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I just wanted to chime in and share my experience with Allods this past weekend.
I played Allods briefly about two years ago after getting bored of Warcraft. I found it to be a sluggish wow-clone and immediately lost interest. I then gravitated toward Darkfall for the insanely brutal PVP, and was able to do that for a year or so.
Recently I got very into Swtor, but it started to fade off my radar about two months ago, and, at this point, you couldn't pay me to go back to World of Warcraft, pandas or not, or Darkfall, or any of the rest of the crap that's out there.
Then came the Beta weekend for Guild Wars 2. I have been looking forward to this game for several years. I was literally shocked by how much I didn't like it. I'm sorry, I know it's supposed to be next gen, but I was wildly disappointed, almost depressed actually. I would seriously rather invest time in Guild Wars 1 and not even be able to have the option to "space bar" (jump) then invest time in Guild Wars 2. It's fairly gorgeous, and it's fun for a while to just see the world... but I felt no sense of connection to what was happening in the game, I just couldn't get invested on any level.
So I heard that Allods has massively improved, and became curious. "How much better can it be? You can't polish a turd" was my thought.
Holy. Freaking. *&%#.
Allods is INCREDIBLE.
I don't remember being this entrenched/immersed in an MMO since Vanilla WoW. For the first time in six years, I couldn't pry myself away from the computer for a 15 hour block. I am HOOKED. Seriously, they might as well change the name, it is like an entirely new game. And yet, there it is, the same world, the same races.... I don't know how they did it, I guess just years of major polishing and devotion?
I'm not sure how they went from being one of the dullest games for questing and a worthless PVP offering, to boasting the single best Quest-mechanics I have EVER. FREAKING. SEEN. PERIOD. Dear God it's like sweet mana from heaven, it's so fluid and there are so many innovations, I'm not even going to be able to scratch the surface here. I have two words for you: Auto Move. AND the PVP is balanced. It's actually BALANCED. And the movement mechanics aren't crappy like Lotr or Conan, they're totally fluid and every bit as wonderful as one could hope for. And the sense of design and aesthetic put into the gear is totally bad ass, beautiful and unique. I've never been so happy to see a character in a deer antler helm with purple sunglasses before.
By the way, if you've ever played a hunter and a rogue in WoW, and wished you could combine them into one class, this is your game.
And the world is vast and the look/feel is such a staggering achievement: the blend of sci fi and fantasy, old west and the "dark arts" of magic, naval-like warship battles that take place in the astral plane.... all nestled in a weird, Russian ambiance, it's hard to look away from it. Unless you're auto moving of course.
And the community is soo damned great. Dare I say mature? I will say intelligent and decent and kind of awesome. So different from what I've become accustomed to.
I AM SHOCKED to be writing this. I honestly don't even know why I downloaded it, I was 100% sure it was going to suck damp, churning balls. And yet here I am, just totally stunned. This game is the king of the hill as far as I'm concerned. It's easily the most innovative MMO I've seen.
I own a print shop / cyber cafe, and I'm here in my shop, and I've got a life if you know what i mean... but right now I can't wait to get home and log in to Allods.
PS: here's how I approached the in game store: I told myself I wasn't going to spend more than what I would spend on a new game, so I gave myself a $60 budget. Since you can get a mount at level 4, i went ahead and got the most epic mount in the game. Then I bought a Magpie Feather, which will spawn into a bird and go get ALL OF YOUR Loot for you - nothing gets left behind. So you can just destroy everything around you and not even bother looting it, your bird goes and gets all of it. Then I bought a few stacks of 100% level increase buffs. Then I bought some gems that you need for something called "Runes" which is one of three ways you define your character's talents. (For people like me who looove talent trees and the way you can "shape" a character with skills and points and so forth, Allods is like an absolute wet dream). And guess what? I'm still 20 dollars under budget. It's the best $40 I've ever spent.
If anyone decides to try it out, look me up, I"m Luxurious, League side. On a final note, I almost always play darkside stuff in MMO's, but this game has a race called Gibberlings that I couldn't stay away from. Also, I find the starting zone for the league to have a lot more eyecandy-win than the "baddie" side.