Microcosms: Mysterious Island of Gipat – A Look at Allods Update 1.1

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of Sep 5th- Sep 11th, 2010


2. style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://allods.gpotato.com/" target="_blank">  href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/ddo">Dungeons
and Dragons
Online: Eberron Unlimited href="http://allods.gpotato.com/" target="_blank">

href="http://everquest2.station.sony.com/"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://allods.gpotato.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;">3. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/lotro">Lord of the Rings

4.  target="_blank"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/2693"
target="_blank"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/2693"
target="_top"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/2693"
target="_blank"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/2693"
target="_blank"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/2693">Land
of Chaos Online

5.  target="_blank">  href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/856"
target="_top"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/2394"
target="_blank">Allods Online

of Magic

 7.  target="_blank">FreeRealms

8. target="_blank">Aika href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/856"

9. target="_top"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/771">Perfect
World International

10.  target="_blank">Atlantica Online href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/581"
target="_top"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/2433"
target="_blank"> href="http://heroesofgaia.gpotato.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://www.gamersfirst.com/swordofthenewworld/"

style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://www.freerealms.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://atlantica.ndoorsgames.com/center/default.asp"
target="_blank"> href="http://allods.gpotato.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://us.runesofmagic.com/us/index.html"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://allods.gpotato.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;">

This week several of my friends, who aren’t hopelessly addicted to
MMOGs, are out attending a midnight release event of a popular
console-based shooter.  While I do in some way envy them,
mostly I just wish I were young enough to pull an all-nighter for first
crack at a new game. I am glad that my newfound love for free-to-plays
has allowed me to check out some innovative games that break up the
fantasy monotony. I took a look at one of those games, style="font-style: italic;">Land of Chaos Online,
last week. This week Divine
takes another step toward launch as it enters the
second phase of beta testing. With Black
getting ready for lift off and style="font-style: italic;">CrimeCraft
continuing its steady improvement there has never been a better time to
check out microtransaction-based games, especially for those who have
grown tired of elves and hobbits.( If you just can’t get enough of
swords and sorcery, however, then the official launches of EQ2X and
LotRO as free-to-play should be more than enough to satiate your

Two weeks ago I mentioned briefly how a producer of style="font-style: italic;">Allods Online, in a
continuing effort to improve the gameplay experience, took it upon
himself to go directly to the players and find out what they wanted
most. In a welcome twist of fate I was able to sit down this week with
that same producer, Darren Allarde, for a guided tour of a recent patch
tailored specifically to North American users. Hopefully, this will
become a trend and more folks that I admire and write about will end up
sitting down with me. (Felicia Day, Felicia Day, Felicia Day.)

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alt="Allods" src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/89517">

Mystery awaited me in Gipat.

Few free-to-play games have ever seen a development budget that rivals
their subscription based counterparts, but style="font-style: italic;">Allods Online is
one exception. While the upside of a large budget is obvious, the
downside is having to live up to AAA expectations and do so in an
environment where your loudest critics often contribute nothing
financially to the game. The fact of the matter is that all games need
to generate revenue to survive, no matter what form they choose to seek
that revenue in. Why am I prefacing a walkthrough of new content with a
mini rant about pricing and critics? Because I grow tired of the
perception that free-to-play games are thinly veiled scams designed to
cheat us out of our hard earned money. What really drove this home for
me was spending time with people like Darren from Gala-Net, whose
passion and commitment to the game and its players is as strong as
anyone else I have met in the industry, and whose dedication shown
through in every aspect of what we discussed.

