What I saw was a familiar class- and level-based approach to MMO design. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but after spending a lot of time in both The Secret World and Skyrim over the past couple of months, I didn't find myself overly excited by the prospect of a throw-back free-to-play title. And I know, I know, Skyrim isn't even an MMO, so why would I bring that up?
It's just a mental baseline, really, and an indication of where I'm coming from in the interests of remaining as objective as possible.
On paper, Sevencore is pretty interesting stuff. It's sci-fantasy, for one thing, and therefore a curious mixture of pointy-eared elves, arcane magic, and techno-steampunk heavy machinery. All of this is evident in the game's marketing materials, but strangely, I didn't see much in the way of sci-fi during my demo. The world and the various mounts made available to my pre-leveled character were all fantasy-oriented, though my GM guide did say that more of the mechanical mounts should make it in by release or shortly thereafter.
Controls and mechanics
One of the first things I noticed was the old-school click-to-move functionality. This happened by accident when I was playing with my camera and made an errant, feline-assisted mouse click. Don't fret if you're not a fan; WASD is in effect as well.
It took me a few minutes to readjust to standing still to cast. Coming from TSW, I'm used to rolling and dodging all over the place, contorting my fingers, and trying to circle mobs while simultaneously firing off spells. In Sevencore, at least with the Mage class, you basically set up at range and DPS your butt off while attempting to let your beefier buddies maintain aggro.
While we're talking about classes, it's worth noting that Sevencore has three of them: the Mage, the Gunner, and the Warrior. They're about what you'd expect, with each class given two weapon specializations (Gunners use pistols and artillery, Mages use wands or staffs, and Warriors use great swords or twin blades). Weapon choice determines your specialization in lieu of a talent-tree system, and you'll be learning plenty of skills as you level up, just as in many of the MMOs you've probably played in the past.
One interesting wrinkle is the lack of a healer; Sevencore expects you to use potions, and it gives you an interesting auto-heal bar that you can set to a certain threshold, below which your character will automatically quaff a consumable.
If all this sounds pretty familiar, it is, but happily Sevencore steps outside the traditional MMO box when it comes to its mounts. First of all, there are a lot of them. Secondly, they're both transportation and combat companions with their own skills and leveling curves. You can fight while mounted or dismount and let your pet attack or defend. You can also traverse the game's expansive world thanks to flying mounts and few restrictions on where you can fly them.
The only catch here is that the giant red drake given to me by my GM companion was a high-end PvP reward.
PvP and PvE
The devs expect PvP to constitute much of Sevencore's high-level play. To that end, there's a political system that will probably remind you of TERA's because of guilds' ability to control regions, collect taxes, and sponsor elected player officials.
Sevencore is not without its PvE charms, though. I was taken into a level 60 dungeon called the Ionia Ruins, and there we ran through a few trash mobs until I got the hang of my Mage skills. A boss fight came next, and we survived it mainly because of my GM companion's prowess.
PvE also involves guild leveling (there's a PvP component to this as well) and a basic crafting system, and of course there's plenty of questing to be had.
In terms of its presentation, Sevencore both hits and misses. The world seems quite huge, with vast cities to explore and varied topography between them. I was struck by an overwhelming sense of solitude, though, both due to a lack of NPCs and a lack of players (though as I mentioned, the latter was due to the fact that the devs graciously booted up the server specifically for this GM tour).
Sevencore's sounds and visuals are on par with most other free-to-play imports. They're not bad, but they're not great either, and I was reminded of Lineage II (and its angular 2004 aesthetic) early and often during my play session.
Ultimately Sevencore seems like a solid time-waster, which is more than you can say about many of the assembly line MMOs that have launched in recent years. There's nothing revolutionary here, but there's enough to keep you busy. And hey, you can't beat the price.
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