When we hear the words Asian, free-to-play, and MMORPG together in the same sentence, we naturally feel some degree of skepticism. After all, we've been burned before, so these games can bring to mind thoughts of buggy grind-fests riddled with goldseller spam. That's why it's refreshing when a game like RaiderZ comes along and shatters some of those expectations.
Wonko costumes with lots of
spikes and stuff: check. Ludicrously-huge swords: check. Hot babes in
skimpy clothes doing weird dances and singing K-pop while riding a giant
bird: check. Mujahideen squirrel-men: check. Welcome to RaiderZ.
Game developer Perfect World has partnered with Korean developers Maiet
Entertainment to bring RaiderZ to the Western world. The concept is fairly
simple - an action-based MMORPG tasking the player with following a
continuing storyline and battling monsters of both the standard and epic
variety along the way. Staying true to form, Perfect World has given us a
solid game wrapped in a very affordable package.
Free-to-play is not the dirty word some folks would make it out to be.
Violence is a fact of life in any MMO. Your character's job is to go around
killing monsters and bad guys. What will likely be a larger concern for
parents is the Eastern sensibility in regards to feminine attire. While the
whole "short skirt and long jacket" and "lingerie with metal bits attached"
aesthetic appeals to me as a red-blooded male, it may not be for everyone.
Gameplay - 95 / 100
RaiderZ is a solid multiplayer action RPG. It has the familiar quest-style
system and incremental character and gear advancement, but the combat is more
reactive than a lot of current games, similar in style to the system in
TERA. Instead of locking onto a target and hammering a bunch of skill
buttons, the enemy needs to be kept in the crosshair or in a frontal arc.
Blocking and dodging are accomplished with mouse clicks and movement-key-taps,
and they become increasingly important as the player gets deeper into the
Left-clicking initiates a default attack, and holding the left mouse button
can initiate a string of combo attacks, culminating in a powerful "finishing"
blow. Sometimes this works out fine, but combat is often very dynamic. Enemies
are not content to simply stand there taking a savage beating. They dodge
around, use charge attacks which interrupt combos and push their opponents
around the battlefield, block with shields or weapon hafts, and generally seek
to gain advantage in battle. This can be challenging for players used to
fighting dumb AI where the enemy mob's sole tactic seems to be charging into
melee combat. It makes even trash fights more exciting and dynamic.
It looks pretty epic, but this
is actually a fairly average low-level landscape boss fight.
Boss fights are a core element of what makes RaiderZ the game it is. Every
region has at least a couple of big baddies that require a group to take down.
Some of these epic monsters are sealed away in instances, but some are roaming
around in the open world - these are the ones that are typically farmed for
drops, and getting in on those drops may require some begging to join farming
groups. On the plus side, if you are only interested in the fight for
completing a quest, you can get kill credit by contributing to a fight even if
the monster is "tagged" by a different group. On the minus side, if you're
looking for drops to craft a full gear set and the drop rate is low, you may
end up fighting the same boss seven or eight times with an ever-shifting
Additionally, some enemies have some surprising combat characteristics. For
example, if you hit some monsters hard enough and in the right spot, you break
off a piece of them that gives you a combat bonus when you pick it up. For
example, you fight some crabs and lobster-men early on. The crabs drop crab
meat, which you can pick up for a brief combat buff, and the lobster-men drop
spears which have powerful special attacks and can take out the other
lobster-men in two hits. Epic enemies are even more amusing - some will pick
characters up at random and fling them around like rag dolls, or smash them
into the ground like meaty fly-swatters, or even swallow them whole and chew
on them for a bit.
The key to winning fights is learning how to fight defensively as well as
offensively. Certain character classes do just fine going all-out offense, but
squishier characters will have a much easier time of things if they remember
to dodge and block once in a while. Characters can block attacks by holding
down the right mouse button - this brings up the shield, or holds the main
weapon defensively if no shield is equipped. Blocking attacks can have varied
results. Shields can completely negate most standard attacks with a satisfying
KA-CLANK! sound, or they can mitigate a large portion of the damage. Some
attacks cannot be blocked - special attacks from boss mobs, for example, like
the kind where one of them grabs you up and swallows you whole. In these cases, it's
better to attempt to dodge the attacks, because you can't really block
while being chewed on.
"When my batting coach told me,
'Be the ball,' I didn't think this was what he meant..."
All attacks are directional - swing your weapon in one direction and you hit
any mob in an arc within that range. Throw a magical bolt in a given direction
and it will crash into whatever monster is directly in its path. Monster
attacks follow the same rules as PC attacks, and most regular mobs require a
bit of setup time for each attack. Many of their attacks are quite
easy to dodge just by moving a few steps to the side after each swing.
