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The land of Dereth awaits you in Asheron's Call, Microsoft's answer to EverQuest, Ultima Online and the massively multiplayer online role-playing game market.
Asheron's Call features a virtual world where thousands of adventurers venture through strange lands and dank dungeons while interacting with fellow travelers. Players can completely customize their character's race, facial features, skin tone, hairstyle, and both hair and eye color. Characters can train and specialize in over 30 different skills, wear multi-layered clothing and armor, and even fashion their own heraldic symbol.
Yet the most notable feature is the continuous world of Dereth, an area spanning 525 continuous square miles. This is a departure from the "zones" found in EverQuest and Ultima Online. Zones split the game up into many different areas. To enter a different area means a somewhat lengthy pause in your game and a feeling of separation from friends and guildmates.
Experience gained by characters in Asheron's Call works differently than in EverQuest. Instead of having your overall experience inch up, you can spend the points whenever you want. If you receive 500 experience points, for example, you can spend all of it on improving your skills, spend a little and save the rest for later, or just bank it for a rainy day.
Combat within Asheron's Call is more sophisticated than pointing, clicking and waiting. Players choose from three different attack target areas (low, middle, high), and from various attacks. It will actually pay off to swing low to take out an opponent's unarmored legs, or swing high to take the head off a creature who has foolishly left its head unprotected. This level of interactivity brings an end to automatic combat, in which people can start fighting, walk away from the keyboard, and then return to the fight.
Magic in the world also has an interesting way of working. The power of spells are directly proportional to the number of magic-users who use the spell. The more people, the less the spell's power. This creates an interesting scenario — do you keep the fabulous spells you've researched, learned, and crafted to yourself or teach them to allies, thereby reducing the power of your spells? The game also allows people to combine various components to enhance existing spells, but others can watch and copy your efforts if you're not careful.
An added feature is the ability for lesser (or perhaps even greater) characters to swear fealty and allegiance to others. Not only is this beneficial for players who swear allegiances and receive the protection of their lord or lady, but the recipients also receive benefits. Mentor characters escalate through various ranks and gain the ability to unlock certain features, skills and items in the game.
Unlike EverQuest, Asheron's Call does not require a 3D card to run. This opens the market for people with lower-end systems who still want to enter the online market. Like its competitors, Asheron's Call is sold as a retail game with a monthly fee and cannot be played without a connection to the Internet. ~ Michael L. House, All Game Guide