The Repopulation: primer

It’s time to check out the second of the three future MMORPGs i laid my eyes on: the Repopulation. Now, the Repopulation is in Alpha 2 right now, so it may be some time before we get to play it, but the general direction the game is going is set and made available for your reading pleasure with great articles and descriptions by the devs.

The Repopulation is set in the quite-distant future and a time when earth as we know it is no longer there. Fortunately, we aren’t on Earth anymore- scientists had sent out some spaceships to habitable planets 200 years ago and we are going to be inhabitants of a planet called Rhyldan.

The Repopulation calls itself a sandbox and it is quite obvious from their design descriptions where this is coming from. You could summarize it by saying “It’s a lot like SWG pre-CU”, but if you are like me, you don’t know what Star Wars Galaxies was like neither pre- nor after CU.

Factions

There are three factions in the Repopulation: the OWON (One World, One Nation) and the FPR (Free people’s republic)- we can summarize these by saying one is the oppressive empire and one are the rebels. Of course, it’s more complicated than that- and there’s a great backstory on the official homepage.

The third faction is no faction at all- all players start as either OWON or FPR characters and are put in a generic nation (tR’s equivalent to guilds) of their faction. Eventually, players can form their own nations and align them to one of the two factions or become a rogue nation. A rogue nation has no allies by default and therefore has to conduct diplomacy by themselves. Nations can start out as being a part of OWON or FPR and become a rogue nation, but they can not revert to being part of one of these two factions.

Now, while it does seem somewhat generic, i still enjoyed reading the Lore to the Repopulation and think that this is a great way of doing things- Sandboxes usually tend to offer free-for-all PvP, additionally with full loot systems (Darkfall and EVE come to mind), but i think it is served better when there is some kind of alignment- i mean, when you enter the game, at least you know there are people out there who do not want to kill you. In my view that’s a big step forward from my panic attacks while picking iron in Darkfall.

PvP

The interesting twist with factions will influence PvP, as well. Now, nations can own cities, outposts and harvestable areas in this game, they can lay sieges on other cities and so on. So there is a massive amount of possibility in the Open PvP realm.

Other than that, tR seems to be somewhat like ArcheAge’s PvP system, at least under what the devs call the “normal ruleset”- in which there are protected areas, no loot system and no heavy death penalty. Furthermore, there’s a distinction between reserve and active soldiers. You start out in reserve status and are protected in non-contested areas controlled by your faction- you can’t attack anyone there and nobody’s able to attack you. When you venture out of your faction’s area into the contested land, though, there’s open PvP between the factions.

Every faction owns around one third of the game world, the last third being contested by all factions and nations. I think there’s only cross-faction PvP, but the article isn’t clear on that.

PvE

PvE in the Repopulations seems to look like standard fare when looked at for a short amount of time- there are Missions (Quests), Engagements (Public Quests), and a general system of delivering those that is similar to something like Rifts or Dynamic Events.

When you read upon the details, however, there are some very interesting twists. One twist is that you don’t have a linear path through the world- missions are tailor made for your character and reach you through the ingame mail system. They take your skill & gear levels (there are no character levels) and previous actions into account and offer branching dialogues and outcomes. In the article, there’s an example of an NPC who changes its mood to “angry” based on your actions- now he might reference you in a bad way to other players, insult you when you walk by and offer varying missions.¬†Engagements don’t have to be combat related, but could, for instance, involve building up a city. Instead of spawn points the game uses Dens. Dens can spawn various amounts of mobs in number, strength and type, but still fitting to the area the dens are in. Oh, and they can spread if players don’t take action.

Crafting and Items

Now, here comes the core. See, everything mentioned above is interesting and all, but this is it- at least for me. If a Sandbox doesn’t offer a complex crafting and trading system, it might just as well be a first person shooter. Fortunately, crafting in tR is complex and rewarding- i’ll start that off with a video.

Crafting will be interdisciplinary, so chances are high that you have to depend on other crafters to focus your own progress. The only bound items? Cosmetic ones from the cash shop. Items degenerate in quality and become useless with time. So there is opportunity in crafting and market, here.

Items you craft will have a quality range from F (bad) to A (good) and a subquality ranging from 0 to 9- so you can craft items with qualities from F0 to A9. Quality is determined by your skill, the quality of the ingredients and some luck and decisions made during the process of crafting itself. From what i saw, i think the crafting system will be similar to those of EQ2 and Vanguard (and FFXIV), but a bit more complicated.

Impressions

I’ll finish this entry, for now. The systems i mentioned are more complicated than i have made them to be, of course. But let’s have a look how the Repopulation measures up with some of the points i made in previous entries.

Virtual World

The worldbuilding seems fine to me- the Lore doesn’t seem like much, but i enjoyed reading it nonetheless. There don’t seem to be fast travel options like teleports, but one can craft vehicles. The world seems to be as open as possible with some sensible restrictions put into place.

I was surprised, however, that after really reading about this game for this post i found there are many systems at work here that EQN is advertising for, as well. But to me, it seems as if players make a bigger impact in this game.

Player-to-player interaction

There seems to be a lot in this regard. From building houses (in-world as well as instanced individual housing), cities, a crafting system that’s complex and involves other players to PvP, PvE encounters, open grouping, item degeneration, a reduction of bound items there are many options to play with, alongside or against others.

While the auction house seems to be global and i’d prefer locally different prizes, a good crafting system can make up for that. We’ll see how that goes.

Conclusion

I’m really looking forward to the Repopulation. What i read is encouraging, this game is developed as an MMORPG at its core. There are many systems in place that will allow for longevity- actually, even if EQN hadn’t disqualified itself for me, right now i’d place the Repopulation higher in regards to expectations. Also, tR might release before EQN, but since it’s still in Alpha2 it’s too early to estimate a release date- although it is slated for 2013.

The Repopulation will be free-to-play, which, at the moment, is my main concern. They’ll have to earn money and with Sandboxes, i think it’s quite difficult to strike a balance in a free-to-play title that’s both good for the devs and the players. Either they’ll offer convenience/fluff items only, and leave me wondering if many people buy those, or they’ll interfere with gameplay- for instance by selling repair kits that should be crafted and traded by players.

Above & Beyond Technologies are an independent dev studio, so there might be some concerns in regard to polish and gameplay feel, but i don’t think this is critical- if it’s playable, it will be alright. Fallen Earth is a good example of a game developed by an independent studio with not-so-polished gameplay that’s still highly enjoyable.

I can see this game being a huge contender for ArcheAge when it comes to my personal “next MMO” decision.

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