In my study of free to play MMOs I have found quite a few games now that are worth playing. DOMO, a cute and forgiveable game, is an amazingly complex game for being free to play. It has immersion and depth but notably less than a subscription based game like EQ, WoW, etc. I decided that I wanted to continue to expand my knowledge of this sub genre and continue downloading and playing more of these games. It seems there is one major company out there known as Aeria Games that, I guess, makes all of these. Their latest project is Shaiya.
It’s a game that reminds me of Lineage 2. The characters look incredibly similar and they run/jump/fight in what looks to be the same way. I’m not sure if this is because of the heavy eastern influence or a specific engine they’re using. Either way, the game is a full 3d MMORPG. It features weather effects, spell effects, and all the usual suspects of a fantasy mmo. In Shaiya you can choose from Light or Dark countries. Once you choose a side all of your characters are restricted to that choice. The reason behind this restriction is because a big part of the game is PvP. Similar to Lineage 2 and even DAOC these sides are doing battle against one another in frontier/battlegrounds.
Back to the character selection. Once you choose Light or Dark you then have 2 races. Elves and Humans for Light and Dark Elves and some Brute looking race for Dark. Each has their own selection of classes. For example, the light humans can be Fighter, Defender, or Priest and the Elves can be an Archer, mage, etc. Character creation is standard for this type of game. You can choose from hair, face, and height. I wish they had more customizations like skin color. The ingame interface is also standard. My only gripe so far is that I can’t figure out how to change my chat window opacity.
For my first character I decided on a big hunter guy. I created him and received a quest to kill a few spiders and boars but just wasn’t feeling it. I deleted him and rerolled an Elf Mage. I’m much happier with this choice! My mage character started off with a staff and one spell. The catch however is that in Shaiya skills must be trained using points. If you spend points you can not reclaim them. This leads to standardized builds and the usual fear I have that I’ll ‘mess up’ my character. Since it’s free to play and I’m only playing this for the heck of it I decided train 1 level of this magic bolt spell. I was able to 2 shot foxes and monkeys but quickly learned that if they get into melee range I have to be very timely in my casts – one hit and I’m completely interrupted.
I finished up a few quests at the starting outpost but wanted to quickly explore and get a feel for how big and detailed this world was in comparison to other free to plays. I made my way to the little town’s portal master and I was swept away to the main town of the region. The town whose name I can not even begin to remember or spell was impressive. It appeared to be a city with walls around it featuring a charming old-town feeling. I was again surprised when I saw that it was decorated for Christmas and there was a jazz version of jingle bells playing throughout the square. Looking around the town had all the amenities you would expect in a MMO city. Merchants, quests, portals to other cities, and a ‘lived in’ feeling.
Asking around for information I became aware of the PvP situation in Shaiya. There are frontiers or battlegrounds segregated for level ranges. Levels 1-15, etc. Being only level 4 I knew I stood no chance but I decided to head out and look at the PvP. I entered the battlegrounds and saw two large armies – the enemy and my nation – doing battle. I died in 1 hit and decided to go back to the city. This should be good for later when I have some AOE spells!
I decided to head back to the newbie area and continue my leveling. That’s as far as I have gone in Shaiya so far but I’m once again pleasantly surprised that the developers made these game free to play. There are no ads or restrictions for not paying them money. The RMT’s are there but so far I don’t see what they have to offer that you can’t get from playing for free. I don’t suggest you run out and play this game as your main MMO or that you think it’s something more than it is; if you’re like me it’s simple and pure fun to tide you over until Warhammer or your MMO of choice.