In most video games, MMORPGs or not, there is only one type of progression: Vertical progression. Each time you level you get more stuff: stats, skill points, abilities, access to higher level gear, etc. While this type of progression is rewarding while you are on the grind to max level, once you obtain max level it leaves you feeling empty with your rewards. Sure, there is always the gear grind as you work towards BiS (Best-in-slot) gear; however, when gear upgrades can take weeks if not months, you lose that feeling of accomplishment.
Intrepid Studios is taking an interesting perspective on progression, mixing both Vertical and Horizontal Progression. Vertical Progression of course will be based on things which are acquired by leveling, while Horizontal Progression is based on player choice and decisions and how they wish to spec out their characters.
This system will prevent mundane repetition of the same Race and Class combinations, and even if you encounter a particular race playing a particular class, you will not immediately know everything about their character because of the unknown horizontal progression they have pursued.
Ashes of Creation is designed to have a 50-level vertical progression. Unlike other games that have a soft cap where you can continue to earn experience points and gain additional power, at level 50 Ashes hard caps the development of the character. Player growth via vertical progression comes in two forms: skill points and stat points.
Characters will gain skill points as they level up, allowing them to invest points in actives, passives, or the weapon skill trees. Characters will not be able to max all skills in a skill tree so they will have to make the decision if they want to go deep into several skills or wide to have a multitude of skills at their disposal. Characters will be able to reset and change their skills, although at this time we do not know if the player will need to visit a trainer or not.
The racial selection for the character seeds the character’s initial stat allocation. The primary archetype grants stat points as the character levels. None of the horizontal progression decisions have any bearing on Stats, so you will not get additional stat points from your Artisan Class or your Religion.
Horizontal Progression is something not all players understand, given the system is not employed very often in MMORPGs. Horizontal progression does not involve gaining power because of character levels, instead it is the result of completing additional content that is not directly presented to you in your vertical growth. This type of progression is a reward for player choice, and it provides a level of personalization to each character beyond what is obtained when you reach the natural conclusion of your level path for your race and class. This is not to say there is not vertical progression required inside of these Horizontal options; you will of course have to grow in many of them through completing tasks, objectives, missions, etc.
Ashes of Creation will be offering a healthy amount of Horizontal Progression options to the players. Those options include:
I was hesitant to put class on this list, however, given the unique nature of the Ashes of Creation Archetype and Class system, the choice of class is certainly horizontal progression. Each character while restricted to their choice of Primary Archetypes, does have the option to switch between 8 distinct classes. These classes will determine how the character fulfills their role in the party. Make sure to check out the Archetypes and Classes page for a deep dive into this system.
Players will have their choice to engage with the three different Social Organizations (Thieves Guild, Scholar’s Academy, Trader’s Company). As Social Organizations will provide different augments to the players, Level 50 member of the Thieves Guild will have access to different augments than a level 50 of the same primary archetype and class who is a member of the Scholar’s Academy.
Social Organizations will give players access to unique augments, special titles, cosmetics, access to special shops and access to special Artisan tools for gathering and crafting dials for Crafting. The Social Organizations are detailed out in their own section.
Ashes of Creation is a game with significant religious themes. We know that there will be six major religions plus an Underrealm Religion. Like the Social Organizations characters may only follow one religion at a time.
The benefit to following a religion is access to additional augments which stack on top of other augments. Additionally, characters will have the ability to rank up inside of the religion allowing them to unlock a middle-management level of responsibility. Finally, membership in a religion and attaining the proper rank will grant access to special crafting recipes.
The World of Verra has a significant ocean content component and Naval adventures are going to be a thing. Currently, we know that Sailoring will have its own development tree which allows characters to become proficient at ship-board tasks such as: defensive skills, gunnery, navigation, piloting, repair, and utility skills.
Every six months there is a PvP Season which measures a character in their proficiency in Arenas, Caravan Defense and Raiding, Guild Wars, Siege, and other PvP Events. Through out the season characters will accumulate purchasing power through their performance, which will allow them to obtain gear enhancements. The better the players do at these PvP events, the better the rewards they can obtain. Additionally, they will be able to unlock achievements.
Brigand / Caravan Defender
While mentioned in the PvP Seasons Section, I wanted to pull out the Brigand/Caravan defender specifically, because we were previously told this had its own development skilltree. If that was just a prelude to the PvP Seasons announcement; or if this system really is stand-alone, we are unsure. As we get more information the appropriate section on the Caravans page will be updated.