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PAX Prime 2015 Hands-On with the Action MMORPG

William Murphy Posted:
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Every time Suzie Ford and I chat about Diablo, I always wind up bemoaning the lack of fantasy MMORPGs that play like Diablo. I really and thoroughly enjoy action RPGs. I have since D1 first scared the crap out of me with the Butcher. You’ll imagine my excitement then that Trion and Bluehole Ginno’s Devilian really is every bit the Action MMORPG I’ve been wanting for over a decade.

During our two-hour window with Trion’s games, we played about half an hour of Devilian as the game’s dual-wielding melee class the Berserker. Yes, Devilian’s classes are gender-locked. This is something you’ll either accept or loathe, but Trion does say they’re aware of the western desire to have this changed and Ginno is considering the change but it’s not an easy thing to do since each class’ animations and rigs are designed for just one race. So in short, don’t hold your breath. But if you let that fact keep you from playing Devilian you just might miss out on something really fun.

As you’ve probably seen with the game’s Thai version, Devilian uses a traditional bird’s eye view that can be zoomed in really close to also play something like a traditional 3rd person MMORPG. But given that you can click to move as well as use WASD, it plays a lot better from a pulled-back vantage point. The zoom in feature is probably best for towns or when you want to view your character’s looks.

We’ve already spent copious amounts of words explaining the game’s many features. But if you can name a feature in any theme park MMORPG in the past ten years, Devilian has it. With the exception of housing, it has mounts, pets, alternate advancement, raids, instant adventure, public events, guild vs. guild PVP, group dungeons, crafting, runes, and more and more. Victoria Voss said it’s one of those MMOs where your first time through the leveling content is spent unlocking and exploring a new feature every few levels. Meanwhile the game’s alternate advancement is an account wide system so the perks and stats you earn from one character can be applied to all.

The Berserker plays a lot like you’d expect. Charges and dashes to cover ground, big sweeping attacks for some nice conical melee AOE, and lots of other attacks that make you feel quite the badass. It’s sort of like D3’s Barbarian if you focused solely on dual wielding. Each class has its own weapon type, not unlike WildStar, or TERA, so you can’t be a Berserker and decide to use a two-handed weapon or anything like that. Dual-swords is your modus uperandi, but there are literally hundreds of variations of the swords in the game, from basic starter weapons to the ultra-rare types.

At first it was a little weird to be able to use both left click to move and WASD, but I soon got used to it. You can assign attacks to left and right mouse, and the whole usual hotbar as well. There are no limited amount of skills here. If you have them, you can slot them. And the skill trees are decidedly deep as well. With three distinct skill trees per class, and each one have multiple paths per tree, the opportunity to try out multiple builds is there. You’ll also be able to buy extra build slots so you can swap between different builds on a whim, just like Rift.

With the Western Alpha beginning next week, and maintaining a 24/7 alpha with founder’s beta weekends (the founder’s packs are out now, if a little steep in price), it seems that Trion’s right on target for release this year. And while I think the founder’s packs are steep in price, you’ve got to remember: there’s no need to buy one. Beta key events will be forthcoming and the game will be F2P when it launches before year’s end. So if you’re on the fence, don’t rush into buying the founder’s yet and you won’t get burned.

I’ll probably opt in for one of the packs myself, if only because I really want the Corgi Pet/Bank/Vendor. Like Torchlight, Devilian has pets that actually serve a purpose. The founder’s pack Corgi is one of the more useful ones available in that it can go to town and sell your junk, pick up your loot as it drops, and store your extra gear in its saddlebags. Plus… it’s a Corgi. Believe it or not, Trion didn’t even ask for the pet to be made. Apparently the little stubby-legged furballs are just as popular in Korea as they are here in the states.

Credits are the game’s real money currency, and it’ll buy you thinks like XP boosts, cosmetic items, health potions, pets, and mounts. But all of the items, Trion confirmed, will be either cosmetic or convenience-based. No gear will be purchased in the store.  There are titles in the game, and like some other games the titles can have stats associated with them. But the good thing here is that you don’t have to equip one title to have its stats. If you have them achieved, you get the stats regardless. Still, Trion’s aware that stat-based titles are a tough sell here and if they beta and alpha turn out to think they’re unfair or bad for the game’s PVP, the stat bonuses will be removed and they’ll remain as purely cosmetic titles.

I’m probably in the minority, but Devilian really speaks to me. It’s exactly the kind of Action RPG I’ve wanted for ages. One that’s also a true MMORPG. Hundreds of players will rove the game’s maps, taking on challenges, world bosses, PVP bosses, and rift events. If they add housing like Rift’s or WildStar’s, I’ll be set for ages. While the four classes and gender locking is a bit limited, the potential for tweaking and min-maxing your character (especially when you add in the Talisman and Devilian systems) is absolutely the kind of thing I could play with for months. The question remains, will there be enough content to keep players going for months on end? Or will the experience be more like Diablo when you come back to the game every now and then after playing through the storyline once or twice?

Hopefully, it’s the former, but as a F2P game the latter wouldn't be so bad either. And we won’t have to wait too long to find out.


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.