Atlantica Online comes from well known developer, Nexon, who have brought us some of the most popular free-to-play MMORPGs over the years. Games such as Maplestory, Mabinogi and recently Vindictus have all been a staple on the F2P market. Atlantica is another one of their titles which, from what I have seen, has a bit of a following. Propelling you into real world locations, Atlantica, takes you on a journey to find the lost land of Atlantis. The game has been on the market for a few years now, and just recently got a massive expansion, so I took another look at Atlantica to see if it withstood the test of time.
Aesthetics - 6/10
Launched back in 2008, Atlantica was a much anticipated release from Nexon. Gaining ground with their cult hit Maple Story and then later Mabinogi. What was given in the form of Atlantica, was a world created around our own, filled with creatures of myth and legend. It’s a world full of colour and vibrancy, but sadly the engine does show its age. If you’re one for gameplay, you won't have much of a problem, but the Lineage 2, Korean-style influence doesn’t look up to par on today's MMO market. Style wise, the developers over at NDoors have managed to construct real world locations with a fantasy twist.
In terms of the User Interface, it’s very clunky and becomes a pain to navigate at times. The quest log is also pretty buggy at times. Along with this is the score that sounds like it has been ripped straight out of Gladiator. Not that this is a bad thing, I loved that film, but it does have some cheesey undertones and a sense of pretense.
Gameplay - 8/10
Atlantica Online shines through its gameplay. Especially the unique combat system. The game has been marketed as a unique strategic experience and it does offer this much. Atlantica uses a turn-based system. Think old school final fantasy, except your attacks are bound to the mouse.
The turn-based system offers a strategic take on the modern MMORPG and brings back that classic JRPG feel, harkening back to the days of Final Fantasy and Breath of Fire, a little bit of a novelty in the MMO market even five years into its life.
With the advent of the turn-based combat, this allows you to fill up your party with what Atlantica calls Mercenaries. Mercenaries allow you to fill your party without having to wait for or find a group. There are 28 mercenaries in total, ranging from melee, range and casting types. Offering different strategic combinations and builds when going into fights.
Character creation is limited, but is as expected. Choosing from a set of faces, hairs and colors determines how your character looks. In addition to this there are nine classes to choose from. Ranging from some of the basic mercenary classes on offer, to unique builds such as the Musician and Maniac. All have different abilities and benefit one another, whether it be statistically or in combat.
Atlantica also boasts a huge number of Dungeons and Raids. Many can be done individually or through quests, allowing for a lot of single player progression. But for the hardcore player, there are a variety of Guild and Nation dungeons/raids. As you progress through the game, you’ll gain the opportunity to enter these dungeons and raids, gaining rare loots and the chance to fight through some fantastically crafted instances. Even the Grand Canyon is in there!
Competitive PvP is also on offer in AO, allowing the player to participate in leagues and create challenges for opponents to test their skill, catering to the competitive gamer. Interestingly enough there's a fair amount of depth to the PvP system, with a variety of leagues to participate in and even server wide championships. Events are often implemented weekly to keep the game active and give players something to work towards.
An in-depth crafting system is also in place. With up to 34 different crafting skills to learn and a progression of 100 levels to go through to craft or enhance items, weapons and armour. Almost every item in Atlantica is crafted so at least a base a knowledge of crafting is needed. The games economy is also player-driven, with a supply-and-demand system in place to allow constant economic stability in Atlantica.
April, May and June also saw the release of Atlantica’s most extensive update: Rise of Atlantis. This brought the addition of three major content updates throughout each of the three months. The first update “Awakening”, probably the most significant of the three, adds the continent of Atlantis to the game. Although as mentioned the game’s engine is substantially dated, developers have done a great job of designing this brand new continent surrounded by technology, myth and intrigue.
A new main character, Atlantian, has also been added to the game, allowing for a deeper selection of races and classes. Both new classes, Battle Mage and the Blade Master are very much focused around the expansion, with skills and aesthetics based on magic in which would be relevant to the Atlantis myths.
Tying in with the unique mythology surrounding the Atlantis myths, new mercenaries have also been introduced including a hulking mechanical Atlantian known as Gigas and Chironia, a magical creature forged by the same race. Both have unique abilities, with Gigas probably standing out most, becoming a healer and dealing heavy damage at the same time.
