|Hmm, do I dig up my Diablo discs or...?|
TomChick - News - 04/24/08 - Link
With patch 1.3 (currently about four hours overdue), Flagship Studios is sticking onto the end of Hellgate's level progression a new Expertise system. It seems to be an endgame skill tree, completely separate from the class skills, featuring 15 passive skills, each with four levels of advancement. One you hit the level maximum, you then earn Ranks, which give you points to spend on Expertises. I have no idea what these Expertises are, but given the gameplay of Hellgate, I imagine they're minor buffs to hit points, resistance, movement speed, that sort of thing. Nothing to write home about, but that's never stood in the way of a good endgame grind.
Also new are shared stashes, which will finally let you pass items from one character to another. I'm surprised it's taken Flagship so long to support this, as it's a way to encourage players to use multiple characters, and thereby extend the game's life.
There are a couple of new money sinks, presumably to address the game's rampant palladium inflation. A new mystery merchant is like gambling in Diablo. You can donate palladium to a server-wide pool that gives everyone a temporary buff when enough money is collected. I was going to link to the patch notes, but you still have to be a registered owner of a copy of Hellgate to see their forums. Which is probably a wise move on Flagship's part.
It's too bad the core game in Hellgate is so uninspired, because these are the sorts of changes that make me want to take another look. I should probably just walk away and never look back, but as you know from any MMO, there's nothing like a leveled character to keep you invested in a game. You may never get back those twenty, thirty, fifty, seventy, or hundred hours. But maybe something will happen to make them all worthwhile.