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Hamelin, Inc.
MMORPG | Setting:Fantasy | Status:Cancelled  (est.rel 02/04/09)  | Pub:Outspark
PVP:Yes | Distribution:Download | Retail Price:n/a | Pay Type:Free | Monthly Fee:n/a
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General Articles: A First Look at WindSlayer

By Carolyn Koh on February 24, 2009

A First Look at WindSlayer
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WindSlayer is OutSpark’s latest offering in the Free-to-Play fantasy MMO genre, and of all the games in their stable, one of the easiest to learn to play. The game is a 2-D platformer with all the classic platform play features such as your double-jumps and multi-level platforms to make use of the vertical space on your screen. Most game-play is accomplished by keyboard, and most MMO/game keyboard conventions/shortcuts are used.

At the media tour conducted by Ryan Olsen, the Events and Promotions Marketing Manager, and Community Manager Travis Trekell, I asked about the difference in style from their other games, Fiesta and Secrets of the Solstice, and was told that Wind Slayer was one of Outspark's simplest games to date in order to appeal to a wide audience, including those that have never before played a computer game. Their motto is “easy to play, impossible to master” and they believe that it will be a challenge even to the most advanced players.

The main foci of Wind Slayer are ease of play as well as PvP. We spawned in Popola Village at level 99 and I discovered I was an archer, with only a weak attack enabled and no skills. Oh well, just a media tour, I thought, but no… we were shown several PvP maps. After a quick description of the game controls, arrow keys to move your character, S was the weak attack, D for your strong attack (which I didn’t have), a double tap of your right or left arrow key to dash, a double tap of your up arrow key to double jump and the UI – the map in the top right, the little red and blue flashing rectangles being the members of each team, the battle was on! So I stayed back, jumped a lot and plinked away at 18 points of damage with each shot.

This is a 2-D game so each map has several levels which makes dashing around and double-jumping important in a fast paced PvP game. A warrior or monk can sooo… just keep timing his jumps correctly to avoid ranged weapons until he got into range of the caster / archer and turn them into a meat heap. When your character dies, it is represented by a little monument / statue until the game is over and it resets. The game automatically balances the number of players on each side, and as you join a PvP game, you can choose to join either team. If you dither too long or choose to join one side that already has more players, you are locked out of that particular game and can only watch. Fortunately, the bouts went pretty quickly.

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Besides the PvP, there’s the usual adventuring and questing in game, and crafting as well as gathering and mining. It is just a beautiful world. For a 2-D game with cutesy sprites as your avatars, I really did not expect much, but the designers have really done a nice job. Rich, beautiful backgrounds, really the cutest mobs you ever did see as they chomp on you for ridiculous amounts of damage. I mean… flying peaches, big fat mean looking blowfish, fat round monkeys in colorful jackets, rhino turtles and pink frogs with princess crowns on their heads. How cute is that?!

The First Steps
Players enter the continent of Beuritania as a young adventurer or Novice. Going the only way you can, you find quests along the way, the game teaching you to play through adventure. Yes, you start off with that trusty splintering club and are asked kill the nasties around the village. Strange, cutesy round things with big eyes that just wander back and forth.

There are four avatar stats: Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence and Spirit. To start, I dumped most of my stat points into Strength as I would spend the first 9 levels of my avatar life whacking at things. At every level, you gained more stat points to distribute, and I slowly started to pad the stat I wanted as Mage. I picked up the Gathering skill and Mining skill along the way and learned to craft as well. Gathering and Mining is level based and requires a consumable gardening spade and shovel respectively.

Crafting

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There are three crafting station types in game. Reinforcing Stations – which is where you strengthen your armor and weapons, Composition Stations where you craft potions & other consumables for Reinforcing, and Forging Stations where you craft weapons. Rather simple and all may be learned before you are level 10. The Gathering and Mining skills will provide all the raw material you require for the crafting. Whatever recipes you are of level to make will be available at the crafting station. With the wood pieces I got from Gathering herbs, I made myself a nifty improved splintering tree branch. One shot kills on those little bug-eyed… er… bugs.

Classes
You choose a career at level 10 and there are the classic fantasy archetypes to choose from; Warrior, Archer, Mage, Rogue, Monk and Priest. Class skills come into play now, and you have to purchase these skills from merchants near your class trainer. These are the skills you want to hotkey as they have to be activated during combat. At level 30 comes your 2nd class upgrade and players have two different directions to take their character.

Itemization
Armor sets change with class and level and it seems like everything in game has a use. If only in a starter quest before you sell the excess for loot. All loot is shown graphically on the ground and has a fast decay time. Looting is awkward as your character must be placed just right to pick up the items. A hope is that looting at launch would nab everything in a radius or well, as this is a 2-D game… a short distance left and right of your avatar.

Quests
Quests are readily had from NPCs scattered across the cities. Unfortunately, at this time in Open Beta, your quest journal only holds 5 quests. Some quests are repeatable, and the flavor seems to be kill quests, gathering quests and delivery quests. XP-wise, they don’t seem to give more or less than straight out hunt and kill. In fact, quest turn-ins seemed to give less xp than simply killing critters.

Combat
Combat is not just mashing the attack and skill buttons, there’s timing involved. Timing is important as you can be interrupted and interrupted AND interrupted by that cute little bug-eyed critter as it walks into you until you get a shot off. The ranged weapon classes may find it awkward to fight enemies who are on ramps as the weapons – bows as well as spells travel in a horizontal line.

The World

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Beuritania is expansive. Each spot you see in the world map expands into an area map. Travel can be quite a pain in the butt as even though it’s a circle, it’s a large circle and you have to hoof it. Luckily, there’s the dash option which allows you to run swiftly in short distances. Many areas do look similar and it’s easy to get confused and forget quite where you are and how to get back to where you need to go. There are “ET Go Home” stones – the first of which you gain in a quest and the stones are purchasable in a potion shop for in-game coin.

Community
Official forums are available on the Outspark site and the guild forums are already busy and helpful guides are being published by Closed Beta participants. A feature in game is the Mentor system which provides xp bonuses to both Mentor and Mentee. It is also Outsparks plan to have many GMs in game to interact with players and to hold in-game events as well as out of game events. Even in this Open Beta, there are events with prizes. A race to level 10, to level 25, a month of love and weekend warrior event and event a 4 x 4 PvP tournament.

Is it Fun?
WindSlayer is by design, one of Outspark’s easiest games to get into. Almost MMO light, with simplified versions of all the major game features found in subscription games. Combat, PvP arenas, crafting, gathering and mining, six classes which branch into two flavors each, pet classes, pets, guilds, even a mentoring system so friends with avatars of disparate levels can play together. Currently in Open Beta, it’s at least worth a try. Miss the good old Mario days? Well, it’s free to play.

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Carolyn Koh / Carolyn has been writing for MMORPG.com since 2004 and about the MMO genre since 1999. These days she plays mobile RTS games more, but MMOs will always remain near and dear to her heart.