City Of Steam Preview
City Of Steam is impressive for a number of reasons. We could go into detail regarding its unique and really quite striking art style, or even its novel new world that revamps the tried and tested fantasy model into something a little more sinister, but really we’re just impressed it’s running in our browser.
We’re just not that used to seeing a game that describes itself as browser-based looking quite as fully formed and fully featured as City Of Steam does. In fact, mentioning that this is browser-based probably does the game a disservice as the term brings with it a number of negative connotations that simply don’t apply here.
That’s not to say there aren’t a number of niggling issues that need addressing, more that we’re willing to overlook a lot when City Of Steam promptly loads and looks like a game that should be running in the traditional way. Not streaming (or being sent to our screens vis magic, or whatever it is) from the internet.
City Of Steam is a dungeon crawling adventure MMO that has more in common with Diablo 3 than World Of Warcraft. Running on the Unity Engine, City Of Steam does an impressive job of delivering a lot of content to you browser without ever breaking a sweat.
As you’d expect from an MMO combat is a bright and colourful affair contrasting with the moody environment.
It installs around 15mb of information to your cache and from there loading the game’s different menus and levels is surprisingly swift. Which is impressive because what appears on your screen is genuinely impressive and packed with detail.
City Of Steam’s world establishes itself as healthy mixture of fantasy and steam-punk with gothic architecture thrown in for good measure. It’s not quite classic steam-punk, but the mixture of familiar fantasy designs given a unique twist makes for a distinctive style.
This style bleeds over into the actual design of City Of Steam’s world and characters, too. There ten races to choose from with four types of human, two types of elves, three Greenskins and also Dwarves. These are all given a City Of Steam make-over and in the same way that BioWare approached its fantasy world in Dragon Age, the usual tropes are given a fresh perspective the characters and events of its world that much more interesting.
City Of Steam goes out of its way to establish an interesting universe, but because of the aforementioned negative conations that are usually associated with browser-based games, it seems a bit condescending to then compliment it for blowing away our preconceptions.
As with everything in City Of Steam the world dictates the gameplay and with a healthy mixture of human, elven, Dwarves and ‘Greenskins’ supplying the characters, there’s also a suitable range of classes to support the action.
Here are City Of Steam’s classes:
- Gunner (ranged attacker)
- Warder (tank)
- Archanist (mechanical-based magic)
- Channeler (support class utilising sound, steam and music)
There’s nothing terribly different about the class structure, City Of Steam doesn’t make any grand departures from the genre’s established conventions. It’s when the action kicks off that you how City Of Steams gameplay mirrors games like Diablo 3 and other dungeon crawlers.
As well as the usual character customisation City Of Steam gives players the chance to tweak their weapon loadouts with mods. Adding abilities helps change their attributes as well as their physical appearance in one of two design choices that’s been borrowed from the console shooter crowd. (The other being the ability to Prestige your class.)
Characters can also ‘Add oil’ to skills delivering a shot burst of overclocking to their weapons that’ll get you out of tight spot in battle, but it’s still the general scope and impressive attention to detail that’s generally not expected of the browser-based crowd.
It’ll be interesting to see just how much there is to City Of Steam and whether it can maintain this level of consistency throughout. Though it really doesn’t break the mould, its quality world and character design make it an interesting distraction and its browser-based setup is truly intriguing.
In many ways City Of Steam is headed into uncharted waters. Sitting somewhere between full release, MMO and free-to-play that we’ve been told by many industry analysts are set to become the norm. You could almost mistake City Of Steam for an older styled game, too. It still brings PvP battles as an added extra and its dungeon crawling gameplay is reliant on its world’s hub-based economy to fuel the player’s abilities and gear.
Whether monetisation issues begin to creep in after a while and whether or not the games’ combat and level designs can maintain their level of creative consistency has yet to be seen. For now, this is an impressive step for browser-based gaming and should do a lot to remove preconceptions that all browser-based games need to be light distractions of puzzle games.