Asheron’s Call (AC) was one of the first MMO’s that I played in my gaming career. Just after I got into the original Everquest, a little company by the name of Turbine Inc. (later developed Dungeons and Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online) developed Asheron’s Call, released by Microsoft on November 2, 1999. I was quickly attracted and got right into it.
I’ll admit right away that I never got max level or played much high end content, but I did play a good amount of Asheron’s Call on most fronts.
Asheron’s Call takes place on the Isle of Dereth on the planet Auberean. The character you play is part of a race of nomads named the Isparians after the harsh battles with the alien Race the Olthoi.
The best thing is AC is still up and running and you can still experience it at the Asheron’s Call Home Page. Try the 14-Day trial.
Ahead of its time
Asheron’s Call did a lot of things very well. Like Ultima Online before it, it ditched the conventional classes of Everquest and future MMO’s for a skill based advancement. Instead of choosing your class when you create your character, once in-game you have a large library of skills such as weapons skills (Swords, Maces, Bows, Crossbows), crafting skills (Alchemy, Cooking, Fletching) and Magic Skills (War Magic, Life Magic, Item Enchantment) to spend your experience points on. Here is a full list.
Although the game did have levels, which went up to 275 as of the latest updates, the number of your level was largely arbitrary. It was merely a measure of how much experience you have gained on your character. But how powerful your character is is solely based on how you spent your experience points on your skills and attributes. So a level 100 character can have the same amount of hit points as a level 10, it just depends on how many experience points you spent in your Health/Endurance.
This made it so you can play your character in any way you please. You were not restricted to one set of skills as a class and that was it.
AC was the first MMO to feature a completely seamless and open 3D world. If you see a mountain off in the distance, there is nothing stopping you from running over to it and scaling it. You never know what you might find at the top. The only loading screens during gameplay was entering and exiting dungeons.
AC also had a very interesting guild system. Instead of guilds, there was a system of Patrons and Vassals called. One player would take another player under their wing becoming a Patron. The other player becoming a Vassal. From there the Patron can then take on other Vassals, then those Vassals will become Patrons to other players, on and on and on. In the end you get a pyramid of players in one allegiance starting with the original Patron down to his vassal’s, vassal’s, vassal’s, vassal, etc. This also made it easy to get started as a new player because there were always players in starter towns looking for vassals.
Lastly, one of the best aspects of Asheron’s Call was its originality. There were no orcs, elves, dwarves, and gnomes. The character you played was a part of a race of humanoids named the Isparians. Within that you chose your ethnicity of Isparian to represent your background.
The creatures and NPC’s you meet in Asheron’s Call are all completely unique in their own rights and made the Isle of Dereth really seem like a completely alien planet (which it is).
One last tidbit was that there was an Asheron’s Call 2 that was released in November of 2002. Unfortunately, due to the lack of interest, the servers were permanently shut down in December of 2005.
There is a lot more I can say about Asheron’s Call, but I think the best thing would be to actually check it out and see what you were missing. And if you have played it before, why not try it again?
Current MMO developers should definitely take a page out of AC’s book, because it was brilliant back then and still holds water to this day.