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Hands-On Preview

Carolyn Koh Posted:
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Hero Online Launch Day Preview (Page 2 of 2)

Other Features
Carrier pigeons can be used to send messages anytime, anywhere, and your friends will be able to receive the message at anytime they choose, as an icon flashes until the message is retrieved. Sending a carrier pigeon is accompanied by suitable animation, your character actually goes through the motions of releasing a bird.

Gambling. Gambling comes in two different forms in Hero Online. There are lots which show up randomly after you kill creatures of your level and higher. A “lot” is an object that is used as a counter to determine an answer by chance. The graphic shows a bunch of scrolls in a container that’s shaken and one tossed out. As the scroll unfurls, you see what you’ve won; xp, items such as healing tea, another shake of the lot or perhaps you just lose. Another form are the “Fortune Boxes” that drop off creatures or are rewards from GM Quizzes that show up randomly. You have to pay to open these boxes and you may win or lose a fortune, or gain yet another fortune box.

GM Quizzes are simple math addition questions but can be annoying as they always seem to show up only when you are engaged with five creatures all 12 levels higher than you. Rumor has it that they are used to seek out botters as your character is teleported back to the starting Castle if you fail to answer or answer incorrectly 3 times… which may explain why my four year old niece ended up back in the Castle one day while playing with my pet. “I was letting your doggie kill the bad men and pigs but suddenly, suddenly I was in the Castle!” She was pretty upset. Poor dear.

Emotes There aren’t many and some of them are animated, some accompanied by sound or both. Players looking for emote systems as complex as EQ2 or WoW will be disappointed.

Boss / GM Events
GM events are run quite often as Netgame consider them as part and parcel of the fun to be had in the game. GMs lead scavenger hunts, there are GM bounty events or a Boss mob may need to be dispatched.

Grouping seems to happen randomly. No one asks to party. You simply respond to an invite or issue an invitation. If you like the party, you stay. If you don’t, you leave. The only time anyone speaks is to ask for a re-invite if the party gets disbanded or they get dropped accidentally.

Houses are the names for guilds here in Hero, and more are beginning to form as players get to know each other through message boards and through the open chat channel.

Server-wide chat. Currently in its final week of Open Beta, Hero Online has attracted a large number of English speaking players from all-over the world on 10 currently available servers. I’ve seen players from Malaysia, Singapore and the UK as well as the US chatting on the common server-wide channel and the community seems to be building up nicely there. Chi is required to use this chat (also known as Lion’s Roar), so although there seems to be at least one “interesting” character who likes to troll on each server, I have not seen much evidence of people spamming or cursing on the channel.

The player shop or personal shop can be accessed at level 10. That is, you select the feature and your character turns into a vendor, complete with banner over your head you can customize to say such things as “Black Wolves Cheap!” and a red banner pops up beside you proclaiming that you are now a vendor. As cash and item drops are plentiful, a robust economy based on players creating and selling goods is unlikely to happen. Also due to the type of game play, many players simply sell all items they obtain to a vendor or stash them in their bank (which is shared) for their other characters. After reporting that more weapons and armor suitable for the opposite gender to your character drops, this does not seem to happen anymore. The most popular items being sold at this time are gems which are used to enhance your weapons and armor, pets and of all things…. Fortune cases.

Play Experience
When I first started playing Hero Online, I was enthralled. Enthralled by the graphics, the smooth combat animation and beautiful scenery. As time passed and players advanced, the variety of mounts and intricacy of armor sets kept my screenshot finger busy.

Drops of cash, weapons and armor are plentiful, as are other useful items such as health and mana potions. You do start with killing animals, but they aren’t bats and rats. They are Wolves and Wild Boars as large as your character, Bears twice as large as a mounted player and fantastically dressed humans. Interestingly enough… the first bandits you encounter outside the starting city, look like Chinese court officials with handkerchiefs tied over their faces. Nice humor going there.

The grind… yes the grind. It did not take combat long to get repetitive as there were only so many zones and so many mobs to kill. Grouping does alleviate the boredom a little if you get into a good group and if there is a little interaction. Finding a good House gives you a little more fun, as does challenging yourself with higher level mobs – which also cuts down on xp grinding time.

I likened Hero Online to Diablo and mentioned several “Diabloesque” similarities, the difference of course, is that Hero is an MMORPG with PvP and live interaction with GM run events, there are choices for advancement instead of a rigid storyline, together with all the other intrinsic features of an MMORPG such as buying and selling, trading, guilds and camaraderie. The pet system adds flavor and we are promised a better quest system.

On the other hand, what made Diablo such fun and the feature I find lacking in Hero Online, was the character development. You had an entire advancement tree to play with and spells at every level. In Hero, you finally receive weapon skills and a profession skill at level 10 that you can put skill points into. You know? All those skill points you kept getting and wondering how the heck to use? Level 20 before you can purchase a horse… and although each book has 3 skills, it’s 15 more levels before you can get more skill books at 25, level 30 before the cool Wind Drift skill – an ability to “Drift with the wind” or fly… you get my point.

There are only four characters, and six types of weapon skills, bow, sword (single or double handed), throwing weapon, rod/spear & fist skills. Each character gets 2 types, and there are four professions to choose from. So re-playing the game with a different character is less satisfying than would be if each character type were unique. I lose count of the number of times I’ve killed Andariel in DiabloII with different characters. I’ve built a “pet” druid, a melee druid, a fire mage, a paladin, an assassin and wiped the cow level, numerous times. But I’m not terribly excited about playing another character to the higher levels in Hero Online.

Hero Online is a good looking game with fast action and several interesting features. For what it is, I have found it enjoyable. The graphics are excellent for a free game. Armor is intricately detailed and granted that some animation like the wolf pet’s combat animation is quite stilted and unnatural; most combat animation is a joy to watch. Remember that four year old niece of mine? She was watching as I played and said, “She’s pretty! And her sword doesn’t poke through her backside.” The devil is in the details, eh?

In conclusion I will say that players who enjoy the Diabloesque type games will probably enjoy Hero Online. Those who want a more immersive world with involving tradeskills… will not.

I’m still enjoying the Hero Online but I want more, especially in character development. As closed mouthed as Netgame has been about the full feature set, I’m sure we’ll all see much more content enter the game in the weeks ahead, and we’ll see what else comes in, what features are free and what is paid content in the Hero Shop.

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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.