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Allods Online: Not just another F2P

Keen the Animist (Lvl 6)

Keen the Animist (Lvl 6)

I am not sure whether or not Allods Online has a NDA, but I’m going to go ahead and proceed with talking about the game as though it were okay until I hear otherwise.  On the main forums they have been very big on pushing the idea to spread the word about the game.

Allods Online is a free to play (F2P) MMO developed by Astrum Nival, which I believe is a Russian company.  That should already throw a wrench in any preconceived notions you may have about this being another F2P “asian grinder”.  I went into it thinking that it was going to be yet another downloader’s remorse that would inevitably choke my system up with another download, play for five minutes, and uninstall — I was very, very wrong.  The first clue that you would be wrong for thinking Allods Online was ‘just another F2P’ is the graphics.  The game is beautiful and it runs without a hitch.  The second clue comes when you realize how darn polished the game is and how it feels like you’re playing a AAA title.   If it were not for the little treasure chest “Item shop” icon in the lower left side of the hud, I would never even think “F2P” or even “asian grinder” by playing it.

To give you guys a very quick rundown on the gist of the game, think World of Warcraft meets Warhammer Online meets Aion.  It’s a themepark style game that centers around questing to level.  There is some sort of main story going on that you’ll pick up on if you decide to read the quest text which is above average.  The quests themselves though are standard themepark and many of them resemble the Nessingwary questlines.  I have not had to grind once yet, but doing the quests themselves involves a great deal of killing.  It’s actually a healthy blend resembling much of the play you would see in WoW’s Stranglethorn Vale zone (you guys remember that place, right?  Oldschool, I know).

The classes  in Allods Online are interesting and not entirely cookie cutter.   The class I chose to play is called the Animist, which is a variation of the Warden for the Gerbil people…whatever they’re called — classes are different based on your race.  I maybe be an Animist but another race playing a Warden could be a Druid — there’s a difference somewhere… maybe a couple spells or something.  My Animist resembles a stereotypical Druid, but it’s a pet class (a Squirrel pet!) that can nuke or melee.  Classes gain a few basic skills early in the game and then must spend points in talent trees that act as a skill tree.  From what I have gathered, you do not get skills any other way from 1-10 except through talents and I’m told that another skill tree opens up later.  I wish I had more information here, but this part of the game differs greatly from most themeparks and I’m still trying to figure it out.

There are two factions with several unique looking races.  The race I chose (which I will still refer to as the Gerbil People) is really unique.  You get to play as 3 gerbils!  You get to design and name all three of them.  One is your “main” whose name is the name you’ll receive /tell’s from but all of your gerbils as your character.  If you’re an archer type (Trickster like my bud) then all of your guys work together to shoot the bow by holding it and pulling the arrow back.  If you’re a Warden like me then you will have one guy use the staff and melee, one is in charge of casting offensive spells, and the other does something else (He hasn’t been used yet).   It’s hilarious to watch them work together.

Not your mama's Murlocs

Not your mama's Murlocs

Leveling is much slower than usual.  Zone chat was saying that the developers mentioned exp being slowed down for the beta, but then people said that was incorrect and that exp wasn’t slowed but the combat was slowed down.  I’m more inclined to believe that combat is slowed down because it is… well… somewhat slow.  It’s especially slow early on when you have 2 abilities.  I could easily be killing a single mob, at level 5, for over a minute.  That’s a decent length in today’s newbie themeparks.

The world of Allods is what sealed the deal for me.  It’s immersive, open, and gorgeous.  Reaching the capital city after the beginning newbie area was a complete shock.  My jaw dropped when I got off the air ship and saw what I was up against in terms of scope.  The city is big, the zone around it is large and diverse.  The capital city is surrounded on all sides by this region and the developers did a very nice job of creating an immersive world by creating a sense of place and perspective for the player.  The city looms over you even when you’re far from it out hunting.  You know where you are physically compared to where you were.  I’m a big fan of this type of world design, in case you don’t already know.

Where Allods Online truly departs from the “WoW clone” stereotype is in its PvP.  Not only is there open-world and arena PvP, but there is a completely new twist via this airship battling that goes on in the astral plane.   It’s best described by this article:

“Competitive multiplayer is the most ambitious aspect of Allods Online. You and six or more friends can build your own ship and fight other crews- either in dedicated PvP arenas or out in the wilderness of the Astral plane.  Ship ownership is available one you hit level forty but any character in your guild or friends list is able to join your crew, whatever the level. But you’ll want to make sure you can rely on your shipmates, as a great deal of teamwork is needed to properly utilise these majestic ships… At least six players are needed to man a ship effectively- two to man the vertical and lateral engines, one to manage the forward facing cannons, two others to man the middle guns either side of the ship and finally a navigator to plot the ships route. It requires a good sense of team work and constant verbal communication.

