Throne and Liberty Is NCSoft’s Most Ambitious MMO Yet

Exclusive: NCSoft take us inside their new MMO Throne & Liberty. Here's what we learned about the game's large-scale battles and PvE elements.

After being released in South Korea to enormous success at the end of 2023 by NCSoft, the fantasy MMORPG Throne and Liberty is going worldwide this September through Amazon Games. Set in a vast medieval realm seamlessly linked, players can band together to embark on epic quests, engage in bombastic battles, and slay colossal bosses at the heart of cavernous dungeons. If you want to try out the MMO before the global and cross-platform launch, Throne and Liberty will receive an open beta testing from July 18-23, giving players a good chance to see what the game is all about.

In an interview with Den of Geek at Summer Game Fest 2024, Throne and Liberty globalization design manager Daniel Lafuente and head of third-party publishing Merv Lee Kwai talked to us about bringing the game worldwide, explained some of the unique mechanics to the MMO, and teased what players can expect ahead of Throne and Liberty’s release date.

Making a Seamless Fantasy Realm

Booting up Throne and Liberty, one is immediately struck at not only how detailed the fantasy world is but that players can explore the realm without any load screens, even while entering new regions and areas. This impressive technical presentation exists across all three major platforms Throne and Liberty will be available on at launch. For Kwai, getting Throne and Liberty to this point meant incorporating feedback both from the South Korean wide launch and numerous rounds of extensive testing while sticking to the creative team’s own design convictions.

“The world, the animations, the visual effects, there are a lot of components there that add depth and immersion,” Kwai says. “As a live service game that will continue on for many years, it’s very important that we prioritize the right content that addresses the problems of the day and that we have a development cycle that is supportive of that.”

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Lafuente shares that the underlying goal for Throne and Liberty was always to eventually bring the game to a global audience, something planned ever since Amazon Games partnered with NCSoft. The combination of feedback from the initial launch and testing has already been implemented into the South Korean version of the game.

“What you’re going to see is not a bunch of changes for a Korean version of the game and a separate version for a global version of the game. We’re really working together for a global audience for a global target. That’s been at the forefront of what we’re doing,” Lafuente says. “It’s really been this great back-and-forth cycle of getting global feedback, being able to really put it live with players. It’s really been well-received in Korea as well, so we have this great synergy.”

A Realm at War

Drawing from their past work on popular MMOs, NCSoft built Throne and Liberty to support epic battles full of players active in the world at the same time. This includes castle sieges involving armies of thousands while hundreds of other players may be active and either battling or exploring other parts of the overworld. Lafuente sees this as the culmination of NCSoft’s growing portfolio of MMOs realized on an impressively ambitious gameplay canvas while leaning into the deep social foundations of the game and genre.

“This is an evolution of NC’s previous titles where they did a lot of massive-scale work and they’ve really taken it even to another level here. Castle sieges are the type of massive-scale combat that you can expect in Throne and Liberty,” Lafuente says. “A lot of MMO lovers are going to enjoy this kind of deep guild system that there is in the game. Of course, there are still some activities in the game that you can do solo and enjoy the game solo, if you prefer. But I think the experience is only going to be enhanced if you’re playing with friends.”

As players figure out their combat style, Throne and Liberty eschews the MMO-standard class system for something far more flexible, instead focusing on progression through weapon types. Not only does this change allow players to experiment and find the play styles that suit them best, but it’s part of the extensive customization options that Throne and Liberty provides, which also includes gear and individual skills.

“We have a dual-weapon system and those weapons determine which types of skills that you have available to you. That’s the first part of customization that you’re going to choose, one of your main choices, but it also gives you flexibility between all these different play styles,” Lafuente notes. “It goes beyond that, with all of the gear, how you adapt your skills. Your weapon mastery is something in the game that players are going to enjoy. Each one of these choices takes you down a potentially different play style and you can adapt those play styles for different situations.”

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Taking on the World Itself

Beyond moving away from a more rigid class system, Throne and Liberty replaces the concept of mounts with a morph mechanic. This feature allows players to instantly transform into flying or swimming creatures and access areas they wouldn’t normally be able to in their human forms. This seamless transition between different forms speaks to the underlying ethos of the game, providing smooth and quick gameplay without having to wait on loading screens or other time-consuming constraints hindering exploration and combat.

“Morphs give you the ability to transform into the animal yourself. It also went in line with one of our key principles, [which] is this seamless feeling in the world,” Lafuente explains before pointing out there aren’t any load screens in open world navigation. “Morphs are just a continuation of that. The moment you press the morph button, you’re instantly transformed.”

Though Throne and Liberty was built primarily with its PvP elements and gameplay in mind to accommodate the massive-scale battles, it does feature robust and growing PvE elements. This includes extensive dungeon-crawling, which draws from all the major gameplay features to provide intricate adventures and boss battles. Lafuente sees this as a significant growth and refinement area for Throne and Liberty.

“The instance dungeons that you’ve mentioned, in particular, have been getting called out in our most recent play tests as a really great experience for players. I think that’s because there are a lot of unique factors that can come in those dungeons for Throne and Liberty,” Lafuente says. “In the open world for Throne and Liberty, there are lots of environmental changes and those same types of mechanics are built into these dungeons. I think the fact that we can incorporate a lot of the key systems into these dungeons that are built out are going to be what keeps improving that PVE experience and making sure there’s something for everybody to enjoy.”

Throne and Liberty will be released worldwide Sept. 17 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. Open beta testing will take place from July 18-23.