Open Beta Impressions
When a F2P game goes into Open Beta, it’s pretty much just a different way of saying “launch”. Everybody gets in, the cash shop is open, and generally the characters won’t be wiped when the game officially goes live. So not long from now we’ll have a review of Forsaken World up and ready for your reading pleasure, but for now let me just give you a few of my first impressions of Perfect World International’s latest Western conversion. Forsaken World is a theme-park MMO with a great many little doodads and doohickeys added in for flare, function and form (how’s that for alliteration?). And while I don’t think it can really compete with games like Lord of the Rings Online in the content and polish department, Forsaken World has a certain charm, and in my first few hours with the title it doesn’t seem like the kind of game that will make you pay to succeed. This is always my greatest fear when trudging into the waters of F2P, and I’m pleased to report that FW doesn’t seem to go into this rather dangerous territory.
One of the first things you’ll notice is that while FW’s art style is derivative, it also manages to capture a style all its own. It’s not the gaming world’s most advanced game graphically but, like some of the genre’s other games, its style makes up for any shortcomings in polygons. The animations are fluid and the spell effects are pretty snazzy themselves. The textures are lower rez than I’d like, but overall I think Forsaken World is one of the better looking games to come from PWI.
There are a bevy of races and classes to choose from, and each of them have their own ups and downs but stick to the tried and true: healer, tank, DPS model. A softy for the stunties, I picked a dwarf. The downside to being a shorty is that there’s only one class you can choose from: the Marksman. Luckily, I just so happen to like the idea of a dwarf with a gun and so after toying with the looks of my character (standard fare here), I named him and was off to the game’s Dwarven starter zone.
It will quickly become apparent that Forsaken World follows a similar path to most theme-park games. You quest, you kill, and you level up. If you like reading the text, there’s plenty of lore to be found about the game’s many factions and ongoing strife. But if you’re like me, you’ll wind up accepting quests, killing baddies, and enjoying the scenery as you do.
Forsaken World some interesting mechanics in place. For instance when you create your character you set his or her birthday. As you play the game, you’ll fall under different astrological signs and you’ll pray by clicking a button at the top of the game’s UI. You can do this at different short intervals early on and then later in the game every hour or so up to four times a day. Each time you pray you’ll gain some experience and if you’re lucky (especially if you’re under your birth sign), you’ll get some additional rare rewards. It’s a pretty nifty little feature that gives you a reason to play longer or at least check back in on the game multiple times throughout the day.
There’s also a pretty weird feature in FW that I stumbled upon by accident: you can click a POI in your quest log, search for it via the main map, and you’ll automatically be routed to it. Not sure where to find the enemy you need to kill? Click the POI and you’ll be taken there. Don’t want to press WASD until you get back to the quest-giver? Click his or her name and you’ll be there in no time. I see the benefits of this and the down side. The down side is that except for in-combat, I don’t feel like I’m playing the game. I feel like I’m just being taxied from one place to the next. The upside is that once you’re in the game’s capitol city, you’ll realize just how handy this feature is. And some folks might really and truly enjoy it, because honestly outside of laziness, what’s the different between pressing W for five minutes and watching your character run to a place automatically? It’s a convenience feature and not one that’s forced upon you if you feel like controlling your character yourself.
The leveling pace is fast and furious so far in the game. After just a few hours play, I’ve hit level 18 and am well on my way to 20. PWI was kind enough to give me 1,000 of their cash shop “Zen” to use in the title, with which I bought some pretty awesome looking dwarf fashion gear (you have a main gear tab and a fashion tab), and I’m saving the rest to get a mount at level 30. You can get mounts in game through regular currency, but in the trend of affording paying players a little convenience for just a few bucks you can buy one with Zen. The game’s store seems to be pretty much all convenience items. I’m still getting a grasp on all of the item upgrades since you can slot gems and whatnot to improve your weapons and armor, but it seems to me that everything you can get from the store you can get from the game with just a little effort. And there’s nothing in the store that’s going to give someone with a padded wallet any real unfair advantage. That’s really all a F2P gamer can ask for.
In essence my first bit of time with Forsaken World’s Open Beta has been about further exploring the game’s many features. I haven’t yet really delved into the crafting, the many timed events that occur throughout the day such as fishing tournaments and special instanced quests, or the dungeons and seemingly deep Guild system. But it does seem at first glance like FW has a truck-load of content for those of you who don’t mind their games seeming a little derived and/or Asian-influenced. The title seems both well-polished and feature deep, with plenty to do for fans of theme-park adventures. My main worry is just how long it will be before the cracks in shine of a new game’s early hours start to show through.