Most of the time it’s expected for a given video game genre to follow a series of long established elements. Despite however these elements may be construed with the audience at hand, developers will often follow the formula to a T; even if it means copying a game that was already successful.
Such a situation is in a way expected at times, both by those within the industry and us – the gaming audience/consumers. Yet for the folks over IllFonic, such a situation within the industry, especially in the genre of RPG/MMORPG games, isn’t acceptable anymore. So in attempt to shake things up and give gamers the experience they fully deserve, IllFonic is working on their very own modern RPG – that of Revival.
Now for any potential armchair video game critics out there it may seem odd for a developer such as IllFonic to go from developing a fast-paced arcade centric sci-fi FPS (Nexuiz) and suddenly do a massive genre leap into world of RPGs. Yet, we need not be alarmed by this sudden change for IllFonic since the decision to create a new sandbox MMORPG is one that’s driven by immediate passion for the genre. “The reason why it’s called Revival is flat out – Revive the MMORPG,” said IllFonic Creative Director Kedhrin Gonzalez exclusively to Shogun Gamer.
Beyond the goal to revive MMORPG titles, IllFonic also seeks to change the way people ultimately look at the genre as a whole; essentially moving it out of the corner it currently resides in which gamers on the outside often chuckle and laugh at those who sink hours and hours into WoW. Speaking of IllFonic’s goals to change the perceptions of the MMORPG genre Kedhrin says, “It’s a genre that has a bad name. There are hardcore fans in the genre, but there’s no reason why the whole world shouldn’t be playing this genre. The genre has been locked out with a bad taste for a decade. It’s time to rethink it, go back to the drawing board, start from scratch and tell everyone that an MMO isn’t a stat chasing “oh that item is purple!!!’ or a quest ignoring “gotta hunt those exclamation points!” snore fest.”
To some people it may seem like IllFonic is merely stating the obvious about what plagues the MMORPG genre without really backing up their claims. Yet, the simple fact of the matter is that in the case of Revival the game is attempting some rather impressive and never before seen elements within the landscape of MMORPG titles that if executed properly will indeed give us the grand experience that some gamers have been waiting ages to experience.
So what exactly is Revival seeking to do besides putting the MMORPG genre back on track after a decade or so of being off-course? Well, for starters the game is running on CryEngine 3 so by all accounts it’ll be a rather eye pleasing experience, as you can already see in these images from the prototype build of the game. Beyond that, Revival seeks to fully immerse players in a totally open world that actually changes based on the decisions made by single every person that plays the game.
“The game is non-linear, start where you want, do what you want, when you want. Don’t like PVP? Don’t do it, you aren’t punished for it. Hate people? Don’t play with them, do what you want. Love PVP? This is an open ended sandbox world, kill who you want, when you want,” said Kedhrin of the general approach Revival is currently striving for. It may seem like the game is mildly reminiscent of titles on the market already, but IllFonic is going several steps further to provide a gameplay experience that doesn’t simply provide a modicum of improvement upon a standard series of design tropes.
On the topic of some of the bigger world centric elements Revival will tackle Kedhrin said, “The game has intense karma systems. Not just players, but cities have entire karma systems. If you, the players, let the cities karma go bad… guess what? The economy plummets, there are no guards, people are murdering PVP players everywhere.” So in a way, Revival is giving players an experience in which they can fully immerse themselves seeing as how their actions are more impactful than simply completing a quest or griefing some random player.
Of course the setting of Revival and the way players can interact with one another and the world at hand is just one key component of the title. Like any RPG game, the way battles are handled and players can customize their character will be an integral component; one which thankfully will be given more freedom as opposed to following the ever common formula found within WoW.
Featuring items that can be fully decorated by the player, a lack of imposing character classes on the player to perform key action, mini-games to interact with objects, and fully interactive combat in place of traditional hit bars, Revival is truly seeking to build a MMORPG experience that is immersive instead of being trapped within elements that haven’t been changed in the last fifteen years.
A consistent thing about Revival is that it’s dynamic. Such an adjective may be an ill-used buzzword within the gaming landscape, but given how Revival allows players to level an entire town permanently, NPCs will go about their business based on the day & night system (complete with the opportunity to rob stores at night), and that quests actually need to be found instead of walking up to a giant symbol marked within the world, I do think such a world is ultimately appropriate to describe the scope and direction IllFonic is taking.
One of the key things about Revival is that despite all the elements the title is striving for, IllFonic isn’t putting story on the backburner. Yes, the title will be a MMORPG so having a direct story may not be “needed” in the eyes of some people, though that isn’t stopping IllFonic from putting in key scenarios that will further lend a feeling of spontaneity and progression within the game. “You may be sitting in a city, fully decorating your wooden table you just constructed, when all of the sudden the ground erupts and demons pour out of the earth and permanently destroy the city if the players are not able to defend it,” says Kedhrin of some of the events that players will suddenly have to face at times.
Furthermore, IllFonic is seeking to provide an experience that is completely engaging to players as it will feature full voice acting for all NPCs along with dialog branches that can go in a variety of directions – even that of immediate combat with central characters.
Beyond the presence of events fueled by the Live Storytelling system of the game, IllFonic is seeking to make the world of Revival feel like an actual place that people inhabit instead of the imaginary polygonal construct it actually is. “There’s seasonal progressions and the world will change – if you quit for six months and come back, the world will be completely different,” Kedhrin says. “There’s a linear track to Revival, but it’s the same linear track we experience in our daily lives. Its serious cause and effect. How all the players react and handle the world will decide the fate of the world. Revival is built to be a real virtual online world where you interact, live and love. It is not a static world full of a systems designer’s master plot to keep you grinding."
Currently still early on in development, Revival, which is the codename of the project as of now, is currently slated to appear on the PC first with a potential PS4/Xbox One release further down the road once the title has already been released. That news may be a bit of a bummer for those looking forward to a deep fantasy based MMORPG title on the consoles, but here’s one other tidbit about Revival that ought to be pleasing for everyone: the game is going to be free-to-play.
The F2P market is ever growing in a variety of genres, though in the case of Revival the journey players take won’t be packed with must-have items that carry a $15 price tag. Speaking of the F2P nature of the game Kedhrin said, “The goal isn’t for me, as a designer, to try to plan and plot ways to take maliciously take money away from players like a drug dealer like most F2P games. My job is to create a red light district of goodies for you. I will tempt you, but I’ll still let you play in my playground with open arms.”
Revival is shaping up to be a rather ambitious project that IllFonic is approaching in a way that is deeply rooted in passion and the upmost respect for the MMORPG genre. Still a ways off from release since IllFonic is continuing to do prototype work on the project, it’s clear at this early stage that they mean business when it comes to their goals and what they want to do within the MMORPG genre. For now we’ll just have to wait patiently for IllFonic to deliver the goods, but in the end I’m sure the wait for Revival will be more than worth it.
Note: all screens in the gallery are from the prototype build of the game.