Posted Tue, Jun 19, 2012 by Sardu
This is an interesting year for the MMOG industry. We’re seeing a massive upswing in persistent shooters, action combat systems, and an increasing amount of divergence from the dated, generic gameplay template we’ve all seen and played countless times over the past decade.
Amidst all of that zaniness, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for gamers to figure out what makes some of the upcoming titles tick. Emergent combat mechanics and objectives aside, it still takes something unique or special for new games to have a lasting impact, and from what we’ve seen so far of Perfect World’s in-development title RaiderZ, it exudes personality and uniqueness perhaps more than any other game we saw this year at E3.
Before I get into some of the hard facts and figures as to why that’s the case, I’m going to present you with a very simple question. What if you took the MMO dungeon experience, and made that the default overland gameplay?
In a roundabout way, that’s exactly what RaiderZ does.
If you boil dungeons down into their core essence, you’re left with a couple of basic concepts. First, you fight your way through less difficult mobs, gaining some experience and loot along the way. But the real goal is to find the bosses, kick their virtual behinds, and reap the rewards.
That is exactly the kind of experience RaiderZ brings to the table, only you never have to step foot into a closed off dungeon or instance in the process. As such, RaiderZ is also a very socially friendly game since – just like dungeon bosses – you’ll spend the bulk of your time grouping with other players to hunt down bosses and collect whatever loot their magical slot machine dispenses upon defeat.
The whole concept may sound fairly simple and straight forward, but there are plenty of supporting mechanics that both enhance the experience and make the social interactions worthy of note even before you set out in search of adventure. Two of these systems were featured during our hands-on time at E3, and take basic MMO group concepts and add a layer of fun not commonly seen.
As with most MMOs, buffing your group before a big boss fight can be vital to your chances of success. However, in RaiderZ this isn’t simply a process of casting a few random spells and charging full steam ahead. Instead, throughout the game players will acquire different guitars that can be played to achieve different effects.
You can use a guitar from your inventory, and it will instantly swap out the available skills on your hotbar. Depending on which specific guitar you’re using, you’ll be able to use these 3 skills to not only play some amusing riffs, but help prepare your group for battle in the process. It’s a very basic, but fun mechanic, and makes great use of the game’s system for swapping out active skills depending on what you’re wielding at the time.
For example, you know those bosses you’ll be hunting down? Each one will drop different things during the fight that can be picked up and used against it as an impromptu weapon. For anyone who has been following Guild Wars 2, this works pretty much the same as the system does in that game. In fact, I’ve ever since this kind of dynamic skill swapping was first introduced in GW1 I’ve been waiting to see it applied in new and interesting ways in other games. Apparently someone at Perfect World must be picking up my random telepathic transmissions about what makes for cool gameplay ideas.
Along the same progressive thinking as the use of guitars, RaiderZ also takes the concept of gaining benefits from consuming food and drinks to interesting new levels as well. Normally the process is pretty bland and boring; open bag, click food, profit.
In RaiderZ, you’ll be able to actually prepare food and drink for your group with accompanying visual effects. This works somewhat similar to things like World of Warcraft’s romantic picnic baskets or feasts in that physical objects are produced for players to interact with. Our group was able to chop up vegetables and roast pigs over a fire among other things.
The net effect of these two basic concepts is that social gameplay is factored in even before your group ventures out into the world for some monster hunting action. They also reinforce that grouping in an MMO should be fun, not just a bunch of button mashing and progress bar obsessing as you go out to grind away at progressively more difficult boars and bears.
If you’re looking for a game that offers a unique social experience and the fun of beating the snot out of bosses as the staple focus of gameplay, RaiderZ will be right up your alley.