All the way back in the eighties, I remember being captivated by this party based role-playing game on the Apple II called Wizardry. Now that I look back at the box, it was actually called Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord. However, a very younger version of me only remembers it as Wizardry or Wizardry 1. Wizardry 1 because over the next twenty years it developed into a series of adventures that I am sure many a reader of this site remembers fondly. Those series led to spin-off series that took lives of their own and eventually the market was, and still is, flooded with party based role-playing games. Then in the early part of this century, the Wizardry world went dark.
Well, gamers can now rejoice and take up arms on their computers once again. Sony Online Entertainment has acquired the license and is now going to release the Wizardry world into a permanent home online. Wizardry Online is set to open the doors to a new dungeon on January 30th of this year. That’s right, hopefully sometime next week, players will be able to enter a persistent world and create their characters try to scratch out a second livelihood on the internet.
Sony Online Entertainment has had plenty of time to get this right. It is, after all, the creator of the two Everquest games and Planetside. SOE knows online gaming pretty well. For Wizardry Online however, it wanted to make it a bit more epic, I believe. That is why it has decided that only hardcore mode is available in Wizardry Online. Yep – when your characters die, they are dead.
I recently had a chance to check out the beta for Wizardry Online, and I must say it is brutal. The easiest explanation of the game is that it is a massive dungeon crawl with skill based combat that allows players to team up to avoid permadeath. This is no casual game. If you are looking for a game to build a house or be a tailor in a fantasy setting, then this is not it. This game is mostly combat action with enough time to catch your breath, meet some new allies, and then head back into the fray.
Sounds pretty rough, right? Well, that is what makes it so good! You play completely differently when you know you’re not just going to respawn and keep going. You learn to run away and watch each other’s backs. Speaking of backs, seems like the best idea would be just to put a knife in everyone’s backs and just play king of the mountain. Why go adventuring for loot, when you can just take it from another player? The same concept that keeps most folks from doing that in the real world is what will hinder that in this online world. Crime. PvP, or player-versus-player to the layman, is looked at as a criminal offense. Players who seek the dark path will be met with bounties on their heads.
When I talked with SOE developers, they stated that letting the players hash out their laws would not only make it realistic, but also lead to better team building. Parties will eventually form to become bounty hunter groups and seek out the worst offenders.
Personally, I cannot wait to play Wizardry Online and just see how long I can last. The price is right for the game also – FREE. Just like SOE’s other MMORPGs, Wizardry Online is free to play online. Of course, there is a premium account that gamers can pay monthly for, but that will not give them a competitive advantage. Premium accounts will allow for great customization of the characters and a few other perks, but everyone will live and die by the same rules.
Check out www.wizardrythegame.com for more info on the game and I look forward to reporting from the dungeon, so stay tuned!