Set in Rome around 300 B.C., Gods and Heroes developers fully admit that they aren't strictly sticking to Roman history or mythology, but the overall look of the game is definitely Roman. One of my favorite features of the game is that it is a quest driven game. Something I always look for in a game is how much repetitive hunting to level I must complete in comparison to the number of quests and adventures my character can go on in order to advance through the game. The developers plan to release the game with over 1200 quests and add more with each major patch of the game. Their hope is to have so many quests in game at release that a player can't really complete all the quests in an area before they out level that area.
The terrain in the areas that we saw was stunning in how richly beautiful it was. At one point in the demonstration, they stopped long enough for us to overlook Rome itself and the view was dazzling. Little details like how small pools of water respond when a character walk through them always amaze me when done right - and Gods and Heroes seems to have done it right. The developers demonstrating the game fully admitted that large bodies of water such as oceans won't have the water trails and such that smaller pools will, but this is due to the amount of resources that would be required to pull off such a feature, not because of lack of desire to do so.
If you are the type of player who looks to customize your character's looks so that they stand out from the fighter next to you, Gods and Heroes looks to be the game for you. While I can't say that they yet have the customization at character creation that some games do, it also wouldn't be fair to make that comparison at the moment because it isn't comparing apples to apples - they're not yet done completing the voluminous number of features they plan to have.
Your character starts out life as the son or daughter of a god, and so has limited god like powers. Rather than having any sort of crafting system, Gods and Heroes has a god system where you must work to remain in good standing, and even increase your standing, with your character's chosen god. Good standing with your god allows you to have higher morale within your camp of soldiers. Soldiers with low morale are likely to rebel and not fight when needed, so you can't simply ignore this aspect of the game. And you wouldn't really want to anyway, as it is this squad based combat system that sets Gods and Heroes apart from other games that I've experienced.
In the squad based combat system, you can control specialized squads of up to 8 soldiers in battle. The type of soldier varies from archers to healers to specialized melee NPC's. In fact, at higher levels, characters can even complete special quests that allow them to have creatures such as minotaur soldiers. You can command your squad members to simply attack, or micro-manage battles by setting a particular soldier against a specific enemy. And combat against different enemies is very different depending on what weapons they use and what you are armed with. Fighting against a duel-wielding opponent is very different than fighting against a two-handed pikeman, for example. Everyone, both player and NPC alike, have special combat moves that they can learn - both attack and defens. In other words, the combat system is complex and involved. And that's all without the use of god powers. God powers are special abilities that only player characters can have which are designed to turn the tide of battle and impress your allies with your awesome might. At present, it is planned that there will be more than 100 possible god powers that a player could earn. Variety is truly the spice of this game, in other words.
Does Gods and Heroes reinvent the MMORPG wheel? Frankly, no. I'm not sure that any game out there will, though. Does it stand out from some of the other MMORPG's I saw at E3 this year? Well, yes, I think it does. And it isn't all because of the squad combat system. The developers really seem to have been listening to what players consider to be the best of games out on the market already and are taking those features to combine them into a game that should have a wide appeal. For those who enjoy PvP, you can consent to do battle with another player, another group of players, even whole guilds. Or you can enter one of the great coliseums and do battle like the gladiators of Ancient Rome. Role-players will find a breadth of storyline that I haven't seen in a long time in any RPG. Gamers with only short amounts of time to play each session will find that they can really do something in the game world with only an hour or so to play, and gamers who quickly become hooked on a game will find that the vast amount of content already being planned will keep them occupied for long periods of time.
And to be honest, this is all just a brief summary of everything that I saw at the Gods and Heroes demonstration. To say that I am still amazed at how far developed the game is given that it isn't expected to be released for months is an understatement. I, for one, will be keeping my fingers crossed that I don't miss out on playing the game in beta because I really am itching to play that badly.
The “glory days” of computer gaming for me were when games like Spectre Supreme, Pirate’s Gold, the Might and Magic series, the original Prince of Persia… those sorts of games were coming out on a regular basis. Back then I owned a Macintosh and was a die hard Mac fan. I was one of the first in my area to buy an iMac and on it learned the joy of playing games on the internet like daily crossword puzzle and “mind bender” type puzzles. My first online RPG was given to me for Christmas the year EQ was released, and I was hooked from day one. I played EQ for about a year. I started playing DaoC during late alpha testing, and was hooked on it.. well, to be honest I still am. I’ve tried pretty much every MMORPG I can get my hands on, from big names like EQ, to more obscure ones such as Underlight. I’ve been writing for IMGS since the first DaoC guide, and find I love the challenge of learning a game and presenting what I’ve learned (and sometimes my opinions), to other players.
I’m not a very strong player as far as learning PvE or quick reaction times, so I tend to stay away from games where I’m pitted against someone else in a way that requires physical (rather than mental) response. I still enjoy story and puzzle games, and in a way that’s how I still approach online games. I would much rather spend hours working through a quest than 5 minutes in combat against another player. I still get lost in simulation type games, obsessing over them until I’ve gotten them beaten. And I like being able to sit down at the computer when I’ve got less than half an hour and playing through a few levels of a puzzle game. I tend not to like first-person shooter type games, or anything with person to person violence, so I steer away from them unless they are fantasy based settings. All in all, I enjoy computer gaming so much that my life feels incomplete somehow when my computer is down.