Robots and aliens
The last week, after the shutdown of City of Heroes, did not end up quite as I had planned originally. I did spend a bit of time with City of Steam closed beta, which was planned. But instead of playing the other games I had on my list ended up installing and playing a completely different game – Perpetuum.
Among MMOs there is one game that stands out quite a bit in the eyes of many MMO gamers, and that is EVE Online. Progression, sandbox elements interface etc are quite different from many other MMOs. It was one of a kind – until about 2 years ago, when Perpetuum entered the scene.
With a lot of features being very similar to EVE, there was a fair amount of talk about “EVE clone”. The developer of Perpetuum most likely were quite inspired by EVE – which is not necessarily a bad thing, if it is done well.
Nevertheless, when Perpetuum launched I started to play the game – although my time in the game was very short. I did not even complete the tutorials, which simplay was because I could not complete them. Bugs plus the fact that I could not complete one of the tutorials due to a lack of mouse scroll wheel (for the past 11-12 years at least I have been using a trackball, no mouse scroll on those), I stopped playing almost right away.
Since then, I have not touched the game – until a few days ago. For some reason which I do not quite remember, I ended up on a web page which had a reference to Perpetuum and I decided to take a look at the same and the state of it now, two years later. I managed to log on to my old account and found out that I could reactivate it temporarily for 24 hours for free – something that is possible to do once every 30 days for everyone. Later I learned that this features is connected with that you can get a kind of “voucher” in-game to buy game-time. Again a similarity to another sandbox MMO, I believe.
This time I managed to complete the tutorials, even without the mouse scroll wheel. The whole thing was a bit overwhelming a first, but eventually I started to get the hang of some of the basics. The initial tutorials, plus the series of tutorial assignments after that did certainly do a decent job to get familiar with a number of aspects of the game, although on a quite superficial level.
After a couple of hours of play-time spread out over I few days I completed the tutorial assignments and started playing with the new bots that I had received after those missions – one assault bot from the combat tutorial assignments and an industrial bot from the industry/crafting assignments.
I must say that I am kind of intrigued by the game, a lot of it probably being that there is a lot to learn and master – I love that. It can be a bit time consuming, but part of it (mining/harvesting parts at least) can be played while doing other things – in fact I am on some mining runs while writing this post. In this kind of game it is quite clear that you should join up with other players, but so far I have not done that. Right now I consider myself to be in somewhat of a self-imposed tutorial mode, just playing around with some of the features and mechanics to see if I might like it in the long run. Of course, doing it with others will make a difference to the experience as well, but I am not quite sure yet what I really would want to do in this game.
With the initial two bots I had (Arkhe and Arkhe Mk2), combat or mining/harvesting was not that fun or interesting to be honest. It was the whole learning process about the game features that made it a bit more interesting. That did change a bit though when I got my new assault and industrial bots (Castel and Argano). With 3 slots for missile launchers and one for firearms on the Castel, the fights with the NPCs was a bit quicker and more interesting. With the Argano I could attach more miners or harvesters and more cargo space, so the gathering part got a bit more economical in terms of effort vs time – and nice to see that more resources could be gained quicker.
This is of course still quite far away from the bigger mechs that more experienced players will have, but right now I am pretty happy to play around with those bots here.
The setting of the game is on a remote planet called Nia, which is inhabited by a robotic race (the Nians) and essentially three factions among those. The players are agents from Earth, which remote-control bots infiltrating the Nian world. Similar to EVE for a long time, the actual character is just a face, nothing more. The landscape and music/sounds in the game gives a quite eerie mood. That there are not that many players around in the area just adds to that.
Perpetuum have had two expansions since launch and now consists of 36 different islands on Nia, divided into Alpha (PvE), Beta (PvP) and Gamma (PvP, no pre-built structures). There are 6 Alpha islands, 6 Beta islands and 24 Gamma islands. The latter type has no pre-built structures on them besides teleports and are thus “land of opportunity” for players to build their own outposts and constructs.
Progression is similar to EVE time-based, each account gets EP (extension points) as long as the account is active – 1 EP per minute. Extensions are different skills to which EPs can be assigned. There is no learning time though – as long as one has enough EP, various skills can be obtained immediately. Learning a completely new skill typically also requires some cash (NIC) for the initial skill level also.
Fortunately for me, I had some old EP from when my account was active when I first tried out the game, so I had a bit more than a completely new player would have. Still, I was starting fresh with the cash, which effectively put a stop to learn some of the skills, even if I had enough EP for them.
After doing the tutorial assignments and getting the new bots, I have been mixing just general roaming around mining/harvesting/hunting with performing some assignments provided by some corporations. This has earned better relations with them and also provided with better paid assignments. Right now I have earned my first million NIC, so maybe will be able to look at move beyond the T1 equipment I have at the moment.
I am not quite sure how many people are playing Perpetuum at the moment, it seems though that there are not a lot of people though. The General Chat channel have had perhaps 75-80 people on it at most when I have been logged on, although I do not know how common it is for people to be in that channel. Looking at the channel list though it is the most populated channel. This is perhaps both a risk and opportunity – a sandbox game like this really needs a critical mass of players to be enjoyable, but will perhaps also provide some opportunity for people to carve out their own niche here – who knows?
The game has somewhat recently been Greenlit on Steam and thus may possibly appear as an offering there at some point in the future. While looking at different material about the game I found a few nice things, such as these:
A quite nice player-made intro guide to the game: Zortag’s Guide to Perpetuum.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun has a series of articles about Perpetuum: