AdventureQuest Worlds by Artix Entertainment is the MMO version of their grindy but addictive little flash based on-line game Adventure Quest. Using the same technology, AdventureQuest Worlds has actually attracted players who were not previously players of either AdventureQuest, or the company's previous foray into the MMO world, Dragon Fable.
Simple, simplistic, grindy, yet engaging. It is definitely a casual MMO and one advantage of the game as it was in Adventure Quest, is that it is completely flash-based. Unlike some other browser-based games that still require a small client to be installed; you can play AdventureQuest Worlds on any PC with an internet connection and a web browser with a Java client. Yes, you can play it on an office computer during break and get a few hundred experience points.
The game FAQ tells you how many points are needed for each rank and level. As is usual in many MMOs, a player character can defeat a monster several levels higher and they very quickly learn what they can take on as Mob hit points are displayed when targeted - although you can't tell how hard they will hit.
How to Play
Create an account, log in, and create your character. You have a choice of Warrior, Rogue, Mage and Priest. A few choices in character customization, but more can be done in-game with customization shops and armor. The art is akin to comic books cel-shaded art, with Japanese Manga influence. With that, and the play of a cut-scene with sound and music, you're in the world - if you don't choose to go to Noobshire first to learn how to play, you'll spawn in Battleon and can choose to go to Noobshire by talking to that NPC right there in front of you. The one with the exclamation mark above her head.
Combat is automatic - click to target, click to auto-attack, but skills and spells must be activated and will have a cool-down period. Almost everything takes gold in his game which luckily is easy to come by. Quest loot and coins are automatically credited to your character but other items are not, and you are given a Yes/No dialog box for looting.
The UI is clean and minimalist with simple icons identifying the usual worldmap (a world globe), options (two gears), temporary inventory (a sack) and permanent inventory (a bagpack). The Red/Blue heart is your rest button. That's how you regain your health and mana, by resting. No potions and no potion spamming here, you have to sit for a bit. Luckily, health and mana regenerates quickly and there is little downtime for chatting.
One of the first things I noticed in game, is that there are two experience bars. One is for your level, one is for your class rank. I wondered why until I visited the trainers from whom you can pick up different classes and did a quest and picked up Pirate! The different classes are equipped and levelled separately. As there are 10 ranks currently to each class, many players play different classes and are able to bring different classes to a group or Boss Event by equipping that class. Class XP flows much faster than level XP, so it does not feel like a grind to level several classes.
To improve your weapons, armor and indeed to be able to equip anything in game, it has to be enhanced. This is done by going to the proper NPCs and paying them gold. Be careful though, you can (I tried it) "enhance" your weapon back to a Level 1 weapon. Armor is fluff (mostly), weapons are not. The higher the level of your armor, the better defense it gives you and the higher the level of your weapons, the better damage you do. Most of the cooler items have some sort of animation associated. Bat and dragon wings flap slightly, swords flame and sparkle, staves with jewels wink and glow.
The World We Play In
Launched in October 2008, the world is not exhaustively extensive at this time, but new events are being added regularly which open up new maps, and some maps end up being added permanently. Readers familiar with Adventure Quest will recognize some of the areas, quests and characters that reside in the world, except that now they have all been re-imagined with the trappings of an MMO. That is the NPCs with exclamation marks over their heads, the number of items you have to retrieve, the turn-in rewards and XP, etc.
Travel around the world is running from map (screen) to the next map, clicking on each area of the world map (zone) and teleporting there, or if you have a friend online or are in a group, you can "go-to" a friend. It is safe to explore most areas of the world as most critters do not attack you, which is fortunate as I've run from zone-in, to the boss map to run smack in face to face with the boss mob and a few other players waiting to get enough doing the same quest to group and give it the smack down. However, if you venture into the "Uber" areas as a lowbie, all bets are off. Escape, however, is simple as each map is only as large as your screen. One interesting gameplay feature is that you don't have to be part of the group or first engaged to get quest credit. You can jump in and assist other players.
Quests are temporary and only registered for that session. The results however, are permanent and written into your account. What that means is that once you log out, lag out or otherwise shut down your browser window, you lose your quest progress. Your quest journal is wiped clean every session, which can be very annoying if you're only one item away from a turn-in, or you are interrupted before you can do a quest turn-in.
Death, what death? Oh... you mean where you lay down when your health goes down to zero and respawn at the zone-in? Death has no penalties, which is good for a casual MMO, but that together with the lack of ambient sounds and simple visuals means that the game is less immersive although no less fun than games that do have sound and more complex graphics. It could be an advantage to not being drawn so emotionally into an MMO.
Gameplay is quest based and players jumping from zone to zone on the worldmap may be surprised to find that they can't get to the end of the zone because they are missing the quest. Grinding is possible and you can simply grind on harder and harder creatures to gain experience. There is an overarching storyline and a Lore Book which tracks your progress. The cut scenes are filled with humor, some of them pretty bad. When a huge undead skeletal dragon shows up in the sky, one knight says to the other "We're so boned."