After quitting World of Warcraft about a year ago, I haven’t played much in terms of MMORPGs. Sure, I did dabble in Aion for a short while, but I found it ultimately uninteresting and did not renew the subscription when my complimentary review period ran out. The lack of such long-term gaming commitments was not altogether a bad thing. It allowed me to spend more time playing other games; 2009 was my most productive gaming year ever, with 19 games beaten. On the other hand, I did miss a persistent, neverending world. I also missed all the good times I enjoyed with my last WoW guild. BloodBonded was full of amazing people, and we shared some really great gaming moments together.
Surely it comes as no surprise that I was keeping an eye out for a new MMORPG that I could play. I tried Free Realms, which is geared towards children and so wasn’t very appealing to me. I also gave another shot to the newly free Dungeons & Dragons Online, but wasn’t as impressed by it as I was the first time I tried it. Lastly, since I’m not a “Star Trek” fan, I wasn’t really interested that one either.
I must say I am marginally interested in Bioware’s Old Republic MMO, as well as whatever Blizzard is still keeping under veils. One game that I am really curious about is Funcom’s Secret World, but from what I’ve heard it won’t be out anytime soon. Overall, things looked as though I had only two choices: either go back to WoW or just ignore the MMO genre for the time being. Recently, however, two games entered open beta stages, and both sounded interesting enough to warrant taking a look. One is called Mortal Online, and the other Allods Online.
Mortal Online has some interesting game mechanics and is worth a mention if only for its non-standard (that means un-WoW-like) approach to the genre. There is no leveling. Instead, your attributes rise as you use various skills that involve them. Chopping wood raises my strength, for example. Aside from a 10-slot quick bar, there are no buttons to press. Everything but simple attacks is done via slash commands. For instance, when I found a bunch of weasels, I was able to tame one of them by typing /tame. I couldn’t figure out how to make it follow me, though.
Then I decided that running is for losers and figured I should get a horse to ride. When I tried to tame a horse, however, it found my actions disagreeable and killed me. Instead of getting a mount, I was forced to find a shrine to get resurrected. The world seems very large and a shrine could be far away, but they are easy to identify from afar because of the pillars of light they project in the spirit world. I suspect I should cut a whole lot of wood before I can try fighting, because it’s disturbing the ease with which a horse killed me.
MO uses Unreal-3 engine and looks plausible, except for the player models, which all look almost scary for some reason. This is just a beta though, so chances are a lot of things are going to be worked out before the game is released. Generally it seems interesting, with all of its skills, abilities and different ways of playing it. Time will tell whether it’s a game to which I’d be willing to subscribe, but for now I will continue exploring the beta.
Allods Online is being developed by Nival, a Russian company that made Etherlords, Heroes of Might and Magic V and Blitzkrieg. This game is set in the world of Allods, another Nival IP. If you remember Rage of Mages I and II, as well as Evil Islands, you are familiar with the setting. Unlike MO, AO is very WoW-like in terms of mechanics and interface. Everything is bright and pretty, from interiors to characters. Even the monsters I’ve seen so far are original and well designed.
There are six races that comprise two factions: the League and the Empire. The League has Humans, Elves with fairy wings, and funny short furries called Giberlings. The Empire has a different nation of Humans, some sort of undead called Arisen (not the rotting zombie sort), and Orcs. There are also eight classes, from your standard Warrior, Healer, Scout, Paladin and Mage, to unusual ones such as Warden, Summoner and Psyonicist. Oh, did I mention that players can build humongous Astral Ships and fly or fight in the Astral itself?
I’ve only been able to put about an hour into AO so far, enough time to familiarize myself with the interface and the quest system, as well as to complete the instanced introduction and arrive at the first public hub. So far I am pretty impressed, though. It is too early to pass any judgment, but I’m definitely up for giving this game a chance. Later this week, I will dedicate a few more hours to it and explore other gameplay aspects. Particularly I am interested in the grouping mechanic, instancing, grinding (if any) and so forth.