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Grappling with the massively multiplayer, physics-driven world of Worlds Adrift

It's hard to put a finger on why massively multiplayer online RPGs have never appealed to me, but if I had to guess, I'd say it's the lack of physical interaction with the world. Growing up alongside friends who loved games like World of Warcraft and Guild Wars, I never understood the attraction — to me, it seemed that the enormous technical scale at which those games operated came at the expense of the interactivity, reducing your interactions with the game world to a glorified chatroom.

If anyone is to upend this tendency, it's appropriate that it would be Bossa Studios, best known for physics-focused titles like Surgeon Simulator 2013 and I am Bread. And, indeed, that's exactly what the studio's latest title Worlds Adrift appears to be: essentially, the exact opposite of what we've come to expect from massively multiplayer games, trading XP meters and leveling systems for actual, tangible physics. Their hope: to build a persistent-physics world populated largely by player history, where every scrap of metal, downed airship and group photo tells a story about the players who came before you.

If this seems ambitious, it is, but but Bossa Studios has an ace up their sleeve: they're teaming up with a UK startup called Improbable, whose tech makes Worlds Adrift possible. With all physics calculation done on the server side, Worlds Adrift is capable of reliable, consistent physics on a massively multiplayer scale — enabling, among other things, an enormous draw distance where the physics of every object is accurately depicted even from hundreds of feet away.

Above, watch 45 minutes of gameplay from an early version of Worlds Adrift while we talk to lead designer Luke Williams about what makes this game possible.

For more information on Worlds Adrift, head to the official website, WorldsAdrift.com.