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Hands On: First Look

Carolyn Koh Posted:
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We've been in the beta and file this first look, in advance of a full preview

Many, many years ago, in the age of our forefathers, the sun disappeared as darkness spread throughout the heavens and the earth. In this darkness, Twelve men, "Demons", mysteriously appeared shaking the very foundations of the earth with their chaos and destruction.

It was bad... very bad... but a mysterious hero appeared and instilled hope. Devising a plan which utilized his superior skills, the mysterious hero lured the Twelve Demons into a trap where 3,000 of the hero’s best soldiers were awaiting. After ten long and grueling days of nonstop combat, all Twelve Demons were slain at the cost of all 3,000 of the hero’s men.

Our hero survived, though he would be treacherously murdered and rumors that the Twelve Demons return to the land... we now seek new heroes to keep the land and the people safe. Are you that Hero?

First Look
A highly successful MMORPG in Asia, MGame USA brings it to the English speaking world. At first look, it feels and plays like a cross between Street Fighter and Diablo – lots of martial arts moves and click-to-move/fight/equip/drink unlimited potions. Hero Online looks pretty simplistic at first glance. You are given a choice of four characters, two male (Hunter and Warrior) and two female (Assassin and Physician). Each has a description which tells you the type of combat it is good for and the weapons you can use. You also choose a profession (or class) at level 10, and despite their descriptions, any character type can elect to be any class – Assassin, Hunter, Physician or Warrior.

You have 3 character stats to build:

  • Strength – which affects the weight you can carry, hitpoints and how hard you hit,
  • Dexterity – which affects your defense and speed of attack and,
  • Intelligence – which governs your Chi (or lack thereof) or power, which is required for various skills used in the game.
I picked an avatar and entered the game. Then I went to get more potato chips and refilled my glass of water as your character takes 30 seconds to activate each time you zoned. Make use of that time, young Grasshopper. Ignore all the other players that zone on top of you and Meditate. That is how you recover from your internal injuries.

As you level, you gain stat points and skill points. The Martial Arts Kyu/Dan system of ranking is employed. Kyu being a "student" rank and Dan being a "master" rank, in the martial arts world, Kyu ranks count downwards and Dan ranks count upwards. How they are employed in Hero Online is an upward count, using Dan ranks as a main level and Kyu ranks as sub-levels. So you started off at 1st Kyu and at level 10 became 1st Dan 0 Kyu. Got it? Okay. Good.

The problem I faced was that the manual on the website really wasn’t much help and there were no in-game tutorial or NPCs who guided you in what to do. So I was standing there with several thousand other beta testers running around, all asking the same questions that I couldn’t ask because the "Lion’s Roar" (worldwide chat channel) required Chi to use and at level one, I didn’t have enough Chi. All the better to prevent annoying abuse by those simply creating new characters to spam a channel but for someone entering the game, it was completely frustrating.

Given my Diablo experience, I looked at my inventory. 3 weapons that I required 2nd Kyu to use. Point and click to move. No problem. The camera didn’t follow "over the shoulder". Problem. How do I swing the #$!! Camera? I cheated and asked the PR rep. the next day.

I moved on outside the castle. See those wolf pups? I attacked them by double-clicking on them. My character screamed "Kaieeeee!" and went after them with feet and fists. After several kills, I was level 2 and told to go see an NPC to get a quest. I tried out all the weapons available and then some as the wolf pups dropped weapons, armor and gold. Where they kept them, I don’t know and didn’t want to know.

I watched all the different character’s attack animation, graphical effects and sounds. If there’s one thing I can say about Hero Online is that the graphics are clean, bright and effective. The combat animation really flowed beautifully and I enjoyed the martial art poses. Graphical effects accompanying each move and skill attack were not overly intense or blinding and indeed, I enjoyed going into areas with more players to see what their characters did.

Game Features
The pet system in Hero Online looks pretty involved. Pets level with you and there are different pets. Those that you can ride, those that will fight with you and those that you can ride into battle with. They can either be tamed by the Hunter profession or bought from them. Horses are also sold by NPCs The first animal you can tame is the Black wolf and in only the 5th day of Open Beta, I’ve seen players riding White Tigers. Which are 8th Dan (level 80) pets.

There is also a form of crafting in game which is handled by a Blacksmith NPC. Again, little information is available except for the most accessible type, Composition. Ala Diablo, you can improve your weapons and armor by inserting Gems into it. Be warned. If you fail, you lose all. Your precious gems as well as your item.

What else did the game feature besides neat graphics? Kill things, loot stuff, kill things. Get a quest. Kill more things? Information from MGame is lean, but we are told that the game really takes off at level 30 and are promised more features.

Jack Stanley, the lead designer has told of the messenger system, the dueling and PVP warfare system, the master / disciple system, carrier pigeons, side love stories and more, which were not available during closed beta and are being patched into Open Beta.

Information about Hero Online is only now trickling in on its official website. As successful as this game is in Asia, I can’t help but feel that there is more to the game than meets the eye, and will have another report a few weeks further into Open Beta. I recommend a "try for yourself" and read the Tips and Guides on the official fan site forums to learn the ins and outs of the game, and I leave you dear readers, with a few tips of my own.

  • Save everything at the lower levels. You have plenty of bank space (120 slots) and the space is shared. Gold drops a plenty. Items are expensive.
  • Create both a male and female character as armor and weapons are gender specific and the opposite gender stuff drops more often.
  • Internal injuries accumulate and affect combat abilities. Remember to meditate.
  • You can only choose a Class at level 10. Do so. Skill points can only be used after you choose your class and you buy the skill book. You need 15 INT to "equip" the skill book.
  • Control click another character to access the party system. You gain xp faster in a group. You have to hurt the animal to about 10% health before you can tame it.

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Carolyn Koh

Carolyn Koh / Carolyn Koh has been writing for MMORPG.com since 2004 and about the MMO genre since 1999. These days she plays mobile RTS games more, but MMOs will always remain near and dear to her heart.