In October of 2016, an MMOARPG known as Elite Lord of Alliance rode a glowing sparkled pony into the sunset as, then publisher, Webzen, announced its closure. Fans believed in that instance that ELOA was never to be seen again, and rightly so. As long-time readers may recall, though I wouldn’t fault them if they don’t, the MMORPG.com review of ELOA sat precisely at 5, with ELOA taking heavy hits on the terrible localization, severe grind and questionable monetization. Fast forward to today, and the resurrection of ELOA has come, branded under a new publisher and brandished with a new name, Warlords: Awakening has risen from the digital grave to christen a host of new western players with a Korean MMOARPG that woefully underperformed not but two years prior.
As a major boon to Playwith Inc., however small that boon might be, I never had the opportunity to play ELOA. Loading into the game with fresh eyes may be exactly what Playwith Inc. needs to make the former ELOA palatable to the greater MMO base in 2018. Unfortunately, right out of the gate, I did run into several technical issues that had to do with my multi-monitor setup. Simply attempting to load into the game caused several problems, the resolution was way off, with no direct way to fix it client-side. You actually have to load into the game first before you can select the proper resolution, and even in those circumstances, those settings are completely forgotten upon every subsequent login.
In the character creation screen, one major issue I had was that, after creating my character, I couldn’t name him. There was a video of my character executing abilities overlapping the text box. Apparently, this again had something to do with the resolution, which later on I was able to cure, and didn’t experience when I played on my laptop, but in the moment, as I face-rolled my keyboard to varying degrees of effectiveness to finally get my character named, I couldn’t help but feel a little early onset disillusionment of my upcoming experience.
Character creation as a whole isn’t terrible. The art style, while feeling somewhat dated with the Unreal Engine 3, is vaguely reminiscent of one of my favorite franchises, Torchlight. The characters are anime inspired, and there are enough choices for your hair, eyes and face so that your character can come out as somewhat unique. Despite many different customization options, female characters appear to be perpetually impaired by some sort of earthquake that incessantly causes parts of their bodies to jiggle uncontrollably. There are 4 races and 5 class options, with 3 battle stances per class, which definitely gives each class some diversity in how they look and how they can be played. For my first character, I chose a Psychic, primarily because it has stances that can heal but it is also an effective damage dealing class.
Once loaded in, I had to make several control changes, as many western players may tend to do. By default, the arrow keys are utilized for movement, in addition to the mouse which will allow you to click to move. Remapping everything to WASD was a necessity for me to feel “at home”, though basic attacks require that you click on an enemy with the mouse to attack. From the get-go questing is simplistic, with very little to grab your attention and pull you into the story. Quests aren’t voiced, though NPCs often do say something when you speak with them, though rarely does it have anything to do with why you’re speaking with them.
As one moseys along from quest area to quest area, it’s starkly apparent that players won’t have to worry about enemy spawn rates. Mobs respawn extremely quickly, and the very closed in spaces are swarming with baddies hell bent on stopping you from whatever it is you are trying to accomplish. Most of the quests I’ve experienced revolved around mowing down mobs, or utilizing items in the designated areas. As traditional MMO tropes pour in, the game begins to feel a little more fleshed out, albeit sterile, lacking nearly any multiplayer involvement throughout much of the leveling experience. Combat and loot essentially mimics ARPG games, with some modest exceptions to the diversity of skills a player has at their disposal at any given moment.
While I found that it’s a nice addition to each class to allow multiple stance changes, the world, loot tables and questing became far too bland for stance swaps to spice up the combat enough to make gameplay palatable for extended periods of time. Traveling from one area to another, running into hoards of enemies and dispatching them swiftly regardless of the current stance I was in decreased the necessity to change into any other battle stance apart from the Psychics Halidom stance, but I could easily have replaced Halidom with any other battle stance with the same results. In addition to the three battle stances players have access to, the final form, known as the Warlord Transformation, is available for players that would like a temporary boost to combat, though I largely found it unnecessary during my play time.
Over the several iterations of what is now known as Warlords: Awakening, players should expect nothing less than a game with an abundance of content. Arena Battles are fairly common. Dailies are in place for high level players looking for a reason to log in each day. Pets are not only obtainable but abundant. Lastly, the item shop is on par with what most players should expect from most online games to date. XP Potions, Pet and Armor Skins, and Resurrection Flasks are all available for those that are looking to spend a little cash for the, mostly convenience oriented, items.
ELOA, or Warlords: Awakening, or whatever its next iteration may be, is a solid MMOARPG that has somehow made it through several lackluster receptions to become what, and where it is today. The gameplay is surprisingly solid, the pet system is fleshed out and enjoyable and despite minor inconveniences, such as strict inventory management, and a sometimes too-busy UI, the game has a lot to offer. Unfortunately, perhaps the biggest pitfall here is that, despite the surprising successes of what Warlords Awakening does right, its severely bland, seemingly soulless world, which includes the entirety of the leveling experience, places this far down on my “want to play” list. It feels as though the game has been copied, and not created. Where there is no real breath of life into a title that has continually been rehashed, and any originality has been lost long ago. For players that have no other ARPGs to play, there is something to be had here, a solid time-sink, but don’t expect Warlords: Awakening to do much more than put you to sleep.