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Life in the Alpha So Far

William Murphy Posted:
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It took a long time to bring ArcheAge over to the US and EU when Trion imported XLGAMES’ MMO. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Bluehole Ginno’s Action MMORPG, Devilian. Now just a few short weeks into the founder’s alpha the NDA has been lifted and Trion says beta is right around the corner. Today, we’re offering our thoughts on the alpha so far.

As we wrote from PAX Prime last month, Devilian plays a lot like Diablo meets TERA.  But that was only my first taste of what the game had to offer. I’ve since leveled two characters to 20 and just this morning powered through some quests to get to level 14 with an Evoker (mage). Leveling is definitely brisk and intentionally so in the early levels. I’m told by other players that things slow down around level 30, which coincidentally is when a lot of the game’s many systems have been fully revealed to the player. 

As you can see in the VOD of this morning’s stream, things start pretty basic with a hand-held tutorial and indeed the questing system itself is very much your standard “collect this, kill that, go here, and talk to this person” sort of system. Devilian won’t win any awards for its ingenuitive questing. When someone asked in Twitch chat what sets Devilian apart, the best answer I could think of is that this is one of a very few MMORPGs that plays like an Action RPG. That’s its hook. A lot of the game is standard MMORPG fare. Your questing path, at least to level 20, is linear and there aren’t multiple paths through the content.

Evoker Level 1-14 gameplay VOD

I’ve done the same few zones in the past couple of weeks, but because of the fast pace and interesting combat, I’ve enjoyed myself. Devilian is, and I don’t mean this in a bad way, is like TERA or other highly polished KR MMOs: you can just veg out and go questing or grinding, gaining levels, collecting loot, and improving your character.  But along the way, loads of other systems come into play. First it’s the Devilian “ultimate” form at level 10, and then guilds, and then dungeons, and then PVP battlegrounds, and then Rifts, and then Guild vs. Guild warfare, talismans, crafting, Infinite Hunting Grounds, Abyssal Tower, alternate advancement, and on and on.  It’s addictive in its simple, but layered gameplay.

There are issues though. For starters, the hit box on mobs is too small. This isn’t too much of a problem with ranged characters like the Evoker and Canoneer, but the Berserker and Shadowhunter require a more precise touch and you’ll often find yourself walking through your enemies instead of attacking them. Additionally, there are little “quest blurbs” as you take a new quest. They give you part of a first sentence, but to read the full quest text you have to click a little magnifying glass. It’s a part of the original KR UI, and it’s a little annoying to have to open your quest log when you accept a new quest if you care for more background. The good thing is that Devilian isn’t exactly reliant on its story, so you may not miss too much by skipping story bits.

One of the more troubling things, as you’ll see in the VOD, is that the first several hours are pretty much a breeze. Scapes came into chat while we streamed and said the difficulty being too low is a known issue around Trion and is one of the chief things they and Ginno are addressing during their current visit to the studio.  In short, it’s just too easy. Mobs don’t really agro and they don’t hit hard at all. While I’m told the game’s difficulty, especially in the later dungeons, gets quite intense, it’d be nice to at least have to pay attention a bit more early on. It’s fun to wreck mobs, but they should hit a little harder too. Make me use some of those potions I’m stocking up on.

The cash shop or marketplace is another area of small concern. Almost nothing in it seems harmful or P2W… except the costumes. Each one of these items comes with a tiny statistical bonus, and Scapes tells me that they’re very likely going to change or be removed entirely before open beta. But right now, they’re there and it’s never good in the west to see a stat bonus tied to a cosmetic purchased item. So hopefully they go the way of the do-do, or they can be bought with in-game currency just as easily as real cash. The stat bonus is small, like 2% health or 2% critical chance, but in late game PVP that could be the difference between life and death.

There are still a load of systems I’m keen to test, from the group content to the Infinite Hunting Grounds, crafting, Abyssal Tower, and Guild systems. I can’t say Devilian will be for everyone, but after 10+ hours in the Alpha, I’m happy I spent some money on this one.  As I said from my PAX preview, Devilian is the kind of game I need for my time limits and quick burst game sessions these days. Minus the nights I get to stream, I usually only get a half hour to an hour to play most games. Toddlers and wives do that to a nerd. And Devilian gives me the action RPG + full-on MMORPG combo I’ve been wanting for years.

I’d definitely prefer it be less linear (maybe it opens up later), and I’d love the difficulty to be boosted, but by and large I see myself playing it like I’ve played TERA these past few years: loving it for its combat and simplicity, and coming back to it whenever few other games can fit my specific gaming needs.  I know for a fact it won’t suit the diehard 4-8 hour a day gamer I used to be. But it definitely fits the hour here and there gamer habit I’ve been forced to adopt by life.  The beta process is due any day now, and I expect we’ll hear an announcement on that front soon. Yes you can get in the 24/7 alpha by shelling out an insane amount of money (like I sheepishly did), but if you’re just wanting to get a taste and see if it’s for you I’d recommend waiting for the beta phases or checking out the Thai version from Goodgames. We’ll no doubt have keys, and of course the game will be F2P once it’s in open beta.

For now, I’m content with my purchase, and I’m enjoying Devilian. But I certainly wouldn’t tell anyone else to go spend $150 just for alpha access. Especially since alpha progress will be wiped and the game’s content is so linear.  Now, that $150 may be worth it for the permanent Corgi pet, but not the alpha access. (Only slightly joking here…) Devilian is, in a lot of ways, a standard Korean Themepark MMORPG. But that’s only a bad thing if you don’t like that flavor of MMO. I like it with TERA, and I think I like it a good deal here with Devilian. It’s tailored for a very specific group, of which I happen to be a part. Your mileage, as always, will vary.


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.