Battles can either take place in dedicated PvP arenas or they can happen in the Astral plane with many other ships. We were told that players will be able to raid other peoples ships at a moments notice, without any protection. Just like in Eve: Online, if you aren’t protected when returning from a bountiful mission, you risk you’re loot being stolen and your ship wrecked.”

The ships will function as persistent ‘places’ in the world.  I’ve read multiple sources stating that people hang out on them as if they were guild halls.  Raiding them, attacking others, protecting and upgrading them are all very common.  I’ve been watching youtube videos of PvP and asking around a great deal to get a sense of how all of this comes together to form the gameplay of Allods Online and so far I like what I hear about the game meshing well with its various mechanics.

You would be ignorant and wrong to write Allods Online off as just another pos F2P game.  In an industry being plagued by horrendous launches from huge publishers, unknown companies trying to be different and screwing things up, and this new shift towards shovelware MMO’s, it’s nice to find something that works and is actually pleasantly enjoyable.  The true crux of the game will come if the item shop ruins the game.  In the item shop we can see in Beta it appears to be a standard shop.  You can buy gold, buy potions, buy chests that have a chance of dropping loot, buy cosmetic items, etc.  If it doesn’t destroy the gameplay by providing stuff unobtainable by playing the game regularly — enjoying the content while playing the game and having fun — then it won’t matter.  We’ll have to see how that pans out (and it rarely does).

Get yourself a beta key.  There are 666 (lol) (Update: 0) keys left as of this posting.  You can message me in-game (/tell Keen) and we can group up or you can simply say “hi!” or “you suck!” or whatever.  There are several of us from the K&G community playing together.  I’ve spent most of my day playing and I have a feeling it will be the same story for tomorrow.  I have a video being published that will go up tomorrow with audio commentary in case you want to see it before you believe it.

I’ll update you as I progress.

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Nollind Whachell - November 20, 2009

What level are you? I heard the initial game experience is polished but the later levels aren’t as much (which is why the combat was slowed down so you don’t level as fast because they are still working on higher levels). Combat is supposed to speed up though, the higher your level.

“The ships will function as persistent ‘places’ in the world. I’ve read multiple sources stating that people hang out on them as if they were guild halls. Raiding them, attacking others, protecting and upgrading them are all very common.”

So basically what I expected Star Trek Online ships to work like but they don’t. 🙂 Sounds pretty cool.

Interested in hearing if you feel curtailed in any way by not buying stuff in the store. Also can you gain points somehow in-game that they you purchase stuff in the store?

Cyprus - November 20, 2009

@Nollind: The closed beta only goes up to level 10, so I don’t think we can glean a clear impression of the future just yet.

Faucius - November 20, 2009

I just signed up for the game and I am downloading the client now. Once I’m all set up I’ll try to find you in game.

-Cheers

Jeremy S. - November 20, 2009

Yeah, I’m signed up but not in…yet.

My main reason for keeping an eye on this was that it looked like it could provide good immersion. I said that very thing a couple days ago.

I’m glad to see you verifying that a bit.

Could you tell me, can you go in the buildings? if yes how many? I mean, what is your impression of how many you can go into? Only specific ones that relate to gameplay or are there many inside outside eye candy moments?

Thanks.

KillTrash - November 21, 2009

This game had me when it let me create a Cyborg Zombie chick and fight among side some Nazi Orc buddies! I’m Empire all the way! 🙂

But seriously, the art style, and the amount of polish on the game is awesome. I’m not sure I will stick with the game longer in this closed beta, but I will be following it closely until it goes fully live.

So far, I just don’t like the combat too much. It feels a bit clunky and slow, but I also need to get used to it I guess. Some characters I rolled did mediocre regular damage, like 10, 10, 10 and all of a sudden I would score a 150ish crit! I don’t know, it just feels strange, but I will watch the game closely, as I said.

Warden - November 21, 2009

Glad to hear you guys are enjoying it. I don’t know what it is (i’d say my connection but I haven’t had an issue outside of Allods with it) but I haven’t been able to stay connected all that long playing on the “good” side.

