I admit I have little to keep me amused at the moment in WoW. I’ve done most of the content aside from the Lick King (who I’ve beaten on time after time) so outside of raiding there is little else for me to do but level alts, gear up alts or work on the achievements of my main.
I took a bit of a run at grinding some of the older reputations for factions I haven’t really maxed out on – Burning Crusade was just a speed bump on the way to WotLK – but that really isn’t all that exciting.
So I took a poke around to see what demos for MMOs were available on Steam. There were four; Star Trek Online (zomg no), Champions Online (meh sorta mucked around with it) something else I can’t remember because I dismissed it immediately and Global Agenda.
I figured I’d give Global Agenda a try.
First thoughts? It was really shallow. It’s a glorified FPS ‘MMO’ that is a hybrid between DAoC, City of Heroes and Guild Wars… and Tribes. It vaguely reminds me of Tabula Rasa only without the Logos or ammo… or outdoors. At first it really just seems to be a tutorial mission the leads you into a hub where you can buy, sell, recruit, get dyes, build stuff (very limited stuff). You don’t get quests or missions other than by pressing ‘M’ and picking a limited set of options.* (see Progression paragraph below)
The PVE aspect (so far) has been pretty lacking. You need to solo or team up on ‘Espionage’ missions which involve rushing into some futuristic mining site (I saw about 4 or 5 different maps) that is filled with androids (I wish I could say, ‘of varying types’ but I can’t – in 11 levels of play, I’ve seen three types and one of those isn’t even hostile) to kill some boss at the end. You have a 15 minute timer and if you do it without 4 people dying you get some bonus credits (cash).
I wish I could say the rewards are worthwhile but they’re not really. Creds are hard to come by at the start. I’d recommend not going the Solo route because the Team route has more drops (which only seem to be raw materials) and the reward at the end seems to be better than what you get as a solo player. You also cannot seem to sell off weapons – which is really weird because I can sell off armor pieces and other ‘offhand’ items. I don’t understand why this is.
Progression appears to be limited to getting to level 10 before you can do Mercenary missions. These appear to be Capture and Hold, Bombing Run, Escort, Defense and one other type of FPS like game styles. I haven’t had a chance to do one of these yet, but I suspect it could be a lot of fun.
Each of PVE missions come in Solo and Team (4 players) flavors. The Team versions tend to have more and aren’t as easy as the Solo missions. The Solo missions on the lower tier (5-9) are trivial if you’ve ever played a FPS. Once you step beyond that it gets far more challenging (mileage will vary based on the class you’re playing). Same with the Team missions, you’ll start facing more enemies, some of the ‘bosses’ you fought in the lower Tier will now be in the actual map as enemies (though they’re not frequent).
I should add that there is nothing preventing you from running lower level missions other than the fact that you get no end reward bonus item for doing so.
Advancement presents you with some talent tree where one is a common tree that everyone has access to but the middle one seems very class specific while the far right most one seems to be more about doing damage. You don’t appear to get ‘abilities’ instead you get access to more powerful weapons or simply different weapons in some cases. For example my level 10 Assault dude (supposed to be tank-like) has access to a big axe for melee, a Maser Rifle, and then one of three heavy weapons: minigun, rocket launcher and grenade launcher. This adds a little for preparing for what you’re going to do.
Gear advancements do not appear to be visible, the armor pieces don’t change your look unless you buy ‘apparel’ type armor and helmets – these really just seem to change how your character looks, they don’t appear to have any stats. I can understand why they do this, it’s based on the FPS element of everyone having pretty much the same health (oh, I didn’t mention that your health doesn’t increase every level – fortunately they give you enough to start to make you last) or same damage from the same weapons.
A part way through the mission map is a Checkpoint which, once activate, allows you to teleport there from the landing ship or respawn area. This is a testament to the ‘Now Generation’ because the maps are pretty damn small. When you respawn, you just have to run to the glowing floor pod thing and it’ll teleport you to that checkpoint.
There is still a lot of the game to see; Mercenary missions, Conquest Missions and there were Raids and one other type that was disabled. Some of these have level limitations.
On to the classes – all classes are able to dish out damage so I’m going to note their ‘role’ aside from damage dealing. Much like in Warhammer: Age of Reckoning, each class has a ‘morale’ ability. This is the white bar in the upper left. When it gets full, this ability unlocks. As you kill more or heal or generally succeed, you gain morale until it is full. This is depleted when you use the ability or when you die.
Assault – Tank like, heavy weapons. This one was amusing, but it doesn’t seem to get any self sustaining abilities early (at least not that I found). This means it may have some issues soloing late, or so I found. I believe the boost ability is an increase in protection for those around (like all gear slots, this appears to be possible to replace).
Recon – Stealth type, has some mines, explosives and can stealth around which is neat. Weaponry is much the same as others, you can shoot or chop stuff. I haven’t played this one at length and I’m not sure what their boost ability is.
Medic – Healer type. This one heals by using a healing gun which chains to others nearby like a Shaman’s heals do in WoW. It also has a self heal option and a healing grenade it can toss. Aside from that it also has a poison grenade it can use on enemies. The boost ability seems to be a PBAE heal.
Robotics – Support type. This one sort of does it all. You have a Force Field you can drop and hide behind, you can repair things, drop turrets (somewhat ineffective in PVE because they’re so short range), launch drones to see stealthers or fight for you and drop healing stations which are pretty useful (I also found a Power Station which regens your power faster). The boost ability is a PBAE force field globe. This class was my favorite because of the versatility of it.
Just from looking at the missions I was running, there was a healthy mix of the classes though most people shied away from Medic and towards Recon types. Robotics was another really popular one.
I can’t say I’m looking forward to running more of the Espionage missions, but I am curious to trying the Mercenary missions.
By the way, there are three currencies; Credits (cash), Mercenary and Conquest badges. You can use these if various stores for class, general (armor looks and dyes) or specific items. There is also an Auction House available for use.
The Guild (a.k.a. Agency) mechanics seem interesting, though I’m currently a free Agent though they have a recruiting tool much like SOE put into EQ2. You can do a search for Agencies with a bunch of parameters and request to join one. I might give that a shot tonight and see what happens there.
Agencies also have Alliances which are identified immediately; you see character name (you only have one character name per account for all your characters), Agency name and then the Alliance they are in (if they are in one). I’m not sure how this is used but I can imagine some nifty uses if this is all built into the game.
Agencies and Alliances seem to play a big role in the Conquest aspect of the game where you control hexes on the map. There also appears to be some sort of HQ building options as I noted some of the Agencies had HQs in various sectors.
I am really curious to give this a try.
I also set the LittleBigOgre up on a trial account and he was playing it with me for a bit. It was kind of fun though the jump from solo to team got pretty tough. That and he just wants to charge in and shoot everything hehe.
Bottom line? It’s fun so far, but very shallow. They seem to have completed a checklist of standard features but I have to question why they force you to run the PVE missions before hopping into the PVP ones. Maybe it’s just a trial account thing? Either way, it’s a mistake because those PVE missions are pretty damn weak.
The jury is still out on this one.
UPDATE: I had completely forgotten to look up the pricing model for this. It appears you can gain access, without subscription, to the entire game aside from the Conquest gameplay just with the regular purchase of the game. To access the Conquest type game play requires a subscription. Details here.