We know: after all the hype over the holidays and then CES, the one thing that’s truly missing from your life is a new time-consuming obsession. The folks at Square Enix and Gamepot USA hope to change that: they’ve just announced they’re bringing the MMORPG Fantasy Earth Zero over to North America early in 2010—and, unlike say World of Warcraft, Fantasy Earth Zero will be free to play. And Square Enix has the pedigree to pull it off: they’re the same studio that created Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest.
“Imagine a world of perpetual warfare, legions of unique classes, and a Hyper-Active Battle System—think the best scenes in Gladiator or Braveheart, with the action ratcheted up to 20,” said Gamepot USA’s director of marketing Thomas Lee, in a statement.
The basic idea of Fantasy Earth Zero is that, after a long period of peace, kingdoms have fallen into conflict over control of powerful crystals scattered throughout that land—whoever controls the crystals controls their powers, including transformations, healing, and much more. Players take on roles in one of three classes and engage in quests as different factions compete for players’ allegiances and try to consolidate their own power. The game features massive player-vs-player action (from five on five to fifty on fifty) and a wide array of character customization options.
Although Fantasy Earth Zero started off as a subscription-based game, it caught on in Japan after publishers dropped the subscription requirement, making it a free-to-play game: it currently boasts over 300,000 players. However, free-to-play doesn’t mean that that the publishers don’t make money: in-world trade is conducted via an in-game currency called “orbs,” which players buy using real money.
Fantasy Earth Zero will be free to play when it launches later this year; folks can sign up for the beta now at a teaser site.