Getting Off Rails

Apparently all aging men of the future look like Jim Raynor...

Recent adventures in Wurm Online and dabbling in Mount & Blade have made me hungry for a good sandbox experience. But as fantasy is nearly always my second choice for genre, I’d really like a good Sci Fi sandbox game – massively multiplayer or not. Considering that there is a bit of a shortage of Sci Fi MMOs in general, I’m not really sure where to look.

I tried EVE and liked it, but I had real trouble adapting to spacecraft as my avatar, and as a normal player probably owns and utilizes several ships, it’s likely would have become impossible for me to create any connection at all. More or less the same for Perpetuum (which really strikes me as just EVE-in-mechs). Many years ago, I tried and liked Ryzom, but I’m not sure that game ever qualified as science fiction; Ryzom’s setting is so unique, and had such a mixture of elements from fantasy and science fiction, that it defies categorization. And Fallen Earth just never clicked for me. Maybe Earthrise?

It’s certainly been on my radar for awhile, and as Masthead announced a February 2011 launch date, it was on my list of personal predictions for this year. I definitely consider it worth checking out. I do have a few reservations, such as this:

Armor so good, who needs cover...right?

Is this really how anyone envisions combat of the future? I’m not expecting the kind of visceral combat one would get in, say, Arkham Asylum (hands-down some of the best “interpersonal” combat I’ve ever played), but I would expect that a game set in the future would at least try to change the traditional MMO combat formula and include something like cover mechanics alongside their gunplay. The above (taken from beta footage) doesn’t look to be too far off of the “stand and trade blows ’til someone falls down” experience one would get in any fantasy MMO. Can’t we at get something at least a tiny bit more realistic?

But Earthrise seems to have enough going for it to make it worthwhile for me; classless character development, (supposedly) deep crafting and economic systems, and a good focus on social organizations and PvP/territorial combat, which is something I’ve been missing. I’m certainly hoping for the game to find success and, at the very least, it launches in a few weeks and will be a good way to occupy some time before those other games that launch this year.

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