Status: Released March 25th, 2003
Shadowbane is the flagship massively multiplayer online (MMO) game for Ubisoft! Brace yourself for the ultimate challenge in online gaming. After a millennium of strife, toil, and struggle, the world of Aerynth suffered a massive catastrophe from which it has yet to recover. You must choose how to survive in this new and treacherous land. Whether the path is to quest alone, build a city, rule an empire, or siege enemy kingdoms, you are empowered to follow your calling. Only in Shadowbane can you truly change your world.
What is Shadowbane? A simple question, but not so simple to answer. Shadowbane is many things to many people. The game is officially classified as a Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying game (MMORPG or MMO for short), but there are some who would classify it as a real-time strategy game. Which is it?
Well, both actually. Shadowbane uses many elements from strategy games such as city building, sieges, territory conquest, and tactical formations and weds them to a game system similar to other fantasy MMORPGs. Players level and adventure in Shadowbane as they do in other MMOs, but Shadowbane offers unique activities in the game world, adding reasons to continue play after the more conventional RPG has been mastered.
Shadowbane has expanded the concept of what an online persistent world RPG can be. Rather than focusing on the story arc of the single character and taking the game no further, Shadowbane extends the experience by creating a backdrop of political intrigue and warfare for players to become engrossed in. Players can join together to form guilds, raise armies and conquer Kingdoms. Leaders marshal their strength to build keeps, temples and fortifications. Armies battle their rivals to control resource mines crucial to their kingdoms’ growth. And when diplomacy fails, legions and siege engines batter down the walls of cities, and the destinies of player nations are decided on virtual battlefields.
Character Creation and Development
Shadowbane has one of the most in-depth character creation and development systems in the world of online gaming. The process begins simply; determine what Race and gender you want your avatar to be, then choose one out of up to four Base Classes; Fighter, Healer, Mage, and Rogue. Once your avatar reaches 10th level, it promotes into one of more than twenty Professions, with the choice limited by race and Base Class. An Elf Mage, for instance, could promote into a Wizard, a Necromancer, a Channeler, or even an Assassin! A Human Rogue could also promote to an Assassin. These characters, while both Assassins, have very different styles and capabilities, based on the powers and abilities they acquired from their Base Class. The Rogue-born Assassin, for example, has access to special dagger attacks and can wear light armor, while the Mage-based Assassin can blast his enemy with magical spells!
Character Development and diversity does not stop there. After an avatar has taken on a Profession and learned the ways of combat, they can take on up to four Disciplines to customize their powers and capabilities. Each Discipline represents an elite order or special group, offering special areas of expertise for characters to pursue. Disciplines offer a limited multi-classing in Shadowbane; Some Disciplines focus on specific styles or types of combat, while others represent mastery of a particular school of magic or even inborn supernatural abilities! From elite Elvish sword masters to Werewolves, Shadowbane offers dozens of distinct Disciplines that allow players to fine tune their characters to an unprecedented degree.
The Greatest Story Ever Told
A famous name, and a grim one. The sword that broke the Elvish Empire, with a blade to cleave the World. The greatest weapon that shall ever be forged, Shadowbane bears a bright name, a name of hope. And yet, dark omens have gathered about that hallowed blade from the time of its forging. Legends coil and twist around it like thorny vines, crowned with fierce blossoms, red as blood.
Looking back to our original question: What is Shadowbane? There is a third answer: Shadowbane is a mighty weapon, the Sword of Destiny, on whose edge hangs the fate of the world of Aerynth. Of all the MMOs on the market, none has ever come close to Shadowbane in terms of original lore or story content. Often referred to as the Master Bard of Shadowbane, Meridian has single-handedly breathed life into 5,000 years of recorded game history. The heroes and villains of the past, and all of the many races, classes, and gods who exist within the universe of Shadowbane have become an almost tangible presence for fans and developers alike. Shadowbane’s lore provides a rich framework in which players can ground their characters and guilds, and also provides justification for many of the game systems and endemic player conflict. Aerynth is a shattered world, whose history is replete with ancient feuds, holy wars, and deeds of legend.
Shadowbane has been built from the ground up to support Player-versus-Player (PvP) combat. Every facet of the game system including the game’s backstory, actively encourages it. In addition to one-on-one PvP dueling, Shadowbane’s game mechanics also support and encourage Guild-versus-Guild (GvG) and Kingdom-versus-Kingdom (KvK) combat.
This isn’t to say, however, that PvP Combat is completely unrestricted – Shadowbane’s game world is divided into zones and territories, with conflict levels ranging from completely protected (such as the Newbie Areas and Starting Cities) to extremely dangerous (hostile advanced areas and land held by enemy nations).
We have worked very hard to ensure that the combat system offers the most balanced PvP experience on line, and that player conflict fits within the context of the game world. Pointless violence is not the purpose of Shadowbane: but we also assert that it’s hard to tell a gripping story (especially a gripping fantasy story) without conflict or battles. We remain firm believers that PvP and Roleplaying can go hand in hand, and that, in fact, the pinnacle of each can only be achieved when the two exist in tandem. Without the power to back up your words, what good is a well-acted swagger? And how much more meaningful will your character’s victories be when firmly grounded in an epic or mythic context?
The traditional Player-Killers (PKs) of other games are outsiders who wander from region to region in search of prey, vanishing when their victims come looking for revenge. In Shadowbane, however, all players belong to a Guild, run either by GMs or Players. Guilds are highly territorial, and you can easily learn where a character is from by viewing their Guild Crest when you click on them or by viewing your “Recent Attacks” log. Wanton murderers will be held accountable for their actions by the Guilds they serve, and the penalties for being expelled from a player Guild are severe. Furthermore, trying to operate without the fixed home base that a Guild provides is asking for serious trouble. So, you may ask, what’s to keep all the PKs from forming Guilds of their own? Nothing, but there’s nothing to keep you and anyone ever troubled by them from forming your own Guilds, and battering the PK Guilds to dust. It’s hard to hide a player city. Also, Shadowbane’s reliance on Guilds means that every victim has a Guild full of supporters to help them get even. In Shadowbane, PvP isn’t about PKing. It’s about payback.
Emphasis on Player Interaction
We believe an online title can be more than just a “game.” By combining the elements of an RPG with a service model geared towards on-going narration we are creating a unique new form of entertainment; a new type of media in which the viewer can make the leap from “silent observer” to “active participant.”
We didn’t just want to build a game; we wanted to build a living world. Shadowbane is dynamic, breathing model of a feudal society — with all the cooperative and competitive implications thereof. We believe that this creates the ultimate roleplaying experience, and that the opportunities for human interaction brought about by such a flexible environment far surpass the possibilities offered by a more static, repetitive model. In the past, the mantra of MMOs was level, loot, repeat… Level, loot, repeat… In Shadowbane, players shape the face of the game world: players decide where their cities are, what buildings and services they hold, which regions of the map are ruled by those cities, and ultimately, whether those cities will survive the ambitions of their rivals. You decide.
In short, we don’t want to give you “just a game”… We want to give you the opportunity and the power to Change the World.
So What Exactly is Shadowbane?
Is it a RPG? It it an RTS? Is it a political game? Is it a story? Is it all of the above? The best way to answer that question is to try it yourself (Note, download is no longer available)!