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.
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 items.
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.
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.
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.
|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 skill.|
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.