John McCarroll
E3: Jumpgate Evolution Evolves The MMORPG Genre
When they told me "Wing Commander" and "MMO" when they described the game, I fell in love.
06.04.09 - 6:14 PM

NetDevil, the folks behind the now-defunct MMORPG Auto Assault is back at it with their newest title, Jumpgate Evolution. While Auto Assault was certainly no slouch in the gameplay department, Jumpgate looks to put players in the pilot's seat - quite literally. Described to us as a combination of an MMORPG, everyone's favorite flight sims like Wing Commander or X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, and an open economic game like FreeLancer, it was obvious that the guys at NetDevil and publisher Codemasters have clearly stolen my brain and made the MMORPG of my dreams.

Combat in Jumpgate Evolution controls like Freelancer when playing with the keyboard and mouse, or like Wing Commander with a joystick. I had a chance to play some of the game while we were at the booth, and combat is incredibly smooth. There are caps to the number of ships that can enter a zone, with the Codemasters representative estimating a ceiling of approximately 150 or 200 players in a single zone. The PvE combat plays out like a mission in X-Wing with a persistent world and a party for the hero. PvP combat plays out both in large, capital ship versus capital ship combat, where each faction has fighters trying to take down the opposite ship and in smaller Battle Spaces, which are objective-based PvP areas.

While Jumpgate Evolution focuses on twitch combat, both in PvP and PvE situations, though there are plenty of RPG elements and a persistent world behind the scenes. Players do not have to wander into PvP zones, although doing so will give them things such as experience bonuses as they complete both PvP and PvE objectives. Entire sectors (or zones, as many MMOs refer to them) are up for grabs between the game's three factions, and similarly to Lake Wintergrasp in World of Warcraft, there are tangible benefits to controlling sectors. Factions will gain access to economic bonuses such as the ability to manufacture specific items. Guilds in a faction will have to work together to make sure that they keep and hold sectors in the game.

Some of the other cool features in Jumpgate Evolution are the fact that the game supports voice chat in a fully-fledged client created by Dolby. The list of features for this voice client is complete, and Codemasters told us it will be as high of quality in both options and sound as a private Ventrilo server. There will be support for several Saitek and Logitech accessories, including the G15 and many mice, as well as for the Xbox 360 gamepad, which has just enough buttons for perfect play of Jumpgate.

The game's story features the three human factions warring against each other, as well as fighting the hive-like aliens known as the Conflux. During all of this, all the factions are exploring the ancient high-tech ruins of the dead species the Amananth. While we didn't have a chance to go in depth into the backstory with the developers, what we saw in the environments was certainly enough to intrigue us. All of the different architecture in space looks different based on the faction, as does the design of the ships.

The environments are easily the most gorgeous part of the game. Players will be able to go to major points in the environments like the moons or suns of a system, and they look absolutely stunning. Playing on the multi-monitor setup NetDevil had set up in their booth, we had a sun take up a full two screens in the setup on its own. NetDevil wants players to be able to maneuver each system in a landmark-based way, despite it being in space. As such, each sector has its own unique look, and all of the environments we had a chance to take a look at were absolutely stunning.

Jumpgate Evolution is currently in Alpha stages at NetDevil, and they are looking to enter Beta before the end of the year. Codemasters reps said that the team at NetDevil was "close," but that they wanted everything to be ready for beta before setting a date. Keep your eyes peeled to RPGFan for more information on Jumpgate Evolution as it gets closer to release.