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Age of Wushu has a ways to go with translation issues, and we still have some content from the China version we have yet to see roll out on the US version, and no one is going to argue that the cash shop time limit on clothes is universally loved, though honestly I have no problem with it. Innovation however is rampant in this game and this is:
Five Things Age of Wushu did that made me go "hmmm that was done right"
1) The Faction/School system
Three factions? How about 8 factions.
As a one time DaOC player I have always thought WoW's formula for two factions was a bit restraining, as a long time sandbox fan I absolutely loathed games that did not let you talk to other factions. I had hopes that TSW would bring three faction combat back in a AAA title, but TSW's implementation felt a bit lacking to me.
Age of Wushu has many many factions to choose from, in a system that runs parallel but does not replace player run guilds. This system seems to be the least talked about but most innovative compared to the cookie cutter two faction systems we find all over the MMO landscape.
Each school has its own school house, its own school leaders who are other players and chosen weekly. There are school wars and school events and school quests. They each have unique outfits. In keeping with the almost-but-not-really-sandbox nature of the game you can interact with other factions however you see fit. Want to walk into an opposing school and socialize and duel? Go right ahead I did it last night.
Honestly if you never wanted to get involved in school "business" you do not have to. But the option is there. Schools are a combination of what race-faction-class would be in other games but you can not argue that this is something you have seen done in exactly the same way in other MMO's.
Often leaderboards get thrown in after the fact, honestly a lot of people pay zero attention to them anyway. But they do provide an in the background kind of entertainment. Age of Wushu has them in droves, Best Tailor in the world? Yea you can be that and get a fancy title above your head and a cosmetic outfit for it as well. But how about best criminal? Best assasin in dungeons? Best duelist? check, check, and check. Most evil player, most good deeds, most instance runs? Again check.
Many of them reset as well so you don't have to go up against people who have been doing it for months to have a chance to be recognized. After a few days of dueling in Chengdu for fun I noticed I had climbed up to number 6 on the Martial Duels leader board for wins and attempts. Giving you something to do is one of a games primary purposes and I think leaderboards provide an optional yet sometimes fun method of doing that.
There is even a leaderboard for Empress Wu that some people call the constable leaderboard but I just call Wu's list.
3) The end game is the game.
Here on MMORPG.com and in just about every dev diary ever made since 2010 we hear about how people should be able to enjoy end game content sooner. In Age of Wushu the endgame starts right after you get done with the tutorial. This leads to some confusion to be sure. People don't know what to do, a constant sanbox problem...even though I am not saying this is a sandbox, without a glowing exclamation mark pointing you in the right direction you have to choose what to do..and choice is hard.
The end game however can be enjoyed right away. Kidnapping, school wars, school spying, pvp, raiding, escorting...it actually took me awhile to realize I was doing the kind of dailies many games would make you wait till the end to do..right away. However unlike other dailies, which is almost a bad word in some games, these are varied enough that I don't feel forced into doing them daily and most of them involve other people which keeps them fresh. There are plenty of ways to get exp to turn into cultivation, there isn't a wrong method either so if today I want to spy and tommorow I want to run a dungeon neither choice is wrong.
4) The Cultivation system.
The Cultivation system is not entirely new but I am going to list it becaue it is done slightly different, and that difference matters. In Age of Wushu you get exp which turns to cultivation and then, much like eve, that cultivation becomes the skills you use over time. The trick here is that unlike eve, which is a game I enjoy, you can't just log in update your skill training and log out. You do have to get that exp, there were times when my intrest in eve was waining that I would just log in to update my skill que and log out...I did this for weeks and was still keeping my skill advantage over new players who were actively playing.
This combination of exp and time based training means that while you do have to play, you are not punished for playing in ways that other games would punish you for. Want to help newbs out in a challange? Socialize in Chengdu? Go fishing? Fine the time based system lets you do all those things without feeling like you are being left behind. I feel like my game time is MY game time to do with as I want and not that I am running the level up treadmill. I like that.
5) The Justice system
I am so sick of PvP games with safe zones, almost as sick as I am off gankers in PvP games without safe zones. Both of which are almost as annoying as games billed as "PvP" that have the feature tacked on with less thought than the flower vase in a Volkswagon's cupholder.
Age of Wushu has one type of safe zone, the five by five box called a herbal hall where you resurrect. Everywhere else is fair game. Yet for the most part, the people in the game are not complaining about being ganked all the time...or that they can not do anything due to higher level players killing them all t he time. The reason is very simple. An effective justice system that has nothing to do with god mode npc guards or invisible barriers on faction borders or safe zones. You simply have a bounty on your head and you get stuck in jail. You have to sit in jail. It is not fun sitting in jail.
If you honestly believe killing someone is worth it go for it. Everytime you do you have to understand there is consequences for your antisocial behavior...even if the little turd deserved it.
I know the justice system is effective because the ganker complains about it, if it was something he didn't complain about if he could "live with it" then so could every other ganker on the planet and it would probably not be effective as a deterent. But it is. This is the single most effective anti ganker system I have ever seen in a game that allows for an open world no safe zone PvP setting..period. It should be copied.
I could probably list four things in Age of Wushu that make me want to pull my hair out but honestly the above features have really grown on me and I think at the very least I will look for some of these features in future MMO's that catch my eye. These systems combined with open class playstyle, which AoW also has, and maybe open world housing, which AoW does not have, could make for a powerhouse of an MMO from either the east or the west.