Shroud of the Avatar Released on Steam Early Access

The crowd-funded Ultima Online spiritual successor Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues has been released on Steam Early Access today, and to celebrate the occasion, developer Portalarium has sent us a press release highlighting some of the additions that have been integrated in the game for Release 12 and giving us a brief idea of what the future has in store for the work-in-progress title:

Richard Garriott's Shroud of the Avatar Now Available on Steam Early Access

Early Access Release 12 for the highly anticipated fantasy role-playing game now available for play; Players to celebrate $5 million crowd fund milestone

AUSTIN, Texas, November 24, 2014 The virtual fantasy world of Shroud of the Avatarâ„¢ (SotA) is about to get a major population boost. Today Shroud of the Avatar, from legendary game designer Richard Garriott, goes live on Steam Early Access. Steam is the hugely popular digital distribution platform from Valve Corporation with 100-million active accounts. The Early Access program gives players the chance to try out games as they evolve. Shroud of the Avatar is a crowd funded game that has surpassed more than $5 million in funding.

For most of 2014, the game has evolved with content updates one weekend every month. The latest update, Release 12, will be available to Steam Early Access subscribers today. With this update the game is now available 24/7 (except for planned downtimes). There are currently two ways to access SotA.through Steam Early Access or via Shroud of the Avatar's regular game client, or both.

(We are excited to be pushing the doors wide-open to Shroud of the Avatar,) said Creative Director Richard Garriott. (When we applied for Early Access for the game, we received our green light in less than three days. In fact Steam players gave the OK with an 86 percent approval rating. What they'll find is a fantasy RPG that harkens back to my earlier games in the genre, but with modern day technology that combines a single player narrative with an Ultima-like sandbox MMO.)

Release 12 provides several new features to fans and backers of Shroud of the Avatar, including:
  • An in-game hint system and New User Experience
  • More than 15 new skills
  • More than 50 new weapon and armor crafting recipes
  • 40 new songs (all crowd sourced by players)
  • Skill Trainers When a player levels up they'll now have to go to trainers to unlock skills
  • New Maps Ravenswood Forest, Tower of the Shuttered Eye
  • The Overworld Map now has polished visuals and random encounters
  • Guilds
  • Open PVP flags
  • The death system now includes being transformed into a ghost when you die
  • Alien FX support for Alienware keyboards and cases

And that's not all. Over the past two months several other features have been released in Shroud of the Avatar, including:
  • New Scenes Solace Bridge, Kobold Battle Camp, Swamps, Obsidian Keep, Vertas Pass, The Challenge Dungeon
  • Character advancement
  • More than 40 new spells and skills in Death Magic, Armor, and Ranged Weapons Control points
  • Spectator mode in PVP arenas
  • Multiple character creation options including detailed customization of facial features (eyes, cheeks, jaw, chin, nose, ears, etc.)
  • PVP duels
  • Pet commands

Also this month, fans and backers of the game will celebrate SotA's $5 million crowd funding milestone and the Steam Early Access launch with a special Cyber Monday event on December 1 (that also marks the end of the current 15% purchase bonus program). The development team will hold several live stream events (Google+ Hangouts) to discuss Shroud and they'll be awarding many prizes to registered entrants, including items from SotA's hardware partners. Prizes will include:
  • An Alienware desktop
  • Alienware mouse & headset
  • Plantronics headsets and earbuds
  • Add on store credits
  • Access to Release 13 in December

Shroud of the Avatar is a multiplayer fantasy RPG for the PC that is the spiritual successor to Richard Garriott's previous works in the genre. It is expected to launch in 2015. It is a crowd funded and crowd sourced game built in Unity that has raised more than $5.1 million from backers to date.