Ashen Foundry

A Look Through IGN's 15 Minutes of Alpha Zero Gameplay

A fifteen minute glimpse behind the veil into Ashes of Creation's ongoing Alpha Zero gameplay test was just posted over on IGN, offering a fresh look at the current state of the MMO's basic gameplay and a number of different environmental biomes.

The video is worth a watch for the various biomes alone, as though we've seen many of these before, this playthrough provides an on-the-ground look of the world that's more representative of how they look in gameplay then environmental fly-bys, and you're likely to see some areas you haven't seen before in the process.

The clip opens with a Mage, set to be our protagonist for the duration, doing battle against man's most ancient foe: the mushroom. Ever since humanity first crawled from the depths of our nascent cave dwellings and discovered the concept of poison, our struggle against shroomkind has raged on. Based on the evidence in the video, it would seem that humanity's journey to Verra provided no respite for our beleaguered travelers.

War. War never changes. We're immediately shown the latest in Ashes of Creation's combat as our Mage valiantly defends himself against a fungus most foul. The timer based combos are gone for now - as we've seen in other recent videos - as they are currently on hold while Intrepid evaluates if there are other mechanics or implementations that could make for a more fun combat experience.

As I watched our errant Mage traverse the mushroom-infested swamp, the scenery continued to pull at my attention. The beauty of the bioluminescent growth is something that's come to be expected in Ashes of Creation, but even after all this time, I still can't help but ooh and ahh a bit when I see it on screen.

The swamp also played host to ruins from a grander time, now in collapsed disarray, sinking into the muck like Artax - only with intrigue and mystique standing in for the place of lifelong childhood trauma.

At one point our Mage swam through a bit of the swamp - entering the water but not diving beneath it. Diving is a feature I'd hope to see in game eventually. Water based content may be terrible (so say we all), but it always feels so wrong when the ability to descend beneath the surface is omitted from an open world game. It's like you're sliding along an invisible wall, artificially blocked from experiencing whatever may lie beyond.

As we approached the end of the swamp, I glimpsed a temperate forest through the edge of the towering mushrooms. I was curious to see how this zone transition would be handled and how abrupt it would feel compared against other MMOs I've played. Thankfully, our Mage crossed the threshold into a mountain meadow, and we were able to find out.

The hills are aliiiiiiiive! 

The transition was certainly abrupt, but at least in this instance - and it is harder to tell from soneone else's brief video - it didn't feel unnatural. My theory is that the transition was aided by uneven topography of the zone; rather than crossing from one flat area that stops and suddenly becomes another, I felt as if we exited the forest and descended unto the meadow. It's a minor difference, but one that I felt worked - at least based on this example.

The backdrop of the mountains (I have no idea if they can be reached or not) created an enormous sense of scale as they imposingly towered over the valley. They appeared to become fuzzy off in the distance - a technique that I feel GW2 has used to great effect and that I much prefer to the fog of war we've seen employed by games like The Elder Scrolls Online.

Our Mage eventually reached a town in the mountain meadow, enclosed within ornate, protective walls, and approached the town center. We've seen this layout before, but this time I was able to catch the nameplates on the central NPCs the small crowd had gathered around: a priest. Could this be our first look at a religious node? It's possible that the town's centerpiece, a golden statue in this case, could change in flavor depending on the government of the node in which it exists - maybe even probable.

Potentially adding fuel to the speculative fire, the video cut to a new biome, wherein our Mage adventured through what appeared to be a temple ruins adorned with the same statue seen in town, fighting off animated armor sets as he explored the area.

It's also possible that this is footage of a game in early alpha that's just reusing assets right now. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ We already knew that weapons in Ashes of Creation were class agnostic (any class can use any weapon), but this also provided a good early example of that system at work.

The video continued on for some time, showing us a number of the other biomes currently available in the Alpha Zero build. From a gorgeous cherry blossom lined river to a desert illuminated by electrically charged crystals, the array of what was shown dazzled and fueled up the hype train.

For those of us who've been around the MMO development cycle a couple of times now, it's impressive how far Ashes of Creation has already made it in what seems like such a short time. While the game still has a long - very long - way to go before it's complete, I think it's reassuring to see the progress they've already made, both as a backer and someone who can't wait to get their hands on the final release.

Be sure to check out IGN's full article accompanying the video to read author Leif Johnson's impressions from his hands on experience.

About Isarii:

An errant penman on a journey through sparkling galaxies, gloomful dungeons, and virtual worlds. When not delving into an MMO, Isarii writes for your favorite MMO sites, podcasts at The Dungeon Crawler Network, and rambles on his YouTube channel.

10 Replies
  1. #1

    Scootter

    Member7 Posts

    The game is coming along very nicely and I am really loving the environments!

  2. #2

    Isarii

    Moderator81 Posts
    Scootter wrote on Jan. 31, 2018

    The game is coming along very nicely and I am really loving the environments!

