What is Earthrise?
Earthrise is a forthcoming MMORPG set in a post-apocalyptic future in the aftermath of World War III. It promises lots of PvP action with a sci-fi backdrop as factions struggle for control. You can customize your character, develop skills and purchase all manner of equipment carving out your own role in the war that rages around you. This is aiming to be an MMO which offers gamers a great deal of freedom and developers Masthead have adopted a completely open skill based system without classes.
The back story is somewhat clichéd and it isn’t much of a surprise to find that the human race has come close to self destructing. Miraculously man has risen from the ashes of WWIII and a new society has sprung up around the prosperous island city of Sal Vitas. Cloning affords humanity a kind of immortality, new energy sources have been tapped and advances developed. The Unified Government maintains a strict control deciding quite literally who will live and die. They are opposed by a rebellion known as Noir who see their Utopia as a kind of prison where human rights abuses are common. Outside of Sal Vitas the rest of the planet still lies in ruins and various mutants wander the wastes in search of victims.
Choose Your Own Path
You have a choice about how to get involved, you can take up arms for either side in the struggle or if you prefer turn to crime, engineering, trade or politics. You have a great deal of choice in the development of your character and with no class barrier you can learn to master over 100 different skills, abilities and tactics. There is also customizable armor, mechanized exo-skeletons and lots of high tech weaponry to choose from. To some extent the equipment you use will limit your actions which should go some way towards curbing the threat of all powerful players. You develop skill points by completing quests and killing monsters and there is also character development while you are offline.
The game-play is set to focus on PvP. Everyone has a battle rating which reflects how tough they are and beating an opponent in combat will allow you to loot their corpse. Since a lot of the battle rating is determined by the gear you use players can switch down to fight weaker opponents if they want to. There will of course be secure zones for people keen to avoid the PvP side of the game and the cities are set to be safe. There will also always be an option to regain your inventory if you get defeated in combat but it may have an associated cost of some kind.
Crafting and Factions
Masthead are also promising an advanced market based economy which will be player driven and the crafting mechanics will allow you to design and create your own unique items. Master crafting is an attractive prospect and you can design and manufacture in order to reap massive profits and find fame as an engineer. Since items are all prone to wear and tear the demand will never die.
The faction system is also important and players will generally want to join guilds that will fight each other for territory and resources. They can form alliances or make declarations of war. This competition will take its own path and power will naturally ebb and flow between them as it generally does in MMOs.
They showed a trailer at GDC and visually speaking the game looks great. The character design looks good with some chunky armoured marine looking blokes and lots of weird of mutant type creatures. There is combat featuring mechs and the trailer shows one up close. The visual effects also look good with some great lighting and refreshingly the world is not all crumbling and ruined there are areas of lush vegetation beyond the futuristic urban sprawl. The world will be seamless with no loading between areas and the developers claim it is the size of World of Warcraft with all of its expansions. It takes a sandbox approach so players are free to roam where they want and a territorial battle is certain to ensue when guilds begin to claim areas for themselves. The developers also plan to expand on an annual basis with a new expansion pack released each year.
The game is being developed by a new company called Masthead Studios who are based in Bulgaria. They started work on the game back in 2005 and it is almost due for release. In fact it is in closed Beta right now so you can expect to hear more very soon. This is their first release and they managed to raise funding privately so it is tough to know what to expect. It is likely to adopt the subscription fee model but the price and distribution method are still to be decided.