Rise of Atlantis is a vast update. Adding a whole host of content and expanding the game in a way in which it has never seen before. What shines the most about the expansion is the design and the twist on the Atlantian mythology. The vast zones added provide tough challenges, in addition to a huge new raid which sees players chase down their foes for a legendary sword.
Innovation - 7/10
Being an innovator is important for an MMO. Bringing new features to the table can often raise a lot of awareness for the game and surround it with a substantial amount of attention. For Atlantica, it has managed to use a mechanic which has been often seen in single-player games, and bring it to the MMO market. The combat system has been developed very well. In my time with the game I’ve not come across any issues, and brings back a lot of nostalgia for me. Which is why I think I’ve enjoyed playing this game so much.
Over the years Atlantica has been updated a staggering amount of times, and even still continues to grow. With this growth, it has gained masses of content and refinement to its systems. With the in-depth competitive PvP system and the various of dungeons/raids on offer, Atlantica has huge amounts of meat for a free-to-play MMORPG.
Polish - 7/10
Atlantica does show its age, even if only graphically. But what it does have is constant support and updates from the Nexon team. There are regularly scheduled weekly maintenance slots, with the team constantly fixing bugs and stabilizing the servers. Even over four years down the line, it’s nice to see a dedicated team still working hard on a game that has been in the public arena for a number of years.
Notably there are a few bugs and UI issues I have encountered in my time playing Atlantica, but nothing that is game breaking, nor that puts me off of playing. With a dedicated team such as Nexon’s, I’m sure that these issues and more will be fixed in the near future.
Longevity - 8/10
Nexon’s Atlantica has a huge amount of content, as you might expect for a game that has been on the market for a number of years. Features such as the competitive PvP system allow for server wide championships and leagues to be played for huge prizes. In addition to this a vast number of Dungeons and Raids await the player to be conquered with guilds, nations, squads or just individually. The combat also breathes some fresh air into the MMO scene, with a tactical turn-based take on the genre.
The game world and locales featured in AO have been creatively designed to resemble real-world environments, adding a mythical twist. With the content on offer and what has been designed as a sort of massive JRPG, Atlantica Online offers hours upon hours of content, that I’m sure will see the player lost in the world through at least their first few months of playing.
Social - 7/10
Socially, Atlantica boasts an “Advanced Community” system. Players have the ability to control towns and hold government over them within a Guild. Once in power you’ll have control of policies such as security, culture, industry and the construction of buildings. From here you’ll have the potential to form your own nation, become King and wield powers no other player possesses. In addition to this, you can wage war on other nations to increase your power and wealth. It’s a unique take on the social aspects of the game, requiring a lot of resolve and interactivity between the community.
A mentoring system is also in place to help you get to know the more experienced players. You can either become a mentor or an apprentice, taking a new player under your wing, or just sharing your experiences with one another, rewards are offered when milestones are hit and it’s a great way to become familiar with other players.
Value - 8/10
With everything mentioned so far in this review, Atlantica is a massive game, filled to the absolute brim with content to conquer and explore. With a variety of dungeons and raids to tackle, competitive PvP, an in-depth social system and a vast crafting mechanic, Atlantica gives fantastic value for an almost completely free game.
One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is the Item Mall. The Item Mall in Atlantica features a variety of items ranging from crafting enhancements down to cosmetics. Nearly all items are crafted in this game, so the use of crafting enhancements could become useful in the future, although not needed.
Atlantica Online is a game that shows its age, but what it gives even five years into its life is a unique MMO gaming experience, that many free-to-play titles cannot even attempt. The unique lore background, style and combat system are welcome novelties to the genre, and also look back to the nostalgia filled 8-Bit Final Fantasy JRPG days.
Its unique social system, competitive PvP and dungeons/raids offer a vast amount of depth to this already huge game catering for all types of MMO players. The Rise of Atlantis update also sees Atlantica Online expand like never before. With new content such as raids, challenging upper-level zones, new gear to craft and legendary weapons to chase, Atlantica offers a deep and varied experience. This really is an MMORPG filled to the brim with content, and a dedicated team of support staff keep this in check on a regular basis. Go check it out for yourself, there’s something in there to satisfy everyone.