Allods CBT4: The First Real Testing

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Closed Beta Test 4 began about five days ago for Allods Online.  Sticking with my initial plan to level as  far as I can go, even after thinking I had abandoned this plan once, I’ve now reached level 35.  Past phases have gone fairly smooth and felt much more like marketing phases than testing phases because the involvement of the testers was not needed for anything more than grammatical corrections, syntax errors, finding tooltips that were wrong, and things of that sort.  There were never any big game breaking bugs or mechanics flawed that warranted mentioning.  That isn’t the case with Phase 4.

This phase has been a rollercoaster.  For the first time I actually got frustrated with the game and for multiple reasons.  The first has to do with bugs regarding quests.  Coba Plateau is the zone where you complete levels 31-34 — the only one in fact.   Entering the zone and picking up quests I immediately noticed that there was a lack of them.  Usually I’ll enter a quest hub and be inundated with !’s but here there were three.  Not entirely unheard of though; sometimes quest chains and other quests open up from just a few entry level quests.  Not the case.  With 40% of a level left to go I found myself having to grind in order to reach the next level.  More quests opened, but this time I noticed that they gave less exp and there still were not many of them.  At level 32 I had to grind 60% of the level.  At level 33 I had to grind 50% of the level.  The problem continued.  At level 34 I had to grind 30% of the level.

All of this was reported on the forums and we did our best to make sure this issue received the attention it deserved.   On the second day of this phase we already recieved an announcement on the boards stating the issue is known and they’re working to resolve it.  Yesterday a GM appeared next to a group of us while we were hunting (we have no idea why…) and just started chatting with us.  Some of the conversation can be seen in the screenshots below:

The GM said that they have been trying to release a patch but they’ve been met with some complications and they’ll get it out asap.  This felt like a real tester moment for me.  Actually talking with GM’s during a beta test in person is a fun process.  Even though it doesn’t actually mean much, feeling involved like this does give me the sense of involvement in the process beyond just posting on message boards or leaving feedback.  It reminds me of the days of Alpha testing The Realm and older games when the testing participation involved writing reports and doing things similar to the QA and actual in-house testing teams.   Felt good.  (LoL at the rage quit comment, btw)

Bugs are also a big problem.  It’s not just a lack of exp in Coba.  Many quests are actually broken.  The anomaly quest, the quest to find the 3 defectors, the quest to kill Goblin troopers, and more.  The bugs are weird.  Some quests like the goblin troopers are broken for everyone since the goblin troopers do not exist in the entire zone.  Some quests are broken for some and not for others like the anomaly quests which chooses randomly which anomalies work for some people and not for others.   This just compounds the issue of having to grind when quests that are appearing are bugged.

Since I’ve now had to grind almost two+ entire levels I feel it important to note something.  Grinding isn’t as bad as it sounds if you do it with fatigue.  For all the complaining everyone has done that killing mobs nets such slow exp, how have we been able to level in our 30’s by grinding?  The reality of the situation is that it’s actually faster leveling by grinding in Allods than it is by questing and doing content in others.  In a matter of just a couple hours of grinding I can pull out 50% of a level.  In the last 10 levels of a game that’s actually not too bad.  It’s nowhere near as fun as questing and I do not condone it, but the facts can’t be denied here:  It’s nowhere near as slow as games like Aion.  (This coming from a slow killing class, btw).

The next bit of feedback that I want to leave has to deal with the zone itself.  Coba Plateu looks great.  When I first entered the zone I was overjoyed to see a sort of desert safari wasteland.  It has great atmosphere and the mobs that populate it, like Rhinos, Tigers, Horses, Ogres, Goblins, etc., are all fantastic.  The problem is with the layout.  The zone is split in two by a wall erected by goblins — I think it’s called the Cordon?  Getting past this wall is a pita because there are only a few entrances.  Once on the other side, all the mobs hit like trucks.  I was killed in a matter of just a few hits by almost everything on the eastern side.  Yes, my gear sucked(s) at level 34 which hurts badly but these mobs were especially cruel.  The quests that we did obtain sent us double backing every other quest and going back to places we had gone and killing bosses we had killed three times for three different quests.  Getting killed on the eastern side meant 15+ minutes of wasted time.  Add in bugs and this zone ended up being the worst experience I’ve had in the game yet.  Oh well, it’s testing in a beta phase and I can accept that.  Note though that the Russians had these problems too and theirs was patched.  Why are we retesting content that has already been fixed?

Now that I have left (even with a few quests left) Coba, I am in Coldberg and ready to continue questing in hopefully what pans out to be a zone that isn’t bugged.  Amidst all my problems, I am still enjoying the game and I’m ready to begin the final leg of my journey to the level cap.

I’d like to add to the end here that the GM also told us that Astral Ships would be made more readily available to testers instead of having to go through the building and financing process.  This is good news!

  • Fascinating read. Mrs Bhagpuss and I have pretty much decided to pull out of CB4 on the grounds that it’s a lot of time to put into doing content that we will be repeating in just a few weeks (guesstimate of Open Beta schedule).

