Why you should be playing Tabula Rasa: It's free!


If you're still postponing the dive into NCsoft's Tabula Rasa, because of that whole shut-down thing, I wanted to just let you know that you may be missing out on a historical opportunity here. How often is it that you get to play a game through its last remaining weeks, and actually witness the end first-hand?

Right now the game itself is even free to download. I'll explain more on this later, but if you're feeling extra generous, or you're big into souvenirs from dead MMOs, you can pick it up on Amazon or most brick-and-mortar shops for $5 US. If you want to spend the extra cash for a Collector's Edition, to get some dogtags, an AFS Challenge coin, a "Making of Tabula Rasa" DVD and more, you can do that for $15-$30 usually. Or perhaps, you'll be lucky enough to find a dumpster full of boxes behind an EB Games somewhere.
So I'm going to approach this article with a bit of caution and plenty of forewarning. I understand that there are many people out there who see the closing of the game as something negative and supporting NCsoft by setting foot in their game would be worse than a stab in the eye. This is completely warranted, yet this article is for those who are curious about the game itself. What was all the buzz about? Why did it fail in the minds of the players, and the publisher? What should we take away from the life and death of Tabula Rasa?

To start, you'll need three things: the game client, a PlayNC master account and a PlayNC support account. It's a bit of a confusing process at first, but here's a basic run-down:

  • If you're a former player, you've got it easy. Simply log into your PlayNC master account, visit Account Management and reactivate your account from there.
  • If you're a new player, you'll need a few extra steps. First, create your master account at PlayNC.com.
  • Next, create a Support Account.
  • Fill out a support ticket for Product: Tabula Rasa
  • In the title and body of the ticket, make it clear that you want a serial code for Tabula Rasa. I shouldn't have to explain that part, but... yeah.
  • Within a few hours, you should receive a response simply stating that they've received your ticket and are redirecting to the correct department. They say you may need to wait up to 7 business days for your serial code, but most people get theirs in a day or so. Keep in mind that they're bogged down with requests, so have patience.
  • When you receive the response, it will contain the serial code and helpful links for creating a game account.
  • While you're awaiting response from NCsoft, this would be the perfect time to start downloading the client, because it will take a while. You won't be able to actually start patching until you have an activated account, but there's no harm in being ready when that acceptance email comes through. The patching process will take a bit of time.

Beyond that, you'll need to create a character (or 10) and start blasting some Bane. You'll find the training camp tutorial fairly comprehensive, as it teaches you the basics of the game. This is an important part to take mental notes, because with the state of local chat now, you don't want to be asking questions. Trust me. Also, be aware that the controls differ quite a bit from your typical MMO, so it might take some getting used to.

Now that all of that is out of the way, let me explain that I'm not here to teach you how to play the game; I'm here to let you know why you should spend your precious time and bandwidth on a game and characters that will all be gone in six weeks. That's a tough sell, so bear with me.

Art Style
Tabula Rasa is a gorgeous game, there's no doubt about that. The character models, lighting and effects are some of the best around. Get some close-ups on your character's face. Throw out some lightning bolts from your Logos skills. You'll see what I mean. The game might be dying soon, but it's the screenshots, videos and other visuals that will live the longest. Grab shots of your first "wow!" moments as you're exploring the alien landscapes. It will be great to look back on those in a few years when you're reminiscing with your friends about how MMOs were back in your day.

Cloning System
When you start earning some clone points, try out the cloning system. Clone your main and see how great it is to start a brand new character with a new look, gender and skill point allocation, but without repeating those first levels you've already played. It's a great system for those suffering from altitis, and I really hope a tweaked or slightly improved version shows up later in other games.

Player-run events
Check out PlanetTR for their list of on-going events in the game. Even after the announcement of the game's closure, PTR has been great about keeping up the Friday Night Fights, Server Wars and more. The regular community may be small, but they're very dedicated. I would highly advise attending at least one of these remaining in-game events to see how passionate some of these players are about their favorite game.

Control Points
Before there were Public Quests in Warhammer Online, there were Control Points in Tabula Rasa. The reward system might not be as great, but the fact that you can either take a city back from the Bane, or help defend it from an attack at any time, is just plain fun. No joining a group, no coordinating and entering an instance; you just run to the city and attack or defend. Anyone can help out, and the more the merrier.

Logos
This is another huge game mechanic that Richard Garriott designed in the game (besides cloning) that has proven both good and bad for players. Basically, you need to run around and discover (and capture) these Logos shrines. You combine the knowledge of each Logos to create certain spells. For instance, the "Area" and the "Damage" Logos are both needed for an Area of Effect damage spell. It's challenging and adds a bit of variety and depth to the usual training for skills.

In addition to all of this, I'll just mention it again: the game is free! You can't go wrong with free, even if you tried the game before and hated it. With all the new content that has been added, and will be added this month, it's worth it just to check that out. The people who worked so hard on this content deserve that much, at least.

You can count on more coverage from me and the rest of us at Massively throughout the remainder of Tabula Rasa's lifespan. Until that final server shuts down, we'll be there.

This article was originally published on Massively.