Hands-on with Mytheon

What does a Greek sorcerer look like? Does he chug potions filled with olive oil and ride a chariot? Does he name himself Harry Potteropoulos? Nope. Mine summons spiders. And skeleton bowmen. As I sit down at Petroglyph Studios to touch their new MMO/action RPG, Mytheon, I load up a level-one Warcaster - a summoner that can conjure minions (like oversized spiders and bone archers) that control like RTS units. The other two character classes are the direct-damage specialist Elementalist and a support class called an Eidolon.

I’m starting the game with an unusual amount of gear for an RPG - my inventory is filled with a “starter deck” of 40 power stones. Think of the stones as playing cards, like those in Magic: The Gathering. When played, a stone activates an ability, then vanishes into a “discard pile” until the deck is reshuffled.

I hop into the first instanced area, a swamp inhabited by the Greek monster Echidna, and the game randomly draws five stones from my inventory and places them in my “hand.” My Warcaster summons three spear-wielding Amazon warriors to fight giant spiders and swamp golems; each time I use a stone, it’s replaced a few seconds later by a new one, randomly drawn from my deck. The more creatures I create, the more the gameplay shifts from a Diablo-esque hack-and-slash to something closer to an RTS.

Next, I’m joining Petroglyph in a co-op mission against Hades with a higher-leveled sorcerer. Hades is a towering, powerful enemy, but four of us together manage to topple him using some of Mytheon’s epic-tier power stones - I summon a minotaur king to grapple with Hades’ toenails while my Elementalist ally hands out massive lightning storms and earthquakes like sidewalk hot dogs.

Since Mytheon will be free to download and play, Petroglyph will rely on Mytheon’s microtransactions to put food on the table. Item buyers can expect to get some enticing perks for their money, such as accessories that level up with your character, new skins for armor and weapons or potions that affect all members of your party.

Peeking at the world map revealed 20 different locations based on Greek legend to fight my way through - from the Halls of Olympus to the Depths of Tartarus - all inhabited by creatures and gods like Poseidon andZeus himself. Petroglyph says that the game will be heavily supported after launch, with plans to add new zones, PvP and content based on the mythology of other civilizations. Interested? Mytheon is in open beta right now.

May 18, 2010