Where a traditional quest system will have you wander over to the nearest NPC with an exclamation mark, then force you to read a wall of text to find your objective, Dynamic Events happen instantly and without real warning. A dragon will attack an area outside a nearby town and the villagers about town will suddenly be bricking it. You’ll hear screaming and spot guards trying to recruit the help of players. Buildings will suddenly explode into flame as the dragon spits fire and from a distance you’ll see the clouds of smoke billowing out on the horizon.
Don’t fancy fighting? That’s fine. Go ahead and pick up that keg of water next to a barn and begin to put out the flames that have taken over the farmyard. Not bothered with that either? Then head down to the fight and help revive any fallen players. Lye tells us:
"We’re encouraging people to interact, not penalising you for helping each other out. And the fact that every profession can revive is a huge bonus, that’s a great piece of social rewarding. People want to revive because it’s not a lot of work and you actually get experience for doing that."
Even the basic movement mechanics feel looser. Dodge has been implemented into fights, allowing you to dive and roll out of the way of incoming attacks. Hell, now you can actually freely jump and swim - in previous iterations players had been locked to the ground, unable to mindlessly skip around.
But the most notable shift for the series is how they’ve implemented a storyline into the MMO format. Their catchphrase as Lye tells us is "putting the RPG back in MMORPG", referencing the idea that the genre has been purged of any legitimate story-telling.
"The idea that we feel is missing from MMORPG is the RPG element: the idea of being able to create a unique player experience and a replayable experience. It comes down to a question of why people play RPGs in the first place. Some people do it for camaraderie or the combat, but some people definitely see it as a form of exploration. 'I want to have more expression', 'I want to have an alter ego', and 'I want to be a hero'. What would that feel like? But, when it’s hopelessly generic, you just become heroic character X and that takes away from the experience. And that’s why having an RPG that gives you real choices and real experience, some of which are not black and white, speaks to that audience."