Drawing similarities to ArenaNet's Guild Wars, Hellgate's online is heavily instanced. Group and solo PvE is the game's main focus; PvP will exist in a small scale form, but is not a major element of the initial launch. It will also feature a Hardcore mode similar to that found in Blizzard's Diablo II, a game on which many members of the Hellgate team worked. Hellgate's multiplayer will contain all of the missions and story from the single-player aspect of the game, as well as exclusive gameplay modes and content. Like the single-player game, it will be comprised of dynamically generated areas and items. Further content will be continually added over time by a dedicated Flagship team.
Flagship expects to launch an open beta prior to the launch of the game. Pricing details have not yet been determined, though Roper noted that there will be some kind of trial or free play system for those looking to get a taste of the game without commitment.
"I think that just as Diablo and Diablo II started this religious argument over whether they're RPGs or not, I think that Hellgate will spark that same debate over whether it's an MMO or not," commented Roper, who added that the game has been designed as an MMO from day one. Check back this week for an extensive interview with Roper, delving more comprehensively into the online aspects of Hellgate: London.
Update: Since posting our original news item on the matter, Shacknews has been contacted by Electronic Arts, which is co-publishing the game along with Namco Bandai. EA noted that there has not in fact been any final decision made as to Hellgate: London's online pricing model, be it subscription-based or otherwise. We respect this situation, while maintaining that we have reported fairly on statements we received. A full interview is forthcoming.
Update 2: Our full Bill Roper interview has been published.