Mythic Entertainment has been busy this year. Not only did they recently announce that they have been selected to develop the Warhammer Fantasy MMO in partnership with Games’ Workshop UK, but the developers of the successful MMO Dark Age of Camelot also brought a playable demo of their new MMO, Imperator, to this year’s E3 in Los Angeles. MyGamer.com had the opportunity to spend some time at the show with Mike Lescault, one of Imperator’s designers, and discussed the title at some length.
Imperator is set in a futuristic universe where the Roman Empire never fell, and instead grew and flourished until they spread out to other star systems. The Roman Republic’s enemy in this war-torn future is the Mayan Empire, another intergalactic power. As the game opens, we discover that the Roman Republic is at war with the Mayans, an event that has galvanized the entire Republic.
Mythic plans to deliver a character-focused gaming experience with Imperator; one that they hope will do away with some of the frustrations inherent in the MMO genre. First and foremost, the character’s progress through the game will be documented via a series of “life events” that chronicle the player’s triumphs as they progress. Lescault commented that Mythic hopes to deliver an experience that will develop a fully realized character in the player’s mind, and not simply a “generic level 50 fighter that might wear different colored armor”.
To further focus the game’s content on character and story over the usual “grind” inherent to MMOs, Mythic has built Imperator to be focused almost exclusively on mission-based content, with little or no side exploration possible. Players will be given assignments and missions based on their character’s class, and then will be provided transport directly to the mission site, eliminating the need for lengthy and time-consuming travel. “Let’s face it: killing rats is no fun” Lescault said, indicating that everything that occurs in-game is designed to further the feeling that the player is at the heart of an interstellar war.
Lescault assured us that the game’s lack of exploration elements will in no way limit the player’s free will. The mission-oriented play style will, he said, make the player feel less like “part of the crowd”, instead creating a character development path that will make the player feel as though they are embarking on paths that will have important ramifications throughout the Republic. As characters advance, they can assume greater responsibility and accept tougher assignments from the Roman Senate, or from other, less reputable contacts.
Characters that advance to the highest levels can wield quite a bit of influence in the future Republic’s government, possibly even becoming elected Senators and voting on issues that affect the entire Republic. Player Guilds will also be supported according to the developer. Lescault was noncommittal on the subject of Player-versus-Player combat in Imperator, saying that at the time of the game’s release the action will be squarely focused on Player-versus-Enemy scenarios, but did hint at the possibility of Gladiatorial combat (which would seem to be a perfect fit for the gameplay, given the titles back-story) is something that’s being considered.
Imperator is scheduled for a June, 2006 release.