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Ryzom has a mix of sci-fi and fantasy themes set in a world with many sand-box qualities and features. The background story is developed through "events". An expansion called the Ryzom Ring was also released, that allows players to use the game's design tools to create their own role-playing events and scenarios.

Pros: In depth skill system, Detailed game world, Sandbox features

Cons: Steep learning curve, Graphics not the best of qualities.

Storyline: In the year 2481, the homin races were decimated when the hostile, insect-like Kitins were accidentally released from their home deep within Atys's root system. Surviving refugees from all four homin cultures began working together in 2485 to rebuild a single, mixed society in relatively remote areas. Soon came the added threat of the ?Goo,? a spreading infestation that renders areas uninhabitable and drives wildlife mad with rage. At release, the year was 2525.

Features: The game takes place on the planet Atys. Unlike normal planets, Atys is an enormous tree large enough to sustain an atmosphere and multiple ecosystems on its surface and within immense networks of branches and roots.

The various creatures in Ryzom have differing AI based upon their species that allows them to perform many realistic behaviors, such as migration and movement as a herd. Carnivores, for example, will attack specific other animals for food, and certain animals hunt in packs. The game also features changing seasons and weather. Weather effects include rain, snow, and wind. Tied to the season and weather changes are the movements of animals and availability of harvestable materials. For example, a certain type of sap may only be harvested during spring rains and be unattainable during other seasons or weather conditions. Weather conditions can change minute by minute. Each game season (spring, summer, fall, and winter) lasts four real-time days.

Player characters come from one of four distinct humanoid races, collectively called ?homins?. The 'Matis' are a proud and noble race of forest dwellers. They have mastered the art that is a fusion of botany and genetic manipulation, and consequently they have constructed their kingdom and castles from massive trees grown for that very purpose. The 'Tryker' are a fiercely independent and fun-loving race of lake dwellers. They build large floating cities on their lakes, and networks of wind-powered water pumps around them. The 'Zora?' are a spiritual and tranquil race of jungle dwellers. They build their temple-cities within naturally fortified areas of the jungle. Finally, the 'Fyros' are a tough and obstinate race of desert dwellers. They have mastered much fire technology, which they like to build into their weapons and architecture.

Interacting benevolently with all four homin cultures, but hostile towards each other, were two additional and far more advanced races: the magical Kami and the technological Karavan. The Kami are depicted as elusive, chaotic, playful, and highly protective of Atys, while the Karavan are more secretive and have never been shown outside their environmental suits or far from their machinery. The Matis, and to a lesser extent, the Tryker, cultures tend to ally with the Karvan, while the Zora? and Fyros tend to side with the Kami.

New characters come from one of the four homin races, and start out as refugees, they are scattered survivors of the kitin invasion who have somehow managed to make it to an area called the Ruins of Silan. This area, which is not connected to the rest of Atys, contains a variety of animals, as well as various traders and trainers, and representatives for the cultures in the game. There are several NPCs providing missions, including four whose missions act as tutorials in the four skill areas (fighting, magic, crafting, and foraging). When a character decides to, he or she may choose to travel (teleport) to the main world (called the mainland, and must choose one of the four homin capitals to travel to. This decision can not be reversed, and although it is possible to travel between capitals, the journey is long and dangerous, even for experienced characters.

Each character gains levels independently in the fields of weapon-oriented fighting, magic, crafting, and harvesting simply by performing appropriate acts (killing enemies with a sword for fighting, assembling jewelry for crafting, etc.) Each level gained in one of these fields awards the character 10 skill points that can be spent on new abilities specific to that field, spent on general character improvements, or simply saved. As a character progresses in levels, the skills get more refined. For instance, a starting character casting spells will acquire points in the skill called "magic". After level 20, points are accumulated in either "offensive magic" or "defensive magic", and e.g. attack spells will add points to the former, while healing spells add to the latter category. At later levels, these are also split, allowing higher level characters to specialize.

Ryzom comes across as an in-depth and well thought out game with many enjoyable qualities, some unique to the game. For anyone looking for an MMO with sci-fi themes this would be a good pick.



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