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Well, I took the plunge into trying the game after seeing that it went free.
- Waited in beta for the game and never got the invite and were never even told the game launched via my email.
This was a sign to me in hindsight that they didn't cross all their T's and dot their I's and this could be part of why they had population problems. Here I was a fish on the line that gave them a way to communicate and even offered to do free work by beta testing and they didn't even alert me their game was done lol As I read around I've seen plenty of ppl suggest that the marketing isn't there and hasn't been so this seems like part of the overall problem - my little personal experience.
Regardless of all that - on to the mini-review!
Starting out the tutorial was nice. I could see this as a stepping introduction to someone that never played an mmo. They went thru everything movement wise and had targets to connect with as mini goals to try out the controls. Quite enjoyable little intro.
Hey, there are ppl here. Ppl were chatting in the channels about the game and other games they have played. They seemed kind to each other and there were even ppl speaking other languages than english so it was a decent community impression. There were a few players advertising their guild in the starter area and some offering help to new ppl. The starter town had some quests and let me practice fighting more. The spawns are not gentle and you can become quickly covered in multiple mobs so you learn quickly when to run.
The controls are a bit different in WASD. You can remap them if you like but I ended up getting used to them with practice. Strafe is not Q and E, instead it's A and D so the former become turning directionally. The rest was pretty familiar or intuitive I for inventory, makes sense. G for guild etc.
There is one thing they did here that I really like. Instead of clicking once on an npc or player then selecting options, you right click and a menu of selections fly out from the center area where your cursor lies. You then release the mouse button when you are hovering your selection.
For example, one npc has a quest and also has a vendor shop. Normally you would click the npc and they would ask what you want to do, talk about the quest or browse the shop. That is at least 2 clicks to get to the goal.
In the example for this game you right click and your menu of both selections arises one on top and one on bottom, the quest and the shop. Where you release your right click will make the selection for you. This in my eyes is a boost in usability! Less clicking will make my wrist happy. I was very impressed by this menu system.
All of the boxes that show the content are not movable that I can find. Bad thing BUT they did put in these little lock/unlock options on the side of them that will shove them off of the screen when they are not in use. I have not researched if they have any macros.
During grouping I was enthralled to see a greed all option in the loot window once again cutting down the click, click, click. Speaking of the loot window I liked that I don't have to loot a body, I can even move away from it and the loot stays there in queue waiting for me to make a decision to collect it or not. There may be a maximum distance but I doubt it's far enough to be a concern because I died once and my loot window was still waiting so even porting away didn't delete it.
Zooming in and out is non-existent that I've encountered. Sometimes I want to zoom out so that I can see behind me! That I surely do miss since creatures seem to come out of nowhere and are hidden well in shadows in the game. What I really need is a rear-view mirror :P
The music is moody and fantastic. Sometimes the combat sounds seem loud but they do have some controls to adjust sound, I just haven't figured out which might be specific to combat so sadly I've just been turning the main volume down.
I guess there really isn't any in the way I'm used to - harvest then click to create stuff. Occasionally you get random loot by killing mobs that says resources or recipes but they are crafted by the npcs and there is little information that leads you to know what mobs will drop a resource unless you have encountered it or a quest gives clues. I see no harvest materials around on the scenery or a profession to harvest them. This is a bit of a downer, I always liked crafting in other mmos.
Graphics and Lag
Beeauutifrickinful - I have a nice computer but the graphics card isn't prime for gaming. It's a 3400. As I played Vanguard which is using the same engine as this game I have horrid lag. I have to turn it down to looooow graphics especially when grouped or I notice things being choppy. Things like not being able to navigate my toon thru a door because I don't turn quick enough. In this game tho something is different because I can crank it up. I can run on high and the only time I lagged was during a group fight with multiple mobs so soloing I never see an issue. It's nice to be able to turn up a game's graphics for once when it says unreal engine: ) They coded something different somewhere and for my particular computer, it works.
I like the art style. It's actually the way I draw - bent edges. Houses don't look block-like, they look like they were made of tin and a giant crushed them like a can - they are imperfect - in some ways asymmetric and it's nice to see. It sort of suspends my belief that I'm looking at blocks just textured to resemble depth. Fences are similar too - think wooden fence, rickety and not shorn straight. Hopefully this is just not present in the 2 zones I've been in. It's cool and I'm looking forward to more of it. The muted but glowy colors remind me of Brian Froud artwork, pleasing.
Even the ground is unlevel so that I can't see as far ahead as normal. I see the trees and such - I'm speaking now about ground level. It's pretty rolling and this adds to the immersion for myself because there is a roller coaster of not fear not being able to see over small hills what may be coming toward my path. I can easily stumble into creatures that like to hide in the shadows but if I'm careful like a hunter I don't get surprised, I just have to be more aware.
and quests and quests and...
I think this is the majority of the gameplay. They are written well enough. Not quite as good as LOTRO imo because they don't all seem to have as much personality in the npcs. I seem to find those that are either ecstatic to see my questing for them or those that think I'm a nobody that shouldn't speak in their presence, maybe later on more quirky personalities arise. I have not found one typo yet and I find typos all the time in quests. They do use the word tugging/tugger a lot and I have to believe its a european version of our F word the way it's used in context but part of what makes it seem like it's the same speaker for each quest when they use similar slang repetitively.
Combat and Aggro
Fun fun and more fun. We needed this in the mmo world. It's something new and I won't explain it completely but it's almost impossible to think about this game and not notice the combat differences in the standard - drag skills to hotbar and click . The skills you set up are in a rotating deck.
For example, Say you have 3 skills available. You set them into the deck and as something from row 1 is used the ui changes to row 2 and those skills are now open for use, after you use something from row two or the time expires for that row, row 3 becomes available. You can repeat skills on each row so that one particular skill is always available, your choice. Cooldown timers are still active so you don't avoid those but you have no mana/ energy/ endurance so you have the potential to fight for a long, long time.
I could spend 20 minutes easily typing about the combat. I plan on making a video and showing it on the net one day to show what I've learned about working with the reticule because you don't just select something and attack, you must target most skills on the enemy you wish to attack! That's part of what makes it fun.
Aggro is a bit crappy. I don't think you really own the mob. At one point I started a quest and boars came running at me, someone began attacking the mobs and as far as I can tell - they received credit for defeating them even tho I had started the process and they probably were the looter, with fighting myself I could not tell.
Training - good golly this is rampant. Folks run past you with fear in their eyes and dump mobs all over you sometimes and it happens right when you are doing aoe of course. I can't tell if it's intentional or just running wild or if they even know what training is when they perform it but in time obviously I would notice a troublemaker that repeatedly stole my kills or trained me. For now I'll just hope it's just panic thinking to run toward another player hoping that they may help you if you see them in the distance.
Overall I can say I like it. I'm not sure if just doing quests will burn me out on it if that is the extent of the content but for now, it's fun and I'd say this game is worth a test run if you haven't tried it.