tl;dr version is “meh”. Not, “bleh” but, “meh.”
None of the concepts I’ve seen so far are new, they just weren’t combined all into one game but I’ll get to that. They had the typical release day issues, though I admit they didn’t seem as severe.
I had issues connecting to the character select of a shard, had an update fail on me, servers were over crowded – the usual. I’m having a hard time determining if it didn’t feel as bad as previous release days because I didn’t have as much of a fanatic desire to play?
It’s intuitive and if you’ve ever played a MMO before you’ll get used to it quickly. If you haven’t played a MMO before there are ample tips popping up. The one thing that threw me off was how you modify it. I assumed you’d be able to add bars through the UI editor, but it’s really just there to move things around and you need to go into the Settings -> Interface area to add action bars.
The other thing that was moderately frustrating was it didn’t carry my settings forward to the next character. Some things I can see as people wanting to be a character specific preference, but other things are player focused – like inverting the y axis of the mouse (which isn’t under the Mouse section, it’s under the Camera section) or displaying numbers on the various bars. To me, player preference items should be carried forward automatically. Character specific things (like the number of action bars, UI positioning, maybe even key binds) should be optional.
A specific example of this would be that on my Hunter (yes, I’m talking WoW) my screen clutters with damage done scrolling in more obvious areas including what attacks did and any damage I’m taking from what ever. These things concern me in that role and I want them front and center. While on my Deathknight (Blood spec tank), I don’t care to see all that stuff. It’s a distraction from what I need to be watching; cues for casts I might need to interrupt or enemies running off to squish someone that wasn’t watching agro. That sort of thing.
A grey area might be key bindings. I know I share key bindings between my characters since I tend to leverage the same keys or mouse buttons for the same sort of thing but you might not need as many from character to character.
And yes, I did find the Import button on the Options menu. This lets you select what you import from another character but you have to pick it and which character to import from. Again, some settings are more obviously player preference settings as opposed to character preferences.
I found the existing map a little clunky but didn’t explore to see if I could scale it down.
Given what I saw of the available options, Trion did a good job here. Of course, people that didn’t like WoW’s interface won’t like it (and I do know a couple of people that don’t like that).
Customization of your avatar is decent, it’s not the most complicated system but it is simple, versatile and intuitive. They did a good job here. One complaint is that it would have been nice to see different color palettes for the different races on the same side. I was on the good side and the color palettes were the same between humans and elves, I didn’t try dwarves.
The main disappointment stems from the lack of races; you have six in the game but only three per side. They are all mostly humanoid with similar models in varying sizes… and no culture.
This is one of the downsides of starting all the races in your game in the same area and not applying any class restrictions (I’ll get to classes) on them – you don’t really give your players a sense of culture or flavor. When you start as a Dwarf Paladin your experience will be pretty much the same as a Human or Elf Paladin. If you start as a Void Knight of any race, it’s going to be the same experience regardless of race and it’s going to be pretty similar to the Paladin – in fact, you might end up wearing the same gear… and looking the same.
That’s one area I think they missed the boat on, culture and feel to the races. Maybe that’s coming further down the line, but it’d be nice to have a feel for what sort of character I’m playing to start.
The game isn’t really about the culture or story of the races involved, it’s more about the Rifts and their impact on the world, blurring the lines of the racial differences. I guess you can say if the world was doomed, we might set culture or differences aside and do as we believed. Still, one of my main concerns is that rifts will grow to be tedious and repetitive making it a shallow feature to focus on. It’s a concern, not confirmed yet.
Graphics are subjective, but they remind me of a cross between WAR and DDO.
I can’t put my finger on it, but the colors used don’t seem as vibrant or obvious. They seem dulled or chalky much like in WAR. The models are all very similar in that they’re humanoid and could easily be slight modifications (bulk increase, made thinner or taller) on the same model with different heads. That’s not to say they’re bad, they just don’t vary like you’d expect in a fantasy game.
I did have some issues with the Plate armor where I couldn’t determine if it was supposed to be metal or not. While standing still it looked like it could be metal, but that illusion was shattered when I’d turn or select a target to the side (your head/upper body attempts to track that target) and noted the plate armor bent like leather or cloth might. I think that is what reminded me of DDO where you might see armor stretching instead of appearing solid.
The run animation doesn’t do much for me. It feels a little too lifeless or mechanical? I also found riding on the horse (one of the early quests) felt weird like the horse impact to the ground didn’t really match the speed. Maybe it was a matter of how slow a speed increase the mount was? Something just felt wrong. I didn’t get the same feeling with the turtle mount.
The combat animations seem okay so far though I haven’t paid as much attention to them since I’m watching the resulting numbers, cool downs and what not.
Overall, the animations are decent, but miss some character or life to them.
