When it comes to RPGs and their online counterparts what I really love is a sprawling, free to do as you wish sandbox. Unfortunately the only big sandbox I know of is EVE Online, but as it is devoid of rolling plains, soaring mountains, and wild beasts it fails to appeal to me in any way. Simply being a sandbox isn’t enough for me when the rest of the game lacks all of the other features I enjoy. To make a true, immersive sandbox MMORPG takes a lot of risk, a lot of creativity, and a lot of cash. Since most major studios aren’t willing to do what it takes the responsibility must instead fall to indie developers and this week’s Indiegogo game is made by a Russian team who just might be able to pull it off. Life is Feudal is an ambitious sandbox MMORPG that looks brilliant, difficult, and intense.
What Is It?
Life is Feudal is a medieval sandbox MMORPG with strong PvP and crafting elements to it. The PvP in this game actually makes sense because it is directly related to player politics and dynamics. The crafting, landowning, and terraforming aspects give it an even more authentic medieval feel.
Social and PvP
Life is Feudal boasts a pretty impressive guild system which ties in to the PvP in a way that would make sense in a medieval world. The game doesn’t have just a simple guild system: there are three different types. An order is made up of a small band of players with a common goal but no claim to land. It is the most informal of the three and can be a group of merry adventurers, weary travelers, or selfish bandits. The choice is up to you.
If the leader of the order so desires, he or she can lay claim to a portion of land upon which a settlement can be built. At this point the order becomes a realm. Realms can seek out other realms to become their vassals. Acquiring a vassal turns a realm into a kingdom.
With the status of realm or kingdom come various diplomatic stances: you can be at war, hostile, neutral, friendly, or allied with other kingdoms and realms. This is where large scale PvP comes into play.
When at war with other realms there are three stages (though it is unclear how you progress from one to the next). To start there is “petty warfare” which basically entails fighting over unprotected lands. Next comes full out battle which is instanced in an open area of the land. Lastly players will take part in un-instanced sieges of one another’s settlements.
Player alignment is a feature that immediately caught my eye. When you die in Life is Feudal you lose skill points and potentially gear. The number of skill points you lose is directly related to the alignment of your character.
But how do you acquire said alignment? Choosing the righteous option in a quest? Nope. Alignment is based on how you fight other players. Fighting when your realms are at war doesn’t reduce alignment, constantly killing others will. Alignment can be raised by prayer, but this takes time. Ganking a lonely traveler and stealing all of their goods will result in a quick reduction. Playing the bad guy becomes a rather risky enterprise. You will need skill to survive this path, but if you do the rewards might be worth it.
One twist to this system is the yield mechanic. If you are fighting another player and they yield you have two options: with one hit you can incapacitate them and loot them, allowing them to then go on their way (probably naked), or you can kill them anyway and steal their stuff. The latter option will result in a massive alignment reduction, whereas allowing the surrendered player to leave will result with only a minor one.
Terraforming and Land Claims
All parts of Life is Feudal’s world is fair game for players to claim either individually or as a group. All that is required to build on a portion of land is that it be leveled and cleared of trees which you can do through terraforming and crafting.
Terraforming allows players to dig through the land in something of a Minecraft style. You can build “secret” tunnels between settlements, a dungeon or cellar for your home, or simply use it as a means of leveling out an area you would like to build upon.
Claimed lands are protected. If you have a chest with goods on your lot a player cannot wander upon it and nick your things (now if you were to leave a chest of goodies in the middle of the forest somewhere…well…you better return to it quickly.)
A house is a place where you can place a bed which acts as something of a hearth. If you die you will be returned to your home rather than spawn in a potentially dangerous area (and possibly without clothes!) This hearth mechanic is not tied to the house, but rather the bed, so if you had a friend without a home and you had space for an additional bed, you could give said bed to your friend and allow him or her a safe place to respawn.
But to build a bed or a home you will need to learn various crafting skills. The crafting is pretty involved in this game so I’m going to let you look it over yourself, but if crafting is one of your favorite in-game features then it will probably be something for you to love. I’m a huge fan of crafting, possibly because I’m so bad at it in real life. I don’t typically play games for any sense of accomplishment (you have no idea how rarely I accomplish anything… 😉 ), but I will admit it is nice to be able to cook a lovely dish and pretend for just a short while that the food I make doesn’t always turn out blackened, or to craft a gorgeous dress while conveniently forgetting that the snowman I was supposed to make in my 7th grade Family and Consumer Science class looked more like an albino chipmunk (don’t ask). Provided that the rewards are worth it, crafting can be one of my very favorite things to do, so I’m glad to see the prominent role it plays is Life is Feudal.
Finally, everyone’s favorite bit: combat. I must admit that the combat system is really the only area of concern for me with this game. I personally don’t like MMOs that don’t have targeted combat. I most likely have (or am close to getting) carpal tunnel. Given the amount of typing and writing I do on a daily basis, it makes playing games on the computer pretty hard. There are times where I’ll go weeks without logging into WoW because my wrists are hurting too much. Instead I have to just sit in the computer room and chat to guildies on Mumble while Syndrome has a jolly good time playing.
In the last six months it’s gotten pretty tough for me to play computer games. Even something as simple as the Sims gets painful after awhile. So a game that requires quick mouse clicks (like Skyrim) is definitely something I dread. Having to repeatedly click a mouse rather than press a button is exhausting and painful for my stupid wrists. I wish that weren’t the case, but it is and so I’m concerned. I love the idea for this game, but what if I’m unable to play because of my wrist?
That would make me a sad face.
If this game looks like something you would enjoy I highly suggest you check out their website for more information as I have barely scratched the surface. The Indiegogo campaign can be found here and, while it is definitely a high price, remember that MMORPGs are unbelievably expensive to produce. The reason amazing games like Life is Feudal don’t get made is because the studios currently turning out these games are too afraid to risk the money on such an ambitious project. But as a community it’s within our power to show them that these games can be a success. If you’re looking for a medieval sandbox MMORPG Life is Feudal is definitely it (and the name is too awesome to pass up). If you have the money to spare please consider dropping them some dough, otherwise be sure to spread the word to as many other bloggers and gamers as you can. They are looking to get €200,000 by December 15th, so if we want to see them succeed we had better get moving!
This is the MMO I’ve been looking for, and I am crazily excited. 🙂