Massive for nothing


Mythos plays a lot like Diablo, and for good reason - it’s being built at Flagship, a company manned by many of the people who worked on Diablo II, and Project Director Travis Baldree designed the cult classic (and Diablo-like) Fate. As a result, Mythos nails the addictive ebb and flow of monster-clicking and skill-tree growth with life-ending effectiveness. At the same time, it’s far from a pure clone. Although it has only three character classes (at the moment), they’re all interesting and different - for example, the bloodletter looks a lot like a standard warrior class, but supports itself with blood magic that lets it summon minions from monster corpses.

The game world’s structure is also unique: the world of Mythos is built from small individual zones, a set-up that allows the developers to add new environments easily while giving players free rein to hop around to anywhere they want, as long as they have a map of the zone they want to try. These maps are acquired in stores or through questing - yes, players collect environments the same way they collect loot, and yes, that is absolutely as enthralling as it sounds.

As a result of its Diablo roots and its take on MMO world creation, Mythos strikes a strong gameplay balance. It’s fast, varied, and rarely feels like grinding, and the game grows with the player. But perhaps most importantly, this seemingly little game is loaded with the inexplicable quality of “heart” that can only be created by a small, passionate team. Mythos is already in open beta, and when it goes into full service later this year, will support itself with a paid marketplace selling services that include temporary character bonuses and cosmetic enhancements.

Requiem: Bloodymare

The first thing that will strike you about Requiem: Bloodymare is how blood-splattered and gory it is - the game’s strong graphics capture in stark detail the death spasms of every dismembered, viscera-covered beast you slay. This will be either delightful or nauseating, depending on who you are, but either way, to write off the game as just a bloodbath does a disservice to its strengths. Chief among them is the deep character-creation system. Players combine a primary and secondary job class while editing their “DNA” - stat enhancements that can be modified at nearly any time to suit upcoming quests. A possession beast system allows players to acquire an ability that temporarily turns them into a wildly powerful monster. It’s a lot to think about, and it can make character growth pretty engaging.

Requiem gets a lot of the details right as well. The land of Ethergia is part high fantasy and part heavy metal, resulting in a strange atmosphere that doesn’t feel like a cookie-cutter swords-and-sorcery realm. It’s extremely friendly to newbies, keeping characters in a simpler tutorial class for the first 10 levels to ensure that everyone learns the basics right away. And of all the free MMOs to originate in South Korea, Requiem is one of the few that has made the transition to the West with an entertaining, flavorful translation. While the game was still in beta when we tried it (it will be released to the public sometime in the middle of 2008), we have high hopes for the final product. At release, paying customers will be able to buy benefits through either an item store or a tiered membership package for $7.99 or $14.99 a month, though at press time, the exact details of membership benefits remained undecided.