The Kickstarter for the fantasy MMO Ashes of Creation was a huge success, drawing in $3.3 million in 2017, and also raising concerns that there was "something strange" about it all. Then in late 2018 developer Intrepid Studios launched a beta, but not for the MMO: Instead, it was for a battle royale mode called Apocalypse, described as a "precursor" to the MMO that was intended to "test key systems and infrastructure" for the main game. A few months later, a planed alpha test for the MMO was delayed.
The MMO alpha is still in the works, but Ashes of Creation: Apocalypse is set to debut on Steam Early Access today. Along with battle royale for solo players, duos, and squads of up to five, the game will also support modes including castle sieges and horde battles. Intrepid Studios said the game is "both a testing ground for new systems and content in Ashes of Creation, as well as a unique last-man-standing action game where magic, steel, and chaos reign supreme."
As for why Intrepid Studios appears to be focusing on making a battle royale when its Kickstarter backers forked over money for an MMO, studio founder and creative director Steven Sharif said developers are simply prioritizing "more essential systems" that will at some point underlie the MMO.
"The battle royale is merely the first mode available in Apocalypse to help us with that effort. Apocalypse has already allowed us to iterate on our action combat and rebuild our network infrastructure with the input and feedback of our community and the data we have been collecting during early testing," Sharif said.
"Heading into Early Access on Steam with our battle royale (and future game modes like Castle Siege and Horde Mode in Apocalypse) will help us continue that effort as we continue to build the Ashes of Creation MMORPG."
Ashes of Creation: Apocalypse is free to play, and any cosmetic items players earn from it will transfer over to the MMO as long as they use the same account. Assets and systems used in Apocalypse will also be "key components" of the MMO, and "our community can expect to see many of the items and rewards from our Kickstarter in Apocalypse as they come hot off the production pipeline," Sharif said. "Since our Kickstarter two years ago, we have made tremendous progress on our MMORPG, and Apocalypse helps to show that progress."
The trailer looks interesting, and Fortnite-meets-Mirage: Arcane Warfare could be a lot of fun. Whether it will satisfy people who signed up for an MMO remains to be seen. You can keep an eye on how both games are progressing at ashesofcreation.com.