Release Date: Q4 2005
I must admit, Auto Assault was one of the coolest new games I saw at E3 this year. NCSoft's new action MMORPG is some pretty slick stuff. I also have to admit that I was surprised by the game, which was being touted as the "fastest, most destructive MMORPG" in advertisements, which automatically set off warning bells in my head from the moment I saw the first ad. Fortunately, it really does live up to the claims by combining some of the best elements of action games with a strong MMORPG backbone.
In a post-apocalyptic world, people have mutated and developed powers. In order to survive, they salvage what they can from ruins, driving around the wasteland in heavily armed vehicles. As you might expect from a game titled Auto Assault, the combat in the game is all vehicle based. You'll own and outfit a variety of vehicles with weapons and equipment you salvage, build, or trade with other players, and use these vehicles to accomplish missions or duel with other players.
The combat in the game is action-packed. The interface could easily be out of an arcade action game, being one of the first MMORPGs I've ever seen that could, and perhaps should, be played using a gamepad (perhaps with the Xbox 360 controller attached to your PC, wink wink) instead of the traditional mouse/keyboard setup. In combat zones, you'll drive your vehicle around, with a variety of weapons and abilities at your disposal. The vehicles I saw all had a front-mounted gun and a rotating turret weapon of some sort, allowing focused attacks to the front of the vehicle and weaker attacks directed in any direction. Although the game looks and plays much like some sort of vehicle combat game, whether you hit and how much damage you deal is all being calculated behind the scenes using random rolls based upon your skills. Your weapons each create a visible arc stretching out from your vehicle, and only targets within the arc can be attacked when firing. At the heart of Auto Assault, the game is still very much an MMORPG, albeit one that plays like an action game.
Your character can be one of four different classes. Rangers are stealthy and typically drive fast, light vehicles. The Tank drives the heavier vehicles with the major firepower, and specializes in using different weapons. Officers are sort of a buff/pet class that can call for reinforcements. Lastly, Engineers can repair vehicles and construct various helpful objects in combat.
Like any MMORPG, your character levels and can learn new skills and raise attributes as he develops, and better equipment and vehicles will become available. The designers wanted players to be able to customize their vehicles in many different ways, so they made all equipment in the game unique, with randomly generated stats in a variety of categories. Players will also be able to build their own stuff by gathering broken parts in the wastelands and combining them. Crafted items will have the option of either being created as is without fail, or being created with experimentation, which adds a chance of failure but increases the chance of creating something superb.
PvP is a definite component of Auto Assault, with a wasteland area with open PvP where powerful salvage can be found. Additionally, also instanced arenas will be available for players to battle, spectate battles, or wager on the outcome of battles with each other. This is a very cool feature that should be mandatory for any MMORPG that includes PvP. My hands-on experience with the game was with playing some 4v4 arena combat, and it was a blast. I can only imagine how much cooler it would be if I had complete control over how my vehicle was outfitted and what skills and abilities I had access to.
There are plans to have PvP tournaments as well, and since the arenas are instanced, different fights could take place using unique rules or special weaponry. The arena fighting will also ignore server boundaries, letting you fight against anyone playing the game and not just the people from your server.
The developers want to make sure that there is plenty of stuff to do solo in the game, and they also are including an autogroup function, which will put you together with other people looking for a group to do group missions. Even cooler, voice communication is included with the game and is set up automatically whenever you join a group.
Try this out if you get the chance. This is one hot game you don't want to miss.
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