City of Steam Alpha Tour

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City of Steam's pretty view
For a browser MMO, City of Steam looks great.

I had the opportunity to go on a tour of City of Steam with Mechanist Games’ Gabriel V. Laforge this morning.  Before we began, he asked me how I wanted to approach this tour.  My answer was simple: Show me whatever will help me inform my readers about how City of Steam is meant to be played.

City of Steam is a browser based game that uses the Unity plugin.  There is no download (other than the plugin).  In fact, you just log into your account on the site, press play, and the game is streamed directly to you.  I consider this CoS’ greatest strength.  There isn’t anything shady about getting into the game, and their site doesn’t remind me of a typical F2P game made by a company in China — yes, there is a stigma attached, but rightfully so.

Read on for more from my tour of City of Steam.

City of STeam Quest Board
A quest board.

After completing a brief and elementary tutorial, I entered the Refuge, a “suburb” in Nexus, the city of steam.   This acts much like a hub for quests, shops, crafting, and the economy.  I got the impression that players are meant to spend a great deal of time in this city and its many sections.  I specifically asked if players spend a great deal of time in the Refuge or if they progress away and he responded that you will move out beyond this area because the “refuge is not that nice looking of a place.”  I assume grander things are in-store.  For progression,  Gabriel explained that there are different types of quests:  Orange quests are one-time and main quests, and blue quests are dailies.  The process of questing appears to be very standard.

City of Steam Direction board
Click a location on the board and your character automatically runs there.

During one of the quests I did, I was given a house related to my personal story.  I asked Gabriel if the house was meant to act as player housing, and he told me that a more customizable house of your very own will be given to your characters in Beta.

One feature in particular was really neat.  In the city there are signs with pictures of locations.  You simply click on the location and your character will automatically navigate for you.  I thought this was a clever way of helping players avoid getting lost.

Next stop was a little bit of combat.  We went into the sewers where I experienced some solo and/or group content.  Combat is active-based, meaning I didn’t feel like there was any auto-attack or automation to the process.  I needed to activate abilities, and physically click the monsters like in an action rpg or press a hotkey (Q) to swing my weapon.  City of Steam also allows you to play in isometric (think Diablo) view, or go into the 3rd person traditional MMO driving camera angle.  In isometric view, the game felt very similar to Neverwinter Nights.  I felt like the game could be played comfortably either way.

During the tour it appeared as though content in CoS is instanced.   I asked if any part of the game  (outside of the cities) is open to everyone to go and hunt and run across other players, and learned that “for now” everything is private for the individual or group.

City of Steam's Cash Shop
According to the devs, City of Steam is 100% NOT Pay-to-Win.

After the tour I picked Gabriel’s brain with a few questions.  I asked what the end-game was going to be like, or what Mechanist Games envisioned the player doing later on after they’ve done the questing and content.  He told me that right now the end-game isn’t fleshed out yet, but they plan to have high-level instances and PvP. I get the feeling that there won’t be raids.  In my opinion, with a bit of educated guessing, I think CoS will be a game about small content done with a group.

When I coyly asked about the cash shop giving players who purchase something an advantage that players who abstain from the cash shop will not have, Gabriel quickly complimented me on my nice way of asking of CoS is pay-to-win and adamantly assured me that, quote, “We actually are totally against that model[Pay-to-Win].  We’ll only sell aesthetics in the store, which will be exclusive.  Anything else in the store is non-exclusive, and can be found from drops in the game.”  I picked an item at random from the store that had some +stats to it and asked “Can this be found”, and he said yes.

So there you have it!  That’s what I learned during my tour of City of Steam’s Alpha.   I would like to thank Mechanist Games for offering me the tour, and thank Gabriel for being a good sport answering my questions.

If you have any questions for me, I’m happy to try and address them.

  • I played a bit of CoS today myself and it was a lot better than I had first thought it would be for a browser game. I have tried to stay away from other MMOs that are browser based for the most part. That said CoS seems to be very well done and in fullscreen mode it ran pretty smooth for me.

