starts players in a dream where the three sisters of Atlantis teach
gamers the most basic things about the interface and controls. The
dream/tutorial is designed to teach the player how to move (WASD or
mouse clicks), how to interact with non-player characters (NPCs), and
how to fight. But Atlantica
has a fairly long learning curve (not steep, but long), so this
tutorial just gets players started.
style="font-style: italic;">Atlantica has some
flashy spells and effects.
Once the dream is over, players enter the world at a location
of their choosing and get more quests that teach them new things in
tidbits while moving along the story. I found this to be expertly done,
as the game threw something new at me just when I got comfortable.
A thin, collapsible, translucent menu bar lines the top of the
screen. The My Info button allows players to access character sheets
and formation as well other functions. The Game Info calls up the
encyclopedia, which automatically fills out for players as they find
new items and encounter new enemies. The Community allows players to
find guilds and groups. System is the button to press to change
settings in the graphics and controls. The Item Mall sells items that
enhance game play, and End is used for logging out or quitting.
Just to the right of the End button is what the game calls the
forum. For 1000 gold, players can advertise messages up there for a
limited time. The different messages scroll on a cycle until the
player's time is up. During my early play sessions, I saw everything
from "Eat at Joe's" to guild recruitment ads to requests to buy certain
The top-right of the menu bar houses a pull-down menu that
allows players to see maps of the different areas of the world. Just
below it is the mini-map.
On the top of the screen on the left are three buttons. The
left-most turns on an arrow that points you toward your current quest
objective. The middle button will actually walk your character to the
quest area or NPC. On one quest, I was able to click the button to get
it to walk me to the monsters I needed to kill. Then when I killed
them, I clicked it again, and it walked me back to the NPC. The last
button opens the quest log, which is extensive. It allows players to
see quests from all of the NPCs they have met with full text
descriptions of the quests.
The rest of the interface includes shortcut buttons to finding
groups or guilds, and information button that pops up as you discover
new things, a chat window, and character portraits and skill hotbars.
Most of this is standard stuff with some style="font-style: italic;">Atlantica-specific
looks a little like Guild
Wars in both style and quality of graphics. Combat
features plenty of flashy special effects that can be a little
overwhelming and use too much bloom unless you adjust your graphical
The character models are smooth and very good. Armor has fine
details, and everything I have seen animates smoothly. Water also looks
pretty good, with only Rohan having better looking water and
reflections among other free-to-play titles I have seen lately.
Enemies face off at
the beginning of a battle.
Buildings and structures show great detail, and one of the
most breath-taking sights for me early on was cresting a hill and
looking down on the Japanese city of Sapporo. The architecture was
accurate, with angled roofs and narrow facades clearly marking the
buildings as Japanese.
monsters I battled were mostly fantastical creatures. Early on, I had
to defeat some forest fairies who had turned evil with no explanation.
Later I confronted some polluted unicorns that also suffered the same
taint as the fairies. Hell Warriors were the first humanoid enemies I
faced, and they looked like simians on a rampage. Near Sapporo, I saw
some deer that looked pretty realistic, so Atlantica shows some range
between the fantastic and the realistic.
My quests near Japan told of an evil spreading across and enchanted
forest. the shaman who guarded over the forest needed my help to bring
back samples of the creatures to try to determine the source of the
evil. Along the way, the NPCs I encountered taught me more and more
about the game and the interface.
In combat, players are highlighted with a green circle beneath
feet when they can act. Left-clicking a monster will use the basic
physical attack for the highlighted unit. Right-clicking casts spells
and uses special skills. Units can also quaff potions, use spell
scrolls, and even reposition on the battlefield. A timer counts down to
zero during the player's turn. You have until the timer hits zero to
get all of your units to act or you forfeit their turns. Then the same
happens for the enemy.
In my first fights, I was struggling to just get my starting
group of three to act before the timer ran out. By level 10, I was
managing a party of five well. I could cast spells, perform special
attacks, heal, and even loot corpses all in the 20 seconds the longest
timer setting would give me.
Players who do not start as a shaman have to wait until level
10 to recruit one, so potions and hired healer NPCs are the only way to
restore your warriors until they level up. At level 10, I also learned
the Sit skill, which allows my units to sit between battles and regain
health and magic.
Enemies face off at
the beginning of a battle.
I did not encounter any aggressive monsters in my early play,
but I encountered surprises. A squad of enemies is represented by a
single enemy model in the over world. Clicking on it to initiate combat
reveals the real make up of the enemy party. Some squads come with
caster versions of their unit type, and it the number of units in the
squad was never apparent to me until I entered combat.
is a little unusual. Units must loot fallen enemies within four rounds
of combat or the corpses decay. Quest items and potions can be single
but other items often come in crates. In the early levels, I was
looting Spirit crates, which generated a random weapon or piece of
armor when opened. Magic crates randomly produced a spell book
increase the power of a unit's spell or potions. Never did a crate
randomly generate a spell or gear for a unit not in my party. Finally,
material crates produced seemingly useless items that could be sold for
cash in the markets. Still, I suspect some of those items might prove
useful for crafting and cooking.
Players can also loot crates
that open and give a choice between enchanting stones for weapons or
armor. The stones can be used to turn two identical items into one
stronger version of the item.
is too deep, too complex, and too fun for me to cover it all in only
two pages. Just know that the translation has been 100% spot on in my
time testing the game. And I discover new facets of game play each time
I log on. Simply put, I haven't found a game this smooth and
in a long time, and I am always eager to log back in and play. If you
haven't tried it already, do it as soon as possible.
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