Steaming along

City of Steam keeps chugging along nicely. Now in closed beta, I had the chance to play around in it for a while (many thanks to Gabriel from Mechanist for the opportunity and being a great guide).

The game felt much improved from my last go around; much more solid, feature complete and visually packed with goodies. After the break, some brief comments and screenies about the new stuff that impressed me the most.

From the get go, things felt much more focused and polished. A pretty cinematic intro sets things up nicely and the tutorials do a much better job at easing new players in. Quite a few number of different playable races have been added and from the very beginning you can tell Mechanist put some work in the new UI elements, making things feel visually tighter without letting go at any point of the steampunk feel.

Gabriel led me through a couple of dungeons and a few of the new additions to the game. There’s now an item modification system in place, which lets you slot upgrades you find in order to make your equipment better, but here’s the kicker – upgrades are visual as well, reflecting, for example, on the actual weapon model your character wields. A very nice touch.

Another nice touch was dungeons having challenge modes. For instance, you can choose to be challenged to reach the end of a dungeon (packed with enemies, mind you) before the allotted time expires, or perhaps eliminate all of a particular type of enemy inside the dungeon, etc. Adds a lot of variety to what otherwise would be regular dungeon runs. Beating these new challenges rewards you with orbs that you can take back to town and…

… transmute them, using them as currency in a steampunk themed slot machine, which can reward you with a variety of goodies (to my surprise, there’s even a chance to win actual currency to be used in the game’s shop!). The device worked just like a slot machine, with each orb working as a quarter coin of sorts that made it go. Simple and straightforward.

PvP and PvP arenas are also being tested, although we did not spend much time there as we were wrapping things up. Gabriel was kind enough to let me win, which right there puts him one step above the entirety of the gaming population in my view.

I was particularly and pleasantly surprised at the work they’ve been doing with the effects and the environments. Everything seemed more vibrant, alive and present, with a good number of little (and not so little!) touches here and there like water splashing as you run through, airships flying above and casting shadows on the ground below. Some environments are by now plain beautiful to look at.


Yes, this game runs in your browser.

(Thanks again to Gabriel and the folks over at Mechanist. Keep on truckin’… or… uh… steamin’?)

3 thoughts on “Steaming along”

  1. Haven’t had to time to log into this weekend’s beta – hope to rectify that tomorrow. Having been with the game since pre-alpha and being a huge booster, I have to say I think Mechanist are in slight danger of over-egging their pudding. Last beta weekend seemed to be edging close to fussiness in some aspects and as for the visuals they seemed to have downgraded significantly. Not sure what was going on there but the textures seemed coarser and the models less detailed (I was running everything on maximum settings as I always have).

    I’m glad you found the fruit machine thing “simple and straightforward” – I found it literally incomprehensible. I spent about half an hour and all my currency trying to work it out and I was none the wiser at the end, just a lot poorer and quite irritated.

    Despite those slight concerns and annoyances, I still think it’s going o be a really good addition to the MMO universe and I anticipate playing it a lot. The races, dialog, back-story, world and atmosphere are all exemplary. Sooner we get permanent characters (open beta) the better.

  2. From the pictures included it seems these were probably taken from Closed Beta 2 – there has been some changes/improvements in the latest beta round.

    The hotbar UI is a bit slicker now and does not get in the way of the crafting/salvaging UI. The transmuter/slot machine is a bit more comprehensible now this time around; I agree with Bhagpuss that it was quite confusing.

    The latest beta round included solo challenge missions also in The Refuge – I quite enjoyed doing those. You really needed an AoE power of some kind to succeed with the smasher challenge though.

    There are still some rough spots, but they are making decent progress and it looks promising I think.

  3. @bhagpuss @sente
    Sorry for this reply being late! About the Transmuter, you’re not the only ones. Most players, left to their own devices, had trouble making sense of the Transmuter. We’ll be working on making it easier to use and having a better guide for it in Open Beta. I hope you’ll both come back and see what’s changed.
    Also, if either of you want a tour sometime (yes, I’ve seen you’ve both blogged about us before :D ), get in touch with me, either via PM on the CoS forums, or if you have contact with Julian, he has my info too. Sure, Closed Beta is almost done, but we should be heading into Open Beta soon enough!

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