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PUBG dev’s next game is an over-the-top steampunk MMO

Mechs and machine guns, spellcasters, dragons and jetpacks, player housing... the works

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Bluehole, the original developers of Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, have announced their next title. It’s an MMO called Ascent: Infinite Realm, and it looks pretty intense.

Take a hefty dose of steampunk, mix in some classic sword and sworcery gameplay and season to taste with a handful of mecha and you’ll have only scratched the surface of the upcoming MMO.

Bluehole is a developer and publisher based in South Korea. They’re best known in the west for their breakout hit, Battlegrounds, which recently surpassed 20 million copies sold. But, prior to that game, they had a few other successful products called Tera and Devilian. Both are MMOs, but neither rose to prominence in the Western market.

Ascent: Infinite Realm, which the developer has abbreviated to A:IR, is described as an open-world game “marrying a steampunk setting with high fantasy elements.” The game will feature realm-versus-realm aerial combat and, from the looks of the extensive trailer, some form of player-generated housing.

Ascent: Infinite Realm takes place in a high fantasy steampunk world where machines and magic rule and everyone is dependent on flight to explore, travel, and conquer,” Bluehole said. “In search of a new home, adventurers take to the skies using a wide selection of airships, vehicles, and flying mounts to traverse A:IR’s open, highly vertical world.”

The more than five-minute trailer, which we’ve embedded above, is a lot to take in. Right off the bat, these mechs caught my eye. In later scenes they appear to have metal bits, but also wood paneling.

There’s also dragons ...

... Mario Kart-style barrel races ...

... and anthropomorphic opossums.

Mix it all together and you get multi-crew airships fighting dragons. Naturally.

Unfortunately, most commenters on YouTube seem fixated on the trailer’s low framerate. The game is currently in development, but, if I’ve learned anything from Bluehole in the last year it’s never to underestimate them.

It’s important to note that this is being developed by a different team than Battlegrounds, which was spun off into its own stand-alone company in September.

I’ve watched the trailer three times now and, suffice it to say, I have no idea what’s going on. It is an absolute sensory overload, and I am into it. After the success of PUBG, I’m definitely going to give Bluehole the benefit of the doubt on this one.

No release date has been announced.

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