Big MMO portal, Perfect World may have a game of the same name under their belt, but they also have an ever increasing roster of other Free-to-Play MMO games to tempt players with. Their newest addition comes from the localisation of a top Chinese title, War of the Immortals, but how does it fare against the plethora of free-to-play games on the market today?
Typical of MMOGs you choose from a range of classes to base your character upon with War of the Immortals delving deep into the fantasy genre to bring classes such as the bard amongst the standard warrior, range, mage, healer jobs. In total 8 classes are available between any of the featured races, letting you choose from any play style and not have your choice affected by which body image suits strikes your fancy. War of the Immortals features a static progression system for whatever your final choice in character may be. Whereas more recent online games have turned multiple starting points for players to keep a nice mix of content for those starting their 4th character, here you’ll be forced to repeat the same scenario over and over detailing the unveiling and start of the war you are about to become entwined in.
Carrying on from the exaggerated fantasy setting, Atlantis doesn’t actually look to farfetched in terms of architectural style and overall grand scale. Though the graphics range from average resolution textures, questionable terrain clutter and subpar lighting, the overall design of Atlantis and the games major hubs are actually rather impressive, but the limited camera control will do its best to hinder the amount of sightseeing you can do.
In gameplay terms, there isn’t anything here to stop those who have dabbled in virtually any MMORPG from easily picking it up. Action bars full of skills are well embedded into the minds of veteran MMO gamers and War of the Immortals uses the exact same system bar a few little niggling issues – actual skills. While most games have you filling up and activating additional skill bars after just a few hours of play, here you’ll be hard pressed to reach that until deep into the levelling process. You’ll start off with only one or two skills to fight with, and while this is generally all you’ll need to beat up the mythical monsters of Atlantis, you’ll defiantly yearn for a more varied rotation to keep things interesting. Sadly that doesn’t really happen, you’ll get one or two skills per 10 levels, one of these uses a charge meter generated through fights that will usually blow away every enemy in close proximity, and while it is satisfying to use, you can’t help but think everything is a little to much of a cakewalk with mobs falling to your feet after only a couple of strikes and no thought being needed to determine your next move.
MMOs are typically free roaming adventures from the get-go should you be willing to risk your life in the higher leveled areas, but that isn’t the case here. As we mentioned earlier, the whole quest system consists of a hugely long quest chain relating to the game’s story. Pairing this with the admittedly impressive auto-route feature means questing and leveling is an extremely linear affair. While you may be tempted to try out the game’s other classes further down the road, you’d be unlikely to find the motivation to repeat the same series of tasks a second, or perhaps third time.
War of the Immortals struck us as a very story centric game, something usually only seen in bigger name titles building upon an already established lore. While most other games usually have their quest dialogue skimmed at best by its players, paired with the visuals of the mythical Atlantis and Motenia, the huge NPC characters and the actual game title itself, we found it hard to continue without reading into the basis of the story – the returning forces of Loki from an age-old war on the land. While the tale takes its roots from Norse mythology, it helps to convey the scale of the war and the impending threat players will face. Rarely suffering from a grind or request from a random farmer to pick his crops for some coin, the questing experience will always stay close to the story and help to progress it further. Separating the story scenario into chapters, you will undoubtedly hit the required level for the next chapter right after you are through with the last. While we were impressed by the developer’s courage to crank up the storytelling value of an MMO, its content doesn’t do much to compel you to care about what it is you are trying to achieve but it’s smooth leveling system does manage to fix some of the smaller issues plaguing most online Role playing games. Sadly it’s all let down by the severely out-dated stat system as opposed to the more modern talent trees and specialization formula and linear questing.
Throughout your journey in Motenia you’ll be able to tame some of the zone’s wildlife to fight along side you, while your pet will add a little something to the laborious combat, the feature isn’t revolutionary but it may help to encourage thorough exploration to find some more exotic beasts to compliment your character’s combat style.
Score-wise, Perfect World have done a good job with the soundtrack. The atmospheric musical pieces suit the game really well and are defiantly the sort to keep ringing in your ears when you close the game. Its a shame that in-game sound effects didn’t mimic the quality of the music. Whether it be repetitive attack noises or foot steps, that’s about all you’ll hear from the world around you. Monsters make little to no noise – something evidently clear right when the first boss smashes through a portal in complete silence. It’s a damn shame, the quality animations were really let down by the lackluster audio.
Cluttered and clunky UIs are something we see a lot of in these types of games, and War of the Immortals doesn’t do much to fix this. While we stand neutral in the simple combat as something easily graspable for any player, the UI may become the wall between keeping new players or losing them from the start. The amount of menus, sub-menus and buttons within the game UI presents a learning curve in itself and will take a good deal of getting used to for any first time player. Hidden within the various menus you’ll find little gems alerting you to the weekly bonus EXP boosts, quizzes and various other nice little features aimed to keep players coming back on a regular basis. We were given $50 (5000 ZEN) worth of in-game cash to spend in the War of the Immortals cash shop, the standard of F2P games and with cash in hand we did a good deal of searching through the wares of the store. Eventually settling on 2 pieces of vanity clothes to deck out our hero we still had 2400 ZEN to our name. The store struck us as surprisingly expensive with pets and mounts aksing for a similar, if not higher, chunk of your wallet. The clothes did give a healthy HP boost, but overall nothing likely to turn the tides in any player-vs-player fight for those worried about balance. The biggest use of the cash shop looks to be for players to shell out a couple of bucks to stock up on supplies for the game’s high-level content, for a big raid or to upgrade their shiny new weapons. Perfectly acceptable in that sense but otherwise lacking in interesting content and a bit too pricey for the quality it offers.
Crafting will only make an appearance late into your journey, should you manage to stick with the game long enough to see it. You are only allowed one profession at a time with an exhaustion bar further limiting your use of the mediocre upgrade feature.
Perfect World took a bold step with War of the Immortals. Focusing the entire leveling process on nothing but story was a bold move and while it no doubt keeps the process flowing at a steady pace, but its linear fashion will prove to be the biggest reason for players to not stick around for long. The auto-routing, auto-potion and simplistic combat may make the game easy to pick up for first time players but ultimately demeans and oversimplifies the game play. War of the Immortals isn’t doing anything different to pull itself ahead of the MMO herd and we can’t see any reason to choose this particular linear experience over the more varied games on the market. Spend your time elsewhere!