New Hopes - A First Look at Allods Online
The hallmark of the 2009 MMOG scene seems to have been big hype
followed by even bigger disappointment. But with the new year comes new
hope for a game that will deliver and assuage the fears of what is fast
becoming a jaded community. One might expect deliverance to come in the
form of a big budget AAA title, but free-to-play Allods Online, currently in closed
beta v3, could be just the game to shatter those pre-conceived notions.
This fantasy offering from Russian developer Astrum Nival, presented by
the gPotato game portal, is described as a faction-based, PvP-oriented
game. I spent time exploring Allods
and found solid, polished gameplay wrapped in a familiar MMOG package.
Graphics Â The visual element, while the most superficial, is probably the most important long term asset a game has. While bleeding edge, ultra-realistic graphics have the most instant appeal, they typically end up creating a bevy of headaches as they alienate players with lower end or older computers, and they can end up looking dated sooner than games that opt for a more stylized graphic approach. Allods Online has taken the safer of the two roads and created a lush looking world that grabs the player instantly with its bright colors and captivating scenery. Allods Online looks more like a polished version of Warhammer Online than it does a typical free-to-play offering.
Character Classes/Archetypes Â Allods Online allows both factions to fulfill the same archetype roles but with slight modifications to the actual classes depending on the faction/race combo. The following chart shows the combinations and names given depending on faction.
While these classes arenÂt exactly groundbreaking, one race is of particular note. The Gibberlings are a small, furballish species that look like a cross between a Lhasa Apso and the fictional Mogwai from the film Gremlins. The look of this race is unique in itself, but they also offer an added bonus--you get three toons for the price of one. When you play a Gibberling, your avatar is represented by three of them. Each has its own unique name and role within the collective, and the triad works together to accomplish the task at hand. The cute factor is super high and other diminutive races should be put on notice that their players may soon be migrating to the land of the Gibberling.
Combat and Controls - Combat is mostly standard MMOG fare, and players familiar with any of the major titles in the genre will feel instantly at home. The UI setup should also present no surprises, with hotbars, targeting windows, inventory space and other accoutrements laid out as expected. The only noticeable item missing from the UI is a mini-map, but the feature could materialize before the end of beta. Even if it doesnÂt, itÂs not a significant omission.
While much of Allods Online should feel familiar to the seasoned MMO gamer, there are a couple noticeable differences in the way the game plays. The most obvious is the issue of combat speed. To say that combat moves slowly would be an insult to sloths, snails, turtles and DMV workers. Combat, at least at the lower levels, presents a good time to go AFK to make a sandwich. There are reports that it speeds up at later levels, and between levels 5-10 I noticed a slight increase, so I remain optimistic that the trend continues. (And, of course, remember that Allods Online is still in beta and nothing is set in stone)
Overall Allods Online is as solid a game as you could hope to find in the closed beta stage, and is already more polished than several pay-to-plays that have hit the shelves. With many features yet to be revealed there is sure to be even more excitement in the weeks and months ahead, so stay tuned to Ten Ton Hammer for all your Allods information and news.