As technology gets better, gamers get less and less tolerant of lag and turn-based events that have no need to be turn-based. Consequently, there are more and more MMORPGs coming out these days that feel less like whack-a-mole style combat and more like fast-paced shooters. Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa is taking that trend to the next level.
In Tabula Rasa, you play a human hoping to resist an evil alien race known as the Bane. Joining you in your struggle are various other races that form the Allied Free Sentients (AFS). You will use not only conventional weapons, but also powers granted to you by an ancient and wise, but almost extinct race. In your various missions, you will not only learn new abilities by trying to read old pictographic texts placed by this old race, but also attempt to win back worlds and bases from the monstrous Bane.
One of the ways that Tabula Rasa is designed to speed up combat is to introduce more ranged weapons and allow for a more FPS (or in this case third-person shooter) control scheme. But, since this isn’t a shooter, the developers didn’t want attacks to rely too much on exact aiming. Where a standard shooter will count a bullet that goes between the legs or under the arm as a miss, Tabula Rasa will see it as a hit. The way this is displayed to the user is that when your target reticule passes over an enemy, a red circle appears around him and for a little while at least, any shot you fire will hit its mark. The game also takes advantage of the environment to create obstacles and barricades for the player. If you are standing behind a tree or half-wall, your likelihood of being hit goes down.
The development team of Tabula Rasa also wanted to keep players from having to start characters over from scratch if they wanted a second character with only a slightly different skill set. They accomplish this by allowing you to “clone” off your character at any point. If you want a new character that diverges a few skill branches back, you just need to load up that clone and take a different path with it.
Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa not only has all of the bells and whistles that come with a standard MMORPG, but it lends itself really well to the more action-oriented audience it is reaching for. Look for this game to launch this Fall.