The Lost Titans Pre-Release Preview

I feel like I’ve said the words ‘browser gaming is getting a whole lot better’ far too many times already; but, alas, I feel in this instance that I have no choice but to say them again. It seems with every new browser MMORPG release, there’s a technological leap forward like no other gaming genre I know of – and if you don’t believe me, take a look at this:

That’s The Lost Titans. It’s a browser game. It’s being published by ZQGame, the same company that published Crystal Saga last year – which, at first glance, is the same damn game, looking a million times better.

Although, you might be surprised to learn that, incredible as they are, it’s not the graphics in The Lost Titans that has me singing praise to the browser genre – it’s the gameplay. I recently had a chance to sit down with some of the people working on TLT, and to be honest, what I saw completely blew me away.

A NEW ERA APPROACHES

First up; this is an actual MMORPG. It’s not some fake little browser version claiming the fame of World of Warcraft – it genuinely offers a similar experience, with all the bells and whistles, all within an Internet browser. Here’s a breakdown:

First, you’ve got a massive, seamless fantasy world with more than 40 zones, all inspired by ancient civilizations, including the Greeks, Egyptians, Incas and more. Sure, it looks a lot like every other fantasy MMORPG world ever made, but again, this is running in a browser. 40 zones. Browser. 3D graphics. Think about it.

Creating a world this massive is one thing; filling it with a bunch of entertaining things to do is another altogether. Most of these browser games, either by limitation of technology or scope, offer little more than monster grinding and poorly implemented quests with auto-navigation and botting mechanics.

TLT offers some of these mechanics, such as the auto-navigation between quests, but does away with the botting entirely, and offers not only a collection of seemingly well-designed quests, but also, a main story arc that takes your character on more than a simple point-an-click journey. After some time playing through this arc, you’ll be asked to choose a faction – one of 3 available – and then the game truly opens up.

Factions play an important role in TLT, because within them you’ll find the players you’ll need to make the most of the experience. Remember when I said TLT was feature rich? Well, here’s why – Group Dungeons, Battleground, Arena, World PvP and Guild vs Guild battles on a massive scale.

YOU CAN FLY ON A DRAGON??

Yeah. That’s what I was thinking too, the first time I heard it. These features, while far from anything new, have always been missing from the general Asian MMORPG game list. And in a browser game? Psh. No chance.

TLT’s changing all that. Players can expect a full offering of hardcore gameplay elements, and all of them are shaping up to be pretty damn cool. Of course, this means nothing to most of the browser gaming audience, whom, primarily, enjoy solo PvE content. But, they’re covered too.

At launch, TLT is promising 15 combat-enabled, trainable pets, 5 mounts (including a Dragon and Pegasus, that, yes, can fly), dungeons instances with Heroic Mode and a huge offering of typical quest-driven gameplay.

Okay, now for the bad stuff. I don’t want to lie to you; though TLT is doing a lot in the way of bringing awesome MMORPG game features to a new audience, they’ve done little in the way of true innovation.

TAKE THE GOOD WITH THE BAD

Of my small list of concerns, it’s character creation that worries me the most.Outside the limited customisation options, there are only 3 classes – the Warrior, Mage and Archer – and although they can each progress in different ways, 3 typical, generic classes in 2012 just ain’t enough.

I had some other concerns, such as the download plugin required to play TLT. I was told that it was about 1MB, and that, thanks to some clever CDN action, anyone with a broadband Internet connection should be able to play on basically any hardware setup.

Finally, my largest concern was monetization. You might not know it, but in Asia, it’s perfectly acceptable to sell overpowered weapons and items to players that can afford them, giving an unfair advantage over those that can’t. Fortunately, TLT doesn’t support pay to win – but it does have a few kinks.

Chiefly, you can purchase virtual currency (Gold) directly from the developer. Once upon a time, this was illegal. Today, it’s almost commonplace. Now, while I’ve been assured that anything you can buy with Gold you can also buy with Silver (the in-game currency) – I’m still worried about the effect this could have on the virtual economy.

Take a look at Eve Online or Guild Wars 2 – they offer the ability to purchase in-game currency using real money, but you can’t simply purchase it from the developer – you need to buy if from another player. In this way, there’s always a balance, both in terms of price and availability, allowing the virtual economy to grow and thrive. Start in injecting purchasable cash into it and all of a sudden you need a LOT more (or less, as the case may be) Silver to buy something, and the value shifts.

I’m not entirely sure how TLT is going to manage this problem; though, for the most part, I don’t imagine it’ll be an issue. So long as there’s no pay-to-win options, and players can’t simply bot their way to a fat account – then I think TLT has every chance at success. And, believe me, I haven’t spoken about half of the features I’d like to – the StarSoul system in particular, but we’ll save those juicy details until the review, after the release on November 29th.

Head on over to our The Lost Titans Game Page for more information.

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