The current financial situation at chez Casual Is As Casual Does has caused me to pull back for a time on my currently subscribed MMO: Champions Online, I barely knew you, but you were nearly perfect for me! /sad
I am now eagerly wading through the broad selection of quality free-to-play MMOs searching for the one, or several, that push my specific MMO-loving buttons.
Here is what I’m working with at the moment:
I have hung a hat of high hopes on this upcoming title. I’m not in closed beta – though I’ve applied — but I’m so excited to play that I’ve downloaded the Russian Open Beta client and am doing the blind man’s tumble through the initial content.
If the advertising is to be believed, Allods Online will have most, if not all, of what it takes to satisfy me for months of MMO gaming. The character graphics are nice and detailed with plenty of armor variation of near the texture quality of Guild Wars (albeit with a little less variation: try finding a darker skin tone than “tan” for the human characters). The landscape graphics are a bit more stylized in the vein of WoW than I prefer, however.
There are two factions, which will allow me to get my Good vs. Evil on, and both open-world and arena-based PvP, which will allow me to choose if and when I want to get involved. Crafting is said to be a big part of the game as well, using mini-games (! oh, please be EQII-like!) to break up the monotony and increase the challenge, and with ship-based crafting requiring several different components that will likely necessitate a guild working together to create.
My first impressions of the game are good; you start out in a tutorial instance that immediately brings you up to speed on the state of the world and your place within it, and gives you a taste of battling on the ship-like Galleons that will become a huge part of the gameplay at higher levels.
Funnily enough, playing through the Russian version is more like playing a game that doesn’t have any quests at all; since I have no idea what the helpful text and map markers are asking me to do, I simply run around killing everything and trying to interact with every item I see. I wonder if I’ll miss that level of play when I have an English version carefully spelling out my objectives for me….
I realize this game is more like Perfect World 2 than anything else, but hey, I enjoyed PW for 20-odd levels, so this might entertain me for a month or so at least. It’s amazing what throwing me a little nugget in the way of world lore will do to increase my interest in playing a game. Something as simple as introducing me to the background of the various factions in the game world and encouraging me to take a side is all the motivation I need to kill 10 wolves and collect 5 toad eggs for now. (You hear that, Runes of Magic? That’s why I can’t play you for more than half an hour without getting bored!)
I still have this one on my hard drive after trying it out a few months ago, before it went free-to-play. I adore the artwork on this and found the quests to be engaging and interesting, while the combat is still a challenge to my hand-eye-coordination deficient self. I ended up wandering away from this one because of the shortage of balanced, arena-based PvP to break up the occasional questing doldrums, and when I found out that crafting consists of collecting materials and giving them to an NPC to create for you, a la Guild Wars.
Now that I’ve given up on looking for Mr. MMO Right, and am willing to accept Mr. MMO Right Now, The Chronicles of Spellborn warrants a second look. I do want to unravel that excellent storyline I’ve heard so much about from its devotees.
Hopefully between juggling these three games, I can get through the next few months (at least until the Allods English-language beta opens up), when more news of Guild Wars 2 starts coming out, or something entirely new comes over the horizon.