The Pantheon Difference
An MMO Evolved
Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen will likely be a fundamentally different game compared to what you may have experienced playing other modern MMORPGs. From the moment you log in you will notice that the game is more social and has an emphasis on cooperative play. The monsters are often tougher and exploration is more involved. You will need friends in the game and your reputation can either help you progress or hinder it. Death in-game is meaningful and you’ll want to avoid it when possible. You’ll learn your surroundings and the lay of the land, spending meaningful time in each area and not just running through as quickly as possible to collect ten hides. You will need strategy, cunning and endurance to uncover all that Pantheon has to offer. You will find yourself in group and guild chats as you strategize or even just to pass the time between battles. Pantheon is social, thought-provoking, and the memories from your experiences in Terminus will last a lifetime.
One of Pantheon’s tenets is ‘Engage the World!’ When we talk about being a PvE MMO, our definition of ‘environment’ means a lot more than just fighting NPCs -- players will be contending with the world itself. Some regions will be very hot or cold. Some areas within a zone might be enchanted with complete darkness, or silence (meaning spoken spells won't work), or poison or miasma. Small tornados could travel through a region, compelling players to work their way around them, not through them, lest they take significant damage. Also, certain spells may work better or worse (or even only work) depending on the climate or atmosphere -- for example, a 'Call Lightning' spell could deal more damage than a typical ‘lightning bolt’ spell but could only be cast if there is a storm in the region.
Powerful Spells and Abilities: The Living Codex
In MMOs it is common to find rare items out in the world, by adventuring or by crafting, but abilities and spells are more often learned from trainers or even just given to player when his or her character levels up. In Pantheon, however, many of the more rare and exotic spells and abilities are found not at the local trainer but from a wise sage hiding in the depths of a dungeon or at the top of a remote tower.
Dynamic NPC Encounter Groups
The world is not static and unchanging – every day is not ‘groundhog’ day. Events occur that can completely change the population of a zone or the population of a group of NPCs within a zone (and the rarer the event, the rarer the rewards -- many exotic items can only be obtained when one of these zone events occur). An example: after you kill some key mobs guarding a hill giant camp, this triggers a zone event that loads up an invading force of Storm Giants who then proceed to attack the Hill Giant camp.
NPC Dispositions and Behaviors
An area we have not seen much innovation in MMORPGs, almost since their inception, is the area of NPC AI. What if certain enemies had different “dispositions” that had to be discovered by the player? Many NPCs in Pantheon will have advanced behaviors, like the propensity to flee if possible, or to stand and fight to the end. Some NPCs will be inclined to help other NPCs in the area, while some will not. Some will target certain classes within the group that is attacking them. NPC’s movement speeds may vary if they feel they are outmatched. While it is too early to go into a lot of detail, some of the different dispositions we are working on include: the Alarmist, the Bully, the Craven, the Opportunist, the Protector, and the Strategist.
Colored Mana System
Different classes will use different colors of mana. Some rare abilities, spells, and prayers will use more than one color of mana. These exotic abilities create an opportunity to sub-class your character, allowing players to customize their class to a degree, but without removing the interdependence between classes that is key to group content and building community.
Players will be able to 'retire' high level characters and then create their children as new characters, but these new characters, the 'progeny', will have certain abilities, stats, etc. that make them slightly yet noticeably better than a completely brand new character (but not to the point that it unbalances things).
In Pantheon, there often won't simply be a weapon or piece of gear that is the absolute best item for your character’s class and level. Instead, many items will be more situational, and the player will need to ask himself, 'where am I?', 'what am I going to fight next?', and 'who in my group is what class, and what items do they have that may help defeat the next encounter?' Items that protect against climates/atmospheres (areas of extreme heat or cold, or disease, or absolute darkness) will often be important. So also will 'bane' items that are especially effective against certain types of mobs (for example, the Undead, or Dragonkind).
The Perception System
One of the most profound things about Pantheon is how we are designing the game from the ground up so that the Environment truly matters – we want players to care about the world they are in, and why things are the way they are. When you think of MMOs, when is the last time you discovered the meaning, or the history, or the secrets of a person, place or event without being told by a text box? What if we’ve conceived of a way to bring players back to exploring because they are compelled by what they see in front of them - not because a blinking light tells them to go there? In Pantheon, Wizards will be able to perceive things that a Warrior cannot. Through prayer, a Cleric may gain insight into an area, or a creature, that a Rogue could never know. Through our perception system, Pantheon will redefine how the game world becomes known, and how players will work together to progress.