    I can see myself playing it some on my lunch hour or maybe if GW2 is down. The biggest problem I see is that it is going to have a hard time competing in already crowded free-to-play market. I didn’t see anything bad quality wise and since it is in alpha I must say that it already seemed to run better than a lot of AAA MMO launches did.

    I plan on putting some more time into the game, and becoming a contributor if for no other reason than I like the project, and I like Steampunk. I put $30 towards Founders Edition of End of Nations and didn’t care what I saw in that game, and I put $6o towards the Mechwarrior Online founder package (which is a good game) either way I like to support this type of venture.

    I do like what I have seen so far, but with GW2 out in a week and the time I am already spending in Mechwarrior Online I don’t know if I will have much time left over for CoS.

    All of that said, if you like Steampunk and don’t mind a browser game, from the time I spent in the game I liked what I saw. Also thanks to Keen and Graev, I am pretty sure I got my key from you guys.

    I have an extra key if someone needs one btw.

  • I’ve been writing about this one for months, since the “Sneak Peak” back in March, I think it was. My most recent post on it was

    but I’ve got five or six posts up about it if anyone’s interested and I’ll probably do another this weekend.

    It plays in a browser but you can expand it to full screen and then I defy anyone to tell the difference from a full client.

    Also, although the studio is in China, the main people behind it are from the UK, which is presumably why the whole vibe is “Western” and all the text is in perfect idiomatic English. Read the real-life backstory about how the game came about on their website, it’s fascinating.

    Going to be a great game, although it’s not a full MMO. Even back in March it was better than many MMOs I’ve played at launch and it’s getting better every iteration.

  • Going by this review only I am getting a big Vindictus vibe about the game. Am I totally wrong or is that about what we have here?

  • Nope, it is not really an action MMO like Vindictus or Dragon Nest. It is somewhere in between those type of MMOs and regular MMOs I feel.

  • I played it on the first beta with the giveaway key i got from here and have played on the other ones. I really like what they’re doing with the game and it’s really impressive to see everything play on a browser.

    The game greatly reminds me of Guild Wars 1 in the sense of having a Hub with instanced locations where you actually go do your quests. The game also impressed me with the quality of the graphics and i’d say it looks really good for a browser game.

    The only things i have against it are the camera which i found weird to control and a very minor thing which has nothing to do with the game but its the fact that i’m extremely used to using ESC to close windows and everytime i end up using it the game exits fullscreen, kinda wish i could change that but i can live with it.

  • Heh, Vindictus was the first thing that came to my mid too. Maybe ill give this one a look, thanks for the tip

  • The impression I got from watching someone play city of steam on youtube is that its like a poor man;s GW2???

    And of course lacking, but hey its alpha.
    It might become something fun.

  • There is a lot to like about this game only in alpha. I think it’s going in a good direction, right now the flaws are it’s simply too easy because they haven’t done combat balance yet, because they want everyone to level super fast and test as much as possible in the 3 days before you get wiped. It makes sense, just odd to play. Also I think they could afford to go even a bit more steampunky. But seriously for an alpha is really well done, I haven’t ever fallen through the world or anything else rediculous like that.

  • Hi guys, Gabriel with Mechanist Games here (I gave Keen the game tour).

    Nice to see all the positive feedback we’ve been getting so far, good to know we’re not completely on the wrong track here, haha! (Well, as for being a ‘poor man’s GW2’, um… given that we are indie and far from having the resources GW2 developers have, even being compared to it at all I can take as a compliment ;D )

    I’m hoping you’ll like the changes and extra stuff we’ll have for you come Beta. Hopefully I’ll see some (all?) of you there.

    Keen, thanks for coming back and sharing your experiences, and I hope to show you more later as we progress with development!

  • @CoS_Gab always nice to see postings by the developer/publisher side of things. You do have the best browser based MMO that I have seen. Keep up the great work.