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Forsaken World screws gold farmers, brings hope to MMO universe

Eastern MMOs – particularly free-to-play ones – have had trouble breaking into the West. Their Asian audience is enormous, but the genre has historically been plagued by low-production budgets and half-baked mechanics. And let’s be honest: World of Warcraft still rules with an iron fist in Europe and North America. To expand its audience, Forsaken World is trying to engage Westerners with the features they're most likely to respond to. First and foremost among these aren’t the five races and eight classes (though those are good), nor the setting of a land at war with a dragon lord in service to an evil god (also good). It’s heavy guild support.

Not only will you be able to band together with your friends to form a guild, but you'll also be able to purchase guild housing as a central hub for your clan of heroes. This has been done in the West for years, perhaps reaching its height with City of Heroes’ amazing "secret lairs." However, Forsaken World is taking things another step further. Guild houses will be able to form stores and merchants outside of it. These will give its members access to all new items and enable more quests than are normally available.

In addition, Forsaken World is also preparing to tackle the complex task of balancing player vs player combat with player vs NPC quests. Few games have ever really captured this accurately. Some games like Warhammer: Age of Reckoning skew heavily towards PvP, while World of Warcraft caters to PvE gamers. Forsaken World is aiming for just the right mix.

Finally, Forsaken World is also preparing to take on gold farmers head-on. Gold in Forsaken World is completely non-transferable. You will not be able to pass gold between other players, or even other characters you own. This is a bold attempt at curbing the tide of account hacks – though it could also annoy players who might take offense to the "treat everyone as if they are a criminal" philosophy of rule enforcement.

Apart from its over-arching design philosophy, Forsaken World is still a capable and interesting MMO in its own right. Combat happens as it does in most modern MMOs. It's mostly turn-based under the hood, yet takes place in real-time in standard MMO fashion. One fresh idea is the “soul-force" bar, which fills as you fight and charges up super attacks. When it's finally topped off, you can let loose a giant attack which kills just about everything nearby. The interesting part comes when you unleash your "soul force" and kill enough things to refill the bar again – this effectively enables the chaining of super-attacks. And if we can wield that level of power, we’re eager to see enemies that can give us a challenge. Unfortunately, there isn’t yet a release date for Forsaken World, but when it does touch down, we’ll be watching it closely. This one could be special.

Jul 14, 2010