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This is weird, I'm pretty sure there were a couple of Holic threads @ mmorpg.com... oh well, nevermind.
I'm no pro writer so I'll keep it short. Holic is another pretty generic MMO, point-click, wasd-movement, grind to level.
- Auto stat and skill allocation: yep, no custom builds OR skills for you here. I imagine this'll kill it for many potential players.
This means the only way of differentiating your build is items. Yes, items do provide a hefty enough stat increase (e.g. +20 Str), but they drop in fixed, known quantities instead of ranges like +10 to +30. So for example if a "Nice Ring" of level 5 gives you +10 Str, all "Nice Rings" of level 5 will always be +10 Str. You won't find a stronger or weaker level 5 Nice Ring, they'll always be the same.
- No PvP: I hear they're working on a sequel (already?) which is basically the same game but with PvP. If that even makes sense.
- There's only 1 server, but it has 6 channels. Your account can have up to 3 characters. Each character has a "main" class which you choose right off during creation, so there's no noob/jobless class type here.
- At level 10 you get to pick a "sub" class, although if you talk to the class manager NPC you can actually change BOTH your classes, not just switch between main and sub.
- Classing has no effect on stats, i.e. each class you take is totally separate from each other. You even have separate equipment slots (same inventory and bank though), and no, you can't "share" equip or even skills. When you switch classes, only any actively casted buffs carry over, and fashion items. Basically it's like playing a whole new character all over again. Quests are still listed, but you can't complete them if you're in a different class other than the one you were when you took the quest.
- There's a cooldown of 1 full minute between class switching, so... no, you can't bombard something from afar as a mage, and then hey presto switch to a tank when it gets near, then switch to priest to heal yourself, and switch back to tank to finish it off. This is mainly because only the class manager NPC lets you switch to OTHER classes. In the field you can only switch between your current main and sub classes. So it's not like you can walk around changing between all 6 classes at will (warrior, priest, mage, monk, hunter, rogue).
- You do get 2x exp rate while leveling if your other class is higher leveled than it. This is supposed to compensate for not having quests available for your later class choices, but frankly imo it doesn't help too much... because: see summary below.
- You get a quest which rewards you with a pet at around level 11-12, and another at around level 30. The pet is basically like a sidekick who helps attack your current target. It levels up separately (you need to find monsters suitable for it's level), but doesn't gain exp if your current class is equal or lower level with it. I'd say utility-wise it's only marginally helpful.
- Some NPCs sell pots to restore pet health, but frankly it's easier to just resummon: a dead pet automatically unsummons, but can be resummoned instantly, and it "comes back" with full hp. There's a cooldown to the summon though, about 1 minute, so you can't exactly keep resummoning the pet indefinitely in the face of way stronger opposition.
- You get a quest around level 20 which rewards you with a mount. You can also buy mounts from the mount NPC (very expensive), or the Item Mall @ Cash Shop. Most mounts have a level requirement though. You can only do melee attacks while on a mount, iirc. They're mostly there for faster movement. Oh, and mounts also have hp like pets. So you can't really use them to blaze through exploring high level areas since they'll get killed and you'll find yourself dismounting in the middle of a Very Dangerous Place. You can just resummon them but they'll "come back" with only 1 hp. Simply buy mount hp pots to restore their health.
- Mounts gain exp while being ridden, and only a very tiny bit if you fight on them (like 0.01%?). So most people level their mounts by just afking on them in town overnight. Kinda lame, but oh well. Leveling a mount changes their appearance after certain levels (as well as increasing their hp, presumably). Not known if it increases their movement speed, although this would've been mentioned prominently if true, so I guess it isn't.
- Mounts and Pets are unsummoned when you switch classes, so you can't be sneaky and try switching classes to let your level 5 rogue ride that level 45 mount, for example.
- Also, if your character is currently in a low level class, say level 15, while your pet has already been leveled way high, say level 30... it will only act as a level+5 pet of your current class. So you can't use it to sneakily try to level on way stronger monsters...
