Ever been dropped into a world not quite knowing what to expect? That happens rather often in media tours, especially early previews of games where the official site is only a teaser site, and the server is only going to come up for the tour. You download, install, patch and hope it gets done before the tour, while doing what research you can on the game. The media tour of Fantasy Earth Zero was little different. It was fast, quick impressions, perhaps a little chaotic and you know what? That’s how they are describing their battles.
Developed by Square Enix of Final Fantasy fame and published by Gamepot USA in North America, Fantasy Earth Zero is a fast paced, Fantasy MMO which incorporates the strategic building of structures in the Kingdom against Kingdom PvP. The game is micro-transaction based, which means the usual consumables which can be purchased with real dollars.
I logged in before the appointed time to acquaint myself with my character and found myself a level 25 warrior, with a rusty axe. Two other classes to make characters with, Mage and Scout. Five Kingdoms to align yourself with, and seven land masses to play in. I explored the main capital of my Kingdom which had empty vendors, my inventory which had the usual potions of health and power, and other stat boosting goodies, then started exploring various fields, teleporting to them via the world map. Each field showed the strength of the Mobs in them and so off I went checking out the diverse environments and monsters, before deciding that I really should go through the battlefield tutorial as requested.
There isn’t really much you can do in the tutorial when the server is unpopulated, but the tutorial did talk one through the gathering of crystals, the building of structures and the summoning possible with crystals. The more, the merrier. However, you can only harvest 20 crystals at a time, so it takes coordination with your team mates to summon the stronger creatures you can control, such as the Knight and the Chimera. Crystals are dotted through the landscape of the areas that can be turned into battlefields and they can only be gathered once a war begins.
At the appointed time, other tour participants and the devs poured in. Characters were buffed and kitted out to level appropriate armor, weapons and skills, and we were off. The first thing anyone and everyone did was to gather crystals by crouching your character near the huge translucent blue crystals that stuck out of the landscape. Then the structures were built and we were off to war. Fighting the enemy, destroying their structures, building yours in their spaces. It was fast-paced, chaotic and frankly, a heap of fun. So much fun that I forgot to take screen shots. I was too busy wreaking destruction and creating havoc.
I built arrow towers and got to try out the Knight summons – which conjured up a mucking great armored knight with long-horn helmet and charger. Fast on his feet, great against structures and other summons because of the power of your attacks, really rotten against other players. Every attack took power and you paused to attack, missing almost every time because your opponent doesn’t stop to let you hit them! It was still a lot of fun going one on one against the enemy knight as we maneuvered and tried to time our attacks just so it goes off against something other than air.
There are five different summons and all are situation specific, with advantages and disadvantages. The Knight as mentioned, a Giant that’s great against structures but moves very slowly, a Wraith that’s good against players and has an AE blind, and finally, a powerful Dragon and Chimera that takes something like 40 crystals and specific conditions to summon.
There are seven different structures and they range from the Scaffold that does not require any crystals, to the Arrow Tower which fires arrows at enemies should they come close, to the Gates of Hades which is a fun one as you summon from death warriors from it. There are limits to the numbers of the structures that can be built on the battlefield as well as their placement. The Scaffold is one per person and can be placed anywhere. Only a single Gates of Hades can be built, and the most important structure in a war, the Obelisk controls a certain range of territory around it – enemy structures cannot be built – and 25 per side can be built.
The battlefields are huge. Large enough to accommodate armies of 50 against 50. If your Kingdom can’t field enough against the other side, other Kingdom players can join in to help make up the numbers. Once I stepped back from the actual action, I could see where players of diverse levels can all work together in a war. Building structures isn’t dependent on level, but crystals gathered. There are no “safe zones” in a war, so players could have teams gathering and teams that do nothing but disrupt the gathering of crystals – especially right at the beginning of the war where most players simply rush to gather crystals. Your goal is to conquer enemy territory, not simply kill your enemies. The summons and structures combined with the size of the armies fielded means that strategy, not zerging will win the day.
Fantasy Earth Zero is developed by Square Enix, so although hardware requirements are low, the graphics and animation look good and the music is superb for this little gem. Gamepot is also an experienced publisher of micro-transaction games. There won’t be any uber game-unbalancing items for sale in their cash shop, just the usual convenience consumables and vanity items. As they like to say, they believe in three ideals; Love your Game, Fun is Free and Respect the Players. You will never be able to buy an uber sword or high-level armor in the cash shop so you can’t buy your way through the game. You won’t see annoying pop-up ads while adventuring in Fantasy Earth Zero or a troll asking for money before you can enter a special area of the game either.