Developer: Artifact Entertainment
Release Date: November 3, 2003
Pre-order 'HORIZONS: Empire of Istaria': PC
The MMORPG genre can possibly be one of the hardest genres to not only break into but also to create a product that will garner enough fans to survive for any period of time. Many MMORPGs have great gameplay at first, but after a while only the most hardcore fans find things to keep their attention. Horizons is the one of the newest MMORPGs throwing their hat into the ring, and does have a good amount of potential to become one of the larger MMORPG worlds.
While many MMORPGs such as Dark Age of Camelot and Star Wars: Galaxies offer player versus player combat (and later on cater to it in a characters “life”) Horizons is built from the ground up on a new premise, players versus NPCs. I, like many of you are probably right now, immediately thought of simplistic combat with groups of people attacking mindless creatures. While there are plenty of mindless creatures for lower level players to combat, the scale is taken to a much larger scale.
In Horizons players can create their own towns, by buying their own plot of land and developing it as they see fit. However, player towns can be attacked and destroyed by the undead, a growing army of evil that threatens to overtake the entire kingdom. Individual monsters can form groups of their own, utilizing the skills of the party to try and achieve specific goals (like the destruction of a player town). These groups will also use tactics such as keeping their melee attackers in the front lines while keeping the archers and magicians in the rear. Even more sinister are the blight maelstroms, evil structures that can appear anywhere in the world, slowly growing and corrupting the nearby landscape until finally it begins spawning hordes of the undead like an invasion force. Essentially, this puts a high strategic value in the game, does your party of brave warriors, rangers, and clerics help defend your town from the impending attack, or do you bravely venture forth to enter the dark structure and destroy its heart to stop the undead forces?
Everything isn’t all about battling an invasion force though. Horizons also offers a deeper crafting system than most MMORPGs. When you create an item you don’t simply buy the materials and craft, you actually have to take your axe and cut down trees for wood, or use your mining pick to get ore from a cliff face. Horizons economy is entirely player driven, with actual players crafting the items and selling them rather than NPCs. The only time an NPC will sell you anything is when a player put it up for sale.
Another rather new idea that Horizons brings to the table is the ability to switch between classes of combat and crafting at your will. While to actually switch classes you need to speak to a teacher of the class you want to switch to, it is nice to know you aren’t stuck to anything once you pick a class. Of course there are still limitations, a warrior turned cleric wont be able to use warrior skills and vice-versa, but maximum health and weapon skills stay at their current level regardless of what class you are. The same goes for the crafting classes, if you simply don’t want to be a blacksmith any more but later return to it all of your skills will still be just as you left them, but you won’t be able to create items from other crafting classes.
Overall, Horizons seems to be a bit more impressive than some of the other MMORPGs on the market, and has the potential to have enough content to keep the game going for quite some time. The players versus undead concept can turn out to be very compelling as long as the gameplay is varied, and the crafting options will appeal to anyone who has ever been a crafter in another MMORPG. Horizons essentially takes the bread and butter gameplay that makes up every MMORPG and runs a bit with it, adding bits of gameplay that may end up forming a very entertaining and diverse game.
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