E3: Tabula Rasa Restructured
05.19.05 - 5:14 PM

Richard Garriot, better known as Lord British, is once again creating worlds. While Tabula Rasa was showcased last year at E3, the game recently underwent some startling changes. Last year's game featured a highly stylised fantasy/sci-fi look, with a pastel pallet and angular characters. All that has changed. Tabula Rasa will feature a world of high-tech sci-fi born straight out of classics such as Starcraft. Players will jump into the game world as human survivors fighting the Bane, an evil race which destroyed the Earth and left humanity homeless.

Destination Games has created a game universe consisting of five planets upon which players will struggle against the Bane. NPCs will be a key element in the struggle, not content to merely stay put and hand out quests, but eager to engage the enemy in battle alongside players, even without being asked. On the battlefield, players will be able to take over control points and, should they hold them long enough, NPCs will come to set up shop and repel the enemy.

All NPCs, allied and hostile, will have certain strategies associated with them. Some enemies can only be defeated by a certain type of weapon, others only by acting in response to their weaknesses. One of the more creatures demonstrated was a flying unit which is nearly indestructable from the front and can deal extremely high levels of damage from its fore weaponry. Players are advised to hide and wait for the enemy to pass over, then use a ranged weapon to snipe at it from the back.

Combat is action-based. While still based on player vs. enemy statistics, there is a definite presence of movement factoring into the flow of battle, as demonstrated with the aforementioned flying unit. Players will also be able to enter instanced areas to conquer battlefields and do things such as espionage and disable enemy weaponry. Other interesting features will include being able to 'paint' enemy targets and call in NPC air strikes.

Garriot stated that role-playing will factor heavily into the game. In contrast to merely beating enemies or going on fetch quests to complete objectives, players will be called upon to participate in story events which revolve around the central struggle of humanity vs the Bane. The game will also feature built-in voice chat for party communication, and has an actual symbol language which players can decipher for the profound details of the in-game history.


Mark P. Tjan