Jumpgate Evolution Preview (PC)

Lately it seems that the market for MMOs has been increasing, but with games like World of Warcraft, Age of Conan, and even the up-and-coming Aion enjoying a solid hold over the fantasy genre, developers are having to look to the skies for new and exciting settings for their titles.

Jumpgate: Evolution is a new space-based MMORPG coming from the guys over at NetDevil, who also developed the original game Jumpgate: The Reconstruction Initiative released back in 2001. Unfortunately, the game was plagued by various issue such as the publisher's pulling out just after release. This time round it is Codemasters that will be taking over publishing duties, and it was in Codemaster's very plush looking booth that Strategy Informer was given a behind the scenes look at how well Jumpgate was coming along. It's coming along very nicely indeed.

Unlike EVE Online, Jumpgate is focused on the combat. (EVE being arguably the only other decent space-MMO out there at the moment, and so Jumpgate's closest competitor.) Classics like X-wing vs. Tie Fighter, Free-lancer and Wing Commander have been brought back to life in Jumpgate's 'realistic' and 'dynamic' flight mechanics. Combat mainly revolves around dog-fighting and 'twitch-based' controls, and you will probably spend most of your time in first person. Improving on the original formula, the developers have also included a new graphics engine, new assets, and have made the gameplay more accessible (So they say).

The build on show for us was only in the Alpha stages, but even so it was looking pretty slick. The graphics were smooth, and it looks like they've gone for more 'bright', shiny textures. The rendering was also pretty good for such an early stage. We did talk to them a bit about specifications, and NetDevil assures us that this won't be a DX10 only game or anything like that. It will be very scalable, and they hope it will be able to run on a variety of systems. A more comprehensive look at minimum specifications can be found on the official website.

During the demonstration, we were shown the inside of a space station, where a ship was docked. Like EVE, the space-stations will be the social hubs for the game, where you can trade, get new missions, rest and repair etc... After that, the developers took us on a little tour of the world, and showed off a number of different aspects, including combat and missions.

Missions are handled in a different way to fantasy-based MMO's, there are no instances that load up for each group, instead, all of the mission locations are persistent, and enemies respawn at regular intervals to prepare for the next group. Grouping has also been made easier, with 'soft' grouping being the dominant ethos. Instead of waiting around for people to join you, a player can simply jump to the mission location and join in with whoever is already there. This does leave the game open to potential 'ninja' tactics, but the developers have assured us that they will be adding in fail-safes and rules to prevent that.

There will be an extensive PvP system included as well, with PvP scenarios and Capital ships for players to contend with. Scenarios will often hold multiple objectives, and the environment will physically react to those objections. Other features of the game will include medals and licenses, a classic auction system, inventory's, and loads more. You can upgrade and buy new ships based on your skills and wealth, but apparently the focus will remain on dogfighting, no matter how big your ship is. The background to the game hasn't been laid down yet, but from what we've seen so far it probably won't differ. The Conflux will return as the game's NPC enemy, and players will get to choose to be one of three races: Octavius, Quantar and Solarain all who are from the previous game as well.

But like all good MMO games, there's choice. NetDevil have included other ways for you to play the game, such as construction and trading (Naturally). There wasn't anything to show regarding these areas, so hopefully they will be given as much attention as the combat.

For those who miss the days that had you grappling with a chunky joystick and blowing enemies into pixel-bits, this game will probably hold that nostalgia factor for you. Even EVE players who are more combat orientated will probably prefer Jumpgate's more aggressive ethos, and in general, Jumpgate looks like it will be way more accessible then EVE currently is. With a loyal fanbase behind it coming from the old game, this title could do well, especially if it attracts a new audience. There's still a long way to go yet, and Jumpgate isn't due out until Spring next year, so there's plenty of time for NetDevil to get things right (or wrong). Hopefully the up-coming BETA test will give us a clearer picture as to what's going on. This is definitely one to watch, so stay tuned.


By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Sep 08, 2008
Might be a bit more action packed than EVE (where you go to bed and sleep while you level up). I'd like to see how players rate the beta, but so far it looks good. Space is sure getting crowded.
By CrazyGame (SI Newbie) on Oct 19, 2008
Looks great i think i'll sign up for the beta
By lichlord (SI Core) on Dec 02, 2008
love space games im in for a use when its released