|Wait... are they sitting on benches... that are on tables?
This game was on my anticipated games list last time and once again it returns since the folks at Portalarium are getting very close to finishing this (considering they're now part of the Steam Early Access program).
Most reviews coming out from Steam for the Early Access rate it as "Very Positive" with 88% of the reviewers recommending the game. There are probably a few reasons for this with the first one being the calibre of developers behind this game.
Amongst the big wigs we've got the likes of Richard "Lord British" Garriott creator of the Ultima series (probably why the game has the word "Avatar" in its name ;)), Starr Long who was the director of the Ultima Online project (one of the earliest graphical MMORPGs in existence - yes I know MUDs have been out for eons) and Tracy Hickman, fantasy author most famous for his Dragonlance series. With that line-up you're bound to get a pretty awesome MMORPG with rich story and oldschool RPG/MMORPG elements found in games during the 80s and 90s. And that's exactly what they intend do.
Remember in Ultima Online how players could actually own their own non-instanced, persistent houses and businesses? Well apparently you'll get to do that again in Shroud of the Avatar. Not only that but you can even have player-owned towns! The economy is apparently also very much player-driven in that crafted items will be the best items available in the game, and the main source of loot. This is a game where its landscape, its economy, its society will be crafted by the players and not dictated with a heavy hand by Lord British (unless someone tries to assassinate him of course, what's with everyone's fascination with that hmmm? :))
In terms of other great features the single player campaign will have many ethical paradoxes where your choices will have consequences - maybe this part of the game is partly inspired by the virtues system in Ultima? I'd like to think so anyway. You're also able to choose who you play the game with: like Elite: Dangerous, you're able to play the game single player, with friends only or in an open world. Well, at least that's what Elite: Dangerous promised, until single player became online single player and Friends Only mode was dropped for release (but may be released later).
Overall, it sounds like an MMORPG for those who grew up with MMORPGs in the late 1990s and early 2000s would want to play, especially those who were fans of Ultima Online. This might be the closest to Ultima Online 2 anyone is going to get, without Richard Garriott securing the IP off EA of course - like that will ever happen.
Mark G and Choona
[ LINK: Official Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues Website ]