It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!
As the NDA has been lifted, or abandoned, or whatever, I thought I'd take the time out to share some impressions I have gathered from Wizardry Online.
I should start out by saying that after only a short while playing the game, it has utterly charmed me. It's mixture of modern MMO combat with an old school RPG twist is, frankly, brilliant. Wizardry may not be anything new (certainly the franchise itself is quite old), but the novelty of an MMO that doesn't pander to the type of player looking for easy access or an easy ride is pleasant in and of itself, and makes me keen to progress through the game yet further.
That isn't to say that Wizardry is perfect, because it isn't.
Character creation is a breathe of fresh air for an MMO. Over the years, homogenisation has led to a character creation process scant on hard decisions. We tend to see this more as a chance to "pick the race we like the look of", rather than the first set of crucial decisions that we will make to shape our character. Wizardry Online unashamedly brings back decisions making with vengeance. Certain races favour certain classes, as the base stats for each race differ wildly. Humans, for example, are a neutral class with a fairly balanced distribution of base stat points. Elves however come with high Int, making them ideal Mages but not-so-ideal fighters. Obivously this decisions is largely rudimentary; most of us will pick the race that best favours our class, but you can always pick a race that doesn't favour a particular class just to see how you get on. The point is that your very first decision has an active impact on your character.
Once you've chosen your race, the game will then roll a random number of bonus stat points for you to spend. That's right; a dice roll! You may get 7, or 4, or 8, but regardless of how many you get, where they go is entirely up to you. You may choose to stack a particular stat (such as me stacking int on my elf mage), or you may choose to spread the points out amongst stats that are underpowered (such as balancing int stack with some vit, for example). The stat system is fairly easy to understand, as it runs on the same style as any DnD ruleset. Again, it's nice to be able to have a choice here that allows you to tweak your character to favour whatever style of play you're going to attempt.
Next in the character creation process is your alignment. Alignments come in the form of Lawful, Neutral, or Chaotic, and your choise of alignment has far reaching implications for your character. Some items in the game, for example, enjoy alignment restrictions, and alignment also dictates which classes you may roll; you cannot, for example, create a Lawful Thief.
The actual customisation options for your character's look are limited at best, but as a stat fiend I really don't mind this at all. The fact that the few decisions you do make have such impact on your characters actual and tangible performance in the game is more than enough to make the character creation process involving and compelling, without the need for endless aesthetical options.
The tutorial element of the game requires a LOT of patience; the inability to skip cutscenes, combined with snails-pace text scrolling during cinematic and in-game conversations is off putting, to say the least. You will find yourself leaving the machines - as I did - for pretty significant periods of time whilst you wait for whatever boring and uneventful cutscene to play out to its end. You'll also thoroughly enjoy the tediousness of the tutorial missions, which will see you running around, talking to vendors who will explain to you what they do and how you use them. As if that wasn't enough, the game will then pop up a tutorial window re-explaining what the NPC you just spoke to has already explained. I personally found myself spam-clicking through the conversations in favour of reading the tutorial panes. After playing through the tutorials and getting to the post-tutorial content, I really don't think the opening cinematics are required. Clearly it's designed to give the game some sort of context, but - and much like Dark Souls before it - the story is so loose and flimsy that I couldn't really care any less about why I'm doing what I'm doing: I just want to get on with it. Whatever it may be. That said, the tutorial IS required; Wizardry Online isn't your commonal garden MMO, and the time should be taken to thoroughly absorb the information provided to you. Perhaps it could have been executed more succinctly, but the information the tutorial imparts is well worth know (and will save a huge amount of head scratching later on).
Once you get into the game, you'll realise that Wizardry Online is really just a dungeon crawler in the same category as titles like Diablo 2 and Dark Souls. Every mechanic and system seems to have been built around the idea that the game is supposed to be hard, and you're supposed to think about what you're doing. Fighting monsters isn't simply about spamming a particular ability to the inevitable end point, but also about environmental awareness, strategic decisions making, and learning. There are techniques to dealing with particular types of monsters, and you will learn these techniques as you fight. This, again, is a breathe of fresh air in a genre that doesn't enjoy huge variety of game play from game-to-game; whilst Wizardry may not totally depart from that formula, it does add a lot of novel ideas to the mix to make things a little - sometimes a LOT - more interesting and entertaining. One such idea is the lack of health and mana regen, something you can only accomplish by leaving the dungeon you're in to rest at an inn. A point about the combat that is worth noting is that it isn't too hard at the start, but it is apparent that the game is building to being quite difficult. I look forward to that, as the combat system lends itself to hieghtened difficulty.
The itemisation in the game is also great! Items that drop in the field are generally unidentified, and you have to return to town to identify them. The nice thing is that you can still equip these items, and gain from their stat points (even though you don't know what they are). There's a flip side to this, however: some items are cursed, and will negatively impact your stats or abilities in a myriad as well. Wearing unidentified gear is a gamble, one that may pay off or backfire... but yet another important choice the game gives you.
Having to return to an inn simply to level up - where we are used to levelling in the field - may seem like an obstructive mechanic, but it's actually quite charming... especially with the "room" mechanics it has in place. Basically, there are several different rooms you can rent at an inn when you rest. The more expensive the room, the better the benefits you get to health regen and mana regen and - if you're levelling up - stat gains. The game encourages you to make yet more decisions: do you go for the more expensive of the rooms you can afford, or do you scale it back a little so that you have cash to spend on something else? The choice is important, and it yet again prompts you to think about what you're doing.
And now to the sticky issue: permadeath. Permadeath in Wizardry is always in the back of your mind, and you're aware that it CAN happen. Again however the game utilises some well placed RNG to make things a little different. Instead of simply dying when you... die... you are turned into a ghost. As a ghost, you must make your way to a Guardian Stone, where you will be given the chance to perform a resurrection roll (more dice!). At the start, you will mostly find yourself rocking a 100% res chance by default, but as you move through the game this will lower. Eventually you will actually have to start spending items and currency from your inventory to increase your res chance. I've been told that this isn't that hard, but it CAN and WILL catch you out. If you fail the roll, this is when you'll suffer permadeath. Permadeath is an ever present threat, but it is tactly handled and presented. You yet again have choices and decisions to make that can favour or hamper you, even in death.
The running theme here is this: Wizardry Online is all about choice and decision making. Instead of taking the approach that players don't wish to make the hard decisions, and simply want it all done for them, Wizardry Online sets out to make you think about what you're doing all the time.
Frankly, it's a great addition to the MMO genre. Even with some clunky combat problems, I'm having a HUGE amount of fun with the game... and I think I'll continue to have a huge amount of fun with the game. The guys at Gamepot have succeeded in delivering content and mechanics that SHOULD be infuriating and frustrating, but are actually well designed and implemented.
Right now, in its current state, I'd give it 8.5/10. I'll be playing this for a while.