Mytheon looks and feels much like the Diablo series in terms of the isometric camera angle with a couple of terrific and much-needed improvements. The camera can be shifted around the character 360 degrees as well as zoomed forward to see what creatures await. The camera can also be panned in fairly close to characters but there is no first person view.
On entering the game, players choose from one of three character classes: Warcaster, Elementalist and Eidolon. Male or female characters can be created with a fair amount of customization to boot. From there, characters are moved to the game's first area, the Echidna Swamps, with a small collection of stones for battle.
"Stones? What, pray tell, are those?" you may be thinking.
According to Chris Rubyor, collecting stones is the central thrill of Mytheon. These "Power Stones" can be found in the game and/or created for those who love the crafting aspect of RPGs. There are literally hundreds of stones available that can be categorized into three general types: Immovable structures like siege towers; buffs and healing spells; and creature stones. Stones are roughly equivalent to trading cards and can be arranged into different 'decks' depending on character type and battle encounters.
As players ready for battle, a random selection of five stones is displayed in the UI. Clicking a stone will summon, for instance, a Cyclops to bludgeon bad guys or maybe a siege tower that, while immovable, shoots an impressive number of ballista bolts dealing heavy damage. The caveat here is that there is no set pattern to the stones' appearances in the UI. They come randomly. Oh...and did I forget to mention that the duration of each summon is limited? That's right. Summon a Cyclops but know that he will disappear in about a minute. Just hope that if a head banger is needed for the next battle, one will show up! Of course, there -is- the option of the Fates. Click the Tempt Fate button and hope that a better selection of stones appears and that Mr. Whoop Ass is included.
What this does, according to Rubyor, is eliminate the 'spamming' of those one or two mighty spells as most players do in more traditional MMOs. Players are forced to think critically about the organization of their stones to make sure they have a good balance before running into an instance. Trust me when I tell you that it sucks big time to need an archer for one of those flying evil Pegasus things and only have ground attack tanks in your deck.
Party management has a nice feel to it too. While players generally will fight as their own character, there is the option to 'occupy' one's summons as well. This is particularly nice as to be able to maneuver attackers into more strategic positions. Summons will follow the player and attack a common target. But players need to be somewhat cautious in that summons sometimes wander into large masses of enemies which can be somewhat problematic. That said, however, I never found myself in much danger due to the wanderlust of my temporary companions.
Graphically, Mytheon is a rare treat. Truly, Petroglyph has poured their soul into this aspect of the game. Their love of mythology shows. The maps have lots of little touches to make players feel like they're in Ancient Greece. Seeing hundreds of turned-to-stone warriors on the approach to Medusa is typical of developers' love of the game, one of many examples I could mention. The colors and textures are unique and gorgeous to behold. Each area of the game has a definite look and feel to it that sets it apart from others. Ambient sounds and music are very cool too and definitely fit the game. In fact, much of the music was composed using period instruments, a unique touch from audio director Frank Klepacki.
But back to the game...
After the initial foray into the Echidna Swamps, players are brought to the game's central hub. Here players can buy/sell, craft, socialize with others, team up for an instanced-based PvE experience or enter into the PvP arena.
PvP promises to bring a huge amount of strategy into the experience. Players will have the opportunity for duels, 2x2, and 4x4 matches in instanced maps. Players' decks are combined to battle other players. Imagine the amount of strategy teams and guilds will employ to create the perfect, albeit random, decks for PvP action. There's no question that PvP should keep fans occupied for a good long while.
Everything mentioned above comes free of charge. There will be, as is typical in free to play games, an item mall that will feature things like additional deck slots, power stone enhancements, crafting items, potions, etc. One thing made abundantly clear, however, is that nothing in the item mall will give buyers competitive advantages over anyone else. As an example, Rubyor mentioned that a sword could be purchased in the item mall that would LOOK more stylish but have no statistical advantage over the same sword found in the game. A helmet might look sparklingly new and shiny gold when purchased in the store and battered and dented when found in game. This is a nice touch from Petroglyph and one that should set players' minds at ease.
The Bottom Line
Start with Mytheon's unique combination of action-RPG and RTS genres for a refreshingly new game style. Add robust and exciting PvP and PvE experiences to enhance the games' attraction to a wide swath of gamers. Stir in a copious amount of gorgeous graphics, wonderful audio, excellent crafting experiences, and mythological mayhem. What you have is the recipe for a surefire hit.
The bottom line is that Mytheon is definitely a Triple A free-to-play title from an American developer and one that gamers should NOT miss. I'm putting my money on Mytheon's success!
Ed Note: Mytheon is set to enter open beta sometime later this spring. You can, however, try to get in on the closed beta by visiting the official site.