Prime World (Preview)
Many gamers may have already heard of Nival, thanks to their multiple best-selling releases such as Silent Storm, Heroes of Might and Magic V, or even Blitzkrieg. For those still in the dark about them, Nival is a Russian developer that has been creating games for almost two decades, and they invited Gamer Living to take a look at their new project currently in development: Prime World. We were got a chance to sit down to not only talk about the game, but to actually play a session and get a real feel for this action-packed, player-versus-player adventure game as well.
Currently released in Russia (and gaining so much popularity that four lore-based books have been released for it), Prime World is in development to release in North America as a free-to-play, session-based online RPG. The Beta is expected to launch sometime near the end of 2013.
Set in the fantasy world, two main factions are in a struggle for the ultimate source of power through an element called Prime, and this creates an all out war between them. Players will have an overview of the Castle where they can then purchase playable Heroes and embark on dangerous missions to win territory and Prime from their enemies. You can hire new Heroes in each Castle, and they can be leveled independently. Talents are not automatic statistical upgrades, like +5 to endurance, or more health – they are instant abilities that are either passive or active. You can also take Heroes and customize them so they have abilities outside their typical archetypes. For instance, if you have a really squishy DPS, you can add some healing or tank-like defense talents that can be used by that character on the battlefield.
Currently there are eight types of gameplay, centered on PVP, PVE VP, Solo sessions, and Co-operative play. While this is not an open world concept, the amount of content and customizations available to players, alongside a personalized Castle, only adds to its replay value. A Castle is an interactive area in Prime World that allows players to view their progression, build up resources, or even hire new Heroes. Instead of logging into the game and joining a session, players will begin the game in their own unique Castle.
Playing through the game took a little getting used to, but partway through the first session I was able to understand exactly what to look for and how to play. I began my playthrough in a Castle, and selected a Hero (that closely resembled an evil werewolf) to play with. While the Heroes we had at our disposal did vary in sex, species, and age, there will be many more options available to players in the form of character skins when the game launches. In many PVP games, player’s choice skins are typically male-centric and often set to a generic race or age range. However, in Prime World Nival will attempt to implement a very wide range of ages, nationalities, and sexes to select and customize.
Once I had selected my grizzly protagonist, I exited the main gate and started my battle, teaming up with two other game writers (from different websites) against a horde of enemy monsters. Keeping in mind that this is only in the demo phase, the graphic quality and transitions between mob fights and actions were smooth, and crystal clear. Everything was laid out in a way that was easily noticeable, including red text to advise you if enemies were unaffected by your particular choice of attack, and a carefully laid out and detailed mini-map. The mini-map showed me everything on the playing field, and instead of hard barriers (if I attempted to travel out of the map area) I would find myself in a cloud of sparkling, dark grey cloud I couldn’t see in. Glyphs, Towers, Flags, and even allies all showed up on the map with distinct icons to differentiate between them without having to stop what you were doing to decipher it.
Movement was not what I expected from this action-oriented gameplay, as the WASD keys had no purpose in the game. Movement and attacks were based on the right and left mouse buttons only, with the ability to lock or unlock the camera depending on player preference. As you gain abilities through leveling up, a slot bar at the bottom of the screen fills up with usable talents that can be assigned to number keys for quick real-time use. You can also purchase merchandise and items (like a healing potion) at a vendor in the session itself, and assign it to a slot bar for easy access.
When the fighting began, there were multiple waves of enemies coming at us from all directions, with notifications on the mini-map in red to indicate each enemy, and flashing indicators with exclamation marks would pop up when a Flag or tower was under attack. Flags are territorial, so while I did not experience this firsthand, it would stand to reason that if all the flags on the map were down, I would have been overrun and would have most likely lost the match. Much like Halo, if you die in the game you will respawn at the main gate in the center of the map. I’m not ashamed to say my sluggish reflexes caused me to die. Twice. For the win!
Instead of having to exit combat or wait until the match is over, Prime World allows players to level up in real-time, and to reap the benefits of new skills instantly while in the session. There will be a Prime Inductor that fills up as you raise flags or defeat enemies, and once it’s full it will flash and present you with an icon that is a suggested talent you can take. If you do not like the suggested talent, click the bottle to select a talent manually. Until you select a talent, you won’t hit the next level, so be sure to keep an eye on the Prime Inductor to the left of your slot bar. Underneath the flags a Glyph will drop that can assist in repairing towers, healing you, speeding up your Heroes movements, and more.
So leveling and fighting on a large map is a lot of fun, but what if you’re halfway across the map and some baddies are taking down your flag? Never fear! There is a teleport button you can click on at the bottom right of your screen that will allow you to hop from area to area, but be aware there is a cool down on this ability so you’ll have to time your jumps appropriately. This cuts down on travel time, which was very important as I was on the other side of the map when the last wave of mobs completed, and a giant dragon appeared at the final stage as a boss fight. Thanks to the teleportation system, not only had I been able to leap to areas of the map that had Glyphs to collect, but also I was able to reach the boss and respond quickly and come to the aid of my comrades to strike down our mighty foe!
When the match was complete, a basic overview with statistics and information on your play style was displayed on the screen before taking me back to the Castle. I personally received an award for being a minimalist (yeah, that’s me to a T), which made me smile and sparked conversation between my fellow players about what award they unlocked. This added feature not only grants players a sense of satisfaction and unity, but a new set of achievements and challenges to focus on, encouraging you to play the game in different ways to receive the different types of awards available.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to check out more about how Russia is responding to this, you’ll have a chance to see first-hand how much fun this game can be. While the game is free-to-play, the purchasable items will be mainly cosmetic and not content- or resource-centric, ensuring that the game does not become a pay-to-win scenario that has become common in the F2P universe. The Beta is set to arrive by October 2013, but you can sign up for early access on Nival’s website, and join in the news, the discussions, and (of course) the fun!
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