Normally, when we try and describe something, we have a tendency to reference something else we think other people know and understand in order to make the point we’re trying to make easier to digest. With regard to a game like Perpetuum, which most people probably have made EVE Online comparisons to, I have opted not to make any EVE comparisons because I have not played that particular game. That said, feel free to keep on reading, and if my descriptions remind you of EVE, just know that such is no intention of mine.
I have difficulty explaining Perpetuum to myself in my head because there are so many things that come to mind when I remember the game. To that end, permit me a stream-of-consciousness approach for this one.
For one thing, Perpetuum is a mech-based MMORPG, and mechs aren’t something you’d normally think of when you think of a massively multiplayer online role-playing game.
The lore of the game basically says that you’re actually operating these mechs, which are on the planet Nia, from Earth with the help of a special chip implanted into you that connects you to nanobots on Nia. It is with this lore that you are allowed to keep “dying” and “resurrecting,” mostly because you’re never really there. That said, when you do lose a mech, the sense of loss can get personal, because boy, that damned mech cost you a lot of credits and time to buy or build, and that isn’t a cakewalk.
Why is it not a cakewalk? As someone who actively enjoys lore and questing, there is a distinct lack of an overarching storyline of quests to further your progression. There are a lot of repeatable quests, but you find yourself going to the same spots repeatedly to kill or harvest or scan or do other roboriffic things that the grind is very ingrained into the game. As such, playing this game solo or dual-boxed is essentially asking for boredom.
There is, however, a flipside to this. Because the game encourages people to team up and join in-game guilds to further their progression and derive a sense of fun, there is a resounding reverberation through the gentle cosmos of human-created entertainment. Chat is very active, Game Masters are there almost every minute to help people out, and amusing, entertaining forms of drama and weirdness can come from reading chat logs and listening to TeamSpeak/Ventrilo members secretly gripe about potential spies or annoying leeches.
Advancement in the game happens literally every minute. The skill acquisition system is made in such a way that you have a ton of potential skills you can bump up for varying amounts of skillpoints, and these points are given to all active accounts at the rate of 1 EP a minute, whether logged on or off. Essentially, if you’re patient, you can ramp up every skill just by waiting a couple of years.
This allows people to essentially sub for US$9.99 a month, forget to play for a while, and then come back with a ton of skillpoints good for maximizing skills. The only thing it doesn’t take into account is that if you’re not playing, you’re not making money, and if you’re not making money in an economy that is mostly player generated, then you’re going to have to grind missions to make cash or farm enemy mechs and strip them of their valuables and sell them for money.
What does this essentially mean for gamers? It’s like this: Perpetuum isn’t the most accessible game out there due to the complexity of the inherent systems of the game, but everyone, regardless of whether they play an hour a week or 12 hours a day, can contribute to the good of an established guild for the game. By finding friends who share your values, specializing in a particular role you wish to engage in (PVP/PVE battling, crafting and research, and gathering), and working together to make sure your group thrives in the world, you can be part of a rather fun, rewarding experience.
Also, the game has mechs. Just try it already, and tell your grandkids that you played a transplanetary colonizing campaign using nanobot-powered mech simulation scenarios long before their nano-enhanced brains could even conceive of interplanetary space travel across lightyears.