    I heard someone describe the art direction as a mix of The Elder Scrolls and Warcraft, and while I think we'd all pick nits at the parts of that comparison, it's pretty close to on the money.

  3. #3

    Atropos

    Administrator153 Posts

    That's an interesting way to put it. I guess I see aspects of that comparison, with the color palette of WoW (or other traditional high fantasy) but a bit more of the realism of ESO. Overall, it's a bit Witcher 3, for me, in terms of the balance between realism and the slightly saturated colors/tones which really emphasize the classic fantasy setting. 

    EDIT: On another note, the YouTube comments were so bad :(

    Creator of Ashen Foundry and Tamriel Foundry. Former guildmaster of Entropy Rising. Economist and MMO enthusiast.

  4. #4

    Scootter

    Member7 Posts

    It is sad that about 90% of the criticism on the video do not know what alpha means.

  5. #5

    Relic

    Member13 Posts

    I was both surprised and miffed at the messages about the video too. The proverbial enhanced duration shrug seems appropriate. Chip on shoulder syndrome I guess. That aside...

    As a confessed MMO explorer, there is nothing more I can ask for as far as static biomes. I hope for the essential fauna and flora necessary to create, sustain and spread life. Insect life just doing their thing, predominantly immune to the presence of us. Luminescent butterflies, fireflies, glow worms and creepy crawlies. Herds doing their thing.

    Its a beautiful setting to place those things within. So I am happy at the scene, but ache for it to be filled..or to be more exact....add the functional aspect that is life. Its early days though. I am eager to see how this develops. The style is impressively unique and the attention to detail is apparent in many areas. The eye candy will not be lacking IMHO.

    The systems and interaction.......still havent really seen anything much as yet. But the inventory and gear swapping, the essential requirements are all there to build upon.

    [Taps fingers on table and ponders....]

  6. #6

    Tholren

    Contributor6 Posts

    The more I see of Ashes the less stressed I feel about its' progress. It really feels like they're working on what matters, now more than before. Also, it will be interesting to see how the combo system and visual queues of the game will be changing in the upcoming months.

    Regarding the unnecessary amounts of negative criticism, the game is receiving... Well, the youtube comment section isn't necessarily known for being a hub for intellectuals and knowledgeable game critics. 

    One last note, lovely article @Isarii, I genuinely enjoyed your descriptions and awe, it was quite poetic.

  7. #7

    Varkun

    Member12 Posts

    It is nice to see how things have come along in the past several months and it is exciting to think where things will be several months from now, with more staff being hired. As for the comments I honestly try not to read them as they are almost always negative its like a sport with some people they think its cool to tear things down rather than give an honest thought out opinion. Most are just mindless lemmings who just follow some type of mob mentality and if you voice an opinion to the contrary you are just labelled a fanboy, so its honestly best to just ignore such and put forward your opinions in places like this where there will be honest constructive feedback given.

    Thanks for post here, ashes is progressing nicely. 

    Close your eyes, spread your arms, and always trust your cape.

  8. #8

    Atropos

    Administrator153 Posts
    Tholren wrote on Feb. 4, 2018

    The more I see of Ashes the less stressed I feel about its' progress. It really feels like they're working on what matters, now more than before. Also, it will be interesting to see how the combo system and visual queues of the game will be changing in the upcoming months.

     Right on, glad to hear you are following along @Tholren!

    Varkun wrote on Feb. 4, 2018

    Most are just mindless lemmings who just follow some type of mob mentality and if you voice an opinion to the contrary you are just labelled a fanboy, so its honestly best to just ignore such and put forward your opinions in places like this where there will be honest constructive feedback given.

     It's definitely (unfortunately) tough to strike a balance between supporting the game and being dismissed as biased by the broader community. Oh well, I'd rather be on the side of the fence rooting for the game to succeed than descend to the level that seemingly some folks have reached where they just want to see everything burn.

    Creator of Ashen Foundry and Tamriel Foundry. Former guildmaster of Entropy Rising. Economist and MMO enthusiast.

  9. #9

    Isarii

    Moderator81 Posts
    Tholren wrote on Feb. 4, 2018

    One last note, lovely article @Isarii, I genuinely enjoyed your descriptions and awe, it was quite poetic.

     Thanks Tholren! I appreciate that.

  10. #10

    Atropos

    Administrator153 Posts

    I wonder, given the semi-announcement regarding NDA duration during their previous live stream, whether it won't be too long before we see more media like and live gameplay from a couple of invited streamers. 

    Also really interested to see how performance holds up once there's more people running around. Seems like they were running the Alpha Zero server exclusively for Leif.

    Creator of Ashen Foundry and Tamriel Foundry. Former guildmaster of Entropy Rising. Economist and MMO enthusiast.

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