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Closed Beta First Impressions

William Murphy Posted:
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Triad Wars is a F2P asynchronous MMO currently in closed beta from Square Enix and United Front Games. Taking place in the same universe as open world cult hit Sleeping Dogs, Triad Wars blends a lot of RPG elements with city management and other forms of progression to create a unique blend of genres. You play a member of the Chinese Triad working and killing your way through the ranks of China’s underbelly, raiding other players’ bases and building up your own.  But is it any good? Read on for our full impressions from the Closed Beta.

Asynchronous MMO is a funny term. What it means, before you get excited about a fully-multiplayer Sleeping Dogs, is that you’ll play Triad Wars completely solo, but you’ll be competing with and against other players. In entire honesty, it has more in common with regular open world RPGs, than any MMO.  Though you’re playing on the servers at the same time with thousands of others, you’ll never really see anyone else. The multiplayer aspect is like Clash of Clans. You build a base, attack others’ bases, and join clans to go on larger scale wars.

Our video first impressions.

So basically, Triad Wars is the perfect MMO if you really don’t want to deal or play with other people in any real meaningful way.  It’s not bad, in fact it can be very fun and is polished really tightly, but calling it an MMO is a bit of a stretch.  In a time when I spend a lot of my days ruminating on what an MMO really is, a game where you don’t really play alongside other players? That’s not an MMO.

But! Triad Wars is fun. The biggest problems I see with the game at this stage are two issues: there are no female playable characters (though UFG says they will likely be added there’s no guarantee) and the amount of actual content is pretty paltry from what I can tell. It makes Triad Wars a perfect game for 15-30 minute sessions, but maybe not much more than that.

Gameplay will be immediately familiar to Sleeping Dogs fans. The actual action of the game is a mix of melee combat and third person shooting, with character progression centered on the several skill trees (melee, ranged, and so on). You have full customization of your looks as well, though this beta has been mainly about selecting a preset and changing his looks through earnable and purchasable costume pieces.  

In between raids on opposing bases, you’ll be maintaining and protecting your own territory, by upgrading it, collecting money from various fronts, recruiting NPCs to work for you, and so forth. While managing the base, you’re given an overhead view of what buildings you have available, and you can upgrade, tweak placement, and order your peons to do stuff and make you money (run illegal gambling rings, shady imports and exports, and so on).   You’ll also have to evade the law if they catch you up to no good, while working your way up the ranks of the Triad.

There’s a brief storyline that serves as the tutorial, but eventually the game just sets you on your own to let you rove about and raid people.  The problem I’ve seen so far is that the content is repetitive. Bases look a lot alike, and there’s little variation stylistically. It would be nice if players could decorate these spaces, and would serve nicely for the F2P monetization I’m sure, but as of now you’re stuck with default options.  All you choose is from limited amount of locations to place your operations. Think WoW’s Garrisons.

Triad Wars is also a Free to Play PC game, which means they have to get your money somehow, right? There is, of course, a cash shop. And frankly, it could very well be Pay to Win, but with RNG in there to boot. Now there’s no direct PVP in TW, but you are competing against rival clans and players. So when players can buy card packs that could potentially grant excellent items and weapons, you know people will freak. But, from what I can tell, you can get everything from card packs by just buying it with in-game money as well.   The rest of the stuff in the shop are cosmetic items and cool looking vehicles. 

I’ve only been able to put in a few hours so far, but my biggest reservations about Triad Wars are its amount of content and its lack of female player characters. Now the “MMO” term. I get it, it is multiplayer, and there are thousands of players, and you are online. But there’s no real shared gamespace. Asynchronous helps clear it up, but a lot of players are going to try this thinking there are going to be other players with them… and there just aren’t. That doesn’t make it a bad game. In fact, it’s every bit as fun as Sleeping Dogs, with the added bonuses of more player ownership of your base and character. 

If UFG adds some sort of co-op mission or raids, they’ll really be in business I think, as the game itself is very polished and fun even if it’s light on things to do. Triad Wars may not hold you for hours at a time, but instead is perfect for a light session here or there. And frankly, that’s not a bad thing to have. We all love our deep MMORPGs, but sometimes it’s nice to get the feeling of an open world RPG without having to spend 2-3 hours to feel like you’re progressing.  If you want to take a look at Triad Wars yourself, you can grab one of several thousand keys we still have left over here.

Stay tuned later today and this week as our stream team takes to the streets and beats up some rival gangs too.


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.