Hasbro's upcoming free-to-play MMO Transformers Universe will be rolling out a beta "very soon". The browser-based title promises to bring all the vehicular carnage seen in the likes of War for Cybertron and Dark of the Moon to a much wider audience, with a persistent universe all Transformers fans can enjoy for free.
"It's very soon," revealed Kris Jones, executive producer at Jagex who're working on Transformers Universe, in regards to the upcoming beta. "It's not going to be far away. We're launching this in 2012, so it goes without saying that the beta will be soon." Jagex have a relatively small team and short development schedule for an MMO, with Universe due next year in 2012. As it stands, that would have afforded Jagex just under two years to work on the title; a very tight schedule for such a large and ambitious project.
Built on an updated RuneScape engine, Jones hopes Universe will redefine what players expect from browser-based titles, dubbing it "the next step in browser-based gaming from a graphical perspective". Visually, Universe will "take some nods" from the latest cartoon series, Transformers: Prime, but Jones explains that the team at Jagex want Universe to have a style all its own, with Hasbro granting them access to over 11,000 designs from the Transformers IP.
Being a Transformers title, you can expect much in the way of, well, transforming! Jones confirms changing into your vehicular form will be "an integral part of combat", as well as doubling up as a transportation option. "Some people want to be tanks, some people want to be motorbikes, some people want to be sports cars, some people want to be an SUV," he said. "It's very much down to the person. It's very easy to say, 'Oh I want to be a Jet,' but I think you'll end up with a wide variety of what people will want to be."
Jagex is currently mulling over what vehicles will make the final cut, with the emphasis on "variety". Customization encompasses hundreds of parts, and a progressive levelling system might be integrated. Combat is said to be teamwork-oriented with classes to choose from, with each class linked to your vehicular options. Something along the lines of a sports car equating a lithe and nimble class, whereas a truck falls in the heavy and punishing bracket?
Jones also revealed the tone of the game will be very "adult" with epic story-arcs. "We're staying away from - currently in the cartoons there's kids in the cartoons, we're not having any children in our game," he added. [Eurogamer]