E3 2013: Prime World tones down gender issues

E3 2013 Prime World
The MOBA-slash-city builder known as Prime World was an important stop during our grand E3 tour this year. We've been interested in hearing Nival's been preparing this Russian hit for a larger audience since seeing it in action in March. The game is currently in closed beta testing for a North American release.

A Nival developer was on hand to give us an overview about what makes Prime World stand out as well as to answer a few questions about the sticky issue of gender choice (or lack thereof). Join us as we stroll through a brightly colored battlefield and consider where we'll set up shop when this title lands in NA.

E3 2013 Prime World
A character to call your own

Players start their careers in Prime World by choosing a hero archetype -- say an Assassin or one of the game's support roles. But the dev assured us that while everyone may start similar, where they'll end up will be all over the map. The game allows players to really customize their hero to fit their playstyle and focus, so an Assassin may not always be just an Assassin.

The bulk of the customization comes from finding and equipping talents. These were compared to the collecting-and-deck-building aspect of Magic: The Gathering. Talents will be found during play and can make a significant change in your character when slotted. They're not just passive abilities; talents can add new activite abilities too. Mages can beef up survivability with tanking talents while Warriors could throw in an extra stun in order to get an edge on the enemy. It's all about player choice, the dev assured us, and with over 700 talents in the game already, the choice of combinations are nearly endless.

Play what you like, when you like

Don't fall into the trap of assuming that Prime World is just a League of Legends clone. For starters, the game has a healthy PvE side to it as well. Players will have a choice between eight game modes at any given time, including single-player missions, co-op runs, and team PvP deathmatches.

The devs said that their priorities are largely determined by what the players have been demanding. Over the course of the current beta, most of the concern and push from the playerbase has been regarding game modes -- which ones are fun, which ones need work, and so on.

Then there's the castle-building element of it. A player's castle is a visual representation of his or her progress in the game. Beyond looking pretty, the castle is also a highly functional headquarters. It's here that heroes can be hired and equipped, guilds can be managed, and socializers can, well, socialize.

Nival has put such an emphasis on the castle feature that the studio is making the castle itself accessible on mobile devices. While you may not be able to play matches from your tablet or smartphone, you'll still be able to manage and interact with your holdings and the game community. The devs couldn't confirm that the castle app will work on older devices as they're primarily focusing on the latest generation, but they weren't prepared to rule out the possibility either.
A question of gender

One thing that gave us pause was the fact that Prime World allegedly puts players in the same gender in-game as they are in real life as well as equips players with a gender-based ability. For a title that purports to be big about player choice, this seemed like an odd and slightly controversial decision.

Nival was quick to assure us that it's still feeling out how to best deal with this, and it's already scaled back the original vision of numerous gender-based skills. Right now, there is just one gender-based talent that players will encounter, and it's a low-level skill that Nival expects people to swap out by the endgame. Having an all-female or all-male group won't impact the game at all or give either side an advantage, the devs promised.

As for hiding your actual gender from the public or choosing the opposite gender to play, players may be out of luck. It's something that Nival may consider if players hoot and holler about it, but as it stands, your in-game gender is tied to either the gender you used to make an account (so you can lie on the form, we guess) or based on your Facebook account if you access the game that way.

Apart from this issue, Nival has gone out of its way to provide a wide array of choices for character avatars. The devs said that it had a large female playerbase in addition to males, and they've placed an emphasis on providing a full spectrum of age and skin selections so that players can make exactly the avatar they desire.

The devs said that while the Russian audience has taken a shine to the gender-specific aspect of Prime World, North American testers have been on the fence about it. The studio said that it's going to continue to take in feedback and adjust the title accordingly as the beta progresses.

Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 10-13, bringing you all the best news from E3 2013. We're covering everything from WildStar and Elder Scrolls Online and ArcheAge to FFXIV's inbound revamp and TERA's latest update, so stay tuned!
This article was originally published on Massively.