Gameon Announces Silkroad Online
09.24.05 - 1:42 AM

At a press conference in Tokyo's Roppongi district, Gameon has announced the Japanese release of Silkroad Online. Developed by South Korean company Joymax, this MMORPG is themed after the famous trade route connecting Europe and China.

Already available in South Korea, Taiwan and mainland China, Silkroad Online will enter its first closed beta testing phase in Japan on October 6th. A second, open beta test is also planned for later this year. Originally released as a title rated for audiences aged 18 and above, the game is now said to be suitable for audiences of all ages.

In the game players will set out from the ancient Chinese capital of Xian moving westward on the Silk Road. The version currently available in South Korea features China, Europe as well as a middle world known as Oasis Kingdom. For the future, the development team plans to separate Europe into various different areas. In the Japanese version this seperation however is only scheduled to be implemented by late 2006.

Silkroad Online will feature a total of 26 different character types. Each will come with a different storyline, for instance looking for a missing husband or trying to reach India. While the majority of the characters will be humans, players will also have the chance to play as mythical creatures. The development team also plans to add playable characters with European or Islamic backgrounds in the future. A character's stature, physique, equipment and weaponry can be freely customized by the player.

The monsters the players will face on their westward journey will be based on Chinese legends and folk tales like Saiyuki (Journey to the West). Furthermore, users will have to face Giant Monsters several times the size of a playable character. To deal with those foes, the game offers a so-called Fighting God mode. As the players defeats monsters, he will obtain certain spirits which, when released, will temporarily increase the character's power by 50% to 100%.

Silkroad Online will also feature a trade system centering around PvP. Upon reaching level 20, players can choose one of the following three professions: merchant, thief and hunter. As merchants they will have to transport goods to a certain city on horseback. If they succeed, they will be able to reap a huge profit. Thieves on the other hand try to obtain those pack horses by attacking the merchants. Meanwhile hunters are employed by the merchants to fight off potential attackers. Reaching level 20 should take about 30-40 hours.

Silkroad Online will be available in Japan later this year. It will join the growing number of MMORPGs that are financed by a virtual economy where players have to pay real world cash for in-game items.

Chris Winkler

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