Rune First Look, Sailing Preview

During this year's GDC, Human Head Studios' co-founder Chris Rhinehart was presenting a demo of the upcoming, recently renamed Norse action-RPG Rune. You can read what the Destructoid folks thought about the demo right here. And before I give you a sample, you can also check out this recently released bit of Alpha gameplay footage:

A couple of paragraphs about the game:

One of the first things Rhinehart told us was "There are a lot more RPG elements." The beginning of Rune: Ragnarok asks you to align with one of five gods -- Thor, Odin, Freya, Hel, or Loki. Ragnarok's objective is to stop the eponymous and apocalyptic Ragnarok, and whichever god you sidle up to will help inform exactly how that's done. Rhinehart says he hopes this will be adequate reason to play through more than once.

Our demo had many of those RPG sensibilities that you kind of find yourself trusting will translate to the full game. We heard about (and briefly saw) a character creation menu, quests that are sometimes based on how much favor you have with a particular god, crafting systems for weapons (which now include bows and spears), and the runes that grant temporary buffs and abilities. How that's all eventually realized in the final product can never be properly conveyed in a short demo.

But it's Human Head's emphasis on player experience that's most encouraging. Rhinehart says a core design philosophy behind Rune: Ragnarok is that "you don't have to travel a long distance to come to something cool." Sometimes that will be as a large group. The numbers aren't finalized yet, but Human Head hopes to let players tackle raids in crowds of 50 or 60 people. However, it will be balanced so that solo players can go at it alone. Also, while there will be a competitive multiplayer aspect, PvP and PvE servers will be separate from one another.

That's what has Rune: Ragnarok feeling like it'll slide into this weird MMO-lite space -- there's the option to play as a very large group, but Human Head also has a definitive story it wants to tell. It doesn't seem like there's this never-ending sprawl of content planned to keep players coming back. (For what it's worth, Human Head has the same semi-commitment to survival elements; there won't be hunger or thirst, but hypothermia, poison, and bleeding are all persistent status threats.)

Where Human Head probably won't create near-endless content for Rune: Ragnarok, the community might. Rhinehart tells us the developer plans to put a lot of power in the players' hands in terms of server setup. The studio also intends to take a hands-off approach to however the players want to mod the game. It's being built in Unreal 4 and Rhinehart notes that he's not sure which of Human Head's tools they plan to release.

And if you're interested in how Rune will handle replayability, how its leveling system will work, or have some other question that falls under the umbrella of frequently asked, you can check out this updated FAQ.