Many of you will read this and be surprised to discover that one of my favorite games of all time is Project Nomads, an Action game where you can control your own personal flying isle, exploring and fighting with anybody brave enough to stand in your way. The critics blamed the game for being too linear, as well as too repetitive, and I tend to agree with them, although one thing is for sure – the idea was original and well put into practice.
Of course, I would like very much to see Project Nomads 2, with a universe open for exploration and a persistent world for multiplayer… but let’s just stick to what we have. On the other hand, the idea of flying isles is very present in the fantasy universes and frequently used in video games, but not as a central element.
The Chronicles of Spellborn is the first title to create and populate a permanent magic world constructed around and from flying isles, named shards, which gives birth to a unique fantasy universe. One that has nothing in common with any form of reality we know. Here, the laws of physics are completely different and life is extremely alien and fascinating.
Enclave of the Five Sacrifices
Like any other fantasy story, the Enclave history has this aura of inexplicable and weirdness and all that we see today is the result of some past events, more or less apocalyptical. From the beginning of your adventures, when you find yourself in the middle of the Deadspell Storm, on a flying ship called Shardship, you realize that this world is about to be reborn or about to die, which gave me a terrible sense of desperation… Because the fight is uneven and takes place on many fronts, against many enemies.
After playing for some time, I realized that I “live” in a world where everybody expects to die and all they hope for is managing not to experience the next apocalyptic event. Not the kind of attitude that can make a civilization rise from its ashes. I hope that the developers are preparing an expansion that will pull off this veil of desperation that currently covers this great universe. Until then, the Enclave habitants choose to be obsessed about uncovering their past, which is much better that just waiting to die.
The official Spellborn website takes care of all aspects of the Enclave history, with a big introduction and a timeline for the main events that took place in the past… or at least those that have been uncovered by the historians. As a short roundup, humans and daevi were for millennia slaves to an intelligent superior race with supernatural powers, called Vhelgar, in a universe called The Empire of Eight Demons.
These Vhelgars depended on a source of great energy called the Altar of Undying. In a desperate and very lucky effort, the 8 human and daevi organizations known as High Houses managed to destroy the Altar of Undying. However, the resulting shock shattered and covered the world in a thick layer of magic ice (Undying Ice) which ended the normal life cycle.
Awakened from hibernation after a few hundred years by a fragment from the Altar of Undying (The Barbarian Seal), which unfroze the old city of Quatered Stone (which later will become Quarterstone), the surviving humans and daevi discovered a shattered world, broken in pieces and floating in a magic storm named the Deadspell Storm. Using flying, lesser, Vhelgar (Vhelgar Steeds), they managed to travel through this storm, which led to the discovery of new shards.
Using the Barabarian Seal, they freed these shards from the ice, which opened up new lands for colonization and, in some cases, awakened some very powerful enemies, like the Howlers or the Vhuul. These floating isles are generically named Shards, and one of the first discovered, Parliament (the starting location of the game) was at the core of a great conflict between the Eight Houses, which resulted in the departure of three of them – Pale, Onyx and Void. These three became known as the traitor houses. This is why you will only have five houses to join instead of eight and why you will see three missing flags in these places where all the houses are represented.
A shard is a piece of the ancient world, similar to an egg, with a stone shell that covers the habitable part of the isle. This shell has many holes that let the light from Deadspell Storm in and also make travelling with shardships possible.
There are 5 known Shards – Quarterstone, Parliament, Ringfell, Mount of Heroes and Carnyx. There are also the Fragments – floating isles without the stone shell. These are still habitable despite of being in the middle of the Deadspell Storm, as Athenaeum is for example. And last, but not last, we have human-made floating isles called Riftywards – they however are considerably smaller than classic shards, as Rawhead Landing is for example.
The Chronicles of Spellborn players started to associate this game with a fantasy version of Eve Online, mostly because of the gameplay style, its originality and its interesting PvP elements. In fact, the game is quite unique in its genre because it introduces a style of combat and a universe both conceived from an original approach, different from what the other productions currently offer.
Funny enough, while I was bragging about the game originality, I have been asked this – "Since I have to do the same kind of quests, being sent off to kill the same amount of creatures, gather rat tails, etc., doesn’t this mean that I’m actually playing another typical MMO like World of Warcraft?"
Fortunately, these are the only common points that TCoS has with a classic fantasy MMO. Yes, you do have to kill mobs, run after rat tails and obtain some pig livers, and even if you have a more "noble" reason to do it, it still feels the same. But, after a while, you acquire the taste for the chain quests.
Almost all the quests starting from level 10 and up, after you finish the free part of the game, are organized in chains, which are very well integrated with the universe, the story and finally acknowledge the dynamic evolution of your character. Of course, you will also get some classic "relaxation" quests, like the one in which you gather all kind of objects to help some short minded girl to write a poem.