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Previews

Mythos

First Look: Flagship's free little MMO surprise

Mythos has taken me a bit by surprise.

With the game being talked about in the same breath as "casual audience" and "mass market", I was expecting a flimsy MMORPG you could destroy with the flick of a +1 finger of hardcore destruction. That's not quite the case though.

It may be casual in the respect that it lays heavy emphasis on fun, is easy to dive in and out of, but its inclusion of crafting, skill development trees and stat-happy RPG traditions have raised an eyebrow.

Mythos is essentially Diablo the MMO hack and slash dungeon romp. Played from an isometric perspective, the left mouse button is your greatest weapon. Left-click on enemies to attack, left-click on NPCs to commune and obtain quests, left-click on barrels to destroy them, yadda yadda. And random loot drops like it's going out of fashion.

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Oh, and in case you were unaware, you'll be able to download it and play it for free.

RPG veterans will be immediately familiar with what the game has to offer, and n00bs should be able to pick up the basics in a flash.

IN THE ZONE
Mythos's game world itself consists of zones. Similar to Guild Wars, each zone has a central town, a number of instances of which can exist depending on the population level in this hub.

Once you leave the hub to embark on quests, everything is instanced and randomly generated, from paths through to dungeons to the dungeons themselves. So, once you venture into the wild, it's either just you on your own or you with your party of plucky fellow adventures pitted against the opponents the game throws at you.

And holy dice rolling can Mythos throw enemies at you. It's not the most hardware-thrashing game around - a plus point in my book - which means that Flagship can populate the screen with oodles of enemies for massive carnage.

50 - that's the current level cap. However, at this stage the game's existing quests will only take you as far as 20. Flagship's idea is that each zone will carry you through roughly ten levels, so it doesn't take a genius to work out that the developer's currently aiming for five complete zones. It also reassures us that you'll be able to solo all the way to the top.

An ingenious little feature of game is maps that can drop from monsters or be bought from vendors. These provide access to instanced dungeons. Rare epic maps open up harder dungeon challenges, but the loot rewards are greater. I can see these ending up on eBay.

CLASS ACTION
Four hundred words in and I've been naughty and not mentioned the classes and races (my bad). There's three of each at the moment, with a Cyclops race imminent. The races, Gremlin, Satyr and Human are purely aesthetic decisions as, with racial bonuses non-existent, they have no impact on class choice.

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Rather than stick with traditional fantasy RPG class archetypes, Flagship has opted for hybrids that mix up magic, melee and summoning. Having said that, each class does lean toward a particular type of combat.

For the toe-to-toe approach, go Bloodletter, while the Pyromancer is more your magic wizard fellow and the steampunk-ish Gadgeteer a firearms and technology fanatic.

Summoning abilities, meanwhile, bring superb comedy moments to combat. Mythos's Bloodletter, for example, can animate a small army of attackers from exploded corpses on the battlefield. "There's no MMO that can't be improved with corpse explosion", Flagship COO Max Schaefer has quipped.

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