Back in March, we reported that the Wizardry franchise was returning after a 10-year hiatus. The disappointing aspect about the report was that the new installment would arrive this Spring only on the PlayStation Network. Called Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls, it wouldn't be anything like the classic PC games that put Wizardry on the map, offering up instead Anime/Manga-style characters rather than the traditional designs conjured up by artists here in the States
Now there's good news to accompany the bad: Wizardry is returning to the PC. In fact, it will be a full-blown MMORPG from Gamepot Inc. Called Wizardry Online, the Japanese language version is currently in the testing phase of development, with an exclusive private beta planned for June 2011. The MMORPG is expected to launch over in Japan this summer and will be published, distributed and operated by Gamepot with additional content periodically provided by Japanese game studio and Wizardry Online developer, Headlock. The MMORPG will also launched in Europe and North America sometime in 2012.
"A revival of the legendary Wizardry titles, Wizardry Online is the next-generation incarnation of a series that has been called the godfather of the role-playing game (RPG) genre," Gamepot said in a press release. "Wizardry first came to computers in the early 1980s, and the popularity of its "Dungeons & Dragons"-style gameplay led to the creation of countless sequels, spin-offs and collections across multiple platforms."
Obviously Wizardry Online is taking the franchise in a new direction by incorporating multiplayer-based party play and player versus player (PvP) combat. However, the game also promises to maintain the classic style that the series is known for as well as permanent death, meaning that characters won't be returned to bind points with a loss of XP or/and gold. Instead, player characters will be removed from the game upon dying, "creating a more immersive experience."
"Wizardry Online hearkens back to the original allure of the groundbreaking Wizardry RPG series, but brings an updated flare for modern gamers," said Shuhei Ueda, president of Gamepot. "Now, for the first time ever, players around the world can step into the impressive action and captivating lore of this world in a free-to-play, online format. We're confident the return to hardcore role-playing elements will be a shot in the arm for gamers looking for a new challenge in the genre."
Expect more to be revealed throughout the year. If possible, we'll sneak inside the beta and take a few screenshots. In the meantime, enjoy a handful of official screens below and the debut trailer, seen below.