Allods Online: ‘Open beta’ day 1

Tell me if this sounds slightly familiar: overcrowding, spawn-stealing, loot lag, idiot chat, kill/collect 10 whatevers. Nope, it’s not 2004 and WoW, it’s 2010 and Allods Online. Amazing how far we have come after all these years! But it’s cool guys, it’s just open beta… of a F2P game, where you get to keep your characters. But it’s open beta because they still might make changes! (because you know, once you go live, you can’t make changes to an MMO). Ah the MMO genre, because as confusing as we make the games, we make all the marketing around them even harder to understand (hi STO).

Another inquiry: Does Allods look better or worse than current-day WoW? Since it’s been close to 10 years since I’ve played WoW, my memory is a bit hazy, but man does Allods look budget, and no, the whole ‘but it’s stylized guys!’ thing is no excuse. Oddly/poorly placed 2d sprites, at times bad mixtures of low and high-rez textures right next to each other, and an overall limited draw distance hurt the presentation, as do the first mobs you fight being rats, snakes, deer, and cats (really? 2010 and your best foot forward is killing/collecting cat parts?). Bonus points for making your first repeatable rep-grind quest (at level 4, whoo!) the most annoying one of the bunch (collect 10 plant leaves, a truly epic task given the fact that they have a slow spawn rate and dozens of people camping each blend-into-the-ground leaf).

And given that you are not making ANY money on this release, since your cash shop is not even up yet and there is no initial/box cost, why not make things playable and enjoyable for everyone and stagger your launch? Why not give closed beta testers a two day start, get them out of the starting zones, and then let in the next wave of people? Have they released a “zomg guys we never thought we would have this many people, even after all our extensive research, we are working to secure more hardware to meet this incredible and overwhelming demand!” statement yet?

Looking beyond the negative first impression however, Allods does do a few things right. Assuming the guide is correct, highlighting the stats your class uses most is a nice touch when trying to decide what armor to wear or what upgrade to pick when you level up. The game also runs well (it should, considering the graphics, but that’s not always a given) even with dozens of people on my screen with everything maxed, and for the hour or so we were online, the server stayed up. The quest text was well written and is so far interesting, plus I like how each quest has a little indicator icon telling you the style of the quest. Anything that draws attention to the ‘important’ quests is a good addition when you are so heavily quest-based. Bit too early to talk about class choices or function/utility, but I do find it odd that my druid so far has a mix of melee/ranged attacks, seems to be a caster-type, and has a combat pet without a pet hotbar.

But the biggest plus for Allods was that Aria lasted over an hour even in the sub-optimal conditions, so that’s a success right there. Hopefully in the next few days the crowd rolls forward and we don’t find ourselves playing ‘tag the mob’ with ten other people. Rumor has it Allods has a slow combat system initially, but when everything dies in .5 seconds, it’s hard to tell.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Allods Online, beta, Combat Systems, MMO design, Rant, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Allods Online: ‘Open beta’ day 1

  1. silvertemplar says:

    I guess the main thing you have to take home with you is the big fat “FREE” written over it. Now what is the alternatives in that area? RoM ? DDO ? A horde of Asian grinders?. So i guess i’d compare this MMO with those -first- and then look at how it lives up to WoW.

    To put it another way if a FREE MMO remotely lives up to WoW, even if it only “matches” WoW, then i guess we can all see what is going happen here , right?

    • SynCaine says:

      Problem is I value my time more than my money (on the scale of $15 a month), so Allods being ‘free’ or $15 a month really does not factor into how I view the gameplay. If anything, given my experience with F2P games, I’d rather Allods be a monthly sub game.

      • pitrelli says:

        ‘If anything, given my experience with F2P games, I’d rather Allods be a monthly sub game.’

        Thats exactly why I’m holding off playing it, from what I’ve read from other bloggers its more of the same (WoW-alike but with pirate ships that float in the air and need 24 people to run)but with hamsters as a playable race.

        I might consider pickin it up at somepoint aka when Keen puts up his post telling everyone he was wrong and its an awful game…anulling his previous 400 post drooling about how good it is.

        Yeah anyway if I wanna play WoW I just umm play WoW £8.99 a month really aint too hefty a price tag.

      • Werit says:

        I like that, Time > Money. Pretty much describes how I feel about gaming these days. I’ll happily pay more for a better experience.

      • silvertemplar says:

        Well true. As i mentioned further down.

        Money does not equal Quality. In fact looking at Cryptic, Money means diddly squat as to the content,quality or even superiority of an MMO. So i find it a little silly of people saying or believe a “subscription” MMO is better simply because you’re paying. That’s blatantly false.

