Allods Online: Not just another F2P
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.
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.