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A World Full of Critters & Bad Guys

Jean Prior Posted:
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Innovation 5/10

I didn't really see anything that I'd consider new for the genre or for gaming in general.  A couple of cool features I noticed that I hadn't seen in most other games I've played are stat-giving character titles and an auto-use potion.  All the titles your character acquires over time include a stat bonus.  For example, once you earn your Envoy of Gaia title, you get +16 to Damage.  There were titles enhancing any of your character's stats or even their overall health or magic, and you can pick and choose which title based on what stat you want to boost and how high.  The other feature is a little box that you can add a potion to it.  You give it a percentage and then click the checkbox to turn it on.  Once your health bar hits the percentage you quoted, your character automatically uses the potion.  It kind of reminded me of the Legend of Zelda games that let you keep a fairy in a bottle and it would auto-revive you.  One of the cool things about potions in this game is that they could be used multiple times in battle after their fairly short timer expired. 

Polish 9/10

For a game still in beta, even if labeled as 'Open', the game has a surprising amount of polish to it.  I'm a stickler for proper spelling on a good day, and sometimes when games are imported from another country, the language suffers for it.  However, in my time playing the game, I only spotted two actual typos in dialogue boxes.

Also for a game in so-called beta, there were surprisingly few bugs.  The game didn't crash or lag or suffer from the usual weirdness with the client or missing mobs or what have you.  If I hadn't been aware it was still considered beta, I'd have assumed it was already post-launch.  The only real issue I had was at a time of high traffic and not being able to connect to the servers at all.  They just added one over the weekend and no doubt will be adding more when they hit their for-real launch date. 

Longevity 6/10

This game fulfills the basic definition of 'fluff'.  It's a game that's easy to get into but also easy to set down and forget in favor of more engrossing games.  For the impatient gamer who wants to PVP from day one, they're going to be disappointed, although they'd easily hit the level 40 requirement to begin PVP within that first thirty days.  For someone who wants to craft, again, level 40 until you can scratch that particular itch.  The game is intended to appeal to the Final Fantasy sort of crowd, but doesn't really have the sort of depth we've come to expect from that franchise.  I could see it appealing to someone without means who wanted to play a similar sort of game without paying a monthly subscription fee.  That being said, because it's free and easy to pick up, I'm likely to keep it loaded on my gaming rig and trot it out for a couple of hours of fun here and there, much like EverQuest II.

Social 7/10

While the chat options are there, it doesn't seem as if many players use them other than repeated requests for groups for higher-end content and the trade channel to shockingly spend all of their time actually trying to trade items.  During my play time, one of the Aeria volunteer Game Sages popped in on the public channels and announced their presence and willingness to answer questions and help out.  Either everyone whispered that individual or no one wanted or needed to talk to them, because there were no publicly-visible questions to that volunteer. 

Most characters I saw in the lower-end levels didn't have guild tags, so there's very little information on guilds at all at the very beginning.  Whereas in any other MMO I've played, I'd see probably 75% guilded characters and 25% non-guilded even in starting areas, I'd estimate that perhaps 10% of players I saw were in guilds.  There were certainly plenty (and repeated) requests for players to join guilds, generally with the requests denoting specific rules for those guilds, not too unusual from any recruitment message on any other MMO. 

Because players cannot use mail until level 10 and cannot plop a stall down to sell things until level 20, there was absolutely no gold-selling spammers in all the spaces I played in, which I found absolutely refreshing after the umpteenth person I've reported for spamming gold-selling on Fleet in SWTOR.

Value  6/10

Honestly, given this game is under the Aeria umbrella of titles, I was expecting a full-on pay-to-win situation, or a SWTOR-style in-your-face heavy emphasis on buying all the cool-looking cosmetic stuff from a cash shop.  However, during the tenure of my gameplay, I never once came up against an ad for something that would require real money to buy, either directly or via purchasing virtual currency.  The typical Aeria Item Mall is present, but I never felt that any of that stuff was necessary to my gameplay. There were a ton of things to buy to help enhance gameplay or to speed up progression, but you can earn top-end gear in-game. Other than one quest to remind me and the accidental muscle-memory of hitting 'I' for inventory, I was hardly aware it was even there. 

The items in the mall are purchased either with Aeria Points that you buy with real money or Loyalty that you can earn in-game by completing certain quests.  In a couple of days' play in the lower levels, I'd earned 128 Loyalty, which was enough to buy some lower-end items, but not most.  Players could even buy Founders' Packs directly in-game.  After doing the math, the 29900 AP top of the line Diamond Pack which grants you ten in-game items and one in-forum title, as well as two real-world items that they would mail to your home would cost someone in the ballpark of $250 USD, the exact amount depending upon which method of payment you used and how many points you bought at one time.

Overall, Aura Kingdom represents a welcome turn from Aeria Games to making a decent and family friendly MMORPG that doesn't try to constantly pick at your wallet. In offering competent if tired gameplay mechanics, Aura Kingdom manages to be a fun, polished, and addictive experience that most folks looking for an in-between game should definitely check out. It's not for everyone, but then... what game is?

  • Bright anime color palette
  • Ease of use, good timesink
  • Lack of gold-selling spam
  • Click-to-move cannot be disabled
  • Limited crafting options
  • No PVP until level 40
  • Story is a little bit thin and basic

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Jean Prior