For those not familiar with the world of style="font-style: italic;">Allods, it is a
Russian import that blends high fantasy with many steampunk elements in
a faction-based battle for control. style="font-style: italic;">Allods derives its
name from the various islands that make up the playable landscape, the
newest of which is the recently discovered and mysterious Gipat. Our
tour began at the first quest hub, a small area inhabited by curious
dragons. Players travel to Gipat upon finding a strange rock that draws
them to the island and is a link to the dragons who are seeking “The
Chosen One” to aide them. With each completed quest more and more will
be revealed about the true identities of the dragons, their enemies and
their ultimate champion. While I was able to extract a bit of
information from my host, he was mostly tight lipped about the
storyline, promising me hours of enjoyable gameplay that he did not
want to spoil. I was issued one warning as I pressed on about the
nature of the story-driven quest line – some measure of repetition is
to be expected as players earn their final few levels. As an old school
vet, I personally don’t consider a lot of kill X amount of baddies
quests to be grinding, but some may.

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alt="Allods" src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/89516">

Raid bosses that can go toe to toe with any game out

After looking around at some of the varying landscapes and quest hubs,
we added Krystin Dehaven to our party and headed off to tackle the
game’s biggest PvE challenge to date – Gorluxor’s Tower. This 24 player
raid zone features 8 unique boss encounters, 5 of which were available
at the time of my tour. The outer courtyard, and even the area
surrounding the instance, lies teeming with demons and the vampire
cultists that worship them. Trash mobs varied in difficulty and
density, but they look to be more than just filler because killing them
will require strategy and coordination. I was impressed with the boss
fights as they unfolded before me. They easily rivaled those I’ve
experienced in WoW, and I have seen and killed every boss that game has
had to offer so far. The dungeon progresses in a linear fashion, with
each boss kill opening up a new section and the next boss. None of the
encounters were mind-numbing tank n’ spanks, however one devolved into
a flat out DPS race once an early mechanic was overcome. The levels of
raid awareness and the synchronicity needed to defeat these bosses was
top notch and should give PvE junkies like myself a lot to look forward
to as new bosses and new content is revealed.

The environments were spectacular, the enemies challenging and the
quests varied and fun, but none of those elements were what impressed
me. To truly understand the magnitude of what I experienced you need a
little background. These press tours we go on are fairly commonplace
and we usually get treated to the glitziest and best aspects of the
content, with carefully constructed dialogue that puts everything in
the best light possible. What made this particular event memorable and
unusual was the amount of candor on the part of Darren Allarde. It was
easy to be impressed by the press release two weeks ago that portrayed
him as a man of the people, taking a hands on approach with players and
going the extra mile, and I would expect nothing less of a well
constructed PR piece. But to actually hear the passion in his voice and
know the level of dedication that exists with Mr. Allarde and with
every member of his team is another thing entirely.

href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/89519"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 233px; height: 125px;"
alt="Allods" src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/89519">

Top notch content is abundant in Gipat

What most players may not realize is the difficulty encountered when
trying to convince a game creator that their vision of the perfect game
needs to be tweaked to satisfy the Western market. European and Asian
players are much more accepting of a death penalty in their games;
something that boils our collective blood barely registers on their
radar. Having followed Allods
from early beta stages I can attest to the feeling that the initial
death penalty mechanic was excessive and killed high end PvP
completely. It was a stacking debuff that lowered your stats and stuck
you in purgatory for extensive amounts of time. While purgatory still
exists (you can purchase or earn a form of currency to reduce or
eliminate the wait), the former Fear of Death mechanic has been
replaced by a much milder Cursed Item system. Cursed items become
unequipped and cannot be used until the curse is lifted via a special
reagent. The item needed to break the curse is available from the item
shop and a very active level 40 player can purchase a month’s supply
for about 5 dollars, about 1/3rd to 1/4th the cost of what it
originally took to remove Fear of Death. In addition to a more relaxed
death penalty our region also has been given many more tradeable items
and has had the open space environment of The Astral revamped to better
accommodate the expectations of North American gamers.

Allods Online
and Gala-Net have shown a willingness to work with their playerbase and
have strived towards putting the best possible product on the table. If
we can continue to support the game our patience will be rewarded with
amazing content because the team has some killer plans in the works.
There has never been a better time for former players, especially those
who left because of FoD, to return, or for new players to take a plunge
into The Astral.

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 Fresh off of his appearance in America's Got Talent.

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