Our Official Review - Traveling in Astral Space
Allods is a game developed by Astrum Nivel in Russia, and is published by Gala-Net in the United States. A free to play game, Allods is a fantasy MMO that gets its name from the chunks of land that are the only thing remaining from the planet Sarnaut. The planet was shattered when a great cataclysm struck, separating it into many Allods which can be accessed by traveling by Astral Ships. Higher level players will be able to build their own astral ships in order to get to some Allods.
There are two factions in the game called the League and the Imperial respectively. Players can battle members of their opposing faction from their astral ships, and in areas designated specifically for PvP. The League has three races: Elves, Gibberlings, and Kanians. Imperial consists of the Xadaganians, Orcs, and Arisen. There are eight different archetypes to choose from, and a player can create up to seven different characters on an account which is a great way to try them out.
The graphics in the game are very nice, although not photo-realistic. The scenery is bright and colorful, and the characters can have many different and unique costumes. Changing a piece of armor will change the look of a character, and it’s rare to run into another character that looks exactly like yours. While there are options to lower resolution in the game, there isn’t anything on the UI itself to lower resolution easily when in crowded areas, which has become a common option in MMOs of late. The game’s not too taxing on the PC, but it might not play at all on some older computers out there.
What really seems to help with Allods is that there isn’t a vending system like other F2P games have, so there isn’t an area that is overcrowded by players who are just sitting around AFK trying to sell items. Instead there is just an auction house for trading among players. There is some music in the game, but there can be long periods of time where there isn’t any. In some towns the music gets very tedious after awhile, and often I found it better just to turn it off completely. Still, the visuals are beautifully rendered and not too taxing on the system.
The game starts with a tutorial that has the player run through a simple scenario, familiarizing the player with quests, objects and gear, opening things. Each faction opening scenario is different, and run solo. It is not until after completing it that the player moves on to a new area and the ability to see and interact with other players.
League and Imperial both end up in an area where they do more quests past the initial tutorial, the League end up in a wooded type area, and the Imperial in a cityscape.
The quests are similar, just with different scenery.
There is no auto-routing which can be a bit annoying since so many other F2P games have it. What is nice about however is that when opening the map during play, there are markers that will show you where to go and a brief description of the quest in that area. While there is a mini-map, it isn’t on your screen automatically. This can be off-putting for some, but others might enjoy the forced exploration it can cause.
Movement controls are similar to other games, with WASD and click to move can also be implemented from the settings page. There is no auto attack in the game, but it is easy to target enemies with the tab key and begin spells or attacks if the enemy is within range.
Professions can be learned by buying a manual from the appropriate NPC. Unfortunately only one profession can be learned at a time, although after certain amount of reputation is built up a second one can be learned. While this could encourage trading among players, it seems very limited for players who want to craft their own items.
There is a “fatigue” system in place where some bonus experience is acquired in the form of “fatigue” which helps with leveling. Think of it like a reverse “bonus XP” mechanic. The longer you play, the less XP you’ll get, which means the casual player will always be getting great XP gains while a hardcore player might be slowed down after a while. Health and Mana regenerate pretty quickly so it’s easy to do mob killing quests without having to buy much in the way of potions.
The game has two servers, and unlike some games, they aren’t dedicated to a style of play such as PvE or PvP. Instead the player has a choice in game whether to play PvP or not by activating their Flag of War which allows other players the ability to attack, and can give bonus experience for completing quests while in this mode of play.
This game is often compared to World of Warcraft, so it may appeal to players that need a break from playing WoW, or for players that want a similar experience in a game that is free to play. Some of the basic comparisons have come from character creation and the choice of playing League or Imperial factions. The Arisen and Gibberling races are unique, which makes them fun to play. The Arisen are a race of undead creatures, tall and lean with some of their body made up of mechanical parts. The Gibberlings are short furry creatures that resemble hamsters. The story behind them is that they are usually born as triplets, so they are played as groups of three, with one acting as a leader and the others act like an off-hand weapon.
Aside from that, the game doesn’t seem to have much to it that makes it stand out compared with other MMO games. Some might say that the Astral Ships make it unique, but I can name two other games off the top of my head that also have ships that can be manned by players for PvP play.
This game doesn’t seem to have too many problems with it as far as translations and so on, but some quests can be difficult to figure out. However, the forums and the Wiki are pretty decent, so it’s pretty easy to find solutions by browsing through them, or by asking other players.
Allods could be improved on by implementing an auto-routing feature, and a way to easily find available quests. An exclamation point will appear on the map to show NPCs with available quests, but the unfortunate part of this is that if the player is too far away from them, it won’t show on the map. So to find them all, there’s a lot of running around to do.
It can also be difficult to find NPCs since once again icons for them on the map are only visible when you are near them. So in a large town, finding something such as a banker can have you running all over. Downloading and installing the game seems to run at an average speed, however after a maintenance the patches can take pretty long to update when compared to many games out there. Overall though, Allods is a very well honed experience.
Players new to this game will probably find it fun and interesting at first, but it does have some drawbacks, as the population of the game is rather low and it can be difficult to find a party at times. Leveling is not very fast either, which can be discouraging to players that want to get to levels where they can play a PvP style.
Unless the creators of the game come up with some new and innovative ideas on improving the game or some expansions, it‘s very easy to see how this game could die out.
Chat in the game is typical to most other games, it has a World chat, the ability to whisper another player, local and zone chat. Zone chat is a nice feature because people who are looking to complete a party quest can often see others who are looking for it as well if they watch the chat. When I first played this game, it was easy to pick up random parties, now it’s sometimes very difficult, and you might find yourself standing around for a long time trying to get a party together for an instance. Another problem is that there are level restrictions that will make an instance fail immediately if one member of the party is above a certain level. As you can imagine this leads to a lot of frustrated players.
While most of the players I talked to in the game very friendly and helpful, the fact that the player base is dwindling makes it feel like solo play the majority of the time. For more social play, it’s probably best to get into a guild as soon as possible, especially one with members that are of a similar level.
As a free to play game, it is quite easy to play this game without spending money on it. Though it wasn’t the case at launch, the cash shop items are reasonably priced in comparison with other games. Mounts and fashion seem to be very popular. There is also an item called a Holy Charm that is available for free from the shop, and it is used to prevent penalties from dying when it’s equipped. Most other games charge for this kind of item, so this is a very nice feature. As with most F2P games, acquiring the best gear may involve spending some real money. Gala-Net/gPotato has a better system in place for purchasing funds for in-game use than they used to.
While this game has got very nice graphics and choices for characters, there are still many things that it is lacking that seem to be expected in games that are this new. The fact that there is no auto-routing in a F2P game (which is my preferred style of MMO-gaming) I found easy to cope with, but the difficulty in finding NPCs was frustrating at times.
Players that like solo play will probably like this game, although some quests are difficult to complete without a party. It’s also nice for having a choice between two rather different factions. People who like heavy PvP might find this game lacking since it does take awhile to get into PvP zones, however there are arenas to practice against players of their own faction in the early stages of the game. Allods Online definitely is a game that worth trying, although it probably won’t hook most hardcore gamers for long periods of time.