Snail Games’ martial arts-inspired sandbox MMORPG, Age of Wushu, is launching its very first official expansion today. I took part in a walkthrough of Tempest of Strife’s content last week, led by the game’s Community Manager, Peter Kang, and have quite a bit to share about what you can expect from the expansion’s new features. Specifically, Tempest of Strife will be adding seven new factions, a weather system, and dynamic events.
If you don’t already know about Age of Wushu, know about it. It’s set in a fantasy reimagining of Ming Dynasty China and draws upon the wuxia (“martial hero”) tradition that has become popular through Chinese martial arts films and other media. The game was originally developed around a horizontal progression model incorporating eight martial arts schools, and sports rock-paper-scissors combat and open PvP. Its sandbox-style design encourages a fair amount of player interaction - both cooperative and competitive - for progression, while still offering a lot for solo players to accomplish.
Tempest of Strife seeks to provide more avenues for progression in the form of seven new factions. In the vanilla game, when you chose to join a school, like the Shaolin or the Wuding, you were locked into that faction, and while you could still dabble in others, you’d only be most powerful in your initial specialization. Tempest of Strife will allow you graduate from, betray, or hide your identity to leave your current school and join another one, or even join the new neutral Vagrant or “No School” faction. The Snail Games team expects that this new feature will throw an interesting spanner in the school wars rivalries that already exist.
Of the six new factions that are associated with new schools, three are considered to be Jianghu (i.e., participating in the traditional community of martial artists in the wuxia tradition), with the other three being “Hidden.” Each has its own special form of gameplay and style, such as the Shin Family Castle/Golden Needle sect, an honorable Jianghu faction with ranged weapons, healing skills, and the ability to heal Rootless Sect eunuchs (more on this in a second). In contrast, the Beast Villa Sect is an animalistic Jianghu faction that specializes in summoning lions, tigers, eagles, and snakes in combat. Rounding out the Jianghu schools is the Xu Family Manor, which is a chivalrous, tank-focused faction that can generate campfires to provide specific boons. Interestingly, you can only join the Xu Family Manor if your offensive player kill count (accomplished by initiating PvP and gaining infamy) is below 300.
The Hidden schools have their own variety of styles on offer, and include the Rootless Sect, Flower Palace, and Peach Blossom Island. The male-only Rootless Sect requires members to become eunuchs (seriously?!) and rewards them with melee and ranged styles of combat and the ability to reduce cooldowns on their skills. The can also castrate other characters (seriously?!!?!). I suppose this means that the Shin Family Castle can restore Rootless Sect characters to their former status, but I really don’t want to delve into this any more than we already have done.
The Flower Palace recruits female characters who have not yet taken a spouse through Age of Wushu’s marriage system, and is a chaotic sect that requires you, much like the Xu Family Manor, to have a PK count below 300. Flower Palace characters can summon maids to whip up special goodies. Finally, the Peach Blossom Island school has a sinister alignment and specializes in musical attacks and fast movement. It also features special group buffs known as arrays, and offers shark riding.
SHARK RIDING. AS IN SHARK WATER MOUNTS.
In addition to these seven new factions, Tempest of Strife will bring to the table a new weather system, with dynamic events based on changes in climate. In the expansion, there will be a day/night cycle, snow, solar eclipses, rain, and other types of weather. Events will proc based on weather changes, and will be massive, 50+ player deals with various objectives, like the spawning of tornadoes in the Northern Desert that drop treasure chests. In our walkthrough, Peter discussed three types of dynamic weather-based events in Tempest of Strife: thick fog in the city of Luoyang, a solar eclipse in Jinling, and thunderstorms in Suzhou.
When the fog settles in Luoyang, you’ll be informed that a high-ranked noble is planning a rebellion, and you’ll have to band together with other players to stop him from stealing goods from a city warehouse. This objective will require you to take down several elite bosses and their minions, then prevent carts filled with stolen goods from leaving the city, while using prop cannons to fight off loads of NPCs. Participating in this event will net you credits that can be redeemed for specific rewards.
Similarly, a solar eclipse in Jinling will signify that there’s a noble being forced into marriage by the Emperor, and the dynamic event will require you to clear five different paths while protecting various NPCs. These chaps will eventually take the fight to the “Romantic Boy” NPC at the end of the event. Elsewhere, you might happen upon a thunderstorm in Suzhou, which is the historical city where Snail Games itself is located. In the dynamic event paired with the thunderstorm weather type, a man has come to the city to avenge his family’s kidnapping, and you’ll have to save commoners and hostages while killing cultists and manufacturing medicine.
Age of Wushu has always been visually stunning, and the new weather effects add a lot to the graphical variety and ambience. The expansion also includes a nice touch in adding weather icons to the in-game map, which, along with in-game broadcasts, will inform you about current climate conditions and dynamic events throughout the world.
If you’ve been playing Age of Wushu and waiting for new ways to progress your character and group events in which to participate, Tempest of Strife might just do the trick for you. With all of the new factions, several of which will have their own new headquarter zones, alongside weather effects, dynamic events, and more, Snail Games has been calling the expansion “Age of Wushu 2.0.” If Tempest of Strife can make good on that moniker, it might also be a great opportunity to give the game a whirl if you haven’t yet tried it out.
Tempest of Strife launches today, so get in there!
Som Pourfarzaneh / Som has been hanging out with the MMORPG.com crew since 2011, and is an Associate Director & Lecturer in Media, Anthropology, and Religious Studies. He’s a former Community Manager for Neverwinter, the free-to-play Dungeons & Dragons MMORPG from Cryptic Studios and Perfect World Entertainment, and is unreasonably good at Maze Craze for the Atari 2600. You can exchange puns and chat (European) football with him on Twitter @sominator.