Many developers have been going darker with the tones of stories lately. It's time we stop asking definitively if this is a good or bad thing and consider the artistic value at hand.
Under the Radar: Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen
“Retro” is a curious thing. An idea thoroughly soaked in the sweet pheromones known as nostalgia, it can make anything that phased out of style both relevant and trendy again. It’s been at work in various facets of first-world life (do people like bell-bottom pants again?) and gaming has been particularly vulnerable to retro’s nostalgic influences. Unless graphical fidelity is really not your cup of tea, you can’t argue that games today are better-looking than they once were and that makes the livelihood of pixel/bit graphics a small curiosity. But retro is not constrained only to aesthetics; it can also apply to gameplay, and retro gameplay is close to what Brad McQuaid and Visionary Realms Inc. are aiming for with their Kickstarter-campaigning MMORPG, Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen.
Popularized by the success of World of Warcraft and its subsequent expansions, MMORPGs have been coming out with the intention of leaching away some of WoW’s millions of players. Touting innovations to the way that players socialize, developers have made grouping up with other player simpler, so much so that it is often taken out of the hands of players entirely; people will form groups automatically as they come into range of each other and disband when they part, all without player input. That method certainly streamlines the occasionally clunky process of stopping what you’re doing to click through menus from a player portrait or to type out an invitation in the chat but it also trivializes the idea of grouping together. Visionary Realms has seen this trend, decided it is unworthy, and is passing Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen as the genre’s sentence.
Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen is looking to bring MMORPGs’ focus back to tight, group-play dynamics while trying to maintain the quicker pace that players have become accustomed to. Set in at the crossroads of numerous different dimensions, Terminus will hold five playable races of heroes that are trying to build back up to their former glory – before their home dimension crashed into Terminus. It’s an interesting concept, though it makes you wonder how adequate the word “hero” is when they (hopefully) get hundreds of thousands of players in each race. When you have hundreds of thousands of “heroes” are they really worth the fanfare anymore?
The game is still in the midst of its Kickstarter campaign with still about two weeks to go before Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen reaches its goal. Visionary Realms has garnered about half of the money so far but if you want to help push it over the finish line, follow through here. My hardened, cynical, MMO-loving heart is believing in the vision despite itself. It could never let an MMO sink under the radar without giving it a chance.
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Previously on Under the Radar:
Dead Century: Mosaic