Double-tapping a direction button performs a rolling-dodge move, getting the
character out of harm's way faster than just walking.
In a well-executed, one-on-one fight against an on-level normal mob, the
character can time his attacks, dodges and blocks just so, and avoid taking
any damage. This works just as well with early-game bosses, too. Watch for
tell-tale signs, be ready to move fast and you can easily take on powerful
enemies without undue risk. Sometimes, though, all it takes is one misstep to
throw off the timing and bring everything to a painful crashing halt. Players
with high network latency, be warned!
There are four basic character classes:
- Defender is the melee defense class. Specializes in heavy armor and
sword-and-board attack skills.
- Berserker is the melee offense class. Specializes in heavy armor and
ridiculously massive two-hander weapon skills.
- Cleric is the healer. Can eventually wear chain armor, but cloth armor is
the better option in early levels.
- Sorcerer is the magic offense class. Best paired with cloth armor and a good
The classes are basically jumping points rather than hard-wired, inflexible
career paths. For starters, any character can use any weapon, but certain
classes will make better use of some weapons than others. Clerics, for
example, can use all of their skills with maces and staves, but if the
character equips a sword, he can no longer use his healing skills. Berserkers
trying to outsmart the game by equipping a shield and one-hander for extra
defense will find that their big power-attack skills no longer function.
This can be offset, however, by the ability to select skills from other
classes during level-up, once certain criteria are reached. Essentially, the
player is locked into one class role for the first 10 levels, and can then
start branching out into other classes.
Again, though, care must be taken when selecting cross-class skills. With my
Cleric, I played most of the early game with a one-handed mace and shield.
Around level 12 or 13, I took a skill from one of the melee classes that gave
me a powerful charge attack that interrupts enemy attacks. For a while, it
felt awesome and invincible. Until I noticed that other Clerics were healing
for way more and doing way more damage while using a staff and wearing cloth
armor instead of leather like I was using. So I made myself a staff, and my
heals were about 50% better... but I lost the use of the awesome charge
attack that came from the Defender skill tree, because it required a
one-handed weapon and a shield, so the staff didn't cut it.
Speaking of crafting, it's very simple in RaiderZ. You don't need to grind
for mats to level up your Sewing skill and then find the right recipe to make
yourself some kickass new pants - you go out and get the stuff and take it to
the relevant craftsman in town, and he does all the actual crafting work. Each
craftsman has a list of recipes he can make for you, and each recipe has an
associated "quest." Click on the "get recipe" button in the barter window, and
a material-gathering quest is added to your quest journal. Once you have all
the stuff you need for the item you want, you get a notification and can then
return to town and get the thing made. And it's a good thing the crafting
system is simple, because it's essentially the only way to get gear.
Crafted gear comes in four varieties: common, uncommon, rare and legendary.
Common stuff has white names and typically requires only basic materials to
make; it's really only useful if you haven't upgraded your gear for several
levels and don't have the level requirements for the next step up. Uncommon
gear has green names and can be enchanted and slotted with non-removeable
upgrade gems, and typically requires more materials to make. Rare items have blue
names, usually have superior stats to uncommon gear of the same level range,
confer set bonuses when multiple pieces are worn, and require materials looted
from epic enemies. Building a full set of rare gear can involve "farming" the
same epic monster several times. Legendary gear has purple names, and players
won't encounter this powerful stuff until late in the game.
The only issue I had with crafting - and it is a fairly minor one, really -
is the sheer volume of materials involved. I'm a pack-rat, see, and I never
get rid of crafting materials or anything that I might find use under some
marginal set of circumstances in the hazy future. But there are so many
different crafting mats that my bag got loaded down fairly fast.
High-quality crafted gear is usually bound to the character who makes it,
but the materials required to make it are not. This means the (auction house)
won't be flooded with over-priced green and blue low- and mid-level gear, but instead,
with uncommon boss-drop crafting materials being sold by farmers and campers.
Graphics - 95 / 100
The graphics in RaiderZ aren't exactly groundbreaking, but they are solid and
generally well-done, and occasionally quite amusing. This is where you really
see the Asian influence in RaiderZ - though the individual elements are
familiar, there are little things that make you realize you're not in Kansas
She's wearing level 15 "chain
armor" that appears to be missing a somewhat critical piece. He's wearing an
awesome hat, and his chest seems rather more covered.
It starts at the character creation screen. I don't normally play female
characters; I'm a dude, so I play dude characters. In RaiderZ, most dude
faces look androgynous and almost none of them have manly beards. In Western
fantasy settings, epic warrior dudes and wonko beard styles go hand in hand.
