Free-to-play MMORPG City of Steam is the creation of Mechanist Games and is, like the name suggests, heavily based on steampunk culture and art. It is meant to work with an ingame store that you can buy optional perks in. Currently you can support the development of the game by buying a collaborator pack at their site. The packs contain things like guaranteed beta access, extra art, forum titles and premium ingame currency.
So first of all, I’m sorry it took this long. No real excuse either, just crappy writing skills.
Somehow I ended up with an Alpha key to the game. Got in late on Sunday night during the third test weekend and managed to get a good hour of game time in before sauntering off to bed before server shutdown. Sadly, recordings went to crap, but there are a few screenshots!
Anyway, onto the game. It’s a steampunk setting, with zeppelins, automatons and madly advanced pocket watches everywhere. Without giving away too much of the story, the Mechanism as a whole is recovering from a major disaster and you start out as a refugee among many others.
After loading the game and getting a look at the City-state of Nexus, you get to pick a character. There are nine races, four classes and a male or female for every race. I had time to play a Heartlander Arcanist and a Riven Gunner. I wish there was more of a difference between the races since the classes are so few, but the two I played felt dinstinct and well-developed. When you jump in, the game kicks off with a short tutorial teaching you how to interact with the world and your User Interface. This tutorial is currently mandatory. The User Interface looks pretty standard, you’ve got your portrait and map up top, chat, skill and resource bars on the bottom.
Gameplay is pretty smooth, there are no glaring animation errors as far as I can tell, enemies are reasonably intelligent and will attack in packs if you’re not careful.
After completing the tutorial you arrive in the city and after that you’re pretty much free to do whatever you please. There are plenty of quests to complete on the job board, but you can go exploring dungeons or hop on a train to the next area if you prefer. There are dungeons designed for single-player as well, so parties are optional.
Obviously the game is still in development and needs a few coats of polish, but I like what it is so far. Very easy to access, all you have to do is install a small web player and the game runs in your browser. On low settings the engine is very forgiving, even my crappy old laptop got decent FPS. And it has a very detailed feel to it. Not just the graphics (which are more than acceptable, by the way), but every little quest you do feels like unfolding part of this really intricate, multidimensional story where you’re not quite sure who’s really evil.
A little (pfft, who are we kidding? It’s tall, English and definitely not little) birdie tells me there may still be some free keys left for the fourth and FINAL alpha test this upcoming weekend. If you’re interested, I suggest badgering the dynamic duo that run this place or running over to http://www.cityofsteam.com and see what’s happening there.
- The opening screen. Soooo pretty… *drool*
- The art. Massive sucker for steampunk here, and it’s got all the gears, gadgets and clocks anyone could ask for. Plus you get to look really cool kicking boxes.
- The Salvage option. It’s like a disenchant, turns items you don’t want into useful materials. But unlike most games, you don’t need a profession for it and you can use it anywhere. It’s like a dream come true for people who pick up everything.
- Not crazy about the popups in the tutorial. I prefer something that doesn’t interrupt the whole gaming experience.
- The tutorial itself. I understand why it’s there, the first time it’s very useful, but please make it optional before release.
- The lack of programmable keys. Currently you can get an extra bar that uses SHIFT-commands, but personally I prefer setting my keys differently.
- Jumping! Yeah, yeah, don’t give me that look…
- Mounts. Rumour has it there will be some mode of personal transportation, but it has not been available during the Alpha tests so far.
- Debuff bar?
- Being able to log out and swap characters. Can’t be done, insanity fast approaching.