Beautiful Little Casual Mobile MMO
Dawn of the Immortals, launched worldwide August 1 by publishers Perfect World Entertainment is a new 3-D MMO for iOS platforms (Android in the near future, they tell us). It is a casual MMO. That’s opposite of Hardcore, so all you hardcore MMO fans can stop reading so you don’t have to make fun of it. It requires iOS 7 and recommends at least an iPad3 or iPhone 4s to play. I played it on my new iPad Air and it ran beautifully.
Framed in a steampunk themed world with goblins, robots and anthropomorphic animals. You can use a joy stick to move around or tap on the ground to move your characters. There’s also auto-pathing by tapping on a quest and auto-combat by tapping on a NPC. You can also turn full auto-combat on and your character can be left logged in all night killing things.
You discover the story as you play. There are goblins who lust after the human queen – “She’s so beautiful!” “I wanna marry her!” (rolls eyes), political intrigue, a Duke, a Commander with a crush on the Queen… and yes, quests. Lots of them, many repeatable and where you get most of your xp. Leaving your character logged in all night might gain you a fair bit of xp in the lowest levels, but by level 20+ you get oh, a wee bit of movement on your xp bar for 8 hours of running your iPad hot.
Aesthetics – 8.5
Colors are vibrant, graphics are crisp, models superb and the player characters are well rendered. The view is the usual isometric top down forced perspective which works so well for these games, but you can also zoom in to character level. Animations and combat effects are also top notch for a mobile game. Player characters are “human” and each one of the classes has a distinct look. The Priest is a cute little child-like character with a fluffy tail and he or she skips when you run through the world. The Magus is tall and the male very much anime inspired androgynous, while the Berzerker is buff and top heavy -Yes, the women too. ;) Visual character customization is through new gear and “display” clothing bought through the cash shop or obtained as rewards. There is little aesthetics otherwise. Naming however is very forgiving, allowing dashes and spaces. Their random name generator provides a mix of real world names and fantasy names. Roby Earthstomper, Emma Silvermoon were some of the ones I saw.
Sound is simple. Mainly combat sounds. The sound of magic, weapon strikes and cries of pain. Music is themed for each area and repetitive. Both rather simple and many mobile game skimp on the sound and music to keep the footprint of the game small.
The UI is suitably simple for a mobile game despite the many features/systems this game has – they are all accessed through a menu system. What you see on the screen are your skill buttons on your right and the joystick on the left – which fades away when you are not using it. The joystick is done right. You get to customize where it is located right off the bat and it is sensitive enough that it picks up as long as you touch the screen somewhere in the vicinity of where you dropped it first.
Gameplay – 8.5
Players start off with character creation and need be aware that you get ONE character per registered email. I have not yet found where you can delete that character and had to register different accounts to test different classes. The tutorial is short and quick, and you are off to the capital city to join the royal army.
In the lower levels, the quests are all kill and gather quests. Along the way, you learn about character skills and the in-game systems of fusing (or as the game calls it, “Fuze”) items together to get stronger, better items. From rum to gems, to gear. Be warned, you can accidentally transform your gear from one class to another if you are not careful. I did! Other systems of improving your character include enhancing – where enhance material is used, and embedding where gems are used. They are also easily removed for higher level gems to be embedded. The mount system (level 28) not only provides higher speeds for traveling, your mounts improve your stats. Pets have their own leveling and enhancement system. An auction house is also available for you to sell off your excess gear and gear you cannot use. Since there aren’t a lot of items to be sold, the filtering is simple and effective.
Quests bring you far greater XP than killing NPCs. The quest texts are short, with one line responses, not the wall of text that some games send players into TL:DR land of quickly clicking through them. You can totally do that too, but the text can be quite amusing. Auto-combat takes away some of the tedium of the grind. There isn’t a limiting stat like mana for magic users or stamina for the berserker, so you can look away while your character hunts for the next 30 X from mob Y. Potion and skills use can also be customized in player settings, so you aren’t wasting potions before you need them.
Some instances provide a choice of team members from NPCs you’ve encountered. Once you’ve added friends, you can pick a copy of their characters to join you, allowing you to do the Hard versions of the instance. These characters behave like pets except that instead of entering combat when you do, they only enter combat if they are in aggro radius. Fortunately, positioning is not difficult. Just drag them with you right into combat with you. Mobs will concentrate on you, so as squishy classes, I would kite in the hard instances, and actually managed to take out a boss mob that way, while consuming potions at an alarming rate.
Auto-pathing and full auto-combat may sound like a cheap way to play an MMO, but it works for an MMO played on your phone. There’s a map location for auto-combat that is safe but brings little XP. The ones that do yield a lot of XP are PvP. There are arenas, and PvP quests for players who prefer the PvP gameplay. In the open world, PvP can be turned on and off for friendly duels – a favored pastime when waiting for a boss to spawn.
Social – 6/10
In-game tools for chatting allows you to filter the chats and the usual private messages, team talk and guild chat are available. Grouping is required to complete many of the boss quests but there are no official forums so players have no recourse but to ask in game for help and information which can make for a “spammy” game at times. Players however, are generally helpful. I could not figure out the mount quest and asked in “map” (zone), and received an answer immediately via private message.
Innovation – 6/10
The maps and NPCs do get repetitive as you play your way through this game. However, although you head back to the same map areas, the NPCs grow in level to match yours. The use of your friends characters in “solo instances” allow you to do these instances at anytime without having to have a team of real players, however, real-life team members mean that you can attempt the Elite versions of the instances. The difference/similarity between the Innex and Outex versions of the map can be confusing, but it’s part of the story – to be confusing. Changing realms (world instances) and moving to parts of the world are simple taps. The game does the rest.
Polish – 6/10
I played the game for about a week during their soft launch period and had no problems. However, a couple days after launch, there was a pretty disastrous server issue with disconnects and rollbacks. Since there isn’t an official forum, it took reading their Facebook page to find out that the last time something happened to affect players, PWE compensated them with Blue Diamonds – a form of in-game currency. Amazingly, players aren’t angrily complaining about the roll-backs, merely posting comments like. “Good-bye yesterday’s progress.” Personally, I thought I had lost a level and my mount. However, I was kicked out again and when I finally got back in, I had my mount and all the progress there. Player communication could be better accomplishes
Longevity – 7/10
The game is engaging for the casual player. There is little grind as you can walk away for short periods of time from the game while you use auto-combat in the grindy parts of the quests. There are certainly “things to do” with daily and weekly quests, boss fights, pet and mount quests and enhancement besides your own character advancement. The availability of PvP play – instances, arenas and quests will also extend the life of the game.
Value – 8.5/10
This game is free to download and play, and can be played for free without the need to purchase a membership, gems or coin. Purchasing gems and coin will however, allow players to gear up faster or get back into the fight faster, which might be important if that’s the umpty-umph time you’ve waited for the boss, you really want the credit and he’s a sliver away from death.
Beautiful models, great animation, amusing and plentiful quests, non-stop action, despite the “What? It plays itself??” first incredulous impression, the game is pretty fun for the casual player. Log in, check with guild, get a group together to wait for a boss, go do an Elite instance, duel each other, kill boss, done for the evening. Crazy hardcore players (I turn into one sometimes) will challenge themselves by taking on the Hard and Elite instances with only “pets” and survive. Sound like a good plan of play? Use auto-combat to grind your levels, save your real time for the boss instances and PvP.