        Now, the aspect about Allods and being Free that everyone is missing is, not whether the game is “quality” or “innovative” or “better”. It’s the social factor, the same social factor that’s pulling people towards WoW, even if they don’t even know what an MMO is or should be.

        Alot of people play WoW -because- alot of people play WoW….[not for any other special gameplay reason].

        I’ll just leave this with one game: Runescape.

        • pitrelli says:

          ‘Alot of people play WoW – because – alot of people play WoW’

          Really? Thats a bit of a weird and presumptuous statement is it not? Any particular studies to back that up?

          I would think the vast majority of people play WoW because they do enjoy the gameplay and pace at which the game is played, progression wise and social factors inclusive.

          Because 70% of the world prefers coke doesnt mean Pepsi lovers will suddenly change brand. Its all about choice and what you prefer. If 11.5 million people are happy in WoW why should they up sticks to another game?

          As for money=quality as you state its not always present( ala Crytic and Funcom). However as some people know some studios can be trusted more than most.

          What SynCaine is saying is often subscription MMOs offer better value for money at a somewhat fixed price (not inlcuding RMT fluff etc) but games like Allods are designed by nature to ‘milk’ money from players (see perfumes in their cashshops) offering items which can and will enhance the amount of fun you have whilst playing. Now if you can limit and budget what you spend fair enough but often the further you get in the more inclined you are to increase your spend.

        • silvertemplar says:

          I don’t think you understood what i’m saying. Let me put it from the opposite angle:

          If NO ONE is in an MMO, the odds of people flocking towards it and the population growing/changing is exponentially LESS than one with MANY players.

          This does not matter whether the game itself is “better” or “fun”. It’s like Vanguard, alot would say the game right now is awesome, but no one is playing it…hence no players are joining it, despite it being “superior” to something else.

          Just read this and wonder about the concept:

          http://www.eldergame.com/2008/06/critical-mass/

        • silvertemplar says:

          ..and my point to above is. A FREE MMO with no “barrier to entry” are much more likely to create a “critical mass” of players which result in the population growing or at least remaining steady as players come and go.

          Chances are everyone is going to try Allods “eventually”…and i bet you if all your buddies are playing it, you will too.

          If every blogher like Keen/Tobold/Syp/Syncaine all suddenly write a piece on how they are playing Allods…chances are you will be playing Allods sooner than later…

        • SynCaine says:

          But critical mass only works if the feedback from those playing is positive. If every blogger tries Allods and we all agree its terrible and write about it, odds are slim that someone is going to get hyped over that and not only try it out, but like it enough to spend money on it.

          At some point you actually have to have a decent game to entertain people, with or without hype.

        • pitrelli says:

          Na a few of my friends are playing it already and have subsequently said ‘its kinda like WoW but weird’.

          I might be a carebear but come on, do I really want to be associated with a game which has a posse of Hamsters a playable race? I’ll leave that for SynCaine ;)

        • silvertemplar says:

          “But critical mass only works if the feedback from those playing is positive.”

          Or more realistically when the positive feedback outweighs the negative.

          And if you scan the blogosphere about Allods, i certainly do not see alot of “negative” feedback. The few negative feedback are all attacking the WoW-clone/Unoriginality of Allods but do not actually get down to anything that is -bad- in the game itself.

          Even pitrelli illustrates my point there with saying “its kinda like WoW but weird” …to most that will translate into a positive: “hey, it’s like WoW and it is free!” .

          To people who already hate WoW, yes, they’ll hate Allods “on principle”, but that just not make the game less popular [just like WoW-hating has done NOTHING about WoWs popularity] .

        • SynCaine says:

          Oh I was not talking about Allods in particular, I think the game is good for what it tries to do. I was just talking in general, that critical mass and the F2P angle only really work if the product is decent. Mega hype and a ‘free’ release might get a lot of peoples attention, but if the game is trash, it won’t keep their attention long enough to attract MORE people or make any money off the ones you got.

  2. Dickie says:

    I agree with your above comment, Syn. Thing is that even if the game is Free, if it is a solid release, I will pump money into it, at which point it becomes a paid game. If the game has a rocky start, then I’m much less likely to stick around until that point comes.

    Personally, I decided to give the game a day or two before I jump in, but we’ll see how it goes. I also don’t get the concept that they might make changes, so that’s why it’s still in “beta.” MMOs constantly make changes, many times drastic ones… that’s kinda the nature of the beast.

  3. adam says:

    why not make the client free, but charge $10-$15 a month along with a cash shop? seems to work for DDO, Vanguard and others. ideally the cash shop wouldn’t have anything that would give you a significant advantage in terms of abilities. just time-savings. make leveling a bit faster, gear with slight stat boosts. stuff like that.

    i was in the Allods beta. was ok. might give it a shake in a few weeks.

