Global Agenda is kind of hard to describe. Part Call of Duty, part Eve Online, its creators promise that it will deliver a satisfying experience not just for shooter afficionados, but also for MMOG junkies. You can buy it once, or you can choose to subscribe. You can hop online for a quick match with strangers, or your can put the time and effort to creating an Agency with your friends. Trying to mesh two distinctly different types of gameplay seems like a herculean undertaking, but according to the game's executive producer, Todd Harris, it just makes sense.
"We wanted to remove subscription as a barrier for people to try the game," he explains. Players who might find Global Agenda's shooter-style gameplay appealing might not want to dive headfirst into an MMOG experience, especially if they're more used to deathmatches than raids. But Hi-Rez is confident in what their game has to offer. "We thought that we could carve out enough from the Global Agenda gameplay that it would stack up very well as a multiplayer shooter," Harris continues.
He's quick to stress that Global Agenda isn't some sort of MMOG-ized shooter, where you click on an enemy and wait for the fight to sort itself out. "You freely aim your reticule, in our case when you do a melee attack, you actually have to land it on your opponent. [There's] a lot of player skill involved. It plays like a multiplayer shooter would, whether that's TF2 or Battlefield." Or maybe even a little bit like Tribes - each player has a jetpack, but you can't fire while jetting around, so it's more for transport than aerial combat. (Still...jetpack.)
Playing the game in its non-subscription form gets you access to "match-made PVP, or also PVE content so you can level up your character that way." You'll also get loot drops, there's a social area, you can visit vendors, customize character with new suits and dyes, and make use of the built-in voice chat. And if that's all you ever do, you'll have a very satisfying shooter experience comparable to other online shooters, but as Harris puts it "We also say come for the action gameplay, then stay for the game of territory control."
He's referring to Conquest, the "grand turn based strategy game" mode that's only accessible in the subscription version of Global Agenda. Conquest is Global Agenda's version of realm versus realm gameplay, as Alliances compete to claim territory and meet win conditions that might stretch over a 30- or 40-day arc. Alliances are comprised of groups of Agencies - Global Agenda's version of a guild. Starting an Agency is just a matter of getting some friends together and paying a nominal in-game fee; where you go from there is up to your creativity and ruthlessness.
"What we're going for," says Harris, "is politics, drama, but with the gameplay being shooter action based." Many MMO fans are attracted to Eve Online's emergent gameplay and political machinations, but find its space-based combat to be somewhat sterile. Global Agenda, Hi-Rez says, will offer players a more personal, visceral experience.
The hex-based Conquest mode isn't the only exclusive that the subscription version offers, though. Players will also have access to "extended features that people associate with an MMOG, like a player auction house, player crafting - where you can get blueprint drops - and actual craft implants," says Harris. In true MMOG fashion, ongoing content updates will also be part of the subscription plan, as will extra maps.
Color me intrigued. Successfully pleasing two such different audiences seems at best risky, and at worst asking for trouble. If Global Agenda manages to pull it off, however, it may inspire a change in how developers think about MMOGs.
If you're similarly curious to see if Global Agenda delivers on its promises, here's how to enter the drawing to receive one of 10 beta keys:
- Go to http://www.globalagendagame.com
- Use referral code "Escape" (without the quotes) when registering.
- If you've already registered, simply log into "My Account", then go to the Beta Registration tab and update your Referal Code registration "Escape".
The 10 winners will be selected from the pool of persons who registered with the referral code prior to 9:00 PM on Thursday Nov 12. If you're one of the lucky winners, you'll receive a Beta Key from Hi-Rez on Thursday evening.