Two years after we first let loose in Ashes of Creation: Apocalypse, Intrepid Studios finally gave us access to Verra this weekend, and we survived Ashes Of Creation’s first Alpha Preview Weekend with some definite ideas about where this upcoming MMO is going.
It’s something of a grand time for upcoming MMO content. Artcraft just dropped Crowfall into early access, Warframe announced a new Expansion, and it seems Guild Wars 2 is ratcheting up the hype before it unleashes End of Dragons. Now to be left in the dirt, Intrepid Studios let backers and a few lucky adventurers into alpha last weekend to experience Ashes Of Creation’s first unrestricted Alpha test.
For players that haven’t been keeping up with the game, or simply put their cash down and walked away, Verra is the land that adventurers will arrive into when Ashes Of Creation hits screens sometime in the future. The mystical land now stretched out before anybody entering the first Alpha test, and while we aren’t going to get into the lore, it is certainly vast.
While there’s been plenty of talk about Ashes of Creation’s somewhat procedural implementation to world creation, this Alpha certainly didn’t show off anything quite so complex. Instead, it seemed set on proving that Ashes of Creation can support its incoming player base and tease what’s certain to be a major player in the MMO market.
While plenty of MMORPGs purport to be vast and immersive, this slice of ashes of Creation certainly managed the first. Stretching out of the starter camps, players picking any of the 4 races or 3 beginner classes had a whole weekend to explore a world that sits in stark contrast to newcomer Crowfall’s stylised approach. While adventurers in Artcragft’s new MMO might have an aesthetic more aligned with WoW’s cartoon combat, Intrepid’s Unreal back designs delivered a realistic range of starting environments.
This is evident from the moment the character creation screen opens. The Kaelar, Vaelune, Empyrean, and Dunir all look resplendent in their opening armor with plenty of very particular decoration and guiled weaponry, that certainly set a good first impression. As you might expect for an early preview, this came with some compromises and the number of available customizations left a lot to be desired.
Continuing to lean heavily on high fantasy, Ashes of Creation’s bright alpha map was an impressive sight for new eyes. Medieval encampments and open glades strike out into a mix of desert maps and unusual underground dungeons that just invite players to take a peek. Visually, the display was impressive. While the screenshots of in game greenery might fall on easy tropes, there’s no denying that these still sparkled by MMO standards.
As I set out into the wild I was pleasantly surprised that some interesting design ideas, the odd killer mushroom, and a variety of terrains suggest that Ashes of Creation won’t simply be full of the same old sorcerers and trolls. There were still plenty of trolls. However, the real gems lay underground. Diving below the surface, exploring dank caves, and gorgeous lava soaked labyrinths provided an unexpected change to this early glimpse of Intrepid’s intent and gave the overall impression that this alpha is simply a taster of what the Ashes of Creation developers can do, especially when they veer away form the same old story.
Combat And Character
While my time in Ashes of Creation was limited, character control and overall combat did feel solid. Unlike some of my criticisms of new World’s sluggish combat controls, Ashes of Creation’s mix of action combat seemed to walk a line somewhere between free form stance based systems and traditional MMO tab targeting. It’s a difficult system to pick at quite yet as it still felt rough around the edges. Lag, odd hitbox detection, and an inability to evade some attacks could easily be unfinished work or a deliberate mishmash of desgin choices. We will have to wait for a more polished product, but initial impressions were that combat will be frantic and could reward skilful play over stacked stats.
Many of the systems that Intrepid presented for this alpha were a mix of well-established ideas, more modern systems, and some sometimes odd choices. While combat and character control felt responsive, keeping mounts in an inventory slot or fishing being an active endeavour felt like unusual choices. for every fantastic looking vista I found underground, up top could feel nice but unexciting. We’re might not be convinced that Ashes of Creation is going to break the MMO genre quite yet, but we already know it’s going to be worth the ticket price just to look around again. Cehck out more about Ashes of Creation over at the official website now.