Factions is a completely different style of MMORPG. Where most MMOs follow the same tried and tested pattern of pre-made, story-driven content. Factions strives to provide a completely unique experience. An almost completely untapped game play style in the Fantasy MMO genre.
Some "sandbox" games promise open-ended game play, only to disappoint the player with the lack of essential sandbox features like the ones explained below. Factions strives to appeal to the niche gamer who craves a more realistic open-ended fantasy MMO. It will not appeal to every joe schmo and their sister as mass market games attempt to do.
Factions allows the player to play whatever role they choose. Whether you are more interested in combat, crafting, faction and/or town management, building a business empire, or any combination of these things, you will be able to play exactly how you want to.
Traditional 'guilds' have been replaced with the 'factions' concept.
Factions can control territory, build towns, and wage war against rival factions.
Rules can be established to control how your faction is governed, how it interacts with other individuals and other factions, and how it handles infractions on its sovereignty.
Factions (and even powerful and well developed individual players) can hire NPCs to perform duties around their towns and frontiers. Manning a guard post, farming a field, providing vendor services for your goods, patroling a busy corridor and more can all be handled by NPCs. This will allow the players to log off of the game and know their town will not fall apart without them immediately. They will require upkeep in the form of pay and/or food from your fields.
Borrowing concepts from RTS games and possibly even City-building games, buildings and machinery can be erected to serve purposes (silos for food storage, walls for defense, forges to melt the hardest metals, mills to process the strongest of woods, machines to make mass quantities of the most mundane parts). Towns with the best infrastructure and resources will be the lifeblood and work-horses of well-off factions.
However, players must also struggle to keep their buildings from deteriorating or being destroyed. Unlike other games where a player's investment is protected indefinitely, Factions is an unforgiving world. Build your house in a vulnerable location or fail to provide maintenance on it and you risk losing your investment.
One world (oneshard) for all players, no portals to go through to reach other areas, no instancing, no static pre-made "theme park" destined to be the same experience for each player.
Everything from the plant life to groups of monsters is generated in the world and is never actually placed in a location by a developer.
If a tree is cut down, it will not simply grow back. If a monster is killed, it will not respawn. If a mineral depositis mined, it will not return. All things in the world grow and appear based on which biome (jungle, desert, forest etc...) is in the area and what other flora and fauna is nearby. Even NPCs will not simply appear out of mid air, they are treated like other spawns and must be "found" by the player and escorted back to their town. Sometimes NPCs will be on their own scared on the beach of the new world, sometimes they will be in groups of two or three deeper in the woods with a small campfire etc...
The game world in Factions is incredibly dynamic, a player who is not prepared to defend themselves from the ever encroaching wilderness will not last for long in this unforgiving place. Players will need to deal with everything from packs of hungry wolves (or worse) raiding their stores and trolls who would kill a man for their shineys to ambitious players out to create the greatest empire in the world or striving to become the most renowned theif in the land. Some threats will need to be dealt with before they become too big a threat. For example, if a faction's territory is on the edge of wilderness it will become necessary to wonder out into the wild to destroy gathering threats before they encroach on their lands. Say that an ogre camp has been established deep in the woods, far outside the screaming distance of any man. The camp may start out with a single tent and a couple of ogres which are a nuisance to the local deer and rabbit population. In a few days they may establish a larger foothold, start a campfire, and erect a few more tents. Some more powerful ogres will join them. Given a few weeks they may be strong enough to send dozens of marauding warriors to bring back needed supplies to their foothold in the wilds; a small faction's town may be ill-prepared for such an invasion.
Woe to the Faction who unknowingly builds their settlement next to a dragon's lair.
Nothing will have a pre-set price in the game and all materials and products will be worth only what the buyer will pay.
There are no gear vendors with gear that spawns out of thin air. If you see a NPC gear vendor, he is hired by a player or faction, told where to stand and who to sell to, and his stock is provided by that player or faction. Infact, if the vendor was killed, the stock could be looted. The factions economy is the most open ended ever created for an MMO, even the currency is created by players.
