Wednesday, February 26, 2020

A Glimpse Of The Past

I'll try to keep this short. Shouldn't be hard. I don't have a lot to say.

Past Fate is "an open world MMORPG game where the players freedom is the key element" or so the website tells us. Makes it sound like a sandbox, which it definitely isn't.

According to Massively:OP the game has the dubious distinction of having failed spectacularly to fund on Kickstarter, racking up just $1000 in pledges against an exceptionally low bar of $15 grand. Apparently undeterred, the Finnish studio, Icy North Games, is carrying on and the game went into Open Alpha this week.

One of the larger villages I found. All of them looked much alike.

Well, "Open Alpha" is what they're calling it. It's a single week, showcasing only one of the five classes, Warrior, (the others being Necromancer, Mage, Priest and Pirate) a level cap of 10 and a couple of the early areas complete with quests and basic crafting. 

Full details are here on the download page. The server should be up 24/7 for a few more days if anyone's interested in taking a look for themselves. 

It's probably not worth making a special effort even if it's the sort of thing you think you might like since there's a tentative plan to run an extended open alpha when and if there's a second Kickstarter. Project: Gorgon did that and it worked for them - eventually. They did have to take three bites at the Kickstarter cherry but they got there in the end.

Here I am, coming into the harbor of the very same village by way of a boat trip from the one where I logged in. Not sure what I expected to find but what I saw when I got there  looked pretty much like what I was looking at when I left.
The main reason I downloaded it was that from the screenshots it looked as though Past Fate might be a traditional tab target and hotbar game and I'm always on the lookout for a new one of those. Sadly, from my point of view, it's not. It's the now-standard center-screen targetting, mouse-combat action set-up as seen in Black Desert and many others.

There's not an enormous amount to see in the limited alpha. You can't make a personalized character since you can only be a human warrior and they all look exactly the same. (You do get to choose between male and female but I couldn't see a way to look at my character from the front so it's a bit of a moot point). Animations are clearly placeholders so there's not much to be gleaned about what your character might one day look like.

Scenery is pleasant if generic. I ran around a lot and it looked much the same everywhere - a lot of woodland, a few rocky hills, some water. Some of the forest looked wild, some like parkland. 

One of the more manicured parts of the forest. Also, that shot does the running animation no end of favors.
I came across several villages. All the houses were wood or wood and stone. They looked passably authentic for the environment although none you can enter have doors, something that always makes immersion harder for me. It's clearly a cold, northern land - why would they let all the heat escape from the places where they live?

There are quite a lot of quests as can be seen in the screenshots, since I couldn't find a way to switch the UI off - but then I didn't look very hard. I also didn't try to do any of the quests after I'd hoovered them up and for a reason I found quite surprising: having quests seemed out of kilter with the look and feel of the game.

The quests are very plainly typical MMORPG quests. Which is fair enough. As I said at the top, Past Fate is not a sandbox. It's also not a survival MMO and makes no claim to being one. But to me that's what it looks like. 

Not sure how standing around in a field in plain sight counts as "ambushing" but I suppose they know their business. Also, I see my health bar is empty. Maybe that's how I died...
Everything about it, from the very dark, ill-lit, sub-arctic setting to the tattered leather and hand-axe starting gear to the UI and controls just screams "survival" to me, not "theme park". That's my problem, I guess, but it certainly put me off buckling down and getting on with my designated questing. 

It did also make me wonder how well more traditional PvE content like this will integrate into Amazon's New World. That was an environment I found to be very immersive indeed. I'm not sure my immersion is going to be enhanced by a lot of NPCs wearing punctuation for hats.

Also, in a traditional theme park MMORPG starting area there would be plenty of weak mobs to kill but for Past Fate's alpha they seemed to be on smoko. It took me a lot of running and a short ocean voyage to find any and when I did they were Level Seven (I was still Level 1, as far as I could tell, not having done anything at all other than run about and take screen shots).

That house has doors. I take that to mean you can't go inside.

I attacked one with my trusty starter hatchet, mostly so I could see how Past Fate handles death, but the spooky black robed cultist just stood there and let me kill him. He dropped a few things including a better axe so I picked that up and killed one of his friends with it.

At this point I noticed I had taken some damage, albeit very little, so I guess the black monks were fighting back even if I couldn't see them moving. I was still at 90% health when I attacked the third, at which point the game twitched and I found myself back at the dock in the original starting area. 

I wasn't sure if I'd died and respawned and I wasn't sufficiently interested to find out. I exited the game and came here to write about it instead. 

I'm starting to formulate a theory about quasi-realistic "medieaval" graphics and questing. It would go some way to explaining why certain MMORPGs just don't seem

For an early alpha build I've seen plenty worse. It's playable. It didn't grab me enough to make me want to push further and see what the crafting was like or to try and "Discover the story behind Count Feros Blackfang to prepare yourself for Blackfang Keep in Alpha Test #2" but it didn't put me off having another look to see how things are coming along in a few months' time.

There will be another limited scope alpha, it seems, and maybe an extended suck-it-and-see period if there's a second Kickstarter. I'll leave Past Fate installed and take another look when any of that happens. Can't see it ever being my sort of game but it's not entirely without potential.


6 comments:

  1. Why does the idle animation make him look like a gorilla trying to do jazz hands.

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  2. A couple of days ago you asked for suggestions regarding MMORPGs that offer adventure, now you're looking for tab-target and hotbar-combat...you know you should be playing ArcheAge Unchained, right? ;-)

    Seriously though, I highly recommend it.
    Combat is a tad more fast-paced than usual for tab-targeting hotbar-stuff - at least as an archer, as most of my abilities are instant and some even don't trigger a GCD - so I activate most of my skills by pressing mouse- or keyboard-buttons instead of clicking the hotbar, but at its heart it still is 'classic combat', not 'action combat'.

    As for adventuring opportunities, well, you read my blog, so you know how much of those the game offers in my opinion.

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    Replies
    1. I played ArcheAge when it first came out in the West and quite liked it. There are some posts about it here in which I appear to be having a good time. It's one of a fairly lengthy list of MMORPGs from around that time that I picked up on launch, enjoyed for a few weeks, then dropped for no apparent reason. Oh, wait, I think I remember why I stopped - I came to that beach resort place with the speedboats and it kind of derailed my enjoyment of what I'd thought was a fairly sensible high-medieaval setting. Or was that another game?

      If I was going to play it again, which does occasionally cross my mind, I'd play on the regular servers not Unchained, I think. I imagine my character is still there, waiting patiently.

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    2. I'm not sure about that beach resort, if it was ArchegAge it's not a permanent part of the game at least.
      There are cars, submarines and skateboards though, so the setting is somewhat permeated by stuff like that indeed.

      The thing about the legacy game is, it's still P2W through and through afaik. Not quite as bad as it once was, but that doesn't say much really.

      At the very least you still can't own any land without being a patron, i.e. paying the 'optional' subscription. That alone makes Unchained the far superior experience imho, as I know I'll not be forced to choose between either losing my land or keep paying every month should I want to take a bit of a break from the game.

      Leveling goes lighting fast these days anyway, so unless you feel emotionally attached to your old characters I wouldn't regard those as much of a deterrent to switch to Unchained.

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