Player Economy: Making it rain!
Don’t expect an auction house! This is one feature I absolutely love. Each player can buy a plot of land and build a house. After you purchase your plot, you can employ a merchant to sell goods on your plot for you. This allows the players to set and maintain the economy as they choose. Have a prime location? You can sell things a bit higher than say right next to town. This system is great but does need some tweaking. Sometimes it can be hard to figure out what the player is selling. If you’re lucky, the person has it all nice and organized on a table for your viewing pleasure! I think this is likely due simply to the current limitations on housing and player run merchants. To build a house, you first must buy a plot deed from the Carpentry shop for 1 gold and 40 silver. You then must purchase a blueprint, which ranges from 2 gold and 25 silver, all the way to 33 gold and 26 silver. Currently taxes are disabled, but once they are re-enabled you will have a weekly tax to pay based on your plot size. Failure to pay your taxes results in the auctioning of your plot, house, and its entire contents.
Gathering and crafting wasn’t something I had the time to do as of the writing of this impression. It’s very in depth and requires a lot of time investment. Gathering is straightforward, each node is one and done, first come first serve. You will not gather a resource with each swing, you will gain skill in the respected tree, such as lumberjack, which will allow you to gather increasingly more resources as you level up. The same applies to crafting, if you fail to craft something it wastes the resources it cost to craft. You may go to a bench with five times as much materials you need to craft an item and end up with no item at all due to failures. Crafting and gathering can be a full-time job if that’s your passion. Those who were wondering, yes you can tame animals. Just about every creature can be tamed and used as pets to attack your target using Beast Mastery. Taming horses, of course, results in a mount for you or your friends. They are still working on taming, but from what I hear Dragon Taming will be a thing in the future!
Dungeons are fun, sometimes. These dungeons are open to the public, which means you’re in there competing with everyone else to get the kills, loot, and experience. This leads to animosity, which leads them to trail hordes of monster on top of you to kill you. While not extremely difficult in packs of two, having six or more trailed onto you is almost guaranteed death. Then you get to the end to farm the last room, which has the best loot generally speaking, only to find that the mobs that spawn there are way weaker than the ones leading up to them. Huge letdown, I expected them to be a lot harder. Then you’ve got bugs that prevent spawning of mobs altogether. Thankfully they seem to have fixed some of those bugs, while the Sewers are still plagued by it, completely empty of anything but players expecting mobs to kill.
Group Mechanics are hit or miss
PVP and Group combat in general is okay at best right now. It’s fun, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the best it can be. Targeting is insanely hard without tab targeting. Tab targeting then targets other players instead of the mob you’re all attacking. If you have more than three melee players, it can be very hectic and hard to select the correct mob from a ranged character perspective. This directly translates into PVP. If you’ve got multiple targets ahead of you but have multiple friendly melee players right on top of them, it can be very hard to target that enemy player. This is something I really hope they can address soon. Group combat is fun, it can simply get very hard very quickly simply due to targeting mechanics.
Lastly let’s talk about bugs and the postponed steam release. It’s fair to say the game has many bugs still at play that need to be fixed. Server crashes happen, and even rollbacks occur. We had a large crash and rollback happen over the past weekend. The servers went down on Thursday and came back up on Monday. These things happen, and unfortunately, they cannot test every feature to the extent they should prior to releasing it to the live servers. This inadvertently ends up breaking something and causing a rollback of some kind. It happens, and I am very thankful that they postponed the steam release because of this. Let’s be honest, steam reviews can be extremely harsh. They can also hurt a game's reputation irreparably. The game is fun, but it’s not yet finished nor ready for something like Steam. This is just my opinion, but the game is still very much a Beta, and not ready for early access. There’s plenty to do, plenty of fun to be had, but that doesn’t mean it’s ready.
I sat down to talk to some players about their concerns about the game, what they thought about it, and what they’d tell aspiring players. I received a lot of the same responses across the board. “LoA is at the beginning stages of recapturing the UO magic, but it still needs more time to bake in the oven. I can definitely see it having the long-term appeal to a certain diehard fan base that UO did, and with it being 3d graphics and not dated 2d ones, I expect it’ll last much longer too.” They all seem to think this is really capturing the feel of Ultima Online, but it needs more time. Their concerns were also much alike: “I’d tell them it’s a classic sandbox experience. There’s nothing in-game to hold your hand. There’s no tutorial. There’s no pre-defined constraints.” It seems most players so far, myself included, feel the game is fun, but needs much more time. That new players need to understand that this isn’t a finished product, and it doesn’t hold your hand at all.
Legends of Aria is shaping up to be a great game. In my 30’s, I never expected to sit down and dive into a game like Ultima Online again, and yet here I am. It will take time for them to fix the issues at hand, but I have no doubt they will do it, and the game will prosper well for years to come. Fans of Ultima Online, and sandbox MMORPG’s altogether, are in for a treat. Expect great things, just don’t expect a finalized product. Legends of Aria is currently on sale on their website for $29.99.