One of the biggest things I look forward to with Ashes of Creation is the possibility of diverging and truly unique server histories and player stories. Having been a long time mmorpg player one of the things I have grown to see as a problem with the genre is that we all experience the narrative of the world basically the same way. Yes, some games allow for different beginning stories based on race or side narratives for classes or crafters but by far the server story is the same for each player and across multiple servers. While some people might see this as okay, I feel that it is a big reason for stagnation and loss of players over time. Inevitably we almost all will make at least one alt in the mmorpgs we play but for me this is to have access to another class or profession, and having to go through the quests and thus story lines exactly the same way leads to a loss of fun within the game.

One game that I have tried but can’t get myself to play is Eve. Why do I bring that up? Despite not really ever actively playing the game I have read about its stories and readily enjoyed them. The intrigue that comes from player conflict and how those player’s choices impact and change the world around them is amazing and somewhat alien to me. I can’t go into Stormwind and burn it down for good. I can’t go to Kelethin and cut down the trees that the city is built on. But in Eve, players have the ability to cause significant change to the world. I want to see that in a high fantasy mmorpg setting.

Ashes of Creation has a strong chance to be just that game. Through a multitude of design choices they are allowing for what appears to be real player agency, players having meaningful interaction with and causing change to the world that they inhabit. There are five things that stick out to me that will allow this to happen: PvP, player run economies, player run governments, nodes and “what can be built, can be destroyed.” If these systems are developed and implemented as intended this could lead to even grander changes to the game world than what Eve has to offer. And Intrepid studios is adding their own lore and narrative as well. Hopefully this means we will be getting the best of both worlds.

There are very few instances within my play time in mmorpgs that I can remember as a truly remarkable experience. Sure, underlying stories as put forth by the developers can be interesting and exciting but personally I forget most of them not long after experiencing them. I hope that with Ashes of Creation I am left with the feeling of awe that I think can only come when my play in the game actually leads to a change within the story of the server and history of the world itself, not just my personal bubble.