Project Gorgon, the latest in classic MMORPG recreations, is the brain child of Erin Heimburg. The team behind the game aims to create a fully immersive experience designed to bring players back to the days of early MMORPGs. We’re talking about the days of EverQuest, when you had to use your brain to get out of situations rather than just mindlessly clicking – you remember those days, right?
I certainly do, but in today’s MMORPG world something disturbing happens the moment you start up a new MMO. You literally go into an autopilot mode where you click on the first NPC you see, accept their quest without reading it, and immediately move onto the objective. I mean it’s pretty easy, considering the game literally tells you where to go, what to attack, and how to complete said objective. Half of the time I don’t even know what a game is about, what the story is, or how I ended up on the other side of the world. I literally just follow a chain of quests until I’m at a decent level for grouping, as unfortunate as that is.
The soul is gone from most modern MMORPGs, and it’s been replaced with that empty amusement park experience. On one hand, that makes for a more accessible game for everyone, but on the other hand there are still many who prefer. and strongly desire, that classic MMORPG experience. Project Gorgon attempts to revive that feeling, and boy does it go the extra mile to do it.
Getting Started in Project Gorgon
Project Gorgon doesn’t start you out with a tutorial, though you’ll probably wish it had. You begin the game dropped off on a desolate island where you’ll fight for both survival and your memories. You see, much like Path of Exile, you’ve been deemed an undesirable and dropped off on Anagoge Island to live out the rest of your life. You’ve also been robbed of your memories, which you’re going to gradually learn as you explore the island and talk to the non-hostile inhabitants. In other words, you used to be someone but now you’re a blanks slate.
This might seem crazy, but you know what’s even crazier? Creating a class specific character that somehow doesn’t know how to kill anything stronger than a damn boar. When you land on the island, you’ll start by learning some of the most basic skills, which starts with combat. You’ll kill skeletons and spiders, and the most important thing you’re going to learn here is that you don’t level up in the traditional way. Instead of being a level based game, it relies on the progression of skills. This means the more you use specific skills, the more proficient you are going to become in them. This follows in the footsteps of games like Meridian 59 and even The Elder Scrolls in part. In some ways this is good and in other ways it might be a turn off to some players as we have so long relied on ‘levels’ as a measurement of our progress throughout different games.
The game plays much like any other traditional MMORPG. You’re given a basic character sheet, which you need to develop, and you do of course have an action bar you’ll fill with skills and abilities. Typically the top action bar is used for weapons skills while the bottom bar is used for unarmed skills. Along with the typical skills, however, you’re going to find that you have to worry about metabolism, hunger, and damage over time. I was bitten by a spider and ended up running for about three minutes with blood shooting out of my throat before it finally recovered… and then I was killed by another spider seconds later.
Along with watching out for new mechanics, you’re going to need to build up favor with vendor NPCs if you want to survive. You’ll get better deals on purchases, but you will also be able to get more relevant information, which is very helpful when you’re trying to escape that beginning island and teleport to Serbule.
The game does have a quest journal, but there are some things that you will have to write down yourself. For example, there are a series of obelisks on the starting island that are vital to your escape, but in order to effectively use them you have to write down the information that they give you. You can choose to either write it down outside of the game, or you can write it down in the ‘notes’ section of your quest journal. Yes, it actually makes you do that, and it does not apologize.
In order to escape the island, you will need to ‘reprogram’ the teleporter by finding coordinates for a new teleportation bind. These digits being present on the four obelisks around the island. Once you figure that out and get off the island, you can begin the game in earnest as it starts to become more of a traditional MMORPG. If you’re bad at puzzles, or have very little patience, then by now you have some idea of what the game is going to throw at you over the course of your experience. In other words, you’re going to know right away whether or not this is the game for you and if you want to sink hours of your life into it.
Progression is going to be extremely slow and I can already to tell you that a lot of people are going to simply give up on it before they even really get started. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, especially for people who want a challenge and want to be paired with like-minded individuals. However, the game is free right now, so why not jump in and give it a shot yourself? You don’t have much to lose other than a little bit of time and a LOT of hit points.
I’m giving the innovation part of this a pretty low rating but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They didn’t try anything terribly new, but considering what they were going for did they really have to? This is an old school experience through and through. Sure, it may have some new mechanics and offer some new technology, but at its core, this is something that’s been done before, and that’s the whole appeal.
The Gorgon community isn’t too bad; there are always people to chat with and grouping is pretty easy. Then again, in a game where everything wants to kill you on sight for some reason, finding a group should be plenty easy. If you can’t find players to talk to in-game, you can certainly speak to them in the forums. It might be early access and a product of Indiegogo, but the player base is pretty impressive.
Right, let’s talk about the graphics for a moment, shall we? The game isn’t going to win any awards in this area and maybe it doesn’t have to. It’s catering to a gaming demographic that is very much used to putting gameplay before graphics. If you want more proof of that, you need only look at the original EverQuest, which is still going and still has a strong player base. Now that’s something curious right there, isn’t it? Gorgon might have a long way to go, but I won’t really fault it for having weak graphics; at least it runs on every system under the sun.
Value for Money 10/10
Right now, Gorgon is a free-to-play title, which means you don’t need to put any money into the game. It’s a very early build, and we’re not sure what direction the payment model will be going in further down the line. You can easily download the latest build and jump into the action with other players. That being said, we have to say that the value for money is pretty good for this title.
The game borrows a lot of ideas from MMOs old and new, and right now it’s understandably pretty empty. It is difficult to tell just where the game might be heading in the future or what direction it’s going to take. Will it be a truly classic MMORPG experience? Or will it, like so many others, pander to the fans and dumb things down to make itself more accessible? All I can tell you right now is that the game has a long way to go before it can even be considered a contender against an of today’s modern MMOs or even the older, still running MMOs like Everquest, Age of Conan, or Asheron’s call. Still, make sure you stay tuned to this one because it might just surprise you.
+Classic Gameplay Style
Related: Early Access, MMORPG, Project Gorgon, Review, Sandbox