I know people don’t like comparisons to WoW, but too bad, I’m going to make one. In WoW a Dwarf running looks awkward, almost comical but it has personality and you look at it say, “Yes, if my legs were that short I’d probably run like that too.” The Dwarf run in WoW has a sort of leaning back, my feet are getting away from me feel to them. Night Elves seem a little more floppy but still fluid. A Troll has a hunched over swagger to them.
Personality. The animations seem functional more so than fun.
I have a hard time with how people describe the number of classes in the game. It’s a matter of one of eight, then one out of seven then one out of six. On paper the probability is something like 336 different combinations… but it’s not really because you’re still limited to three of eight for that one main class you’ve picked so it’s 336 different combinations of the same eight classes, not 336 completely different classes. And you can’t really lump the different souls from the different classes.
Some of these Souls have a fair bit of overlap so really what you’re getting is slight tweaks to the base class rather than the sum of three complete classes.
It’s not a bad system, it can just get hyped up a bit.
So far I’ve created four characters, one which I abandoned on Gnarlwood because my friend could get on there. I went with a Mage to start, then tried a Rogue, then a Fighter and then a Mage again. I’ll describe them in order.
I went with a female Elf Mage and picked Stormcaller to start. I started with a lightning spell and a channeled knockback+damage over time spell (DoT). The lightning spell was nifty, it dropped down on them from the sky. It appeared to be called “air” damage though it applied an ‘electrified’ effect to the target. The channeled spell had a hefty cooldown (a minute or more) on it and was close range so I figured it was intended as a survival mechanism.
On leveling, I picked up an ice spell which snared the target. In another level I picked up the Elementalist Soul which granted me a little earth elemental pet and some earth shards spell. I invested a little into the Elementalist and saw it had another Lightning type spell which was bigger damage, but had a heftier cool down. It too was “air” damage so I would hope the talents I was sinking into Stormcaller’s tree to increase effects of “air” spells applied. It had the same graphic as the other lightning attack but did more damage. I did not get any buffs but saw there was one or two a few levels away.
The Mage appears to use the typical mana system for spell casting which works as expected; spells cost mana. I found that I never ran out of mana. I also noted that Health came back pretty quick between fights and things got really sticky if you faced off against more than one target at a time – I suspect that will change when I sort out the combat mechanics some.
Mages also seem to have a Charge meter and spells build this up. I didn’t have any spells that leveraged this Charge meter but from the tooltip it sounds like the spells would offload this charge. It sounds sort of like the mechanic Warhammer: Age of Reckoning used for Bright Wizards and their evil mirrors (which I can’t remember what they were called) only you don’t explode when it hits the cap and it doesn’t seem to impact all your spell damage.
I stopped there to switch servers.
On the new server I made a Human (male) Assassin. He started with dual wielding daggers and two abilities. One was an attack (much like Sinister Strike) which added a combo point to the target (note: to the target) which then got consumed when firing the other attack which had damage scale for how many combo points where on the target (like Eviscerate). These abilities cost energy to use though I never found myself lacking energy… maybe that will change or things will get tweaked. I focused my talent points into an ability that raised my crit chance for the strike I got as an Assassin.
Soon I picked up the second Soul and went with Nightblade because I liked the sound of the description; an offensive rogue type that uses magic to augment it’s attacks (effectively). I got another attack which adds combo points and another finisher which did damage and added some fire damage to the target. I popped a few points into a talent for that finisher and decided to drop the attack from my action bar since the one of the Assassin Soul had talent points making it crit more and it’s only cool down seemed to be the global cool down – it didn’t seem to make sense to use the Nightblade one. However, I used the Nightblade finisher since I augmented that through talent points. Those talent points (I think – I don’t remember if I started with this or not) added another attack that was ranged. It was described as igniting a dagger while throwing it at the target which, in turn, ignited the target applying a DoT.
I kept that on my hot bar.
I didn’t level much further though enough to get enough points into Assassin and Nightblade so as to gain two Stealth abilities (called different things). These were on the same cooldown so it’s not like it was another stealth I could fire. Neither one had any extra effect so I dropped one from the bar.
I added Blademaster as the third Soul, figuring it’d get me some more melee damage but it seems to also add hit and evasion options which could be a nice survival addition. That also added a Combo Point building attack (which I discarded) and a finisher (I think) which I also discarded because it appeared to be a straight damage finisher.
I found there was a lot of abilities quickly creeping onto the action bar that were redundant. I get the feeling this could very well be like EQ2 where your abilities grew to be so many most of your UI was actions/spells. On the other hand, I’m already dropping stuff from the bar and making choices so it could be like WoW in that regard (Rogue finishers and Deathknight strikes, I’m looking at you!).
I stopped for a couple of hours to do family stuff then came back around 9pm. I decided I should try a tank and see since my friend is playing a healer and his son is playing a ranged DPS rogue, I figured I could try a tank.
