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Tabula Rasa Hands On: Game DemoEdit

The demo that Paul Sage fired up was using a max-level Engineer - a tier four class that until recently, there was not much information about. Engineers can make all sorts of gadgets, and even lay turrets and mines that assist you in defeating creatures. Engineers can also create Temporary Wormholes, a micro-mechanical construct that gives the squad field access to the planet's teleportation network, for a few minutes at a time. On top of that, Engineers can use Salvage Tools, which allows them to recover materials from defeated enemies that can then be used to produce various goods for the Engineer to use in combat, such as grenades and explosive charges.

This was one of two choices for that tier of the class, with the other being the Demolitionist - a class whose info was not divulged at the time - but from the name you can get a general idea of what this class may do on the battlefield. This brings me to another interesting point about Tabula Rasa: the traditional class system has been overhauled for TR; the game uses a class tree system, branching out into multiple class choices with each tier of the tree you reach.

So for example, to become an Engineer, you would first select Specialist at level five, then Sapper at level fifteen, and finally Engineer at level thirty. Of course, there are multiple choices at each tier level. You can find out more about this on our Careers page, as well as information about another tier four class - the Grenadier.

One important note about leveling in Tabula Rasa is that the team has implemented what they call a "Cloning" system. You can create exact copies of your character, at any time you wish, which allows you to go back and play another version of your character - possibly allowing you to choose a different path from what you may have on your first character. This was designed so that players never have to start over at level one, unless by choice. For example, let's say you reach level fifteen; if your class is Specialist, you now have to choose to become either a Sapper or a Bio-technician. Before choosing is a good time to create a clone of your character; this will make another level fifteen version of your Specialist, so you can play both a Sapper and a Bio-technician, without having to start over.

The demo started off with Sage roaming around a lush jungle area, fighting off Bane attackers using his energy gun and deployables; often choosing to drop a crab mine - a deployable mine that moves toward enemies and explodes on contact - before engaging in a fire fight.

We saw many types of Bane creatures during his trek around a swampy marsh, including the Stalker - a tripod creature with a very nasty attack for anyone near the Stalker when it goes off. Think of it as a short-range area effect that is very deadly. Another creature we were shown is the Shield Drone, a machine that creates a force field around any nearby units, making it so you must enter the shield and risk being up close to kill off the drone; while the shield is active, any units protected by it are invulnerable to attacks.

As you can see, there will be many tactical aspects to combat in Tabula Rasa, even on a solo-play level - something that hasn't really been prevalent in MMO's to date.

Later in the demo, Sage moved on to what Garriott described as the longest instance in the game - the Purgas Power Facility - to show off some of the mission types you'll come across while exploring an instance, as well as some of the creatures and obstacles you'll need to overcome.

One of the creatures inside the instance is what Garriott called a "Linker." These Linkers have a special ability that, as more of them are in an area linking together, does increasingly more damage. There's one caveat to this ability, however. If you time things right, you'll be able to avoid the brunt of attack. This creature was also another good example of the tactical aspect of TR's combat system. There are some enemies you'll come across that have weakened states, which is the best time to attack them. Typically these states occur after the creature uses an ability of some sort.

During his trip through the Purgas Power Facility, Sage came across an area where one of his mission objectives required him to gain access to a control console so that he could activate portals throughout the instance. Upon accessing the console, he also received what Garriott called a "Radio Mission." Radio Missions are a special type of mission that becomes available to you when completing certain actions in the game. They can pop up when killing monsters, or accessing certain terminals, etc. It's another way Tabula Rasa will introduce quests to players, above what is currently in MMO's.

The last thing that was touched on as part of the demo was something that should be interesting for players who like to take risks. The development team is actively looking for ways to reward players who risk their life while playing, and the kill streak-style experience system is just one of those ways. Garriott explained that as you kill creatures, the longer you fight between breaks, the more bonus you receive to your experience per-kill. This is to reward players that shy away from downtime, and love to live dangerously low on health.

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