In a recent Massively post about Gamigo, it was mentioned that Black Prophecy currently has a European open beta running. This is a game for which I have had hopeful curiosity, tired disappointment and a few things in between, ever since I first heard of the game and wrote something about it.
Now almost 3 years later there was actually an opportunity to try it out. Start the game and as usual the first step is to create a character. The character creator, or perhaps rather the head creator, is fairly sophisticated and there is a lot of tweaking that can be done to your character’s head.
All this tweaking is currently not that useful though – no-one will actually see you. As of now your character is your ship as well, there is no walking outside of the ship – not yet anyway.
Jumping in with your character pretty much gets you right away into the action. A cutscene sets the setting and you then start a gunner on a Sapiens ship helping to fight off an attack. It is pretty good and at the end of that tutorial session, you get promoted to become a pilot and fly your own ship.
You start as a Sapiens. This is the current name for “normal” humans, which currently in the human society is considered second class citizens. The more prominent humans are instead from the two “super-human” factions, the Tyi or the Genides. The Tyi have enhanced themselves through cybernetic means, while the Genides are more into bio-engineering to improve themselves.
These two are the currently playable factions. However, after leaving the initial tuorial section you are still a regular Sapiens. There is a continued story here, which is part of a prologue that sets up the story in more detail.
This prologue is quite good and will continue to build up quite a story with a number of missions. At the end of the prologue you will get a choice to join a faction. After the first character has completed the prologue, later characters do not have to complete it again.
Gameplay is centered around various space stations; with the SPIRE station being the center during the prologue. At these space stations players can dock their ships, perform skill upgrades, craft, buy & sell (NPC) and some other activities. Mission are picked up either from designated NPC mission contacts, or from a general mission terminal at the station. Transport to the area of the mission is then pretty much immediate – just select the area to go to. Many of the missions have their own instances for each player/team that plays them. However, some areas are also shared between players.
The space combat in Black Prophecy has a dogfight style to it; I have not been a big fan of such space combat in other games, but I must say that I quite enjoyed Black Prophecy here – it works quite well and is fun to play. As I have played I have noticed a couple of bugs; primarily some mission content which does not work as intended – sometimes redoing that mission worked fine for it, sometimes not.
Around level 5-6 (depending on how many side missions have been done in addition to the prologue missions) the prologue ends and the player chooses a faction.
As an old Earth & Beyond player, I get some flashbacks when I look at the factions in the game. I would not be surprised if the developers had some inspiration from that game. The Tyi has at least some visual similarities with the Progen in Earth & Beyond, while the Genides kind of fits with the Jenquai from Earth & Beyond – and for the 3rd one the Terran from E&B matches the Sapiens, although they were a bit more equal in Earth & Beyond.
I hte forums some people think it is a bit too buggy still to officially release it. Maybe the concern will be more valid as the levels are increased, but as far as I have played now it has been quite fun, and few it any bugs to consider.
This post is only a quick glimpse of the game and what I have seen so far is promising and fun.