Hey! You got your epic fantasy in my steampunk!
On the sprawling continent of Montel are two societies divided by the Ellescadia Mountain Range who have recently become aware of each other and the hidden stores of the energy source, Black Gold, that lies beneath the lands on both sides. So begins the story of Black Gold Online, Snail Games' PvP-heavy MMO that pits the Western steampunk Kingdom of Isenhorst composed of Dwarves and Humans against the Eastern geo-magical styles of The Union of Erlandir, the Elven/Avatar Cat-People Kosh and their Human counterparts.
Black Gold Online is a free-to-play game, but Snail Games emphasizes that it's not pay-to-win. Everything in the game that can be bought has to be unlocked through gameplay.
The conflict between the two happens largely in contested zones, where Black Gold can be harvested. Once a month this conflict plays out on a grand scale; if your faction gains control of the area during the battle, you earn the right for your clan to fight for control within the faction, gaining bonuses from having control.
The battles themselves can be quite diverse, with 18 possible classes (12 for each faction, and 3 race-based classes), as well as mounts and mechs. Black Gold's mounted/mech combat has balanced ridable units. Ground units may have greater firepower or increased mobility, but are exposed to aerial assaults.
Black Gold's characters are ridiculously customizable in character creation. Body shape can be customized on limbs, neck, torso, etc. measurements in terms of length and width. Hair and facial features are less directly customizable but have a wide range of different set features.
Black Gold developers told me that players have tended to latch on to one side or the other, seeing the opposite as corrupt or effete, but it's much more grey than that. While the Isenhorst's industrial revolution pollutes more, they told me that the Erlandir have a darker poltical side. Black Gold Online enters its open beta on Friday, June 13th and is free-to-play on the PC.