My last major foray into the wide world of RaiderZ took place a couple of months back during E3 2012. Two of the biggest things that grabbed my attention at the time were the social implications of equipping guitars, or cooking food for group buffs before heading out for some monster hunting fun. At PAX Prime this weekend, I got to spend some more hands-on time with the game to see how both of those systems have been augmented, some of the newer systems that have been added, and enjoy some engaging combat moments.
To get you up to speed with how guitars work in the game, they’ll essentially allow you to strum some basic chords partially as a social interaction, but then can also grant you and your party different buffs depending on which one you have equipped.
A new addition to the system is that you can now use the guitar as a temporary weapon, smashing it down on the head of an enemy in true rock star fashion. Doing so will also revert your skill bar back to its default weapon skills, so you can dive directly into combat from there.
The various foods you’re able to cook and consume for buffs have also received a similar interaction, so that if your feast gets interrupted by trespassing mobs you can quickly smack them in the face with your salad dish before dishing out some melee or ranged damage with your weapons.
Since most objects in the game can be weaponized in some way, this is a natural fit in both cases, and also means that you don’t always have to find a safe haven to buff up while scampering around the world.
Another fun consumable that’s been added are a variety of different dusts than can be used to temporarily transform your character into different creatures. The dusts themselves will be somewhat rare, with some being more difficult to obtain than others, such as a comical bunny or tabby cat.
Regardless of what type of creature you transform into, the same weaponization concepts still apply in different ways. For example, a few of your skills will turn into purely social interactions, but each will also have one or more combat oriented skills thrown in. For example, while transformed into a cat I was able to make some basic swipe attacks, or simply lie down and take a cat nap. You probably wouldn’t want to do the latter in combat, but I really dig the idea of seeing an entire group turn into killer bunnies and beat the snot out of things.
Mind you, the transformations will only last for about a minute, so you won’t want to use them all the time. Still, I do have to tip my hat at the RaiderZ devs for adding in some pure random fun that aspects to the game beyond simply going out, hunting monsters, rinse, repeat.
Don’t get me wrong Â the combat can be engaging and fun in its own right. It somewhat walks along the fine line between pure action gaming and more old school MMOG staples, and is also the only game outside of Guild Wars 2 that links skills to equipped weapons or objects to such a high degree. Since you’ll also be able to mix and match progression paths between different archetypes Â kind of like a scaled down version of Rift’s soul trees Â it means you can come up with a variety of more hybrid classes to play to keep things interesting.
We also learned that players have most often been sticking to a single progression path through to the end rather than diversifying points during the beta, so the RaiderZ team is looking into different ways to make sure it’s clear that diversification is an obvious option, and an attractive one in the process. For example, sticking to a pure Cleric may allow you to unlock some powerful skills and passive benefits, but you can make just as strong a character by tossing some points in the other trees.
The only potential sticking point is that with skills linked to specific weapons, you have to be careful that you aren’t giving yourself too few options in combat. The ability to swap between two weapons Â another aspect of RaiderZ that’s reminiscent of GW2’s combat system Â can still be a big help in that regard.
While I didn’t get to experience too much combat this time around, our duo did at least take down a few basic mobs to mess around with the weaponized items dropped by creatures in the vicinity, before attempting to tackle a boss mob that was clearly more powerful than we could really handle. While we had our butts summarily kicked in short order, it still helped drive the point home that movement and dodging attacks is critical to the combat experience in RaiderZ.
All in all, RaiderZ is shaping up to be the kind of game that lends itself well to hanging out with a few friends, enjoying some offbeat social and combat experiences, and having loads of fun in the process. While monster hunting may seem like serious business Â and the boss encounters certainly can be Â one of the game’s greatest strengths is that it seemingly refuses to take itself too seriously. And in the case of RaiderZ, that’s definitely a good thing.