As the game comes into focus, we see where they are
The game takes place in a large and spacious land brimming with intelligent life and natural wonders. Though humans are only one of the few intelligent species to live on the planet, most of the other sentient races have long been in hiding from an ancient plague that terrorized the world. While humans too were affected, the plague was harshest on the non-humans, which explains their scarcity in the game world.
There are currently four civilizations and three races available to players: you can be an elf, dwarf or a human representing the Mezoteks, the Morbus, the Arcadians or the Avaria. The Avaria are the non-PvP civilization, while the other three (Mezoteks, Morbus, and Arcadians) duke it out in a battle over land, resources, and revenge. Other then starting location and PvP status, though, there is little difference between the three PvP civilizations, and racial differences are currently purely cosmetic.
While the intelligent races went into hiding, many beasts and creatures still roam the wilderness of Irth, such as Swamp Dragons, Field Wolves, and other hostile creatures. The problem is that these targets are also very persistent and very competent fighters. As a young adventurer, many of the monsters (even the ones near town) can easily tear you apart and most of your swings are misses instead of hits. Even running isn’t much of an option; the monsters will chase you all the way back to town and stalk you through the streets. Logging out is really the only way to shake a persistent agro.
Combat procedure is pretty standard for an MMO, with a few good original tweaks — and a few bad ones. For instance, whenever the player is hit their screen flashes red. This effect is pretty cool as long as you are not hit very often, but if you have two or three monsters attacking you it becomes a real eyesore. One solution to this (and to the loss of hit points in general) is to use spells such as Nuke or Divine Touch to kite monsters. Cast a spell on your target, turn around and run a bit, then turn and cast another spell. Most of the monsters in the game are your speed or a tiny bit slower.
The good news is that hope is not lost. Skills such as swordsmanship, fencing, dual wielding and dodging are unlocked by books but increased by using them in the field. The more time you spend missing your swings on a puppy, the faster you’ll be able to go kill the big wolves. Unfortunately, spending an hour or two missing every swing you attempt can be disheartening.
As you reach benchmark levels in your skill progression you get stat points which can be spent in one of five stats: Vitality, Strength, Agility, Intelligence, and Stamina. Currently, vitality effects hit points, strength and agility effect what armor and weapons you can wear, intelligence effects energy amount and stamina effects stamina amount, but more effects will be added to the stats in the future.
One of Irth’s strengths, though, is that it isn’t entirely combat centered. Players can also engage in crafting resource gathering, or exploring. Because of this, travel in Irth can be easy or adventurous: the player gets to chose! You can either travel via horseback routes, which automatically set you up on a preset horse ride (you can dismount anywhere along the trail, though there’s no getting back on), or you can choose to run manually through the vast territories of Irth which is no small task by itself. The main advantage to taking the long, scenic route is for the wonders you might find; be it a floating castle or a humungous cavern, Irth is filled with hidden goodies just waiting for players to find them. To make long-distance travel easier, players can use horses, boats, and other modes of transportation to speed up travel across land, sea and air.
To help players find monsters, friendlies, buildings and roads Irth is equipped with a radar and a map. The map is large and fairly vague, but the radar hones in on a small area around the player. The downside to the radar is that it shows everything, and I mean everything, from ruin walls to monsters to empty shacks.
Aesthetically speaking, some of Irth’s graphics are only adequate when lined up against modern MMOs —and some certain instances are rather breathtaking. Animations look a bit jerky and, while some of the monsters and characters are pretty cool, others look awkward and bulky. On the other hand, water reflections and shadows generated in real time make the game seem more realistic and breathtaking sunrises and sunsets will cause players to pause and spend a peaceful moment watching the sky. The background music is quite delightful if a bit limited; I found myself pleased at first though soon muting my computer to halt the repetitive score.
Now for the bad news — the bugs. While it’s still in beta, Irth has a surprisingly large amount of bugs, ranging from funky textures to game play issues. The good news is that the devs are still tweaking the game, and new fixes and new content is being added daily.
On the whole, Irth certainly has the potential to be a good game. It just isn’t quite there yet. An abundance of bugs and an unbalanced combat system lead to frustrating play, though hopefully a few balance tweaks will make it more playable by the time it goes live.
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