I recently got the chance to sit down and play through the beta of Gamepot and Sony Online Entertainment?s upcoming MMORPG Wizardry Online. Thus far, it?s done little to impress me. Picking up a new game ? particularly an MMO, which by nature should be designed to hold one?s attention as long as possible ? should be a new, unique experience. One should feel as though you?re embarking on some grand new journey through a grand, expansive world. We?re all familiar with it ? Morrowind, though it wasn?t an MMO; delivered this in droves. I?d prefer not to tally the countless hours I whittled away figuring out what new adventures Vvardenfel had to offer for me.
Unfortunately, this is where Wizardry Online runs full-tilt into its first hurdle. The races are as vanilla as they come. You can play a short, stocky, bearded dwarf; a lithe, graceful elf; an adorable, Asian-styled furred Porkul (think Crystal Chronicles? Lility, and you?d not be far off); a pint-sized gnome (which, curiously, are limited to female in gender); or a regular, boring old human. If you?ve played a Japanese MMO before (or really, any title that falls into the fantasy genre); you?ve already seen pretty much everything the game?s races have to offer. The classes are pretty standard, as well: Fighter, Mage, Priest, and Thief.
It doesn?t help that the character customization process is somewhat lacking: you get to choose from one of several preset faces and hairdos, and change the color of your hair and skin.
Speaking of appearance; neither the races ? nor the set-pieces ? really impress with aesthetics, either. Perhaps as a result of the washed-out color palette and the all-too-familiar art design, the whole experience just feels, for lack of better terms; bland. As a result; everything feels like old, familiar ground ? even the story which, from what I could gather, involves the disappearance of Magic from the world: adventurers have been contracted by the world?s primary kingdom to figure out what went wrong by exploring monster-infested dungeons.
The most frustrating thing about Wizardry Online isn?t the sense of d?j? vu; however. It?s not the feeling of pervasive ?same-ness? that seeps from every corner of the title. It?s the cut-scenes: they?re all text-based (none of the characters are voiced yet), and the rate at which words appear on the screen is something close to one character every few seconds. If you were watching an in-game cut-scene, it would have taken you more than a minute to read this sentence.
The worst part is; not all of the scenes can be skipped, and there?s absolutely no way to increase the speed of the text. Hopefully, this is something Gamepot fixes before the game leaves beta; otherwise I foresee plenty of players ditching the title on this issue alone.
Okay. Let?s step back from this for a second. Yes, Wizardry Online is, on the surface, as generic as they come. Yes, the cut-scenes are slow enough that you could probably raise a cow to adulthood, slaughter it, and make yourself a prime-rib steak in the time it takes your character to realize the sun is out.
But it?s also meant to be a throwback to classical D&D; to the old kick-in-the-door dungeon crawls that so many of us grew up with. On this front, how does it deliver?
Pretty well, actually: although the appearance of the in-game dungeons isn?t really anything special, I?ve quite enjoyed their design, which, well?actually felt like a dungeon. To be honest, I feel that this is probably one of the title?s strongest points: Dungeons are challenging, complex, and not the least bit linear (though at lower levels, they?re fairly simple). Step inside without a thief, and you?re probably going to die to a trap. Charge in without a fighter, and you?ve no one to tank damage for you, and no priest means you?ve got to be very careful about mitigating damage.
As for the combat system, it?s centered on forcing the player to actively defend themselves. You?re going to have to block; to physically strike your foe; to remain aware of your surroundings. Again, this might have been unique a few years ago, but I?ve been seeing more and more titles step away from the World of Warcraft mode of combat towards a more fluid, action-oriented battle system. Yet again, we?re treading over old ground.
Those of you who?ve been following the title know at this point that one of the most-billed features of it is that it features permanent death. If you?re killed, whether by PVP, monsters, or traps, you?ve got a time limit in which you can save your character?s soul or body. If you ore another player doesn?t reach your corpse and revive you within that time limit?you?re rerolling. Not everyone?s cup of tea, sure, but for me, it added a sense of urgency and adrenaline to combat that?s sorely lacking in many similar titles.
Wizardry Online does a lot of things right. The dungeons are unique, clever, and well-made. The idea of Permanent death, while not particularly unique, adds a nice feel to combat. Unfortunately, those are really the only defining elements of the title: at this point, the most memorable thing about Wizardry Online is how memorable it isn?t.
Eight Reasons The Elder Scrolls Online Will Be Awesome
As you're all no doubt aware, The Elder Scrolls Online - currently in open beta - will be launching in a few months or so. In light of both the new release date and all the hype surfacing around it, I've decided that, over the next two weeks, I'll be looking at all the reasons to look forward to it...and all the reasons we shouldn't.
League of Legends or DOTA 2?
The debate between Dota 2 and League of Legends has been raging almost since the two games were first released. But which game is REALLY the superior of the two?
Ten Fictional Settings That'd Make For Awesome MMOs
Let's look at a few settings, worlds, and stories I'd love to see made into MMOs. I'm sure you'll agree, all the entries on this list have the potential to be downright awesome.
MMO Year In Review: 5 of 2013's Biggest Dick Moves
People are dicks - particularly on the Internet. While that shouldn't come as any great surprise, occasionally we come across someone whose level of sheer dickery reaches legendary proportions. As we move into 2014, let's take a look at a few such individuals from the previous year.
SOE Dumps 4 MMOs, Hints at New Star Wars Galaxies and more! | The Daily XP January 27th
Your Daily MMO and MMORPG News for Monday January 27th. Today Kirk discusses Sony Online Entertainment's 4 dumped titles, new Star Wars game, and All Access Plans.
Censorship Spells Trouble for League of Legends Patcher
Internet filtering has been a hot button issue for the past several years. With the slow gutting of protective measures like Net Neutrality, and with governmental powers seeking an end to online anonymity, it's rather harrowing to see the slow progression of political and social policing of the internet. Recently, after about a year of lobbying, the United Kingdom enacted a piece of legislation that many have come to call the "UK Porn Filter." What the filter requires is for British ISP's to implement filters and controls, which are on by default, that will block access to "violent material," not imited to "extremist and terrorist related content," "anorexia and eating disorder websites," and "suicide related websites."
SOE Closing 4 Struggling Free-To-Play Titles
During an AMA event over the weekend Sony Online Entertainment announced the forthcoming closure for 4 of it's free-to-play MMO games
Five Things Riot Needs To Do With League of Legends
The folks at Riot already have their work cut out for them moving into Season 4, and they?re doing a damned find job of weathering the transition so far. That said, here?s a few changes we?d like to see as the new season draws near.
The Five Best MMOs of 2013
2013 was quite a year for MMOs. Not only did we enjoy a whole host of strong releases; a bunch of already excellent games were made even better. Here's just a few of MMO Attack's favorite MMORPGs of the year.
Five Trends That Reshaped MMORPGs In 2013
It's been a hell of a year, hasn't it? As we move into the first days of 2014, let's take a look back at how the world of MMOs has changed - and how that might impact the future.