Nov 18, 2017 Last Updated 1:43 PM, Nov 17, 2017

Asheron's Call: My 21-Gun Salute to the MMO Giant

Published in Editorial
Read 2335 times
Rate this item
(0 votes)
Tagged under

November 2nd, 1999, PC gamers around the world heard, and answered, the call of Asheron Realaidain. Asheron’s Call became one of the first significant MMO’s available, and with its extensive lore, evolving plot, and plethora of features, it came as no surprise. In Asheron’s Call, players and their actions felt as though they truly impacted the world of Auberean. In addition, Bael’Zharon, the Hopeslayer, stands firmly in my mind as one of the most imposing, powerful villains in all of video game history.

Developed around the same time as Ultima Online and Everquest, Asheron’s Call (AC) distinguished itself from traditional MMORPG’s in seemingly every way possible. Upon character creation, there were no set ‘classes,’ but, rather, ‘general roles,’ which would allocate skills and abilities based on presets, or a completely open build, allowing players to assign every individual attribute point and skill trained, providing a truly endless combination of builds and characters for players to explore. The land of Dereth, in which the story takes place, was massive, at over five hundred square miles in size. However, unlike most games, there were no instances, loading screens, zones, or any other separation between areas of Dereth. Opening a door, entering a dungeon or shop, or travelling to a new land was all achievable in a single, massive world that was traversable by foot. Microsoft did, however, implement an incredible portal system. Accessible from most any major city, the portal network expedited travel, and allowed connection to every point of the adventure that was Dereth. And I’m sure that I’m not the only one who fondly remembers the strange, near nausea-inducing portal screen accompanied by one of AC’s cheesy ‘vintage’ sound effects. Arguably, the most important departure from the MMO standard was the magic system. In AC, magic felt very rare, strange, and incredibly powerful. Casting a spell was more than a button, a casting time, and a debuff; spell casting was an art, a science. In very early days, each spell had a specific formula, and the only way to discover new magic was for the caster to spend countless time in trial and error, hoping to discover some arcane secret. They eventually changed that system however, requiring mages to carry a focus for each school of magic, and adding a simplified component system. If, in the middle of a drudge-infested dungeon, your mage used up the last of your candle or scarab supply, you were left to your own devices – which usually meant death.

The socialization in Asheron’s Call is unparalleled.

Each server was exceptionally welcoming to new players (with the exception of the PvP server Darktide, which would lead to a seemingly unending stream of PKs and looting). Fellowships were close, tight-knit groups of players, and general conversation was abundant. Even owning property in AC was a different experience: players could rent homes, and each week the player was required to make a set payment of Pyreals, or risk their home being auctioned off and rented by another.

For eighteen years, each month, the patch would include more and more features, and continue the story of the battle against Bael’Zharon, creating an almost episodic feel in the world. The more you played, the more invested you became in the world, and the more you wanted to complete goals and defeat the Olthoi in control of humanity. Players learned Dereth, the various dungeons, cities, certain names, creatures, the ins and outs. It became a truly living, breathing world. This year, Warner Brothers, who gained the rights to Asheron’s Call in 2010, announced that the servers will be closing on January 31st, 2017. An uproar among the massive, long-standing player base has been created, with petitions and offers to purchase the rights, emulation servers, or any means to continue the adventures in this world that became closer to a second home than I have ever experienced in a game. As of now, there has been no report of any revival of the game, but we remain hopeful. I’d like to thank Microsoft for creating such a moving, incredible experience for over eighteen years, which has led to a mountain of fond memories, EXP, and loot.

Austin Michon

Austin is a lifelong gamer, starting with the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, he has a special place in his heart for all things classic. He is also an RPG fanatic, be it turn-based, action, isometric, he's played and loves them all. In addition, he is an avid tabletop gamer, RPGs, card games, board games, the table is truly his console of choice. Besides games, he is an artist and musician, who enjoys spending time in the mountains, drawing, playing guitar, and attending concerts.

Related items

  • Amazon Retro Zone Invites You to Compete Nov.14-15

    Amazon Appstore’s Retro Zone, which claims to be "the ultimate online destination for all things retro gaming," is partnering with Twitch influencers this Nov. 14-15 to stream retro games available on the Amazon Appstore and compete in speed runs against viewers.

  • Paris Games Week: OPN Meets Ninpo

    The most intriguing game of PGW was Vanishing Stars Colony War, developed by Ninpo — mostly since we were surprised to hear that these two genres could be merged into one; the independent scene allows this type of originality. And to hear Cedric's passion for his tower defense MMO, we can’t wait to play it!

  • BadLand Games Announces Do Not Feed The Monkeys to Release Q1 2018

    A story-driven title in which you invade the privacy of dozens of strangers while you witness their most intimate moments, trying to keep up with the rent payment and have enough money to buy some food from time to time... 

  • Gravel: Devs Announce Four Disciplines To Be The Number One

    Gravel, Milestone’s latest IP, is back with a new Dev Diary focused on the career mode developed around the Off-Road Masters, the annual TV show where the best riders in the world compete in races all over the planet, organized by the Gravel Channel, the extreme sports TV channel completely dedicated to off-roading.

  • It’s-a-me, Mario!

    He captured our hearts and minds since he was 8-bits of pixel jumping across abstract floating platforms, smashing similarly-floating bricks with his gloved hands. Mario (Mario Mario, to be precise) is one of the most iconic figures of anything in the world – not just gaming.

  • eSports

    It’s hard to pinpoint the inception of the esports movement, but much speaks for placing it somewhere around the year 2000. Fueled by fears of the end of the world (brought about by the Y2K bug), public sentiment took a downturn. In Asia, specifically South Korea, a financial crisis had ravaged the economy and conjured a bleak outlook onto the future. Scores of yuppies were fired and turned into NEETs. Instead of browsing the internet and doing nothing at their office jobs, they now passed their time in cyber cafes, playing online multiplayer games.

  • Is Early Access Worth It?

    Early access games give developers and players a unique relationship as a game goes through early-to-final development stages. As a player, you don’t have to be among the select few for the game’s alpha and beta phases; you can play immediately and experience a new perspective as the developers continue to build and improve the game based on your feedback.

  • Banner Saga 3 Art Reveal

    Stoic, an independent game development company, and Versus Evil a leading independent video game publisher, today unveiled the first key artwork for Banner Saga 3, the third and final chapter in the epic Viking RPG trilogy.