“ "A 3D online-only RPG, published by microsift and developed by Turbine, the plot centres around a magician named Asheron who opens a portal allowing a vicious race to take over Asherons world. You are an adventurer answering "Asheron's call" to come and save his world. " „
Asheron's Call marks Microsoft's entry into the realm of massively multiplayer, online role playing games. In keeping with the current level of technology available to the gamer Asheron's Call is designed to take advantage of high spec PCs with its gorgeous graphics and third person view point.
Of course, being an online game a modem is essential. Once your plugged into the net (and have payed your monthly subscription) you will be catapulted into a world of goblins, magic and beasties. You get to create your character, select character class and skills, spend points to improve certain areas and then explore the world. The third person viewpoint makes it quite unlike any other online RPG.
Microsoft have developed an intriguing socila system to underline how important interaction between players is. An experienced player can adopt a beginner as a vassal. It is in their interest to aid their vassal as the better they do the more experience the senior partner gets. A patron should advise their vassal (or even vassals, you can have as many as you can handle) and even help out with equipment. A player can not have more than one patron, so a new gamer should choose carefully. But as a vassal gets more experienced (and that success reflecting on their patron) they can have vassals of their own, giving the game a nice feudal structure with certain characters becoming powerful due to their vassal links.
Magic also plays an important part in Asheron's Call, however Microsoft depart from the norm here by making the easier spells weaker the more they are cast. This keeps characters constantly searching for newer and better magics, giving players something to search for.
Asheron's Call will also have a persistent world quite unlike any other. The world will be constantly changing, however instead of this being only due to players actions, the odd event will be added to keep everyone on their toes. For example, in the US version a giant mist engulfed the land. Players could either ignore it and try to get on with their lives or investigate. Such worldwide events are constantly being added to Asheron's Call giving the game a sense of vastness and outside forces - infact, in this way it resembles a table top RPG much more closely than other games of its type with a great unseen power shaping the world.
Asheron's Call is not a particularly well known MMORPG given how successful World of Warcraft has been in recent years, but it is a great one, and one that deserved a better audience than it has ever had. It has its flaws, sure, but it is for the most part very fun and very well crafted. It is in many ways a run of the mill MMO, but it is the few clever nuances and moments of flair that make it worth playing.
Indeed, it has the procedure of "make a character's physical and skill-based attributes", but among its clever additions is an allegiance system, which really takes the pressure off of new players and allows them to find other people to quest and fight with. It also means that if you're caught in a tight spot, you're never more than a few minutes away from being helped.
MMOs are quite notable for having lesser graphics due to the extra system stress of being online, but Asheron's Call looked very good for its time, and although not up to much when compared to the likes of WoW, it has a baroque and enticing artistic style, and the weapon textures are a by and large a lot better than anything else visually.
What I do admire about the game is how it isn't elitist; the players in general are a lot less obnoxious than WoW, perhaps because the majority of AC players began playing in a time when MMOs were only played by older people and weren't accessible to twelve year old ADD-riddled kids. There are varied quests that never ask too much of the player, but on the negative side, it also means that seasoned MMO players might find this a bit easy and a bit of a long slog to play through.
Is this game going to drag many away from WoW? Absolutely not. It's also pretty much on its last legs now after admittedly a good run at the top. Still, it was a fine breakthrough for the genre and a game I still respect even if I am no longer a subscriber.
