Every once in a while even a well-versed gamer like myself will suffer
from what may be called a Gaming Blind Spot. Within this blind spot a
game, series, or maybe even an entire subgenre can lurk, waiting for
the day they are discovered by another soul in search for something
new, or maybe just something different.
As it turns out, my blind spot happened to be sheltering a European
MMOG that began publicizing the fact that they href="http://www.gamesbrief.com/2010/04/correction-ankama-are-making-40-million-in-revenue/"
target="_top">passed their 35
millionth account registration in the middle of 2010. Yes,
you read that correctly, and yes,
that number is accurate.
In the worldwide MMOG market, Dofus
is among the elite few titles that
can report to have an active subscription base above a few million
players. And yet, when compared alongside the titles that share these
vaunted heights (games like Lineage
and World of Warcraft),
2-dimensional sprite animations of Dofus
seem altogether underwhelming
and antiquated. Despite this fact (and perhaps a little because of it?)
the game's charm, wit and depth have ensnared subscribers by the
It stands to reason that a game that can celebrate that much success in
a market as difficult as the MMOG industry would be on the lookout to
release a sequel.
France-based Ankama Studio, the same minds behind style="font-style: italic;">Dofus,
are refining their game world, mechanics, story... really, everything
about the Dofus
universe, in this new sequel to their beloved MMOG. Set
about 1000 years after the time of your prior adventures in style="font-style: italic;">Dofus,
promises to offer a unique and different gaming experience, while
retaining many of the mechanics that made the first game a hit.
scheduled for release some time in Q2 of 2011, and is now
undergoing closed beta testing. Although many features have not yet
been implemented (including the majority of the playable character
classes), the bulk of the games rich systems are already in place for
players and testers to try out.
I was fortunate enough to receive an invitation to explore this unique
and lovable MMOG, and look forward to sharing some information, and my
initial impressions, in this article.
Now, as I mentioned previously, I have the unfortunate privilege of
going into Wakfu
knowing nothing about the world as experienced by
players of Dofus.
Despite this lack of knowledge, I found the world
instantly recognizable and intuitive thanks instead to a history of
playing turn-based strategy games with similar isometric 3D graphics,
such as Final Fantasy
Tactics and Vandal
Hearts. Still, this preview is
my point of view - the experience of a total stranger to this fantastic
world. So keep that in mind as you read on.
This game is far more
sophisticated than the graphics portray.
I'll admit, my first impression of Wakfu
at a glance was that it was
taking a huge leap backwards in terms of immersive and cutting edge
visuals. It did not take more than a few minutes' time however, for me
to see that this game's artistic value shines through that relatively
simplistic appearing facade, once you see it all in motion around you.
It's possible that the graphics truly are a limitation, as this game
has been created entirely in Java which is not always capable of
portraying cutting-edge images or animations. On the other hand, this
platform-neutral approach allows the game to be enjoyed on any
operating system (Windows, Mac or Linux) and may even eventually be
available on mobile devices.
To put it simply, don't let the cutesy and simplistic nature of an
anime-inspired isometric 3D world turn you off from giving style="font-style: italic;">Wakfu a try.
Despite how it may look in pictures, each of the characters and NPCs,
and even the trees, fish, and other ambient features, have unique and
fluid animations that give the world a feeling of being very much
alive. In addition to being unbearably adorable.
Wakfu claims to have
extensive character customization, but very little is available at the
time of creation.
Im honestly a bit confused by the simplicity of
character creation interface, as their various publicity documents make
mention of what sounds like infinite customization in the form of
armor, clothing, hairstyles, etc. These must be unlocked at a later
time through some form of advancement, as the initial creation gives
you nothing more than a few color selections for hair, eyes, skin and
clothes, and two different faces/hairstyles to choose from.
Its possible that this feature remains unfinished at this time, as
there are only a handful of the eventual class offerings currently
available for selection at the time of publishing this article. Even if
the lackluster creation is by design, the graphical style of
Wakfu means that you rarely see your character up close anyway, and
therefore really isn't that big of a deal.
Another saving grace here is that each of the default models are very
well crafted, and very detailed. The female models in particular are
quite fun to look at. I cant help myself! Theyre adorable!
After creating your avatar, you are thrown headfirst into Incarnam a
sort of pseudo-heaven that floats above the world you will eventually
grow to call home. In Incarnam you will learn the ropes of the game
through a series of quick tutorials. Pay close attention, as nobody
writes down the tips they tell you along the way! If you dont learn
the first time, youll be lost when it comes time to leave the safety
Welcome to Incarnam!
A pet slime wad - just
what I always wanted!