    That was based on the last two CBs, though, where as you say there was precious little testing required. It would be different if we were actually testing in a typical beta environment, but up to level 25, where we both were at the end of CB3, the game seemed 95% finished – better than a lot of MMOs are months after they go Live.

    Anyway, at the speed I level I doubt I would even make it to the content you describe before CB4 ends, so I probably won’t try. I like the grinding speed you describe, though. I like my MMOs to give the choice between questing and grinding to me, not push me down either road and it sounds like a perfectly acceptable pace in the 30s there.

  • I ragequit (past tense) and am proud of it!

    Saying there are no game breaking bugs is sort of misleading. Health meters, party health/status/location is really really broke. It’s a fundamental part of the game. Healers get stuck trying to figure it out, but others might not notice as much.

  • The health bars being broken in a raid are a problem, I’ll give you that. Other than that, there are no game breaking bugs that I have encountered.

  • I’m loving the game!

    I decided to go about this phase a bit different and play EVERY class to 10 to get an idea of them, so when PVP happens, i have basics understood about whats coming.

    Of course…this has screwed up what I plan on playing as now the Warden and Paladin are now my 2 choices on class to go with

  • On the subject of bugs, I’ve been playing Gibberlings and have any of you noticed the fact that none of their attack animations play when you’re running/jumping/doing anything other than standing still?

    For whatever reason, it really bothers me. I really hope it’s just a bug because I like the game a lot, and standing still in pvp so I can see my sweet attack animations firing seems like a less-than-worthy plan.

  • Sweet! I too am taking it slow but looking forward to hearing about the astral ships.

  • About bugs, the health bar situation is not exclusive to raids. As a healer I’m constantly needing to deal with that on groups inside instances, where even mobs are not displaying health change to some members of the party. Happens constantly when doing Xaes on the Empire side.

    BTW, great to see that GM Haz keeps working hard to give GPotato some presence inside the game. We had his/hers company on a little party we threw up just before closing CB3 ( and I’ve seen screenshots of him/her dueling some players on the arena. Sounds like a nice technique to sweeten your way into good feedback.

  • Have you guys seen this little article:

    I wonder what exactly this means:

    “Below is a list of crucial ship tasks that need to be operated at all times while flying in the Astral”

    Do players lock themselves into a job on the ship when they “take off”? I thought it was more free form, like you could use/unuse a station at will. I hope it is, because I’d feel bad for the Astral Scanner guy who can only look at the radar the whole time.

    Also, I wonder what the minimum # of people it takes to fly one of these.

  • My time in CB4 has been rather limited.

    I’m also testing Global Agenda and STO, and I just finished a full Mass Effect play through in preparation for Mass Effect 2 on Tuesday.

    I’ve also got a copy of Mercenaries 2 a roomie bought for me in a bargain bin I need to install.

    Combined with a full time overnight job and 8 birthdays to celebrate in January it’s been a hell of a month.

  • @Buddydude: You’re not locked in to my knowledge. I’ve seen video where people leave their post. I think that’s more of a “you’ll want these positions manned” type thing rather than a “Must be manned at all times”. Think about it this way: You don’t have to have someone monitoring your engine room but if you don’t your power levels may overload and you’ll go boom.

  • From most to least played from my perspective at level 30+:

    Summoner / Warden

  • I wonder if Psionicist is more played on Empire side since two of them exist? I’m betting Warden is the least played empire class. The Shaman players don’t seem to enjoy the goblin pet too much.

  • As far as I’ve seen, there’s still a small number of Psionicists at higher levels although my exposure has been only up to lvl 30. I think it comes down to the fact that although the class is very versatile and can hit quite hard, you have still have to be patient to play one. This makes playing one a trial in patience for the first 20 levels or so.

  • I think Psi simply doesnt fit well into conventional or even popular archetypes. A tank, healer, or damage class is easy for a new player to understand and get into while the support class Psi is described as wont be as attractive to most players.

    Given this is all pre-lvl 10 but I joined a group for that rabies squirrel (which ultimately failed) and frankly had nothing else to do but dps (troika every 20 sec and psyonic shock at this level), a task in which a mage would have performed better. Clearly this isn’t the case for higher levels but the first 10 are sadly the basis on which most players will look at.

    tldr; I agree with Tarridus 😛

  • People are rage quitting??!?!? Sweet! Maybe I can get a beta key. In fact Terroni, send me yours.

  • If my key wasn’t linked to my account I would =P There are keys everywhere on the net anyways…

    I’ve seen tons of psis. The over 30 playerbase is just relatively small, I wouldn’t take it as a judgment on a class.

  • Hmm, my comment didn’t show. Oh well, trying again!

    @Office Jerk,

    I have a few keys to giveaway on my Corpse Run blog. Just head over there and leave me an email on the key giveaway post and I will send one out to you!

  • I’m playing a healing specced summoner on the Beta and assisting the mobs has been working pretty well for healing, it even reminds me of the old days in EQ before you could form a “raid”

  • Ive just reached level 18 as a troll hunter, and I have accumulated more useful abilities than will fit on my action bar. So, I suppose I have to put some of them on a 2nd action bar, right? Is there a keystroke that will switch action bars, or is the only way to click on the little arrows?