Global Agenda, the third-person shooter/MMORPG hybrid, is probably pretty low profile at this point, but it has gained a substantial playerbase, and it holds a special place in our hearts after we reviewed its initial release. With the game’s unexpected level of success, the developers have seized the opportunity to expand the post-global warming world and make the “sort-of-MMO” into “actual MMO.”
The upcoming (yet to be dated) patch, known as Sandstorm, will overhaul the entire character progression system into a more familiar MMORPG loot-based structure. Currently, Global Agenda follows a standard character level progression, but all equipment like guns, cloaking devices, and grenades are assigned a point value by the player. With 15 total points available to distribute, the player must decide which devices will be the most powerful. In the new system, the points are done away with in favor of the recognizable categories of common, uncommon, rare, and epic items.
With Sandstorm, weapons will still be unlocked based on character level, but players will find weapons based on loot drops and level will determine if an item can be used. The main concern this raises is whether player-vs-player matches (PvP) will be fair if some players have acquired lucky loot drops. We’ve been assured that the matchmaking system will take care of any loot imbalances, but this will probably require expensive equipment tweaking leading up to the Sandstorm release, and probably long afterward.
Above: The Recon class gets a new melee weapon for some seriously ninja-esque dual wielding, at the expense of the ability to block
Along with a revamped weapon system, Sandstorm will bring new weapons, like additional options for melee combat. The aim is for new options to be the same power as the old ones, but work differently, so that characters won’t have an artificial advantage, but will have increased choices for equipment loadouts. One exciting addition is the Combat Jetpack, which will finally allow players to fly and shoot at the same time (of course, with increased energy consumption to balance it out).
Above: The Combat Jetpack lets you fire and fly for some truly heroic combat
Probably the biggest update will come in the form of the open zone and the war zone, two areas designed to bring a true MMO experience, with players wandering outside of Dome City and through the desert wasteland. The open zone will focus on PvE quests, assigned by NPC mission-givers, while the war zone will be a chaotic, PvPvE area, with players fighting against each other and the new NPC factions, the Recursive Colony (a hive-mind of robots acting like an ant colony) and the Desert Dwellers, a tribal human society of Commonwealth exiles ruled by warlords.
There will also be enhancements to the way the existing PvE missions and PvP fights can be played. Two new maps for PvP take advantage of Global Agenda’s jetpack-enabled vertical gameplay: one starts with teams plunging down a deep chasm, while the other is centered on a giant flying ship. There will also be ten-player “last-stand” style PvE levels with players holding off waves of enemies, and for the regular PvE missions, subscribers will be able to tackle levels with fewer than four people, even down to going solo, which will of course be more difficult, but the rewards are greater.
Above: Get ready to fight for supremacy of the skies
With a shift toward more traditional MMORPG elements, Global Agenda has the opportunity to reign in even more players, but at the same time it could be a risky move – will the more action-oriented shooter fans remain happy with this change? As long as balance can be maintained between classes, weapons, and character levels, with new players not starting with a huge disadvantage, we imagine the skill-based players will be just fine. Of course, maintaining that balance is the tricky part. We’ll be keeping an eye on this huge update to see if the sleeper success of Global Agenda can draw in even more players and keep them blasting and jetpacking long into the future.
May 26, 2010