Asheron's Call is the latest online RPG to be released to the gaming public. After seeing the large monthly profits made by both Everquest and Ultima Online, it was only a matter of time before Microsoft jumped on the massively multiplayer RPG bandwagon. However, unlike Ultima Online or Everquest, Asheron's Call tries to bring the genre to a much wider audience, but may have lost some of the original hardcore audience in the process. One of the first things to consider when playing any online RPG is the cost. Asheron's Call has adopted the now standard practice of selling the game retail for about £30 to £40 with one month free. After that, the monthly charge is about not that high, but this depends on how often you play the game wether you get your value for money. This setup can either be looked upon as good deal or a rip-off. Considering that it now costs around a fiver to see a two hour movie, most people don't seem to mind the charge. The other main point that has hindered all online RPG's when they first start has been Internet and server lag. Unlike its predecessors, Microsoft opened the last week of their beta test to the public, allowing anyone and everyone to play for free, thereby testing the internal lag of the game. Lag still does occur when playing, but most of that is due to Internet noise rather than Asheron's Call's servers. Though this may change as more and more people play the game, right now the lag isn't that bad. We can only cross our fingers and hope. The graphics in Asheron's Call are decent and practical, just not very pretty. The designers at Turbine went with the polygonal first / third person approach that we saw in Everquest, rather than the isometric sprites we saw in Ultima Online. When compared directly to Everquest, the graphics in Asheron's Call just aren't as good. The reason for this lies in the audience that Microsoft wanted to capture. Unlike Everquest, A
sheron's Call doesn't need a 3D accelerator card in order to play, but having one does help. While this does make the game more available to the general population, it noticeably hinders the graphical capability of the game. Though the graphics aren't the best, the interface is where Asheron's Call shines above the other online RPG's. This is the first online RPG that isn't utterly confusing when you first start. In fact, it was fairly easy to begin killing monsters within 15 minutes of starting the game. After the cumbersome interface of Everquest, the simple controls of Asheron's Call are a blessing. Add to that a logical skill / attribute setup, and you can almost ignore many of the drawbacks. Like original D&D, characters have specific levels in Asheron's Call. There are also several types of experience points to earn, and while this might sound confusing, it's amazingly easy. For every creature you kill, every skill you successfully use, and every quest you finish, you earn general experience points. Besides using them to raise your level, these general points also fall into an unassigned experience pool that can be used to raise specific skills or attributes. Besides just using the unnassigned experience to raise skills, your skills also gain experience by themselves. Say, for example, you kill a monster using a bow. Besides getting the general experience points for killing the creature, your bow skill will also earn experience. Unlike Ultima Online where you had to mine or make chairs all day in order to raise your attributes, Asheron's Call gives you significantly more control over your character. If you don't want to raise a skill, you don't have to, plain and simple. In order to promote more character cooperation, Asheron's Call has two additional ways to interact with each other. Fellowships can be formed and broken at any time, and usually are made when people are
hunting together. For as long as the fellowship is intact, characters share any experience earned by killing monsters and completing quests. For a more permanent alliance, you can also swear allegiance to any character of a higher level. The lord will then gain a small amount of experience every time one of his vassals earns experience. Of course, the vassals can also have people swear to them, leading to a giant pyramid scheme with one guy on top. It's good to be the king. Speaking of Kings, one of the biggest drawbacks for Asheron's Call lies not with the game itself, but with the Microsoft Gaming Zone. After you install the game, the hassle begins. When you click on the "play" button your web browser gets launched. Now, you have to download and install the Microsoft Gaming Zone software. If you thought web browsers were easy to crash before, the Zone will show you just how easy it can be now ! After getting the Zone software installed, you now face the tedious task of finding a user name. Because I didn't want a name like colin857, it took me about 15 minutes to finally get a Zone ID. The Zone requirement wouldn't be as bad if it actually served a purpose. Unfortunately, all it does it take up your system resources and offers almost nothing in return. Of course, I suppose that's nothing new for Microsoft. Asheron's Call is a fun, semi-addictive game with a fantastic interface for people new to the genre. However, some drawbacks and the lack of complexity may drive Everquest and Ultima Online fanatics up the walls. It is however a good introduction to internet gaming.
Asheron's call has a number of worlds, each world has around 1200+ players, some more than others. The form of the game is run around kill things for experience points which you use to improve your characters abilities. There are a number of character templated to choose from, including warrior,archer,life mage etc.. My personal experiences of playing the game after two months online, are its seriously addictive... But like most similar games it falls into the trap of monster bashing which while this can be fun, soon becomes dull and uninteresting. I found by far the greatest thing about this game, was the people i meet in the various worlds in asheron's call. Extremely pleasent and help, they made the game fun and interesting. Certainly worth a try at least until the new round of games like shadowbane arrive.
Asheron's Call is Microsoft's entry into the Online RPG Market. It features a HUGE playing area, HUGE amounts of Monsters, infact this game has HUGE written all over it. Since the day in May that this game arrived on my doorstep it has totally revolutionised my view of gaming. I had tried online RPGs before, Everquest imparticular, but I found the game and the close knit community that lived in it's gameworld almost impenetrable. No one seemed willing to help and I just got completely overwhelmed. Someone over at Turbine Studios must have felt this too as Asheron's Call features a fantastic social system, which lays great benefits onto those higher level players that help out the newbies. I was given a guided tour of the world, a heap of weapons and armour and some cash when I first joined AC, and from that moment in I was completely hooked. 247 hours, that's how long I have played this game for, and I know plenty more people who have played for longer, I loved every minute of it too. As you can see Asheron's Call offers incredible value for money (even with the £6 a month fee) what's more If Turbine want to open a new area of the world they do so in the monthly gameworld update which auto downloads when you try to log on. Certainly better than charging £20 for an expansion pack in the way Everquest does. This monthly update also helps to keep the game and storyline fresh. In the past year I have witnessed a full on invasion by an alien race known as the Shadows, an uprising of the enemies known as mosswarts, the destruction of 2 of the worlds major towns in massive battles, Halloween parties, Harvest festivals, snow in the winter and leaf fall in autumn. Every single person that I personally know who has ever given this game a chance has become completely hooked, I am sure that anyone else who gives it a try would too. Just make sure you have an 0800 (or equivalent) internet connection. I've been playing the game
on a 36K modem and ping is no problem at all. The more you put into Asheron's Call the more you get out of it, but if you have a love of RPGs and play plenty of games then maybe Asheron's Call could do for you what it has done for me.
