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Hello, I am here today to share my exprience with Allods Online with you to answer your quetions if this game is -Any good? -Fun? - P2W? -Has a healthy community? - Worth spending time and money on? -Has a future?
-WARNING: THIS IS GONNA BE LONG, TL:DR AT THE END.
Before I begin, let me just state my experience with the game, I am playing this game for over year and half (with breaks), I leveled 3 toons to level 51 (the max), done all the endgame contents of this game (minus some bosses in endgame raids), experienced all the different classes, playstyles, made class guides that got me 2nd and 3rd places, used the itemshop extensively for times or for some time not even once. So overall you can say I have vast experience with the game, so what I'm gonna say is 100% valid, accurate and true.
So lets start.
is this game any good? In general yes, on the surface it is a F2P game, you don't have to spend even a dime on this. You got many classes and races to pick from, the leveling is okish with the usual "go kill 10 of these, go gather 10 of those" quests, and occasional dungeons, the atmosphere of the game is really polished and well done too, the graphics are clean and nice, with a special mention to the astral space with his VERY unique setting, and overall the game is very welcoming at first glance. We will come back to this question when I finish with the other questions.
Is this game fun? AO as a whole can be a lot of fun, leveling your toon, seeing how he grows stronger with more and more skills, aquiring cool looking and strong gear, doing astral rides and batteling huge bosses with parties and raids.
But fun is a subjective term, so we will have to go back to this question at the end too.
P2W? Depends who you ask, if you ask the die-hard veterans of AO they'll tell you this game isn't P2W, you can earn everything in the store without spending a single $, they'll also give you countless examples of people they that got everything from the store for free.
But if you ask a normal AO player, they'll must certainly tell you this game is as P2W as it can be. Why? first because the game shop actually has items that give you a raw advantage over others in form of more damage and defence % called runes, those runes range from level 1 to 13, and they require 3 things to create, level 1 runes which can be bought from vendor, gold dust which can be bought from vendor, and lastly crystal chips which can only be bought from the game shop or other players. Those crystals are over priced both in shop and when trading with others.
I encourage you to google "allods online rune calculator" and see for yourself how much do the higher levels cost, something around 100K crystal chips for 1 rune, if you compare that with the shop's rune price you'll reach amazing and shocking numbers of cash you'll need in order to obtain those. "So they are probably very rare and no one got them" Wrong, many AO veterans over the course of the years got them, and its up to you new AO player to reach them if you want to play competitive with them.
Other cash shop P2W items are combat mounts (available only in AO NA), potent elixirs giving more stats, higher patronage level (more damage %), and the strongbox items.
Oh, the strongbox items, those strongboxes could drive even the most chill man in the world insane, What are they? well once in a while there is a special sale that offers one type of those strongboxes, in them you'll find many P2W items such as extra earring slot, trinket that buffs your damage and defence stats, more rubies (to upgrade skills), more talents points, more stats points, etc. All those items are HEAVILY P2W items that can make the world difference between a player who has them all and a player who don't.
Now the best part about those items is that, you can only get them from those strongboxes or from other players (very overpriced), but how those strongboxes work? simple, you know lottery? the same darn way. You basically got a very small chance with each opened strongbox to earn that P2W item, and a very high chance to win some other trash loot, so some people can be lucky and win their item on first try, others can ever open 100 of those and not get it, so in a sense, it's AO playing with your money.
AO veterans would not know this feeling a new player has because they play for years and over the time acquire all those items, but for new players? You'll need:
-Mount: The areas in the game are big and you get a horse mount for a limited time so you have to buy a mount, which are very overpriced from players, so must sane people would buy them from the shop.
-Extra bag space: the default bag is so tiny it's funny, you'll NEED more bag space when you reach higher levels.
-Runes: All the serious guilds in the game would only let you in with at least 6 runes levels 6-7+, all endgame content in the game can be done with 6 runes level 4+ (below it'll be very hard for you and your party).
-P2W strongbox items: don't even bother trying to get those from other players, they are really overpriced, so only shop.
and the list goes on and on, now of course you can just reach level 51 and grind-grind-grind gold to buy those items, but it'll take a long time and there is absolutely no fun in that. (grinding same areas, same mobs for what seems to be like eternity). So if you use the shop to buy those items, overall price range between 100-500$ depends on your luck.
Has a healthy community? No, both in europe and NA the population is really low (especially europe), all the way to level 51 endgame you'll see very few players or none, at level 51 you have your big guild mafias, controlling the endgame GvG system, most of them are arrogant, power feeded kids which won't welcome you at all.
AO's community as a whole is very sick, just try speaking your mind about the game at their forums, you'll get life threats very soon. The population is dying and more and more players leave, leaving the veteran players all by themselves to play "gods" with the game.
Because the population is so low, it'll be very difficult for you to do endgame content as you'll have very long queue for PvP battlegrounds, very long waiting time to gather a party for astral, etc.
So you left to play with those "game gods", which because of the P2W items are far far ahead of you and can basically one-shot you whenever they wish.
Last 2 questions I'll answer together, is AO worth spending time and money on, and if AO has a future?
In my honest opinion no and no. Why? while AO has updates from time to time which can make the game seems very alive at first glance, you have to remember this game originates from Russia, and there the game is very active and profitable. In NA and EU the game is dying and very non profitable, which can be seen by gpotato's revenue reports of losing a lot of money, and by the announcment of webzen buying the dying gpotato.
In Russia AO is their national pride, THEIR mmorpg, and this can be seen by their huge community there.
In europe and NA this is not the case, as there are tons more of other F2P and subscription mmorpgs.
Also as I said the game has a huge problem with population, because mainly AO is very not new players friendly, the game at first is complicated, very cash shop based, and lacking begginers so you'll have hard time playing alone all the time.
Is it worth to spend time and money on? I believe not, you got much better games out there that have big and prospering communities, F2P games with no P2P items whatsoever, non grindy nature, etc etc.
The only reason I see if someone wants to start playing this game is if they start playing it with their friends and they commit, as playing this as a solo player is a very hard and harsh time.
So to answer my first questions, is it any good? fun? depends on you, after you read all that I've talked about here, what do you think?
TL:DR- Very P2W, dying community, grindy, VERY harsh for new players, not worth your time.
I'll be visiting from time to time to answer your further questions, until then, Tera F2P here I come.