Recently, I had the opportunity to visit with publisher Gala-Net to see some of the games and gameplay features that they have coming through the works over the next few months. I met with them regarding two games that day and the first that I'm here to talk to you about is Allods Online.
Allods is not a new title, it was released back in February of 2010 as a free-to-download game with an in-game item shop. Some might then ask why it was that I was visiting with them? Well, Allods Online has a major content patch coming for its players in Early Spring of this year, and they were anxious to share with me some of the features of the patch before it goes live.
First and foremost, the patch will be raising the game's level cap from 42 to 47. Luckily, the content is heavily present in the patch as well, making for a smooth (but challenging) rise to the top of the heap. First of all, the patch gives you two entirely new, full-sized zones, each one present with new visuals, including some brand new mob designs and some really intricate and well-thought out motifs. The visuals are more striking then ever, as the team seems to have focused on the impressive graphical capabilities of the free-to-download title.
The patch also ups the grand total of Allods to 14 (from the previous 8), each one being a large-sized Allod (about a third the size of a zone, for those who aren't familiar). The Allods all come with a theme attached to them, one that I saw was a 'spooky' theme, consisting of moody graveyards, ravens and plenty of zombies in a cursed village. Another involved an island entirely comprised of goblins, the Goblin Republic, in which the oft-abused goblins form their own society and the player has to go to kill them, adding further indignity to their already miserable plight.
The patch also sees the addition of a marriage spell, allowing characters to get married to one another in-game. This comes with some neat abilities, such as the ability to resurrect your partner, make your partner a snack and, perhaps most hilariously, a “tracker”, wherein you can constantly track your spouse without needing to be in your party or raid. Just like real life.
With the new zones, the new Allods, the new marriage spell, a bunch of new skins for mounts (one ice-themed skin allowed your horse to leave ice in his wake) and over 100 bug fixes within the game, this major content update for Allods Online proves to be a major one. Exciting times to be an Allods player, especially with another patch in the works for later in the year that adds a new Raid to one of the new zones.
From there, my time with Gala-Net shifted focus from the established Allods Online, to the forthcoming Prius Online, a South Korean-developed, story-based MMORPG from Netmarble. The game has been released in South Korea for some time now, but is just now being developed for the North American and European markets as the cut-scene cinematics, music and voice acting are all being tooled for an english release.
You control three characters whom you meet along the way, your primary avatar, your “Anima” and your “Gigas”. Starting with your primary avatar, you have seven gender-locked classes; Mage, Warrior, Sword Master, Elemental Lord, Gunner, Hunter, and Musician. Each class plays a unique role in the story and, as a story-based MMO, and therefore, when you choose your class, you choose your role within the story of the game as well. Each class will have two choices as to how to progress, primarily, it seems, from a combat point of view. For example, the Hunter is skilled in the bow and can progress that way, or can switch to wielding both a dagger and magic. Each class will have about 75 skills, leaving lots of room for diversity amongst the gender-locked classes.
The “Anima”, as mentioned, becomes your companion within the game. The anima is a small girl who travels with your character as you progress throughout the game, after meeting up with her in the story, naturally. She has a specific set of skills for most circumstances in the game, including combat. She also serves, outside of combat, as the crafting system of the game. Crafting is handled through the anima's garden in your atrium (housing) and effected through her mood, which you, as the player, can effect by nurturing her, answering her questions and interacting with her in general. Think of it like a built in social mechanic.
The “Gigas” is the third type and they're uncovered through the story as well. The Gigas is not useful for crafting or anything like that, but are simply your guardian spirit, or as I like to think of it, your back up! You accumulate a bar, much like a timer, upon the acquisition of your Gigas, and when it fills you can summon this monster, an ability that can be used at any time during the game, PvP combat, guild combat, dungeons, raids, etc. Your avatar, Anima and Gigas are all individual characters, of sorts. Each one accumulates experience, has skills and features that can be improved through progression through the game.
When the game first launched in South Korea, the PvP was slightly limited, however, for the forthcoming North American release, the features of PvP have been expanded, including Guild Championships, in which on a Monday, guilds enter and throughout the week, fight it out. At the end of the week, the top two guilds then clash in an epic championship battle. Another is called Castle Warfare where one party guards a castle, the other attempts to take it and you can even hire mercenaries to join your battle.
One interesting (or hilarious) feature of the game is it's Bounty system. It was implemented as a tool to counter-act trolling in the game. You can report a player, or a guild, to an NPC and at the end of the week, the top ten players with the most reports will start to see Wanted posters of themselves around the game. The whole server can gun for the players, and you actually get money for killing them.