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Neverwinter ala Cryptic sauce

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Sans titre

This new F2P MMO, engineered by Cryptic Studios, is available since a few days in open beta via Perfect World website. I have to admit that i’m not a big fan of their previous products. I really tried to get into their latest “Star Trek Online” mostly because of the IP and some friends played it. However, the game failed to impress me. Naturally, when i first heard that Cryptic was behind this project, i was a bit worried that another great licence would be damaged.

Prior to the OBT release, I played one CBT week-end and leveled a cleric up to level 24. In other words, I had a good time and therefore “pre-ordered” it. Mostly for the early access/mount but also considering the current lack of mmo to play.

On paper, its pretty much a regular medieval fantasy MMO using the “holy trinity” (tank/heal/dps) approach with instanced content, pvp in arenas, mounts, dwarfs and whatnots. The quest are also not very exciting with the usual tasks such as killing “20 ogres”, gather 10 items and so on. So what makes it interresting appart from being “the new shit” ?

Well, first and foremost the gameplay is surprinsingly good. Right away the general feeling is positive. Its fast paced, responsive and fun. You’ll cruise thru content pretty easily and level fairly quickly. Time spent is therefore quite (too much ?) rewarding. This definitely aint feeling like a hardcore Korean MMO.

I noticed a striking resemblance with Lord of the Rings Online. The graphics, UI & fonts looked very familiar if you played Turbine’s game.  I suspect they used an enhanced version of a middleware used by lotro ? I compared both UI, as you can see below its quite similar.

Lotro UI VS NW UI

Lotro UI VS NW UI

One nice feature is The Foundry. Basically its a tool to create a quest line with specific zones. Cryptic used their experience on a similar tool successfully developped for City of Heroes called the Mission Architect. So its not really new but still manage to create a large amount of user generated content (UGC). One major drawback are exploits. Some players awarded abnormally high rewards for their foundry quest, managing to gain several levels in an hour. This has already been fixed, with some players getting temporary bans.

I discovered a major exploit during the first few days. Basically a “magic” chest with infinite loot. I did it for a few hours in order to cash in on my finding and they fixed after i managed to get a full set of blue armor.  Some items where disappearing as I was looting too quickly (another bug) Check out the following justin TV video.

Trickster Rogues and Control Wizards are definitely the most OP classes at the moment. I can almost three shoot players while some other classes such as the Great Weapon Fighters can struggle. This has to change fast.

You generate too much glory (pvp currency) per PvP match and therefore can get a full set of purple PvP gear in no time with the proper team. You can then sell at the auction house other  PvP items you get since they are only bound when equiped, overflowing the economy with purple items.

Also, the prices on the in-game shop are waayyyy too expensive for what you get. Almost 50 pounds for a cool mount ? Really ?! Well its a good thing not to cap your revenues as a publisher, but taking your players for cash cows as Perfect Worlds does really gives a bad opinion of F2P generally speaking amoung the gaming community. I see many players prefering the old way with a monthly subscription rather than paying insance amount for the best cosmetic items.

So as you can see, major bugs, exploits and lack of balance are the main issues at the moment. I believe open beta should have not coincide with the release of the game. Indeed, players will keep their character when the OBT will be over. Cryptic is working hard to fix major exploit and bugs but I don’t see any improvements in the game balance yet,

Yet I still enjoy the game.. It’s full of new players running around and this is something I always enjoy at release as it gives the illusion of a busy living world. You don’t queue for a long time before finding a party. This will change pretty fast tho.  The hardcore crowd needs more harder loot/goals, getting a full purple set in a fortnight is not good. They are the shepherd of the community and Dev should not casually discard this.

Written by Fallanx

May 2, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Posted in Gaming -, MMORPG, Review

Tagged with ,

Tera: The Exiled Realm of Arborea

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I’ve been playing Tera on the korean server for over a month last march after Rift’s fiasco. This is the review i wrote once i cancelled my subsription.

Note that the game is not yet released in the west but will be published in Europe by Frogster and by En Masse Interactive in US. For the record En Masse Interactive is a branch of Blue Hole studio, the Korean developper.

The first thing you’ll notice when you enter the game are similarities with NCsoft products, especially Lineage 2 for the graphic chart but also with Aion.  They share the same graphic engine in different versions; menus are also pretty much similars. As it is often the case in Korea, most of the dev team consist of ex-NCsofters.

As an exemple; this Tera loading screenshot (on the left) is clearly reffering to the original Aion’s tower of eternity (on the right).

 

Despite this, the game looks pretty hot; offering some good particule lightning effects and other treats for the eye. I would describe the graphic chart as an asian-fantasy gothic environment with a tendency toward the “cute and childish”. The game as a nice ambiance generally speaking but its pretty much a ripoff of L2 on steroids. UI is poor compared to the latest MMO; offering less than the regular basic options with only 2 sizeable action bars. You dont have much skills to use indeed but i’m used to more choices and don’t like to have to switch bars using alt etc; even rift was better on this. Gameplay is very arcadish, it can be played with an x-box controller and you can feel this very quicly with the basic commands. If you do so, wash your hand afterward 🙂

The strong feature of the game is dynamic combats; quite different from the regular mmos as you will have to dodge and evade alot using a skill every class get at low level; especially versus elite mobs and boss. The manual targeting system is also unusual and give the game a personnality. The heavy scripted AI provide also some epic fights in dungeon or vs outdoor elites mobs. However, fighting against regular mobs/packs in solo gets quickly repetitive despite varations in the mob types.

Instancied dungeons are also pretty boring after a couple of runs; despite the size of the boss encounters you end up grinding them in order to get rare drops.  Groups are at the center of the game, you will have to find fellow adventurers right from level 10 in order to keep going. Group quest are offered in all zones 20+ so far and mostly consists in killing huge elite mobs. Without a group you can managed to keep going but you will miss a massive part of the game and i believe you better choose another mmo if you plan to do so.

Regarding the classes, it seems to be a bit unbalanced but nothing major compared to other games using the same static class system. Patches adjust them on a regular basis; i personnaly prefer a skill point system, less discriminative toward new players and more open. I found my priest doing alot of DPS for a primary”support class” and sometime too few healing but I like his abilities & the general feeling. I found the character customisation pretty interresting; consisting in glyphs to enhance abilities, enchants and crystals to improve gears stats but i hoped for deeper specialisation. The quests are pretty bad, the craft system is not innovative at all, the instanced zones give you the feeling to play alone most of the time, there’s no housin either. The main story is also linear, with average quality cut scenes. I’ll skip the so called ‘”political system” which was mostly broken when i played the game, allowing guilds to get votes from any players regardless of their level; creating weird alliances with other servers to convince them to create a char to vote for you.

The PvP aspect was also very poor, with some sort of forced duel system in the wilderness or premade group combats in instanced battlegrounds. In either case you had to be level 40 at least to be able to participate in the PvP.

Overall, i had fun in PvE’ mostly because the combat system was a bit unusual for a MMO  and the game has an interresting graphic environment but it quickly gets old; and after a while i got the feeling to play a console game on PC with cool graphics.

Tera’s dev team tried to not just create another Korean MMORPG within an heroic fantasy world, the game has indeed some interresting features but overall they miserably failed to deliver a unique gaming experience. Patches might change it in the future but the game in his current state is not delivering enough to commit to it more than a month.

You can clearly see the arcadish approach on this capture i made. It might looks cool but after a while the freshness effect is dispelled by the lack of content.

Written by Fallanx

July 27, 2011 at 2:39 am