First of all I’d just like to ask simple questions about MMO’s. Are you bored of simple, grinding MMO’s? Are you bored of simple ‘fetch this get that’? Well, if you answered “Damn Right” to both then why not take a quick look at Project Genom – that’s what I’ve done.
I bought myself a copy back in February, directly from their website, and got a steam code almost instantly. Even then I knew they (the developers) cared about their product. Since then NeuronHaze are actively developing the game – patching almost daily, eliminating bugs, crashes, quest bugs and a lot more. Even in this early-alpha state it’s weighing in at 7.57GB which is really large for a regularly optimised alpha, and taking into consideration the ideas they have for the future…I’d guess it will be 3 or 4 times that size once done. The developers are very transparent with their plans, you can view them on their public Trello board [here].
The game itself is developed with the latest Unreal Engine, and as you may well know, the engine does have the capability to make some truly awesome looking games – PG is certainly no exception. Even on my ye olde GTX 750 TI, it still looked good. The gameplay sets itself apart from most MMOs with a non-target system so you’re not simply hitting Tab, or whatever button, just to find your nearest target. You actually have to look at the target, just like a third person shooter. This,for me is critical to the immersion of the game, you actually need to be fully paying attention where you’re looking as you play.
There’s thankfully more ways that they break from normal MMO habits, for a start classes (groan). Personally I don’t see why so many other titles still rely on these, it’s not like we’re born in the real world with classes attached to use so why should games set you into a ridged structure like that? It’s clear that the developer feel the same way, the class free system works as fantastically here as it did with The Secret World. There is, of course, leveling up through quests, and combat though, also you can level up different weapon categories, E.G Pistol, Assault Rifle etc. What this spells is that should you want to move onto better weapons you’ve got to level up those ranged or melee skills. That said, I’m yet to see melee weapons.
Your first six quests are automatically tracked and pointed out on the map, however after that you’ll need to manually track and manage them. Quests in PG revolve mostly around repairing and maintaining things, however resource gathering does play a major role, but -unlike most of it’s brethren- resources are realistic as opposed to drops with X chance from X mobs. What this means is that you’ll be going to seek out flowers, where said flower would actually grow, it’s a lot less immersion breaking than collecting iron screws from those Dire Bears in the City Sewers which is a major strength.
The game is almost entirely PvE, with grand events which occasionally force servers to stand together in order to protect certain areas. Because of the PvE focus the gameplay is driven by story, and there’s a lot of lore to find. I must warn you though, if you are planning on buying into it early, that there are still some parts of the game which are not translated from Russian – not the important stuff like quest logs, character sheets, and story, just the odd bit of minor dialogue.
The music and background ambiance is actually a little different than I’m used to, and is certainly starting to grow on me over time. Every area or region will have different music set to it, and the shift starts whilst you are on the approach to it. So, it changes when you’re near servers in the ship area, for instance, you’ll hear humming which then fades into a thrumming chatter of a populated areas. This adds even further to immersion, which, by now I’m sure you can see I think NeuronHaze really nailed. Sadly there’s no volume control in the options menu, yet. This means that if you’re like me, and like to talk using a program like Ventrillo, you’re going to have some issues.
There are few issues with the game as it stands now, the main thing which I’ve noticed is that… well, in third person games I like to rotate the camera occasionally to catch my avatar’s face and body, and, well, when I do that in this my avatar itself sometimes disappears leaving behind only clothes and armour floating in mid-air. Truth be told, I chuckled at this, after all, the game is currently still in an early alpha form so it will no doubt be fixed soon.
The UI is very minimalist, with barely anything displayed on screen, the controls are easy to handle as well, with Q used to holster your weapon and E used to interact with NPC’s and objects near you, so there’s no same keyboard button used several times to do different things like some recent games are doing, which is a good thing ‘cos you can’t change your keybindings just yet, but I imagine that’s only a matter of time.
All in all I would heartily recommend any fan of MMORPGS to pick this up, or at least keep an eye on it to see how it evolves in the future.