The very first tutorial challenge you will face in
style="font-style: italic;">Wakfu is learning
beat the tar out of a cute and cuddly little kitten, in order to
rescue a translucent wad of talking snot from certain doom. Even with
one of the weaker of the available combat classes, you should be able
to succeed easily, at which point the slimy lump you saved (called a
Gemlin) becomes your lifelong companion and guide in the realm of
Taking on opponents in Wakfu
is an experience I've never before seen in
an MMOG, as it is entirely turn-based. Although many other MMOGs have a
round-based combat system, they uniformly obscure it with layers of
complexity and a timer that goes by so quickly that you barely notice
its passing. This is not the case at all in style="font-style: italic;">Wakfu, where you
an almost infinite amount of time in which to plan your strategies, and
act. However, if you do manage to learn your abilities well and execute
your commands swiftly, you will be rewarded! The timer on the right
shows how much you will fill the bar on the far right, and filling the
bar on the far right will unlock an extra bonus. The longer you take on
a turn, the less the bar fills.
Combat is turn-based,
but awards swift execution of good tactics.
This balancing act of strategy and speed strikes a very rewarding
balance in solo play. I'm unsure how it stacks up in group situations,
as I have yet to experience the multiplayer aspect of combat in style="font-style: italic;">Wakfu.
Leveling up is not as straight-forward as being rewarded experience
that fills up a box and magically makes you more powerful. No such
luck, my friend! You see, along with your own personal level, each of
the abilities you possess will also level up as you use them. Meaning
that the more you utilize a specific ability, the stronger it becomes.
Kind of like real life. Or so I'm told.
While this system may seem complex at first glance, I can assure you
that I'm only barely beginning to scratch the surface of the tip of the
iceberg that is the unbelievably deep world of style="font-style: italic;">Wakfu. As an
only 4 of the eventual 12 classes are currently available in the beta,
and the release of each one unveils a whole new and distinct
style of combat not seen in the other classes.
Ecology, Economy, Community
Each local area has a
different ecological balance that players can directly, and permanently
impact with their actions.
Even though your first tutorial lesson is the art of combat, the world
is not entirely founded on conflict. In fact, the word "wakfu" is
actually a term used to signify the life and growth of the ecology
within the devastated world you now find yourself, offsetting stasis
which signifies death and destruction. Your duty as a citizen of these
lands is to uphold the ecological balance at all times. Occasionally
that will mean culling a species (through simple and direct conflict),
and other times it will mean harvesting flower seeds to plant a new
field of pink daisies. Each area of the world is different, and relies
upon different factors to maintain its unique balance.
This system is further enhanced by a complicated multiple-layer system
of crafting professions, a weather system that influences growth
patterns for both plants and animals, and a form of citizenship that
can eventually allow players to run for public office as
representatives of individual nations.
Don't forget to replant
as you harvest! Causing an extinction is bad for you and your world!
The ways in which these separate systems interact with one another are
sometimes subtle, but each and every one seems intended to eventually
put you in contact with your fellow gamers. For example, crafters may
face a shortage of lumber in an area because the local
lumberjacks are having difficulty growing more trees due to inclement
weather patterns, which can be controlled by the local government
official if they've brought in enough tax revenue from the surrounding
populace and haven't had to spend it all on war preparations to defend
their territory. Combining your efforts with
those of fellow gamers can result in permanent world-altering changes
that can impact the ecology and economy of the entire nation you are
in. And while you may not always directly require the assistance of
your fellow gamers, there doesnt appear to be a single scenario in
being a misfit or outcast is to your advantage.
In fact, toiling against the wishes of whatever governing body you find
yourself serving will result in a loss of your citizenship score, and
the eventual status of "Outlaw." Once this status is achieved, it
sounds as though other players can attempt to put you in jail for your
crimes, increasing their own status along the way. Your outlaw
character will, in the meantime, sit confined to prison to wait out a
sentence appropriate to the heinous actions that led to outlaw status,
even if they were as simple as disrupting the local areas ecology
through excessive harvesting or over-populating the flora and/or fauna.
Even an overzealous bean
planter can become an outlaw!
This game and its world are set up in such a way that they will
encourage a thriving community to spring from it. I can definitely
Your gemlin can be
foresee gamers spending untold hours tending
to their crops, shops,
citizenship status, and combat prowess. The layered
complexity of this game promises to offer a rich and rewarding
experience to just about any type of gamer, whether they enjoy
exploration, achievement, socialization or any combination thereof.
Intrigued yet? I've only played the game for about a dozen hours so
far, so you can bet your sweet Gemlin (that's the little goo pile you
befriended earlier, remember?) that there's a ton more I haven't even
begun to uncover. Who knows how deep this rabbit hole goes?
Fans of Dofus style="font-style: italic;">
will want to check out the plaques that hang in Incarum, which tell the
story of what has transpired during the 1000 years that separates it
from the world of Wakfu style="font-style: italic;">.
Beyond The Game
In case you just can't get enough of this game and its lore, or are far
too impatient to wait for release day before experiencing it, the
worlds of Wakfu
have proven so successful that Ankama Studio
has launched a cartoon television series, comics, a trading card game,
and an Xbox Live Arcade title.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Wakfu Game Page.