Monday, 12 March 2012

Pretty Green : City of Steam

The City of Steam Sneak Peak has been extended to Thursday, which gives me a chance to  try out the remaining two classes. There are four altogether: Warden, Gunner, Arcanist and Channeler. I'm a little hazy on how the roles fall out between them. The Warden is a tank, for sure. The Gunner is ranged DPS, I think, but so is the Arcanist. The Channeler is Healer/Support and also the one I've not tried yet.

Move Along, Citizen
Everyone but the Warder uses magic, even the Gunner. I thought they were just firing pistols and throwing bombs but it seems they're using their own blood to "transform their sidearms into occult implements". Is that legal? It makes more sense than the the Channeler job description, anyway, which claims they're bardic healers who use "battle-hardened musical instruments to turn the steel eye of the World Machine to the suffering of their companions". Run that by me again?

No-one is officially Melee DPS, although I think everyone can dual wield. Unless the Channeler can't. Hang on, let me make one... Yep. Dual-wields blunt weapons, starting out with Censers, incense optional. I was hoping he might clout ratlings upside the head with a brace of maracas. Maybe later. And yes, there are ratlings. They don't wear any clothes or talk, at least not the ones I've met (and by met I mean chopped up with a big sword). But, hey, they walk on two legs so they count.

The Warden and Gunner I covered last time. The Arcanist seems to be the classic glass cannon. She gets Fire, Ice and Electricity lines, heavy on the AE. The explosions are spectacular. Most solo fights end with her standing in the middle of a pile of dismantled clockworks, beating the flames out of her dress. I took mine down to level 14 of the Nexan Archives. and she didn't die once. She nearly died about twenty times. Not for the faint of heart.

And that's just the healer!
The Channeler gets Fire, Sound and Light lines with some very nice visual effects. All healing and damage derives from a multiple of weapon damage, which I think is true of all the classes. Everyone gets the same vast number of stats. Seven active, seven passive, ten resists making a grand total of twenty-four. That won't last. Items have negative as well as positive stats. Neither will that. Armor has three resistances, different to the ten general resistances. There are at least four grades of armor. Weapons and Armor have class restrictions. I said it was old school!

City of Steam is a real rpg statfest but the UI is so elegantly designed that I haven't found it in the least overwhelming or confusing. It's certainly counter-trend, though, which can't be said about the choice of races.

I don't want to breathe YOUR germs either
Steampunk does not say elves to me. Nor orcs. It might possibly say dwarves, at a push. CoS offers a choice of nine races and five of them are varieties of elf or greenskin. The three greenskins (they call themselves that and it's true) are Goblin, Orc and Hobbe. I'm guessing the Hobbe is a Hobgoblin although they're big enough to be ogres. I called mine Calvin. I assume everyone will.

Checks are in this century
The elves are the first elves I have seen in many years that I would willingly play. They look, sound and act more like pale, fin-de-siecle goths than elves. If they didn't occasionally mention their elvishness I'd have guessed they were vampires. They come in two flavors, Riven or Draug, the main difference between them being their lifespan, short for the Riven and long for the Draug. How that will impact gameplay I cannot say. Ask me in fifty years. Oh, and one kind is blue.

The rest of the races are humans of different regional background and attitude. I notice they are all White European in appearance. There's no option for skin color (so far) at character creation either.

I think the elves work. I remain to be convinced about the Greenskins. I'd have preferred Steam Dwarves as a playable race. Or ratlings, although that might just be me. Still, it's early days. Much could change and much remains to be revealed. The website suggests a considerable level of political intrigue to come, of which as yet there are barely hints in the game. 

There's no mention of crafting but I'm sure it's on the way. There are vendors for Oil and Coal. Also Pleap, Toap and Hawte which appear to be foods. Or diseases of the sheep. One or the other. On the subject of vendors, they all have a timer that tells you when the shop will restock, which suggests an interesting scarcity mechanic could be in the plan. A variety of "Repair Materials" drop in dungeons for which there is as yet no use. They look like crafting raws to me and I hope that's what they are but could they point to armor and weapon degradation. I hope they don't.

I could go on, and on. And on. But I won't. This is now my most-anticipated MMO save only for Guild Wars 2. I'm going to miss it when the server closes on Thursday. Here's hoping for an alpha invite in a month or so. More chance of that than a GW2 beta invite, that's for sure!

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