Microsoft has stepped into the burgeoning world of massive multiplayer online RPGs with the extremely well designed Asheron's Call. Players can create very unique characters through the game's extensive character creation process with variables from racial heritage to skills like cooking. One of the most interesting innovations for the genre is the Allegiance social system. Players can recruit, protect and train other human players as followers, increasing their fame and power. Add in pretty graphics, a quickly growing user base and a well designed magic system, and the result is a first-class online experience. A lot the features in Asheron's Call will already be familiar if players have spent any time in other persistent worlds like Everquest or Ultima Online. The world is built with a preset map of towns, dungeons and non-player characters. There is also the random factor where the world generates monsters and treasure for adventurers to happen across. Towns are populated with the usual assortment of adventure game characters, so there are armorsmiths, weaponsmiths, magic shops, healers, inns and the all purpose general store. Players will also find characters like collectors, who will pay top dollar for their particular fetish. Players can check in, or check out, of the online world at whim, but the game always puts the players back in at the same location they left. When players die, they lose vitae (essentially, life force), which results in a percentage handicap on their skills. Each time a player dies, for example, they might lose 3% of vitae, which translates to a sword skill that is 3 points lower, a maximum health that is 3 points lower and so forth. Each time a player dies, the percentage of lost vitae gets higher. The only way a player can regain vitae is through experience, which is now harder to get because skills are lower, and the player probably lost their best sword or armor when they died. Of course, a player who can fi
nd their corpse where it expired can reclaim the items that remained with the body if the vitae penalty hasn't crippled them. Asheron's Call also has an interesting way of dealing with experience. The most straightforward use for experience is to increase in level, but players can also build up experience points and spend them on skills or physical attributes. Want to improve speed? Spend experience on quickness or running skills. Want to wear heavier armor? Spend experience on strength. With almost two dozen skills and attributes to choose from, there are lots of directions to grow a character, specializing in one area, or becoming a generalist. The bottom line is that the player has complete control over a character's growth. Visually, the game is pretty average. The landscapes are broad, flat textures, while the trees and shrubbery range from 1 pixel thick cutouts to fully realized 3D models. Towns have clearly had more thought put into them than the landscapes. Because characters can be created from several different cultures, the architecture of each area is different based on the native population's heritage. After stepping through a portal to transport themselves to another part of the map, players can easily identify where they've landed by the buildings that surround them. The dungeons show the most work. Each dungeon is very unique, with mazes of corridors, rooms, halls and caves filled with all kinds of creatures to kill. The texture artists also used a broad palette for their subterranean creations. Each dungeon has a unique feel because of different kids of stone and wood. Some of the stones are even luminescent. But what would a dungeon be without monsters to kill? Most of the dungeons are designed with a near-linear difficulty curve. The easiest monsters are always the first ones a player will find, with successive encounters becoming more difficult, either because players run across a new type of mons
ter or a more advanced type of the same monster. This design makes it much easier for a player to have access to the experience and treasure of an easy dungeon, while still providing a challenge as the player's skills increase. A major design issue with any online world is player killing. Some gamers want to; some don't. The developers have wisely segregated the two camps onto different servers. There are a half dozen non-player-killing-world servers where attacking other players can get a player banned. Then there's Darktide, the PK world. In Darktide, killing other players is perfectly acceptable from a gameplay perspective. Of course, other players may not be happy about being killed, but they did decide to join a player-killer server. While player killing may not be for everyone, Darktide has the most evolved social order of the servers. One of the most interesting aspects of Asheron's Call is the allegiance system. A player can pledge allegiance to other players in the game, increasing their power and experience. In Darktide, these allegiances have led to an interesting protection racket. New players can sign up with one of the several overlord players who have developed, gaining their protection in a loose way. Some overlord players are friendly with other overlords, so one group might not fight with another group. Of course, the opposite is true, and there are groups that are mortally opposed to each other. This kind of community building takes place in other online games, but the allegiance system formalizes it, and delivers a structured social system that really adds to the game. Massive multiplayer online role-playing games are still in their infancy. Everquest set an incredibly high standard for others to reach, and Asheron's Call comes pretty close. The game has a huge world that takes an hour for a player to walk across and a multitude of towns, dungeons and non-player characters. The graphics are weak c
ompared to Everquest, or even offline adventure games like King's Quest: Mask of Eternity, but the social system and total number of places to explore make up for it. Asheron's Call is a solid title, with a well-designed world, but it doesn't break new ground or set the pace for coming MMORPGs.