I rolled up an Elf (male) Paladin. He had a strike which appeared to damage the target and add some other effect (I think it reduced spell power slightly?) and added some sort of attack metric to the character (note: unlike combo points for Rogues, this sticks to the Warrior so you can carry it over to another target – this is like the Holy Power mechanic Paladin’s get – it caps at three instead of five like combo points do). I also had a finisher that consumed the attack items (shows up as swords under my unit frame) and did a bunch of damage. I believe I also had a shield bash ability that increased my dodge. After putting some points into passively increasing my armor, I picked up a reactive ability that opens up when I block which was a form of counter attack.
Next Soul I picked up was the Warlord. He has an aura that reduces the targets chance to hit (Battlefield Distraction) and an attack which adds an attack point (combo point, whatever). That attack also reduced the target’s armor a portion. For a finisher, I gained one that did damage and placed a debuff on the target that caused them to take extra damage (so the tooltip implied). As I leveled I gained a passive Endurance Increase and a spell that allowed me to buff a target’s Endurance which can be placed on myself.
The Warlord Soul also had an armor increasing talent so I dumped some points there too. I’m a little sketchy on what else came from the Warlord because there were a lot of attacks adding up and they weren’t as simple to dismiss as with the Rogue class because these had some extra effect; either a debuff or self buff.
I slapped on the Void Knight Soul for the third. It had an attack that added melee points but it also had a note where it did increased damage based on my Pact value. The other ability I had was a buff that lasts one hour (I don’t know why they bother with it being one hour – at that duration you might as well not make it have a duration at all) which lets me absorb magic damage and gain a ‘Pact’ point.
That’s right, Void Knight added another little mechanic. This Pact stuff augments my attack with that Void Knight ability. They tend to fall off after time so there are talents for increasing this. The other talent option added an increased chance to gain a Pact when attacking a caster and I believe I’d do damage to their mana but I didn’t take the talent so I wasn’t sure.
With this character I got all the way up to the the ‘wagon’ after the first real town where I collected some of the Collector’s Edition bonus items. The two-headed turtle mount is sort of funny since it moves faster than you do… as a turtle.
I have to admit that I’m disappointed that I haven’t seen any moving-attack abilities yet. Things like Charge or Death Grip are fun, even if they are simple. I do think I saw a beast pet charge or leap at a target, which is nice, but tanks need to have some of that fun stuff too… we can’t just lumber along.
The last character I made I went for an emo-Elf (Female); pasty skin, dark hair, red highlights, and red makeup around the eyes. I went Warlock with her. Again, a Mage type so Mana, Charge and spells that cost Mana while increasing Charge. The first two spells were a “dark” magic bolt and a life tap which was more like a siphon type spell that wasn’t channeled, instead it was a DoT that healed you a little as it did damage. The next ability I got was a straight up, instant cast DoT that did “dark” magic damage.
For the next Soul I went with Necromancer which scored me a skeleton pet and another bolt type attack, though this was “death” damage. Putting a few points in that tree granted me another DoT under the “death” type of damage. I didn’t get much further than that, though I planned going for the Dominator Soul as the final Soul.
I didn’t trip over any Crafting trainers though I found some Gathering trainers and went with Mining for the tank. I think I saw all of two nodes. They weren’t very obvious and I don’t see any means of tracking them on the minimap. I hope I just missed something there because I’ve been ruined by the tracking system in WoW.
Some of that might have been that they got pounced on nearly immediately.
I can’t really comment on this much.
You experience your first ‘rift’ as you leave the starting area. I suspect this is just a training rift that exposes you to the mechanics on a lower scale. That said, I did see a rift event occurring during my time on the tank. I didn’t participate because a tooltip indicated it was a level 19 rift.
A quest showed up for it on my tracker and it kept a tally of the stuff left to kill and each phase requirement. This seemed almost exactly like a Public Quest from WAR. If you ever played the Chaos side, there is a PQ part way through which this was really similar to.
Again, I didn’t participate, it was a bit of a ways off and appeared to be a higher level so these are distant observations.
It was fun but not earth shatteringly so. If were to make an analogy, it’d be like playing Doom 3 then playing Quake 4. It fits the genre and was neat, but it wasn’t a Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare type of game in the genre.
It’s a MMO with all the MMO features you’d expect. When you compare other genres they still have the base requirements to fit into whatever genre they are in but nothing mind blowing.
It seems complete and detailed though I question the regen rate of health and fueling mechanics which seem to regen quite quickly. I don’t know if this changes at higher levels but as it is now you really don’t have any resource management requirements.
I still have concerns that the Rifts or invasions will eventually overrun areas and be difficult to overcome. They might also lose interest unless they are REALLY different over the levels.
Decent game. No real frustrations with it but not going crazy over it.