There is no 'starting area', as a new player you have the choice of starting in the wilderness alone, or starting in a faction that welcomes new players (you will be able to choose which of these factions to start in). When you first spawn, you will have only the rags on your back and a small bag, it will be up to you to work, adventure, beg, borrow, or steal to secure your spot in the world.
There is still a missions system, with all missions being provided by the players. A small list of mission scenarios can befound below:
Escort mission. A player may hire other players to escort him to a far away place to protect a cart full of expensive wares. Or a player may need protection while mining a large iron deposit far off in the wilderness. Or maybe the player just needs a player who has access to a larger wagon to haul his goods.
Bounty mission. A player may decide to put a very large sum of money on an opponent's head. Or possibly a very valuable piece of armor was lost to an enemy in battle and the vanquished player will pay handsomely to have it returned to him.
Collection mission. A wealthy player may need 50 trees worth of lumber to complete his new house, he may decide to hire someone else to do the work so he can focus on obtaining the marble stone from a far away town... Or maybe he'll hire someone to go pick that up for him as well?
Kill count mission. The constant incursions from the local giant bear populations may be starting to effect the farm production, a player may be hired to kill 20 of them to stem the attacks.
Production mission. The faction leadership may demand a stone wall be erected around the town instead of the old wooden palisade. A player may request 500 bolts be produced.
These are just some of the scenarios which may prompt a player or faction to post a mission. Missions can be posted on inexpensive boards in a faction's town, or can be left with an NPC.
Just about everything that would naturally need to have been created, has been created by a player. Gone are the days of finding a piece of armor dropping from an alligator or a snake-like monster with no arms wielding a two-handed sword. You will find, however, alligator bones on every alligator and snake skin on every snake.
As mentioned previously, there are no pre-built cities or towns or buildings or NPCs. The entire world will be shaped by the player's actions.
It is possible that a player may reach an extremely high skill level in a specific trade skill and may be able to create things only dreamed of by other players (think nearly one-of-a-kind items like an Excalibur sword).
Most complex items will require many different skills to create. While it is possible that one player posses all these skills, it is very unlikely. Cooperation will be required to create items like buildings and armor/weapons of high quality.
Mounts, pets, and companions will need to be tamed or raised by someone skilled in such an art.
Crafted items will not always turn out with the exact same specs. For example, if a sub-par lumberjack cuts down a tree and damages the wood, and then a sub-par Fletcher creates a "Longbow Arrow Shaft" from that lumber, it may provide a damage increase of +5. Whereas if a lumberjack cuts down a higher quality tree and then an expert Fletcher uses that wood to create a "Longbow Arrow Shaft" it may provide a damage increase of +20.
Town management will be a craft in itself. To ensure efficient food production, building upkeep, and NPC management, the town management will need to keep a close eye on the workings of the town, faction, and its players.
No one is tied down to any specific class any longer. Players will build their character to precisely what they envision by using Factions deep ability system.
While more powerful abilities do have pre-requisites, for example, to be able to hurl a ball of fire at another player, you must first learn how to create magical fire and then learn how to use it against another player whom you can touch, then you may be able to learn how to project it distances.
The ability system will allow very extreme combinations such as a marksman who can stealth or a plate armor healer. But these combinations would be in vastly different areas of the tech tree and would take a long time to obtain such terrific combinations and there are balancing mechanisms in place to prevent a few builds being vastly superior to the others. For example, heavy armor causes magic casting time to be increased.
Each ability in the game has a skill level, so while your shield block ability may be available to you, it will take a very long time until it 100% effective.
Abilities take time to acquire, you must be logged on to learn them. Learning and skilling your abilities up is also a social activity (much like everything else in Factions), you can learn much faster when learning from other players, in fact teaching is a skill in itself and the best teachers will likely be able to charge much more for their services.
Trade skills and crafting will be included in this ability system, so a player will need to make important decisions on how to allocate their research time. While one player may require additional defensive abilities, another may only be interested in learning how to create the most magnificent structures possible.