RaiderZ gives you one dude with a beard, and it's trimmed short.
The other telltale signs that you are playing a game designed in Asia: hair
is almost universally straight, never wavy, with zany spikes for the fellas
and bangs for the ladies. Also, some of the female faces have those adorable
gigantic round eyes that anime fans love so much and the rest of us don't
The game starts out with pirates... but these pirates are clearly seen
through a slightly different lens. Some of the pirates are crazy googly-eyed
fish-men, and some carry swords that look like repurposed iron girders with
spikes and gems attached, which would be terribly impractical for
swashbuckling. And the lady pirates are all of the "sexy pirate" variety,
which is something you will need to get used to pretty much right away. Most
of the ladies you encounter in the game, PC and NPC alike, look like they are
on their way to a sexy costume party.
Practical adventuring attire for
the modern cleric.
Most of the armor in the game looks good. Even the low-level stuff
isn't pukey-drab and awful like it is in so many other games. Typically, the
common stuff looks sort of boring, uncommon stuff looks decent and rare stuff
looks the best. The high-level armor is loaded with detail, all filigreed and
flourished and polished to a high gleam. Again, though, it's kind of a weird
mix - on the one end of the spectrum, you have your elaborate 16th century
Western-European-style full-plate and chain armors, and on the other you have
some peculiar M. Bison outfits and the, ahem, bodacious Hallowe'en outfits for
And yes, there are separate outfit slots that allow characters to equip cool
cosmetics while still retaining the benefit of less-attractive armor. Some of
the Hallowe'en-themed outfit pieces in beta are pretty goofy, but the system
adds to the game's personality.
Sound - 87 / 100
This is another area where you realize you are playing a game originally
designed in a place where English is not the native language, and where the
culture is a little bit different than what we may be used to.
During the voice-acted cut scenes, the dialogue captions do not match the
words being spoken by the characters. It's like watching an English-dubbed
kung fu movie with the subtitles on. There are, however, not a whole lot of
these big voice-acted scenes. Most NPCs react to your presence with generic
responses, and for the few that do have voice-work done, it's the first line
or so of quest dialogue and the rest is text.
Come sail away, come sail away,
come sail away with meeee!
Music plays a fairly distinct role in RaiderZ. The normal orchestral
background music is nice and atmospheric, but the real winner in this game are
the bits of K-pop that burst out here and there. When you purchase your first
Moa (RaiderZ's equivalent of a starter mount), you'll notice a weird skill
icon on your toolbar. Clicking that icon performs a "WOOHOO!" emote, complete
with a Pulp Fiction dance from the seated position, and plays a little K-pop
ditty to brighten your ride.
Personally, I'm a "hard rock" guy. If someone designed a game that played a
Slayer lick every time I mounted my charger, a Black Flag riff every time I
completed a quest and a Melvins dirge or dubstep bass-drop when I encountered
a boss fight, I would be a happy camper. The K-pop sound doesn't really do it
for me, but I know of a lot of people who absolutely adore the genre, and
those fans will be delighted by these little moments. And even a gnarly old
headbangin' crank like me can't deny the charm.
Multiplayer - 87 / 100
RaiderZ's social scene, and therefore its entire multiplayer game, is
compromised by gold-seller spam. Gold-seller chat spam was literally the first
thing I saw when I logged into the game with my first new character. These
parasites have infested the game early, flooding chat channels and making it
nearly impossible to communicate in early-game regions. This is going to be a
massive turn-off for some players, who will abandon the game out of
frustration and annoyance because their cries for help with tough content will
be lost in a sea of bot-spew.
When this is the first thing you
see when you first log in, and the only thing you see in the chat window,
it's a problem.
The parasites thin out deeper into the game, and are practically non-existent
in wilderness areas outside the newbie city, but Ingen is infested. It's easy
enough to block the spammers from your chat window - the command is /b or
/block (name) - but when there are seven or eight of the vermin polluting the
channel at one time, and they all have annoyingly-difficult names like
sdfghfsgsd and ghnfggbbfgbng, that can take several minutes. In other games,
this is made easier - click on the offender's name in the chat window, click a
button, spammer reported and blocked in 1 E-Z step. In order to keep these
leeches at bay, RaiderZ is going to need to deploy something similar.
Once you get past this annoyance, RaiderZ's multiplayer aspect opens up a
lot. Grouping is quick and easy, and it's usually easy enough to find a group
for an epic enemy fight. Like other similar games, a pick-up group typically
lasts the duration of the boss fight and not a minute more, which is kind of a
shame because the rest of the game is so much more enjoyable with a group.
