Citadel Studios announced last Friday that Shards Online's Alpha is set to arrive on January 13th. The Alpha will bring with it a new starter experience that introduces players to the game through a new set of quests, "Community Clusters," the Catacombs dungeon, the Outlands, the Founders-only Przm Lounge, an Allegiance PvP system, guild and party systems, fishing, Necromancy, a UI overhaul including the addition of a minimap, new resources, a Criminal system, player-run merchants, and more. There's quite a lot included in this release.
You may remember that Shards Online ran the gauntlet that is Steam Greenlight earlier this year. Unfortunately, the game will not be launching on Steam Early Access alongside the launch of Alpha. Citadel's reasons for delaying the Early Access launch are as follows.
Based on the feedback we've received from our current playerbase, there are a few things that need to happen before we can consider ourselves ready for Steam.
Larger world map: Celador our main game world is undergoing a redesign that will result in it being almost 25x larger and more diverse.
Mounts: Tamed horses will be able to be mounted and ridden to allow for faster travel across the new expanded Celador
Archery: What fantasy game would be complete without bows and arrows?
It was also announced that a European server called Europa will be coming soon. According to the newsletter, "Europa is a parallel universe on the Shards of Aria official shard." A new item called a "Gatestone" will allow players to travel between these universes and play with players in other regions.
You can find more information in last Friday's newsletter.
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