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...is what I call this game, personally.
I remember when I first heard of Wakfu, I couldn't get excited because I expected it to be done poorly. If you're like me, you've been waiting for something similar to a "Final Fantasy Tactics Online" type game for a long time. Well wait no longer. I'm writing this post after playing open beta (which started recently and is still going on at the moment), because I can tell that this game isn't getting the attention it should be. Below is my "review" of Wakfu.
[1. The Basics]
Wakfu is developed by a French company called Ankama Games, and published by Square-Enix in North America. It is a turn-based strategy MMORPG, and a sequel to "Dofus," from which Wakfu's gameplay and universe is based. Combined with some loony humor and a magnificently flowing artstyle, Ankama has brought us something truly creative - and fresh! Yes, finally, something DIFFERENT for once!
Earlier last year it was announced that Wakfu would be officially released in February 2012. This still seems to be the case.
There will be 14 classes, 11 are currently playable in open beta. I've played most of the available ones and they feel incredibly unique.
There are 8 crafting professions and 6 harvesting professions. Professions feel important in Wakfu, and it seemed that there were no vendor NPCs to sell items or junk to - every item dropped from enemies has a purpose in crafting. This also means that the economy is completely player run, by selling items from your "Haven Bag" (player housing) or from a local city market board. Harvesting is just as important, not only because of acquiring crafting materials, but because players can actually plant trees and vegetation around the world so that they can grow and be re-harvested. And yet, this is still not the only purpose. Each region has a leader who will have certain preferences on what and how many of a certain resource or enemy (enemies can also be grown and harvested!) reside in their region. As an example, a region leader might want between 200-300 tiles of wheat in his region. When the amount of wheat has reached this threshold, citizens of the region's nation will gain statistical bonuses to help them in combat.
There are 4 nations to choose alignment with. Once chosen, you can begin obtaining citizenship points by satisfying region leaders. At a certain rank you can vote for players running for governor, or take matters into your own hands and run yourself! Governors can set tax rates, change nation laws, or even make allies or enemies of other nations - OR, the Governor can choose their own aides to fill these various roles.
[2. UI, Graphics, Sound]
When you load Wakfu, you immediately get the feel that this game is polished. The soundtrack is beautiful with an asian tone, and it just makes you feel right at home. The sound effects are silly and cute and everything fits together perfectly. While I did feel that the UI was lacking some information, for the most part it is fine. I can be very picky when it comes to UI!
The artwork of Wakfu is just simply amazing... I love hand-drawn games. Keep in mind when trying out this game that it is not a graphically detailed game. It's very cartoony/animeish, and while it may not be full of eye candy like some modern MMOs, it still looks great. Wakfu's graphics make the most out of the game's strange humor as well, as enemies and NPCs are either cute or just plain silly looking - along with their odd personalities!
I'm going to describe what a day of logging in to play some Wakfu consists of, but first I'd like to get character creation and the brief tutorial out of the way...
The UI will give you a brief description and a few example abilities of each class, but of course it doesn't do any justice to actually playing the class yourself. I found it easy to enjoy any class I played, and I was surprised by how different and fun each one was. At character creation you don't have much control over the appearance of your character, but this is moot since you'll be covered in equipment anyhow. You can however choose from 3 different hairstyles and an array of hair and skin colors, and 1 of 5 starting outfits.
You begin the game in Incarnum, a land built in the clouds. From here you'll learn the basic functions of combat and harvesting, and you'll also have the option of choosing to become a recruit of one of the 4 nations. At this point you don't HAVE to choose, you can actually get well passed level 20 without ever stepping foot in one of these nations.
Once you leave Incarnum, you'll be thrown into Astrub, which is the center of the world. Anyone from any nation can roam here and it appears that you cannot be attacked by other players in this area. This is a great place to become part of the community and begin friendships with other players, as you'll also have access to several dungeons in this area (a prime way of leveling and gearing up).
Combat follows the traditional turn-based strategy ruleset. The order in which each player and enemy takes their turn is determined by the Initiative stat. When it is your turn, you can spend Action Points to perform abilities, or Wakfu Points for special skills. There are also Movement Points, and all 3 of these point sets are refreshed to full upon the start of each person's turn (unless debuffed otherwise!). Being quick and making decisions with haste will benefit you greatly in Wakfu, thanks to the bonus gauge. The faster you act, the quicker the gauge fills up, until eventually you can choose from a bonus such as increased damage or extra movement points.
As I said before, each class is truly unique and it won't take you long to see this yourself. I recommend doing some grouping for dungeons as this will really open your eyes to how fun the classes are. All of your abilities are acquired very early in the game, and increase in power based on how many times you've used said ability. Special skills are upgraded through points gained by leveling up. When combining certain skills and abilities, you can make a real difference in combat!
Throughout the world you will find a plethora of roaming creatures and resources. From many of these, you can acquire items to spawn both creatures and resources. It really feels like the player has actual control over the ecosystem and environment. You'll need to be careful though, as not only can region leaders have preferences over what resides in their area, but Governors can also set laws that criminalizes the harvesting of certain resources or slaying of certain creatures. Breaking the law will flag you as an Outlaw, and you can then be attacked on sight by anyone. If while flagged as an Outlaw you become engaged and defeated by another player, you will then be sent to jail (or you can turn yourself in). After serving your time and maybe doing a little hard labor, your Outlaw status will be revoked and you will be freed.
Crafting might also be part of your life in Wakfu. Food, furniture, and equipment can all be crafted from items dropped from creatures and resource nodes. In a game where the economy is completely player run, crafting will be very important.
Politics will play a huge and interesting role in the game. I'd like to bring up a moment between 2 players that I witnessed while I was browsing the market board. A player (let's name him Phil) notices another player (Robert) who has been deemed with Guard status by the current Governor. Phil smirkishly points out Robert, which begins the conversation. Phil tells Robert that when the current front-runner (Jacob) is elected to replace the current Governor, Phil will be taking Robert's job as Guard. Robert however, warns Phil that Jacob is a greedy good-for-nothing and that Robert's guild will be killing Jacob on sight. He expresses that if Phil is to defend Jacob, then he will killed as well. Phil rejects the warning, saying he's only using Jacob and that he currently doesn't have plans to defend him, but follows with his own warning - that Phil's guild could give Robert's guild a run for their money! After witnessing this moment, I thought to myself, wow, this is just like classic politics!
As you can see, Wakfu really stands out from other MMOs. I've been looking forward to a game with a bit more freedom for quite some time. I'm thrilled for the game to go live next month so I can take it seriously (can't really do that in beta, can ya?) and begin my life in this incredible game. I will try to answer any questions anyone may have, but I'd also like to recommend visiting www.wakfu.com and wakfu.wikia.com for further details and information. I suggest that if you are at all interested in this genre, that you immediately go to wakfu.com and try the game yourself!
See you there!