Except for the tough boss fights, you can do most of the game solo, but
running with a partner or two makes everything go smoother.
Of course, this also presents a different kind of challenge to a particular
kind of player - building a character that can solo boss fights is entirely
possible. In the early levels, I was able to solo some challenging epic
enemies with my Cleric by making good use of dodging, blocking and self-heals.
Only the early ones, though. The boss monsters later on have faster attack
speeds and less predictable patterns.
There is also a decent PvP game at higher levels, with interesting
faction-versus-faction battles. At lower levels, PvP seems restricted mainly
to duels. Duelists can be incredibly annoying sometimes - you're minding your
own business sorting out your inventory or talking to an NPC and some gung-ho
lunatic comes running up from behind and issues a challenge, planting a giant
spike-covered totem pole at your back. One interesting aspect of it, though,
is that players can engage in party-versus-party duels. Party leaders can
issue challenges to other party leaders, and both teams have at one another.
Value - 97 / 100
Basically, when it comes to value, you can't beat free. Perfect World is
following the current MMO paradigm and launching RaiderZ as free-to-play with
a cash shop. Frankly, I'm a little concerned about how that's all going to
work. None of the items I saw in the cash shop during beta seemed all that
intriguing, and I kind of wonder how Perfect World and Maiet plan to make any
money at all if they're not even charging for the download. ArenaNet had the
good sense to charge 50 bucks for Guild Wars 2, and even Star
Wars: The Old Republic can make money by selling unlocks in its cash
shop that lift the burdensome restrictions faced by F2Pers.
This is a solid game with fun, engaging content and premium-quality features.
And you get full access to it for nothing. However, since F2P is the new
business model for any new massively multiplayer game that hopes to have any
kind of success, the real value can be determined by what you actually get for
the stuff you do have to pay for. In the case of RaiderZ, that means cash shop
Friendship is magic. And you can
buy it from the cash shop.
Probably one of the biggest sellers will be the Books of Oblivion, which are
used to reset your character's skills. Players get a couple of these books by
following the main storyline, meaning they get a couple of free respecs over
the entire course of their career. After that, if they want to respec, they
have to pay real live cash money for it. Technically, it costs Zen - Perfect
World's multiple-title-spanning cash shop currency - but Zen costs actual
money to buy. One penny per point, which means the dollar cost of any item in
the cash shop can be easily determined by dividing the Zen price by 100 (e.g.
an item that costs 500 Zen costs $5.00, etc.).
There are two flavours of Books of Oblivion. The regular one is for level 30
and under and costs 1200 Zen ($12). Advanced Books of Oblivion, for characters
up to level 40, cost 1900 Zen ($19.00). Those are some fairly pricey character
respecs... but considering we're not paying for anything else in the game,
it's actually pretty reasonable. You won't want to have to respec often, but
even if you need to do it every couple of months, that's more or less the same
price as a monthly subscription.
this mount would look way more badass if it weren't for that tuft of glowing
pink hair that makes him look like a goth brony.
The cash shop will also deal in cosmetic items. While there is a fancy
cosmetic system in place, there are not a lot of actual items that make use of
it. There is, however, a potion available from the cash shop that converts
regular armor into a cosmetic version. Which is actually pretty cool, because
some of the good-looking low- and mid-level armor has lousy stats.
Lasting Appeal - 95 / 100
RaiderZ is a game with a lot of interesting, engaging things to discover and
explore. Characters that can be completely reconfigured mean that, should a
player become bored with his current role, he can dump everything and play a
totally different class without losing all the awesome gear he worked for.
Players will find new challenges and diversions around every corner. Explore
the city of Ingen at night, for example, and you will stumble across the music
system. The deeper you get into the game, the more reasons you will find to
stick around and keep playing.
Pros and Cons
|It's free. Can't beat that price.||The price of freedom is relentless gold-spammers.|
|Graphics and sound are top-notch.||Feminists may take exception to some of the female armors and outfits.|
|Gameplay is engaging and deceptively complex.||Lag and high latency can easily get characters killed, regardless of player
On paper, RaiderZ might seem like an easy game to simply dismiss out of hand.
Let's be frank: the name is kind of silly, and it's coming out of a market
that is kind of notorious for producing less-than-stellar games. I was
skeptical going in myself, being old and cranky and set in my ways. But the
combination of charm and challenge won me over. The combat system is dynamic
and enjoyable, the initial weirdness of the setting eventually becomes
endearing, and it's overall more fun to play than a lot of games I've actually
paid money for.
Overall 93/100 - Outstanding
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