Today I want to talk a bit about Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen.. I got the chance to play it a bit.. publicly actually.. they made a group of youtubers to go through some content.. I also got to muck around behind the scenes.. but Pantheon still very much is in a pre alpha state which means NDAs. But I wanted to give my opinion on what I’ve seen, what I played and really just what I think of the title as this will be the first time I talk about Pantheon here.
The time I played Pantheon I played a Rogue – nothing to get excited about- typical trickster or rogue kit.. bleeds, poisons, hiding, crowd control, positional requirements for attacks. Some of the footage shown is from a while back.. Standard disclaimer – games in early development. Assets will change and improve yada yada.. but for how early Pantheon is in development.. this stuff means very little to me currently. First – What is Pantheon.. as I haven’t talked about it. Maybe I’ve mentioned it in passing..
And that’s because it’s another one of those crowd funded MMORPGs that will likely be released in 2020 or beyond and you may know my feelings about that… however- I put Pantheon in a different grouping.. because so many of these upcoming crowd funded MMORPGs.. are going to save the genre.. with their new and exciting features and innovative gameplay never seen or implemented the way they plan to and buzz word.. buzz word.. buzz word. Which is fine.. I hope they succeed. But it’s all just talk and marketing until I see and can play it. Pantheon.. is in a different category of- instead of something new.. lets revisit what’s old. Now this has been a common tactic where games infuse specific features or talking points of older games into a more modern games shell hoping to catch the interest or say the right combination of words to spark someone’s nostalgia.. .. Which as an aside you should check out this HiveLeader video on this very thing. But Pantheon is a special case.. as it’s not -just- a new game with an old school sensibility.. yes, it takes heavy inspiration from Everquest and Vanguard. Which makes sense because of the overlap in the development team, and specific MMORPG royalty being involved..
But in words they cannot say.. it’s not even that this is a spiritual successor or influenced by these past games – Pantheon represents the game that probably would of been made in place of EQ .. had it been made in current year.. same philosphies, same vision.. but with more experience, new tech and less publisher influence. It’s important to make that distinction.. as in a reductive sweeping generalization.. this is basically remaking a proven experience that has vanished- that was played and loved.. and was top dog at the time- that they are uniquely qualified to do. With Pantheon.. I get it- it’s a known value to me. I grew up on those titles.. I have a very strong idea of what this game is going to look like and play like when it eventually is done – and talking with the good people at Visionary Realms only reaffirms that… and then playing it… it brings you right back. Without getting too woo-woo.. older games had a specific feel.
Many people try to explain that.. and condense it down to.. they were harder- they took more time and effort- they were social.. and I don’t think you can really boil it down like that.. it’s one of those.. the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts situations.. and so it’s a weird place to be in – on my end now to share my thoughts on Pantheon.. because you either played those old games.. or you didn’t. If you did play.. than all I can really do is confirm.. that yes, it definitely scratches an itch that none of these old school influenced MMORPG games have done to date and they are on the path a lot of us have hoped they’ve been on- side shout out to Project Gorgon one of the only other games I can think of that managed to capture that feeling.. ugly as shit, but nails it. If you didn’t play those old games.. it’s hard to describe the appeal specifically because a lot of it will just sound like making a game slower and more tedious and less convenient. And there is no hiding it.. early assets or not.. Pantheon’s gameplay isn’t sexy.
It’s not young.. or hip.. even checking out the website and socials.. it’s a relic. So it’s not like there is some flashy reason to be excited by Pantheon even if you’re not enthused by time to kills that are 4 times longer.. or leveling to cap planned to take close to half a year with regular play.. or the return of downtime between fights or spells fizzling or staying away from action combat.. any number of things people would call tedious and unnecessary and anti-fun. Yet.. if I let on that pulling enemies.. used to be a real art and a real skill..
As well as catching a pull.. and Pantheon revives that. This statement on it’s own probably excites more people than you imagine it would.. yet if you weren’t there for it.. it’s like.. who cares.. why even mention that. This really cuts to the heart of both my concerns and interest in Pantheon. There is going to be such a drastic divide in people who will be interested and those that will just write the game off.. and Pantheon is working in this double edged situation..
Where I can’t imagine they want to be reduced to.. basically it’s EQ3.. but that’s the appeal to probably the bulk of their potential audience as well as what’s generating any sort of buzz for the game.. and the more they stray.. the more you alienate that base and without some way to capture new players.. it’s a weird situation because there are purists who saw Everquest and games like it slowly transform into something they don’t like to try to capture new players and will be on guard for it. It’s a weird position to be in.. that leaves me to think.. that what makes the most sense is to do kind of the inverse of most games .. and focus on low growth but very high player retention .. but then it’s like.. well is that pool of veteran players large enough to support the game month after month after the initial nostalgia wave weakens. Like during crowd funding it is probably a huge benefit that the MMORPG old heads are middle aged now – probably mid career, more disposable income, know what they want and like and can support it…
But in regards to playing it.. with age comes responsibility and families and less time.. so year after year that player-base probably bleeds. Which as an aside – I’ve been hearing about Pantheon for like 4-5 years now.. and I play test a LOT of in development MMORPGs.. and it caught me a bit off guard how early Pantheon seemed to be in the cycle.. talking out of my butt.. I wouldn’t be surprised with a 2021 release date or later. But easily my favorite part about Pantheon even existing.. as well as Classic Wow planned.. is to answer.. can you go back. Can you put the genie back in the bottle. If a project can do it – it’s one of these 2. The design feels dated now – and to the average gamer will feel like a regression.. it’s incredibly hard for people to go back. Think about taking public transit..
Until you got a car.. or going from a hard drive to a solid state.. it’s that.. how did I live before this. MMORPG wise.. we’re seeing things like AoE and auto loot, quest markers, isolated features, group finders, mega servers, gear normalization.. my own most hated feature for an RPG, period- scaling.. becoming the standard.. think about how restrictive MMORPGs feel when you can’t jump even if it serves no purpose.. and as tech evolves.. players will even fill holes you purposely leave if possible.. whether that is 3rd party group finders, or auction houses, or quest add ons – etc. Playing these games.. train and inform habits and preferences.. and make it incredibly hard for people who have played.. say a World of Warcraft to turn around and play a Pantheon.. think of the divide between WoW and GW2 players.. and those games are many times more similar.
In the mmorpg community there is a very vocal, usually toxic.. it was so much better back then group of people.. and while I believe people online are a terrible representation of normal people playing and enjoying games – the reception will be rather interesting to watch. Especially in a consumer climate that is so hostile to anything but the most popular and cheap thing. Eve Online is a great example.. long running game, fanatic, passionate fan base – people usually have great things to say about it even if they don’t play it.. sits at about roughly 20k concurrent players a sizable amount being multi-boxers..
If a new MMORPG got released that had those numbers you would see everywhere about the failed game launch.. people would be emboldened to call it trash.. and I told you so.. and those are the kind of numbers I would imagine.. best case for a game like this.. and those are numbers that will elicit a response that could cause a company to deviate from the vision. It’s rough because I saw such a small vertical slice of the game – so this video is really an excuse to talk about Pantheon.. and a chance to say.. looks to be on track and that’s really anyone whose following the game wants to hear.
As it trucks on in development.. once NDAs aren’t quite the thing they are now – we can talk more. Until next time, this is Fevir. Peace. .
As found on Youtube