The Challenge Returns (E3 2012)
The Wizardry series has been a long-running name for PC gamers since the early 80s. The old-school, first-person dungeon crawling series ended its Western world run sometime in the early 2000s. In the United States, the name Wizardry slowly died out as a common title among gamers. However, like a failing rock star, its popularity had grown in Japan.
A little history first: there are a lot of reasons why the Wizardry series got big over in the East, spawning a slew of sequels, spin-off games, manga comics, novelizations, and all sorts of franchised material. First, the Japanese gamers were looking for something different, and Wizardry gave them a quirky Western game that was different than what was being released in Japan at the time. The second and most important element, however, was that Wizardry offered an insanely tough RPG challenge Japanese gamers were craving for. Why is this important? Because difficulty is the key word in Sony Online Entertainment's upcoming title Wizardry Online.
Wizardry Online is a resurrection of the series in the Western world, and those who grew up playing these games in the states are going to remember why they were so obsessed with them to begin with. I said difficulty before, and that is what SOE is aiming for. This fantasy MMO is not going to be a walk in the park. My hands-on preview at E3 proved this. My character journeyed through a cave, not only having to avoid the pitfalls of dozens of traps, but the onslaughts of powerful enemies. I died… I died a lot… and I knew that fans of games like Demon's Souls would probably appreciate this sort of combat Wizardry Online was offering. However, if finding your way through mile long dungeons full of perils and pitfalls isn't enough, the developers don't stop there.
Enter perma-death. Every time your character dies, you have to run to a resurrection stone. Every time you die, it becomes more difficult to reach these stones. Once you die… you're dead. No more character. You start from square one. Yikes. That means every battle you take on, every step you take, you'll be shaking in your boots, sweating profusely, and hoping that this battle won't end badly or your next step won't set off a trap. But oh, faithful gamers, that's not all. Player characters will also be able to attack you, kill you, and loot your gear. If you can resurrect in time and run back to kill that player, you can get your gear back… if you can resurrect in time and find them that is. The key rule in Wizardry Online seems to be "never die". I am not sure just how many gamers will reach the level 99 cap, but this is a game for the hard-hardcore. SOE is making it known that casual gamers should beware, and take to playing Wizardry only if they know what they are getting into.
Wizardry Online will be free-to-play and feature plenty of open-world exploration, dungeon diving, and offer huge adventure parties. Good luck faithful Wizardry fans: looks like you're in for a challenge.
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Three things describe Rando: Good beer, good food, and video games. On occasion, Rando flies a zeppelin through time seeking power crystals.
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