Zenith: The Last City, a VR MMORPG, has been out for a week, and the team at RamenVR is keeping up so far. They continue to implement patches rapidly while communicating on the official Discord and released a brief launch post mortem/roadmap for 2022. But how are the servers now after a week? What are some issues that stand out currently with the game? Is the game fun to play? How does it compare to other MMORPGs? Let’s have a look.
The game’s servers have stabilized to a point. Restarts, fixes, and maintenance are still happening daily. While playing on a Quest 2, Zenith has not crashed or randomly disconnected for me once in the last few days. While playing on medium to low population servers, I have only run into a few noticeable issues.
Server lag bubbles have been the main problem so far. In combat, enemies can stop responding for a few seconds, and spells will not take effect. Then suddenly, everything catches up and takes effect all at once. Thankfully, while playing as an Essence Mage Tank, bubbles like this are usually not deadly for me. But I can imagine it being more of an issue for those playing as DPS or Heals.
I am curious to see if the lag bubbles are present on PCVR. They could also potentially be adding to the enemy AI being unresponsive at times at the start of a fight. When enemies do respond to my attacks, their tactics are somewhat simple. They go through visibly repeated attack rotations and use limited movements. Once you have animations down, most combats are not a challenge unless you get overwhelmed by numbers.
Even with the limited AI, the game is fun if you like MMORPGs and the typical trappings of the genre. Quests are your standard fare and repetitive with a side of grind. It's the other players that make combat in the game shine, and I always enjoy jumping in to help with a public event. The fights become more dynamic as I toss spells to slow the enemies and tag a target as it runs by after the DPS. Fighting in VR adds its own unique challenges as I move to block attacks and react to unexpected enemies, and certain moments felt more exciting than most traditional flatscreen MMORPGs.
So far soloing has been quite viable, but I do find myself going back to grind out hunts and public events as I fall behind by a level or two. If you try to move into a new zone and are three levels below the enemies, it can be a rough experience. Whereas if I am participating in events and doing the group quests, the leveling seems to keep up with the main quest storyline so far.
If you’re a player who likes high-end graphics, Zenith may not be the MMORPG for you. The visuals are very pretty at times, but the graphics are, well, basic, in many ways. This is especially true when it comes to your character’s appearance. The game’s core systems are, for the most part, currently barebones. Everything is present that is needed for an MMORPG such as forming groups and guilds. But more advanced game systems such as in-game achievements, housing, guild features/leveling, and tutorials/tooltips for more nuanced gameplay elements are missing. I think some kind of practice room in the city of Zenith itself might go a long way to provide tutorials for players on topics such as blocking attacks effectively and navigating the skill system.
The class skills in Zenith look to be rather robust. As players level, Godstones(Skills) unlock, and there are three different Godstones to choose from for each gesture-based movement, spells, and ultimate slot. You can then loot enhancers of various rarities, which allows players to add major and minor traits as they gain experience with a Godstone. These traits can include a variety of benefits from reducing spell cost to increased damage. But there is no in-depth introduction to the skill system, how the random drops work, or how points are gained to be spent on upgrades. I am still exploring the system and look forward to diving into it more during the final review.
As a fan of MMORPGs Zenith is fun and engaging, but it has issues. It is also a step forward as to what can be done in VR for an MMO title. But for players comparing it to existing flatscreen MMORPGs, you may end up somewhat disappointed. While I am still working my way up to max level, I have personally already gotten my money’s worth out of the title and am looking forward to exploring more of the game.