MMORPGs continue to be one of the most popular genres in modern gaming, and they continue to draw enormous audiences and rake in some serious cash for developers. Naturally, a ton of studios are hard at work on bringing new experiences of the same ilk to the table. And while the majority falls into the same trap of homogenization, some of these games stand out from the crowd thanks to their unique worlds, dazzling art direction, or fresh mechanics – and this feature series is built to put a spotlight on such games.
Ashfall is one such game from developer Legendary Star Studio and gaming giant NetEase Games, which is looking impressive in more ways than one. There’s a lot to look forward to with Ashfall, and there’s a good chance that it could end up being one of the biggest hits of the near future.
Taking place in a post-apocalyptic future, Ashfall puts you in the center of this devastated world as you embark on a quest to find the Core of Creation. You see, artificial intelligence has launched a nuclear war against humanity which has left the world in ruins and humans have to live inside of protected Vaults as they try to outlast and out survive the radiation holocaust.
The Fallout influences are pretty visible in this story setup with Vaults and nuclear wars being two important themes of the story, but Ashfall combines that familiar narrative with other sci-fi tropes like artificial intelligence that should hopefully make this a fresh experience. We also get to see different kinds of creatures, big settlements, and varied scenery in the trailer which indicates that Ashfall’s world would be rich with detail and also have a full-fledged universe lore that would make for a well-realized world brimming with personality and atmosphere.
Ashfall is an MMORPG at heart, so the game will obviously feature a narrative that will keep on evolving with each new season. As such, having a story setup that’s not too plot driven but rich with universe lore can be really advantageous – and Ashfall certainly seems to be ticking those boxes. Hopefully, Legendary Star Studio will be able to capitalize on this and make an interesting story that would keep fans interested for a long time.
Coming over to the gameplay, Ashfall is a third-person shooter and the moment-to-moment gameplay will involve fending off different kinds of enemies in large arenas dotted throughout the landscape. This relatively simple and approachable style of gameplay should make for a more accessible MMORPG that’s perfect for newcomers to the genre, but as you can already see – the mechanics are a bit rough at the moment. Movement feels a bit floaty with animations that don’t quite flow into each other, and shooting down enemies doesn’t seem all that impactful and has the same issue of bullet sponginess that plagues so many third person shooters.
But if you look past these flaws, you will be able to notice the genuine merits of this combat system. For instance, the shooting is fast-paced and looks really dynamic as well, and requires players to switch weapons and tactics in a rapid fashion to survive the toughest battles. Enemies come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and each of them requires different approaches to take down. Hulking beasts with equally heavy hitting attacks require using strong weapons like a shotgun, while a group of nimble beasts would require weapons that have a higher rate of fire like a machine gun. And this type of gameplay provides a stark contrast to encounters with human enemies that require hopping in and out of cover in packed arenas to take them down.
Progression will obviously play an important role in Ashfall, and experience earned from defeating enemies and bosses will be used to obtain weapons of higher rarity and better damage output. Players will have a full-fledged base of operations in the form of an upgrade shack which will allow you to craft all sorts of gadgets ranging from drones to sentries and medic bots. This has us thinking that players will have to pay a lot of attention while preparing for battle, which could help add some well-needed tension to regular battles. Apart from upgrades, you will also be able to customize your base to your liking by adding new cosmetic items and making it more personalized according to your liking.
Ashfall also provides a ton of varied activities that you can take part in during your travels across the world. You can take on side quests from NPCs littered throughout the world for some extra resources, solve puzzles for obtaining chests, scavenge the unknown for secrets, or just absorb the atmosphere whilst riding on your mutant mounts. Of course, a lot of what the game might entail is still shrouded in mystery – but we can definitely expect plenty of different activities that should keep players busy for hours upon hours on end.
And on that note, we should also talk about the absolutely gorgeous world of Ashfall. It’s a beautifully realized virtual world where the dark and drab post-apocalypse coalesces beautifully with the remnants of the surviving nature to create something that’s visually unique. The dark and dusty Vault opens up to a world where you will find sweeping vistas ranging from frigid peaks to dusty deserts and abandoned facilities filled with all sorts of hideous creatures and interesting structures. In addition to this, Ashfall also features some pretty visuals that help bring the artists’ vivid imaginations to life. We get to see the generous use of high-quality assets, realistic ambient lighting in indoor areas, and gorgeous weather effects like dust storms and thunder among a slew of other things.
Ashfall is a game that’s best experienced with friends, and the developers have made the right moves to let players connect with each other without much hassle. The game will have cross-platform support baked in at launch, meaning players on consoles and PC can team up with each other to take down tough enemies or complete challenging dungeons. We don’t know how progression will be affected by playing together, so we’ll have to wait for an official statement from the developer on that matter.
Coming over to the release side of things, Ashfall doesn’t have a concrete release date at the moment – but the developers are targeting to complete the game by Q4 2024. That is definitely a pretty risky move since Q4 is usually packed with blockbuster releases, and a new MMORPG is likely to get brushed under the barrage of other highly anticipated releases at the same time. But if Ashfall is able to generate enough hype with its marketing, it might just stand a chance against the heavy hitters of next year.
But looking at Ashfall in isolation, it’s a solid game that has plenty of great things going for it – right from the well realized world to the vast scope of the open world and the dynamic combat loop and much more. Hopefully, Legendary Star Studio is able to take these merits and craft a game that ends up surpassing the expectations of the player in every manner. Fingers crossed, until then.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.