Monday, February 1, 2010

Many people are enjoying Allods. Me, not so much.

So Keen, from Keen & Graev's, wrote a nice piece entitled “Max Level in Allods Online: The Adventure is just beginning...” He has been hitting the Allods Online beta pretty hard, and has written a number of interesting posts about it - and as that title suggests, he's pretty impressed by the game. So I was maybe a little impolitic in saying:

..I’ve spent quite some hours in the various phases of closed beta, and while it’s all very competently done, I find it absolutely 100% bland, derivative and boring. I’m struggling to say there’s even a single element that I have seen in Allods which is in any way interesting to me, given that I’ve already played WoW, LOTRO, EQ2, WAR and various other fantasy MMORPGs. I certainly can’t imagine ever playing through Allods long enough to get anywhere near its endgame. Maybe the world needs another race/class/level quest-to-endgame-and-then-PvP sword & sorcery themepark MMO. But I don’t.

Back when I first mentioned Allods in passing, my feelings were reasonably positive. And when a number of commenters on Keen's post suggested that the Empire faction was the one to play if you wanted a change from the standard sword & sorcery setting, I was reminded that I did indeed play Empire on my first spell of closed beta.

When I came back for closed beta round 4, though, I played the League faction (an Elf Demonologist, to be precise), and if the Empire is "a far cry from the usual small village in a lightly forested, lightly hilly piece of Olde Englishe countryside," the League certainly is not. Once I was out of the introductory zone and approaching the city of Novograd, I was deep in cod-medieval "kill ten wolves .. kill ten bears .. kill ten boars" territory.

And I think that without the steampunk gloss of the Empire faction to distract me, I was really struck by just how uninteresting the game itself was, to me. I put in a day of pretty solid play on CB#4, and I just don't think there was anything in the gameplay that made me think "wow, that's fresh."

Select from two factions - same as WoW, WAR, EQ2, etc. Select a race. Select a class. Same as pretty much every MMO in history. You've got a button bar with a few abilities. You've got a health bar and a mana bar. Same as everything else. There's a guy standing in front of you offering a quest. You do quests, and the combat they entail involves targeting monsters and tapping your ability buttons until they die. You level up. Levelling up allows you to pick a stat to increase and a talent point to spend - a system which, although it isn't the same as any recent MMO I've played, is much the same as Diablo II. Add in some rep grinds with items to buy at various rep levels - just like WoW and LOTRO - and I was yawning.

Crafting I didn't really get to test out. I intended to try tailoring on my Demonologist, so I took dismantling first, in order to get some cloth to tailor with.. and then discovered that you only get one tradeskill unless you spend hundreds of gold to get access to a second. So I can't comment on that area of the game.

Look, it's all very slick and polished - and it's free to play - so I'm sure a lot of people will enjoy it. The endgame of astral ship combat does sound fresh, if you can get that far. But I've probably played ten or more sword & sorcery MMOs, to various degrees, and I really need something different if it's to stand any chance of luring me away.

Coming up next - a game which probably won't capture me long-term, but which is undeniably different from the competition: Atlantica Online.

1 comment:

  1. I'd have to disagree.

    I'd agree that there's not a lot new in Allods. But there is a fair amount that's newish, underused, or spread out across other MMOs that I find pleasantly collected.

    The talent/rubies mix is interesting to me. Sure, Final Fantasy has had talent grids, but the mix of points spent in talents (1/2/3 ranks and points) combined with the talent grids is neat.

    Most classes have a feature that's either unique or underused. Mages have Entropy, which encourages cycling of spells, and creates a metagame. Sure, it's similar to WAR's wizard build ups, but I think it's done better with the three elements.

    Scouts are viable as both melee and ranged. Ranged scouts get the quiver mechanic, which I haven't really seen anywhere else in that way.

    Paladins have the buffers, which again is an entire metagame in and of itself in playing with the damage, moving it, mitigating it.

    Warriors aren't tanks! That right there did it for me. Warriors can tank trash mobs like crazy, but have no real abilities in terms of boss tanks. They're damage. I like that.

    The melee healer is rarely done, but AO has a very viable melee healer spec (which will likely be mocked end game, but it's fun until then). I could continue, but....

    I've seen people say that Allods is actually more like WAR than WoW, and I tend to agree. But it's a WAR that doesn't have WAR's issues....

    I think, for me, Allods is a quite good game, with a number of elements I really, a very high level of polish, and, most importantly, it's free.

    Also, astral ships, and gibberlings.