or low as their opponent blocks. We weren't completely sold on this from what we saw during the show, as it looked a little clunky, but the developers assured us that we were seeing a fairly early implementation of the battles, and that the final version will be much more fluid.
That final version isn't way too far away, either. BigPoint is aiming to begin the beta this fall, with an official release hopefully coming soon after. We'll be sure to keep you in the loop as more information is released, as we have a feeling you'll be interested in slashing up some Lannisters once the second season of Game of Thrones starts in a few months.