...and besides, there are very strict exp penalties on monsters too low or too high above you. The optimum exp gain, 100%, seems to be on monsters -2 to +5 your current class's level.
- Drop rate seems more lenient though, I remember whacking level 1 mobs with my level 20 char and still getting the occasional drop. Also, fashion drops are about as common as regular drops, this is the first game in which I saw this. Yay Holic.
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Good / Bad / Ugly:
Residing at GMT+8 has familiarized me with internet lag, and I'm happy to say Holic doesn't suffer from much. The main reason the game isn't already flooded with people is because (I believe) most potential players are turned off by the non-customizable stats and skills, and further by no pvp or even dueling.
Leveling is fairly fast at low levels, and the regen when you sit down to recover hp/mp is quite fast. You'll want to use potions later on though, but for <15 you can do just fine without (unless you're the real impatient type). Money isn't too plentiful though, so you might not want to blow everything you have on pots.
The bad news is that the grind ramps up really fast. At low levels <10 I was leveling up like every other few minutes (the quests help a lot)... at level 20+ I was already only getting like 0.3% per kill. And on optimum exp monsters too (1-5 levels higher). This is another huge drawback for me. I'm used to grinding, hell I even enjoy it. And Holic's grind isn't too bad in other aspects: skills cast pretty fast, there's hardly any cast animation lag, etc. But the abysmal exp gain is just too much.
There's aoeing, but frankly it seems a dangerous prospect: for one, you only get skills as you level up, so most of your aoes at first will be low. The major problem is that pots have a cooldown... and a pretty long one at that. You won't be hotkey-mashing to heal yourself, it isn't possible. The cooldown time is like 20 sec (no, I'm not kidding). Therefore you'll be forced to find a priest to heal you while you aoe. Not a bad thing if you have a trusted/RL friend, but if you're a soloer, forget it.
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TL:DR; summary: Holic is very cheerful and colourful. You can play ALL classes on one character since nothing, not even exp or stats or skills, carry over. Hardly any lag. There's no pvp. Skills and stats are, unfortunately, auto-allocated. Grind exp starts off decently but quickly bottoms out way too early.
Play it if you have loads of time to spare and feel like checking out what "multi-classing" looks like. However, Holic is a prime example of Doing It Wrong -- precisely because there's no bonus/penalty in multiclassing, so it makes no difference if you start class X on a new char or on your old char.
If you love pk and pvp and huge crowds of people to find someone to be friends with and talk to, look elsewhere. It's a pretty small community so far, and the way the game is, I don't expect it to attract too many people.
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Damn, finally a multi-classing MMO! Unfortunately it seems the devs don't have a clue how to implement it: it's pretty obvious that it's just a "tacked-on" feature, there for the sake of being there. Just look at MUD (text-based!) games for example, they had multi-classing, and multi-class balancing, for years... hell, decades.
Also, the game seems rushed, because there really isn't all that much to look forward to: the exp grind is horrible, why? To slow people down. Why? Perhaps because there IS nothing else to do? Not that this is unknown (most MMOs are pointless grindfests), but hobbling the exp just to slow people down from getting to the end content... well, it just doesn't fly.
People WILL move on to other games anyway. Today is a buyer's market in MMOs. If your game sucks, people will just turn elsewhere. This is why, imo, devs shouldn't resort to such crude artifices like lowering the exp rate just to keep people at the lower-end areas of a game.
Of course I realise there are school kids who are able to 24/7 plow through a game's first 50 levels in a single day. However, you shouldn't design your games around THEM. A great majority of players now are working adults, who can manage maybe 1-2 hours a day (double that on weekends, if lucky). If I'm only getting like 60% exp of a level around level 20+ after an entire daily session, I'm just gonna move on. No game is worth grinding THAT much. I can accept a tedious grind at the mid-end-game levels... but not at level 20+. I haven't even gotten most of my skills, ffs.
" In Defeat, Malice; In Victory, Revenge! "