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Pantheon’s TwitchCon Presentation Had Some Gems

Pantheon has reserved a special place on my "MMOs to watch and be excited about" list because it's trying to hearken back to an era where MMOs were based on a world of challenge and teamwork.

So as the years go by, my interest grows as Visionary Realms continues to show more and more gameplay. 

Obviously what they showed was early, and the hiccups/issues were present. They're going fairly indie on this one, and it shows, but that's okay. There's a lot to glean from some of the ideology they're expressing.

I took away several key points from this presentation that I want to share with you. 

MMOs Lost that 'Stickiness' Feeling

This is hard to define clearly, but it has to do with the idea that the game and the world evolve beyond more than just the repetitive tasks of killing monsters and clearing a dungeon for an in-game defined objective.

MMOs were once about forming the community and the bonds of friendship for no other reason than having virtual friends or to live and fill a role in a virtual world. That's the glue that makes these games often 'sticky' and something we want to continue to log in to each and every day -- or even 17 years later.

How Pantheon looks to create that feeling again... I don't really know that Brad answered that clearly beyond having a game that will be challenging and require teamwork. To me, it's not something that one can clearly check the boxes required and then have a sticky game.

Acclamation Feature

I thought this was really cool. Instead of there being invisible barriers or simply quest objectives locking your progress, your character will actually go up against the environment. This is definitely a nice play on the "player vs. environment" angle of PvE.

For example, during the presentation we saw that a snowy area will require cold resist gear. I hope there will be fire, poison, and other area making environment a real factor in "PvE."

Situational Gear

Most games -- probably all these days -- tend to have a "this is the best sword at level 20." Pantheon is striving to have a system where gear is more situational. One sword might excel in one area but not in another. I believe this system will expand to other armor and weapon combinations.

Mobs React to Raid Size

When asked whether raids will be the typical fair, the Visionary Realms team responded by saying yes, but with more twist. In previous games like EQ you could bring 40 people to a 20-man raid. In Pantheon you can still do that, but if you bring an overwhelming number of players the encounter is going to react -- the monster might run away or call reinforcements.

No Instances, Open World

This matters a lot more than people give credit. To have an open world vs. instances means we're all playing together. Your group doesn't get an instance to itself. This means a zone isn't "completed" or "reset". An open-world provides much more "live in it" and "survive it" gameplay.

Pre-alpha Begins Before the Holidays

Pantheon still has a ways to go, but they're entering Pre-alpha before the holidays. I hope they us a big favor and continue to release gameplay showing off the gameplay. I'd like to see what it's like in a group, what it's like to craft, what it's like to explore, etc. I don't want cutscenes or gimmicky trailers -- pure gameplay. I'll be watching.

  • Bhagpuss says:

    Pantheon is probably the in-development MMO I’m most interested in but the problem is the timescale. At the rate they’re going I will quite literally have retired by the time they get to Early Access, let alone an official launch date. I may not live long enough for the “stickiness” to become much of an issue. Given the age of the audience they’re seeking to appeal to, this might be a problem…

    • Keen says:

      It’s going to be a while for sure. I wouldn’t be surprised if it took 3 more years to get a playable beta. They’re so niche and indy that the audience they’re aiming for will play today or in 10 years, so they at least have that going for them.

    • Gankatron says:

      If one pieces together ETA for different phases from their FAQ the impression is that release is tentatively scheduled for late 2018/early 2019, although game development rarely seem to run according to schedule.

      From their FAQ (https://pantheonmmo.com/game/faqs/):

      “The goal is that soon this year (2017) the very first group of players (pre-alpha pledgers only– not alpha pledgers) will begin to be invited to help test. The game must be ready and have enough content. Then in Alpha we plan on having the entire continent of Kingsreach ready for testing. We don’t like to be evasive, but the timing must be right so our players can give us meaningful feedback, bug reports, etc. These earlier phases are traditional tests, rather than something along the lines of ‘early access’.”

      “There are many variables involved and developing a massively multiplayer game is not an easy thing to do. Our goal is to be in alpha and beta testing at some point during 2017. The launch date is to be determined. Important: these dates are not set in stone and subject to change.”

      “Ideally, we want to be in testing for a full year — this approach helped launch past games in a solid, balanced way, and we want this for Pantheon as well.”

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