One thing on the Imperial side that I did get the chance to see in your intro questline was an astral monster floating in the void. I can say if it’s what we can expect for raid bosses at some point it’s going to be very interesting.. 😉 Might be something for you guys that are playing League might want to check out quickly since it wasn’t in that Massively video linked on the forums.

Dismantled - November 21, 2009

I’m completely surprised by this game. This is truly the first F2P game that I have ever thoroughly enjoyed, and probably one I’d actually consider using the cash shop with *gasp* something I’ve never ever done.

I think we have to remember this is the first stage of closed beta and so they have alot of screws to tighten up, but honestly it plays very well at this stage.

As you said, the Art direction and immersion is top notch. I think once the word gets around, this game is going to do very well after release.

Chappo - November 21, 2009

Good to see more people getting interested in the game. I made a video just a day or so ago detailing my initial thoughts about it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZrwooR7yAU

Definitely a game to watch!

Melf_Himself - November 21, 2009

You’re an Ewok. Bit too carebear for my liking.

Bhagpuss - November 21, 2009

I’ve been watching Allods for a while and I really don’t need to hear more about how good it is. I’ve been trying to resist downloading it and adding yet another distraction. I was hoping to leave it until launch but I can feel my download finger twitching as i type…

Honestly, there’s just too much on offer at the moment that merits at least a few days trial, and all those “few days” really add up to a total of “not actually getting anything much done”.

Angry Gamer - November 21, 2009

Hey look casual MMO players bandwagon hopping onto yet another game. Great. No thanks. I will stick with WoW where my money and my entertainment value go toward the original polished product that this game is ripping off, just like Alganon and Runes of Magic.

Will you people ever level cap and experience end game in anything or are you perpetual level 20 MMO noobs?

Bartlebe - November 21, 2009

Angry gamer indeed.

Cyprus - November 21, 2009

@Angry Gamer: Even though it’s an effort of futility, I thought I would respond. I have level capped on multiple characters, and I don’t like what I see. Endless grinds of rep and loot with an elite caste system hoarding everything that we “casuals” aren’t “good” enough for. And for what? To sit in the capital cities after a long day at work, waiting for your second job to begin? No thanks.

I’d rather try something new, even if it isn’t all that different. So you go ahead and fill up all those capital cities and get your shiny loot. I’ll be wandering around the rest of the world having fun with friends while you sit in your dingy instance with officers.

/end internet fight, hehe.

Back to the subject at hand. The point does remain, that for a beta, and for a Free to Play game, this game has more polish than some recent MMOs that have hit the market charging people monthly fees. Cash shops aside, I really do wonder how these companies produce these games. Surely those shops can’t be providing enough revenue to power servers while making new content and new games, right?

Rigar - November 21, 2009

Hey Keen,

Have you checked out http://www.alganon.com ?

They are in open beta now , launch in december..

we be fresh to hear your thourghts on it 🙂

Echo - November 21, 2009

Keen you know what sucks about gpotato is that their probably going to make it cash shop, and with that comes overpowerness which will be the downfall of the whole game =/.

Keen
Keen - November 21, 2009

There is a cash shop. And yes, that will be the downfall of the game if they don’t handle it correctly.

Romble - November 21, 2009

I played it to lvl 5 with an Orc Warden. As a warden I have a pig as a pet. As well spells and melee abilities. It’s downfall for me was the combat. Clunky, slow and a button masher with no auto combat. Also you dont have much control over your pet. Seems like he is in defensive mode at all times. The only 2 things I could do with him was put him away (so he regens hp/mp) or have him charge a target as an ability. I saw more pet abilities in the tree for later at the expense of my own abilities if so choosing.

Xp seems to be ridiculously low as well(perhaps by design for now) but it takes forever to go from lvl 5 to 6. fights take forever… i button mash what seems like an eternity to get a kill.

The world is huge as Keen said and there are quests everywhere. It’s almost overwhelming because you end up spending a lot of your time running around the huge city. The graphics remind me a lot of Torchlight style and are nice, vibrant in colors and feel but the animations/effects are poor and rigid.

The other thing I found odd was it seems this game is really overly lvl dependent. At lvl 5 my pet can solo lvl 5… I took on a lvl 7 mob and got my ass handed to me.. was not even close.. then a group of 3 of us lvl 5 tried to take on a “boss” lvl 7.. no chance…. we were just doing barely any damage. So for pvp I dont know a lvl 7 will completely own a lvl 5?

Anyway as a F2p game its has a lot of good qualities but it’s not anything better than Runes of Magic imo… I was impressed with the 28 different combinations of race and classes but not my cup of tea.

