I decided to try out an Empire character to see what the other side plays like, and I have to say I came away very impressed. In no particular order, impressions starting with my different play experience with the two sides, and broadening out from there.
- The Empire newbie instance is a lot more compelling that the League one. The set scenes where you are one the deck of an astral ship in the middle of the ether are especially impressive.
-The 1-10 quests on the League side are played pretty straight for the most part (not a lot of humor), and are set in an very typical fantasy setting (save for the oddball races, and the idea of allods). You could very well be playing Runes of Magic or World of Warcraft in the human starting areas. The 1-10 quests on the Empire side are set in a much more unique fantasy steampunk setting, and have a lot more humor in them. You could almost be playing different games the two factions feel so different.
-The Empire 1-10 area seems to have a lot more to it than that League side. However, the two sides seem to be aiming for such vastly different narratives that it may be entirely intentional on the part of the devs. An odd side effect of this is that the early League quests are actually generally a lot easier to get done than the early Empire quests.
-All that said, I don't mean to imply that there aren't some interesting sights on the League side:
-Dear sweet mother of god do summoners suck at first. When you hit level 5, in the name of all that is good in this world, put a point into the pet summoning skill. I was hating the class until I got it.
-Pets in this game seem to be nearly overpowered, at least at low levels. Based now on both a pink squirrel and a steam powered scorpion, they seem to pretty much massacre anything near your level. You can cast a spell or something if you like, but it's not really necessary. They are roughly as effective as a Beastmaster specced Hunter pet would be in WoW, if that frame of refence means anything to you.
- I believe Spelljammer (the AD&D setting) is the original fantasy source for the idea of magical ships sailing through the ether that connects worlds. Since then, at the very least, Allod's Online and the Chronicles of Spellborne have run with the idea. It's interesting to see an entire fantasy subgenre be borne in the PnP RPG fantasy realm and jump straight to MMOs without analogues in fantasy fiction being invlolved as ancestors or intermediaries.
-Oh yea, and here is my Empire chick with her pet:
It's not a giant pink squirrel but I'll take it.