'Grimlands' and 'Otherland' are on the frontline of Gamigo's free-to-play revolution

Gamigo reveal their future lineup of free-to-play games, Grimlands and Otherland

For a few years after Blizzard first started to knead its bejeweled knuckles into World of Warcraft the industry was hit hard with the kind of Warcraftian twins and free-to-play half-cousins that even now still populate the genre. They look like World of Warcraft, they sound like World of Warcraft, except they're not, and we notice.

Over the last year and a half, massively multiplayer games have been bucking this trend under the realization that the subscriber-base of an imitation World of Warcraft's hits its ceiling fast. Which is why Gamigo is going a different path and breathing some life into two action-based massively multiplayer titles. One, Grimlands, a Fallout-esque shooter. The other, Otherland, a cybernetic sci-fi title based on a series of novels by author Tad Williams.

Gamigo is German publisher that focuses on massively multiplayer titles and licenses developers for a Western audience. The company has been doing this since roughly 2001. All games under its power are free-to-play, with the added caveat of a microtransaction system to generate revenue.

Meet Grimlands and Otherland

At this year's E3, Gamigo's Anthony Guzzardo showed off two of the publisher's upcoming titles that they hope will take off. Both Grimlands and Otherland are vastly different titles despite the shared genre. The first is the Fallout-like shooter-based massively multiplayer game. It's about clan territory.

Clans of 10 players or more will attempt to take over a landmark or building by fighting off waves of enemy mobs before finally accessing it. Once taken they'll gain bonuses within the zone. Alternatively they can take over a town, in which case a successful takeover allows them to build the town up to become a unique presence in the game, with additional buildings and features. The result is essentially a continued game of King of the Hill albeit some some added complexity, where users fight to take over and then take back areas from other users.

The game is said to have intelligent AI that can hear a user coming, run for help, or simply run away from a fight. It also includes fairly intelligent combat for a massively multiplayer title, adding numerous hit zones to NPCs and allowing the user to make a head shot, hand shot, or leg shot, the latter two letting you disarm the enemy or prevent them from running away.

Grimlands uses a use-based skill system on top of this. The more a skill is honed, the higher the skill level. Similarly, if you stop using a skill its level deteriorates.

Drastically different is Otherlands, a game based on a series of novels by author Tad Williams, who also voices the game's tutorial. It's an action-based massively multiplayer game which takes place in a virtual reality. A virtual reality within a virtual reality, then. Its setting is plastered with lines of broken code, nods to the Internet, surreal imagery like enormous floating chess pieces that represent a war in the sky, and includes an item called eDNA which users collect then piece together to create mobs that can defend player housing. Clan housing in the game can be "hacked" by other players and eDNA guards against this.

As an action-centric massively game, users have to dodge every swing of a weapon to avoid damage. Raids and several dungeons are said to be features, including one which - again, surreal - features a giant face, we're told.

Half Matrix, half Lewis Carroll, but also there's perhaps a bit of open-world role-playing game in its bones. NPCs will roam around with their day-to-day tasks. A fisherman will bring his catch home with him at the end of the day. And players can affect this by taking part in certain tasks and changing the world in doing so.

Five Isle, a new area in the game, is a Chinese-influenced zone that's still in development but gave a glimpse of what Otherland might look like when fully functional. Portal tubes can be jumped through where the users will float down to destinations, part of the game's fast-travel system. Another feature titled U|Space features apartments that the user can customize with decorations or portals.

Otherland is scheduled to launch this year while Grimlands is currently in closed beta.

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