Keen
Keen - November 21, 2009

The Warden pet is like an extension of your character. The Summoner class seems to have a pet that is completely controlled like a Hunter pet in WoW. The Warden is actually the least developed class that I’ve played so far because every other class appears to have a class mechanic, whereas the Warden is just “Send pet, kill”.

Mordiceius - November 21, 2009

So in this game I can be part of Hitler’s Undead Robot army? Sign me the hell up!

Jeremy S. - November 21, 2009

Actually, ask any “casual” gamer, who are also the ones who stay with any one game longer than raiders who get bored quick and move on to fresh highs. They are the game hoppers.

Anyway. the casual players always have more players level capped than endgamers who concentrate on one character.

Making up a non-existent argument is futile anyway. Blizzard and all mmo’s actually create a system where the players can easily leave the game. Give players a bit of what they want, and they’ll stay longer. Players HATE feeling like they are being forced to stay.

There are too many aspects to get into, but one is that developers look at through-put(cycling). It is inevitable that people will leave. You will either grow up and get a more demanding job, lose your job, or die, amongst many other things that lead to quitting.

No one player type is better than another.

But from a RP perspective, This game is looking like one of the better F2P games. The story and world around Nazi-esque orcs and cyborg undead, sounds cool.

But I doubt all games anymore. I am burnt out on hype. I will take this post into consideration, but I really have to experience the game for myself before I can make a judgement call.

Oh, also, I am really addicted to Runes of Magic, so it will have to be a very excellent game to get me away from that. RoM is slowly taking over the f2p world, and many major game sites are giving it its own home next to all the triple a sub titles they already have homes for(just to push forward how it’s doing).

Runes of Magic is really good!

Zederok - November 22, 2009

@Rigar

Alganon is horrible, and not horrible in the fact that it is exactly 100% ripped off of WoW, except for maybe 1 or 2 things.

The reason it is horrible is the movement and animations are clunky as hell, nothing like hitting space to jump and float down 5 feet away or hitting your cast fire ball button and the fireball glides toward the target, im serious you can cast a spell, or shoot your bow and run to the mob and beat your spell or projectile there.

Or the fact that that there is no character sustomization and everyone looks identical exxcept for a shade of color around your nose/chin and green or pink pigtails. No thanks the game is horrible and mainly due to all the above.

/AFK – OMG NEW MOON IS OUT!!! edition « Bio Break - November 22, 2009

[…] Keen re: Allods – “You get to play as 3 gerbils!” […]

Skryre - November 22, 2009

10 left after I got mine

Zedzded - November 23, 2009

@Keen

Astrum Nival (yes, a Russian company) was formerly Nival Online, a sister company of Nival Interactive. Interactive was responsible for Heroes of Might and Magic V, Blitzkrieg, Etherlords, etc. Allods Online is based on their first two games from the late 90’s that were titled “Rage of Mages” in North America and Europe.

zoid - November 23, 2009

@Zedzded

There was THREE games in series, to be correct, so AO is fourth installment.

And for us exUSSR gamers it’s fun additionally because of large amount of memes, cultural references, puns and mocking from Soviet and post-Soviet reality – witty and very humorous. Pity you can’t see 🙂

Zedzded - November 23, 2009

@zoid

There was a third “Allods” done a couple of years ago, but it was produced by Nival, not developed by them, and I don’t believe it was ever released outside of Russia.

and I can see the humor, I’m playing the Russian version 🙂

Immelstorn - November 24, 2009

Hello everyone.
I’m from Ukraine. Actively play in Allods Online.
Just look video of mass PvP in the territory called Ase-Teph
Video shot from the Empire side.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pb9AsP3IkEw&feature=player_embedded
Sorry for my bad English:)

Chris Engine - November 26, 2009

@Immelstorn Man that looks alot like WAR in terms of the number turn out for Open-PvP, the ADHD Techno makes it even more crazy, lol

This game looks quite interesting, I too am burned out on MMO hype and have just been blasting through some Single player games the last few months, I was so burnt out from everything AoC/WAR to Darkfail to Fallen earth and Aion I gave up, but a F2P AAA Title with no after purchase guilt is right up my alley, and I read it has Nvidia 3D Vision support… Lol

Definitely looking forward to CB#2

Keen and Graev’s Gaming Blog » Blog Archive » Getting ready for Allods Online CBT#2 - November 30, 2009

[…] you’re just joining the party, Allods is a free to play (F2P) mmorpg. I’ve written my initial impressions of the early-game and created a video with more impressions.   “Sneak Previews” of […]

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