The massively multiplayer online role playing game is older than you might think. Most people probably think Ultima Online was the first... not true, even for commercial games. Indeed, Meridian 59 predated it by quite a long time. Even before that free "MUDs" (Multi User Dungeons) were scattered about the Internet. But what Ultima Online did for the genre was prove that it could make money... lots of money. And so the path was paved for other entries in the field. Not a company that takes long to find a money making opportunity, Microsoft hooked up with Turbine Entertainment to bring a massively multiplayer pay for play offering to the MSN Gaming Zone... Asheron's Call. Asheron's Call is set in the world of Dereth, which is populated by three human races (vaguely Nordic, Asian and Arabic) and a host of nasty critters. Unlike other online role playing games you will not face the familiar monsters of mythology. Instead, an entirely new set of fantastic creatures make up the bad guy team. That's both a good thing and a bad thing. It's nice because it adds that extra bit of adventure, what after all is a Shreth? How tough is it? Where do they live? On the other hand, it means the game cannot draw on the wealth of legend, etc. that created the, ahem, "real world" monsters most people are a little familiar with. Asheron's Call is a good game, but not great. For my money it beats Ultima Online but doesn't dethrone Everquest. It's a better single player game than Everquest but the real fun in online games is the character interaction. If you are a power level gaming addict, you might enjoy Asheron's Call more than I did, it is well set up for the lone wolf player who wants to explore, conquer, and grow a character to power. If nothing else, Asheron's Call has brought more competition into the online race, a very good thing for players of any of the games... it will help forc
e developers to continually innovate, enhance, and improve their offerings to retain players over the long term.
Asheron's Call is fundamentaly an average PRG but with the neat twist of being in snazzy 3D and of course On-Line. While it may be a microsoft product it never-the-less seems to contain a soul. Its graphics are good and crisp and the speed seemed on the whole very good with a great social system to stop Player Killers ruining it for everyone (A god send). However the balance of players is quite bad with the warriors and other meelee bods starting the worse and going downhill fast with the magical and long range charcters being able to pick off the foes before you get close. Also the monsters are far too tough which forces you to team up with others to go dungeon travelling which may be a plus to some but is lethal if they log off or the connection gets fuzzy. A problem arises with the fabled social system later on in the game when you inevitably find the great guy who gave you a few coins at the start for your allegiance will promptly disappear with your exp points. In essence, buy this game if you will but pick your friends very carrefully.
It's a massively Multi-Player online role-playing game..... It involves the new Essex MUD; a text only Multi-User Dimension, which allows players to interact in something approaching a persistent world. And in its logical progression, an ever-changing world in which you can literally play a role: there's no immediate task... no definite quest which is lay upon you to enhance to the next level. The game encourages pure freedom of how you want to play and what you want to do.... there a little or no limitations set. Although AC (Asheron’s Call) isn’t quite so perfectly unique... as of Ultima Online.... apart from its quite disgustingly taped up graphics engine and its jagged performance its still a well polished game.... However Microsoft’s attempt to crack this market (any limitations to their ambitions?) has been hugely successful. Asheron’s call tweaks an already strongly established genre in the perfect way. This is the kind of game that can be quite notoriously difficult and time consuming to get started. Although it does have quite excellent ways of helping the un-experienced player go through the learning curve as smoothly as possible. There’s also a good manual online and offline to help you find your feet in a sticky situation. Perhaps AC's most significant and most progressive factor is the unique social system that has been laid into place. By pledging allegiance to an experienced (or high-level) character you gain them experience as your adventures grow, and in return they will help you learn the basics and give you even free stuff! This person would be named a patron to you. Patrons can support any number of Vassals (you), as they like as long as they can successfully provide for them all. As you would expect some of the monsters of Dereth are pretty nasty. However the cunning radar at the top-right of your screen should be able to alert you to their presence by showing you a small yellow dot. The AI can a
t times be transparently poor, though no creatures I have ever encountered are terribly bright. The magic system is nicely implemented, by the more a particular spell is cast in the world, the weaker it becomes, thus creating a thriving magic economy where only you tell your best friend of the secrets of your newly discovered spells. Although Asheron's call is consistently being updated and enhanced and has the potential to be the best game ever on the PC. The framework is there, the graphics engine, and the social systems work well. The game I have played doesn’t even drop a pinnacle short of the best game I have ever played. =Shepard=