Survival, the first frontier. Many games have delved into the premise of basic survival, with game features such as building shelters, crafting necessary tools, traversing and enduring the treacherous wilderness, and on occasion having fun doing these things. Wild Terra Online by Juvty Worlds Ltd. looks to double down on the hardcore-ness of survival games in this player-controlled sandbox RPG where it is up to the players to fill many of the traditional roles once performed by NPCs or, even in some cases, the developers, by adding roads, creating shops and building structures. For fans of the survival genre, does Wild Terra fulfill its purpose as the Sandbox Survival MMO to beat, or is it just a piece of dry toast on the lavish survival game buffet table?
The Survival Game genre has really exploded over the past several years, with games embodying just about every playstyle imaginable, with first person, third person, and isometric games inundating all platforms in short order. Wild Terra falls on the latter of those viewpoints with an isometric view, which generally works well for its building-centric gameplay. Graphically, Wild Terra won’t have you singing praises to friends and family, but there is a dated charm to it that is reminiscent of games like Icewind Dale, albeit the enhanced edition, but the UI and character models feel very similar.
There are a handful of servers to choose from. North American, Asian Pacific and European servers have both casual PvE and PvP variants, as well as a European Hardcore PvE server and regional Hardcore PvP versions. The differences between the modes are perceptually subtle but change gameplay substantially. Casual versions increase character progression, simplify mining and gathering, increase the amount of resources for harvesting, and you don’t drop equipped gear when you die. Hardcore versions reverse all of those options, making everything tougher. On PvE servers, your dominion, which is land that you own, acts as a safe zone. Players cannot attack you nor can they destroy your domicile. On PvP servers you and your buildings are at risk from other players.
For the purposes of this review, I played on the North American Casual PvE Server so I could see as much of the game as possible. Once loaded in, there is a tutorial that suggests several tasks and rewards you upon completion of them. I gathered items, cut down trees, and built a semi-fortified dominium. After earning my survival legs, I traveled forth into the unknown to build my empire. What I was met with was pretty much more of the same. In terms of survival, on the PvE servers, it’s quite simple to avoid death as long as you pay attention to what you are attacking and presumably where you are traveling. Wild Terra’s PvE servers are segregated into two parts, the Peaceful Lands and the Disreputable Lands, which is a PvP enabled zone where you are unable to build anything.
I couldn’t discern any reason to hunt or gather in the Disreputable Lands, but there was one point where I tried killing something far over my level, quickly died, and had to travel back to my camp through the Disreputable lands, always expecting some sort of conflict that never came. While the NA PvE server is filled with dominiums, throughout the entirety of my play time I only saw one other player. The gamescape is rife with player made structures, but few players to actually inhabit the lands, and nary an NPC to even make the appearance of fellow human settlers mucking about in the open wilderness. To add insult to injury, several of the largest player-made structures that I found, huge castles that probably took days or even weeks to make, did have auction house boards posted, with nothing on the auction house. These larger castle-like residencies with not even a bundle of sticks on the auction house added to the antiseptic feel of a less than Wild Terra.
Though Humans may be scant in the world of Wild Terra Online, animals are not. Polecats, foxes, and even wild boars are fairly common to see. Killing these animals on the other hand requires that you craft suitable weapons, and in the case of an animal like a wolf, you should certainly invest in some armor. Unfortunately, the combat system isn’t without it’s issues either. From the jump, even with wooden spears in your employ, the click to attack combat system isn’t just overly simplistic, it also isn’t particularly intuitive. I couldn’t count how many times that my character chased after a rabbit even though my weapon of choice was a sling, which is most definitely a ranged weapon. Many times, I found myself having to click repeatedly in order to start the whole “combat” process.
Where I found the most enjoyment in Wild Terra was on the building end of things. Truly, Wild Terra accomplishes an exceptional feat of making a very intricate yet gratifying crafting system. The short tutorial quests do not begin to delve into the complexities of crafting even the most simplistic second tier items such as a bronze ingot. For every one item that I wanted to make, there were associated items that I need to make first, branching out into further prerequisites to a dizzying degree. My small dominium was quickly filled with half a dozen necessary renaissance era pieces of equipment and machines from an Anvil to a Crucible. Tasks required to achieve my goals required hours of adventuring to gather the required materials, then turning those materials into other materials, ad infinitum until I ended up with a Bronze Sword.
Normally, I abhor crafting in games, but every item you gather, every node of copper you mine, every animal you slay and yes, every item you craft increases your characters progression and puts you closer to being able to craft the next tier. Before I knew it, I was actually having fun seeing how far I could push my character. In every situation you have the potential to fail in your endeavor. If you are crafting and you fail, you lose the materials, if you are mining and you fail, you could damage your tools. You also have the ability to critically succeed in what you are doing, such as making an item that has 110 percent it’s capabilities. Crafting isn’t entirely without issues as some items aren’t so clear cut as to how to create them. To make bronze it took 4 copper ingots and 1 tin ingot, and if I didn’t look that up on a Wild Terra wiki I would have never known and just thought the game was broken after adding only one ingot of each to the crucible and not obtaining a bronze ingot.
Wild Terra is a niche game, for a very specific kind of player. A player that has an underlying love to build their own Renaissance Homestead, adventure out to complete the required tasks to do so and, in the case of the PvP servers specifically, potentially battle other players to do it. The combat didn’t particularly resonate with me, the lack of players or NPCs to give off the perception of players didn’t enthrall me, but in the end, I found a modicum of enjoyment in Wild Terra as a relaxing crafting game. For the MMORPG player, the lack of seeing a lot of players on the screen, or in my experience, any other players at all, could severely hamper their enjoyment. Not to mention, though it’s obvious I will, some minor loading difficulties when traversing the world led to blacked out areas that haven’t been drawn yet and couldn’t viewed, which were minor nuisances in the grand scheme of things, but nuisances nonetheless.
Lastly, a quick touch on the Cash Shop, which has a plentiful number of items and services to obtain, didn’t have anything that particularly drew me in. However, for the PvP player, some of the items available could put you at an advantage over other players such as stat increasing scrolls, gear chests and schematics for building new things. Overall these items would have very little affect on PvE associated servers, but on PvP servers, some players may opt for an advantage as stats and gear truly trumps any kind of strategic advantage. With that in mind, for the right kind of MMO player, Wild Terra Online offers an old-school experience with a heavy crafting focus. If that sounds like something that appeals to you, Wild Terra is available on Steam right now.