    • adam says:

      oops, DDO doesn’t have a subscription fee, does it? well, the free client at least got me as far as trying it out when if it had a price attached i never would have.

      • SynCaine says:

        DDO has a sub option, one that I find very fair actually.

        And the reason Allods won’t offer a $15 all-access option is they would lose money. To get ‘all-access’ to a F2P MMO, you spend a LOT more than $15 a month, and that’s exactly how the model works. Most people don’t spend a dime, but those who are really hooked end up spending a fortune. The more you enjoy the game, the more you pay, which is why IMO it’s a shitty model for gamers.

  4. Bhagpuss says:

    On the look of Allods, all I can say is I spent almost more time in closed beta taking screenshots than playing. My current desktop background is a screenshot from Allods and so is Mrs Bhagpuss, who took more screenshots in this game than she’s probably taken in all the MMOs she’s played in the last 5 years.

    Not only that, but after playing Empire side for a week she watched several hours of documentaries on Russian constructivist art. That was a direct outcome of Allods really outstanding art design.

    Of course, not everyone values design over illustration, but I have ever since I came to appreciate Bernie Krigstein and Alex Toth rather than Neal Adams. (Which isn’t to say that Adams doesn’t heve his own merits, but I digress…)

    As for the kill ten foozles quests, personally I like them. I like simple quests that allow me to do what I like to do in terms of combat (grind mobs for levels and drops) but with some nominal structure. Also, the quest text is vert considerably above average. Not the “plots” of the quest, but the quirkiness of the dialog, the charm of the characterisation and the musicality of the prose. I think some of that comes from the translation, which gives a lot of the text the slightly askew quality that I find so endearing in Final Fantasy.

    I don’t think Allods is particularly “about” gamer-style gameplay, particularly at the lower levels. It’s more about humor, style, wit. As a non-gamer, I find the approach highly appealing.

  5. bonedead says:

    “Have they released a “zomg guys we never thought we would have this many people, even after all our extensive research, we are working to secure more hardware to meet this incredible and overwhelming demand!” statement yet?”

    I’m more interested in the “zomg guys we thought you wanted to play our game so we bought more hardware to meet the incredible demand but you all left a week or two later and now we’re broke!!!11” statement.

  6. Max says:

    I dunno it felt to many like poorer quality WoW. I couldnt stomach level past lvl 5, I know end game it has some pvp , but I just couldnt see myself leveling trough it . WoW had charm and it had world pvp (before BGs)

  7. PeterD says:

    Some people will like Allods, some won’t, just like any other game. The thing that’s signficant is that Allods is a “F2P” with a very solid engine, strong design, and excellent execution. The game is competitive with WoW, on a smaller budget, without a subscription. It won’t kill WoW, but it might, just maybe, convince investors that shovelware asian grinders are not the future of F2P MMOs, and that quality games will garner solid followings of paying customers. We can only hope. Otherwise, look forward to another 7,397 korean grinders next year. Yay.

  8. Saylah says:

    Allods art style is one of the things I liked first. It’s very well done and doesn’t look dated at all to me coming from just about every AAA fantasy MMO that has released in the past 5 years. Combined with steampunk and a few interesting classes it’s enough diversity not to be a WOW clone. However, if people choose he league side with it’s typical shire-like zones and go for the class type the always play, you’ll get something that feels like everything else you’ve play fantasy, including WOW. I went Empire with its steampunk vibe and Summoner which is like a necro class, and am loving it.

  9. Karn says:

    Ok, for all you people really doubting the F2P model, I want you to factor in this. This is merely for comparison reasons on the money aspect.

    WoW = approximately $15 a month. It sounds small in comparison, but factor in if you play long term and factor in expansions. 60 bucks on average when each game was released from original to current, you play for 4 years at $15 a month not factoring in inflation and taxes that comes to roughly $720 subscription (if you played for 4 years straight) + $180 (original game+expansions)

    So far we’re up to $900 for just the GAMES!!

    This is not including the money you’ve spent on merchandise, upgrading your computer possibly and your ISP fees.

    You pay to play monthly with WoW and you feel obligated to log in every day and you really can become addicted if you do not control that.

    A F2P model is not more expensive if you manage your money right and is a perfect combination.

    ISP Fees, no expansions yet to base that on, but You don’t have to buy anything if you don’t want to to enjoy the game, fully enjoying it though you can, but you can devote your time to a F2P game and that $900 you would have spent can go into quite a many things in a F2P game without the obligation to log in daily/monthly.

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