Monday, November 16, 2009

Allods Online: First 3 Hour review



Allods Online won game of the year in Russia. Now it's gotten a translation and localization touch for English speakers. The game if free-to-play with a cash shop planned for launch. It entered closed beta for the US on Nov. 10. I got my beta key e arrive by email a few weeks ago because I signed up long ago on the GPotato website.

My PC (somewhat middle of the road):
Pentium Core Duo 2.93Ghz
Windows 7 32bit
4GB 1066MHz RAM
GeForce 8600GT 256MB video card
1TB 7200RPM Segate HDD

Download & Install

Allods uses Peer-2-Peer program Pando Media Blaster to download the 2.2GB installation file. You must uninstall the Peer-2-Peer software manually when you are done with your download if you do not wish to retain it. After installation and all patches, Allods uses 2.21GB on my machine.

Character Creation
Pick from League or Empire factions. Can only play one side on a server. Only one beta server for US at the time of this writing.

I spent a good two minutes looking at the character creation page thinking it was a loading splash page. You see a portrait of the two factions fighting with representatives from each race and class. You click on one of the combatants to enter the character creation page, where you can tweak the races and classes.

League races are Gibberling (furry little creatures that come in a three pack, as in you are three things at once), Elf, and a race of humans known as Kanian.

Empire races include Orcs, Arisen (undead), and a brand of humans called Xadaganian.

Some races get different versions of the same archetype.

Warrior Classes
  • Kanian Champion (League)
  • Gibberling Brawler (League)
  • Xadaganian Vanquisher (Empire)
  • Orc Brute (Empire)
Scout Classes
  • Kanian Ranger (League)
  • Gibberling Trickster (League)
  • Xadaganian Stalker (Empire)
  • Orc Head Marauder (Empire)
Healer Classes
  • Kanian Cleric (League)
  • Elf Priest (League)
  • Xadaganian Inquisitor (Empire)
  • Arisen Heretic (Empire)
Paladin Classes
  • Kanian Crusader (League)
  • Gibberling Templar (League)
  • Xadaganian Avenger (Empire)
  • Orc Reaver (Empire)
Warden Classes (pet casters I think)
  • Kanian Druid (League)
  • Gibberling Animist (League)
  • Orc Shaman (Empire)
Mage Classes
  • Kanian Magician (League)
  • Elf Archmage (League)
  • Arisen Sorcerer (Empire)
Summoner Classes
  • Elf Demonologist (League)
  • Xadaganian Defiler (Empire)
  • Arisen Savant (Empire)
Psionicist Classes
  • Gibberling Seer (League)
  • Xadaganian Mentalist (Empire)
  • Arisen Occultist (Empire)
I picked Arisen Sorcerer over on the Empire side.

Starting en media res
As my character loaded I heard someone speaking over an intercom about a battle that was going on. I saw the type of door you see on submarines (with the wheel to seal it) and deduced I was on some type of ship. And with an loud speaker, it was clear the world has some level of technology beyond what we see in most fantasy games.

After two quick quests to equip a weapon and drink a temporary battle buff, our room was breached by some League invaders. I helped a group of NPCs (4 or 5 of them balanced among Empire races and class archetypes) fend off the intruders by talking out the League squad leader. Then I was sent with my NPC group to get control of the adjacent room.

Among the wounded, I found one scientist who knew the attack was no random act of violence between the warring factions. The ship I was was carrying some top secret military project of great importance, though the scientist would not say what. He had me take an activation key from a safe to go see the 1st commander.

On my way to the engineering (it might have been the bridge, but I think I saw an engine when I got there), I passed the gunnery. I saw NPC members of the Empire firing old fashioned-looking cannons that emitted lasers at an airship off of the starboard bow. The gunmaster was barking orders, the intercom was blaring about the position of the League ship, and just then a massive cannon burst from our adversaries blasted the cannon and gunner furthest from my door. The shrapnel also took out the NPC manning the middle cannon.

The gunmaster stopped me in my tracks and told me I wasn't going anywhere near the bridge until I manned the empty cannon, so I fired a few salvos until the enemy ship's weapons were disabled.

Finally I made it to the 1st Commander, but his room was in dire straits. Some League troopers had erected a force field around what looked like a warp core engine at first glance. Several of my Empire brethren (NPCs) were caught within and getting slaughtered. The 1st Commander was shouting something about the League bastards trying to steal the device. He handed me a disrupted and ordered me to fire at the force field.

After firing the device for a while, the force field collapsed, but it was already too late. A League commander had stolen the device and all of our crew inside the bubble were dead. The 1st Commander decided it was time to tell me the truth. The device we'd just let get away was some kind of teleporter. Our scientists were working on ways to teleport individual soldiers in and out of enemy locations. The ramifications for the war were huge (shades of Star Trek: Voyager).

The 1st Commander ordered me up to the deck to retrieve our technology. He gave me a disruptor to stop the enemy commander's force field.

I opened the door to the deck and noticed something massive and sky blue to my right--but we were fighting during dusk. As I mouse looked over and up (up, up, up!), my jaw dropped. A massive (and I mean MASSIVE) level 40 demon was looking at our ship from the starboard bow. I stood gaping stupidly for a few seconds while I heard thuds and cracks and snapped to attention to see some League invaders were wailing on me. I dispatched them as quickly as possible, but I failed to get a screenshot in the rush of the battle (sorry).

It seems like another NPC on the deck explained that the enemy commander had escaped. He told me to use the activator key I had recovered earlier. He said it would have enough energy to teleport me to the League ship. If I recovered the device, I'd be able to come back.

When I arrived on the enemy ship, I saw their commander facing off against the giant demon, The deck was crawling with League henchmen, but the demon summoned a cluster of spawn to dispatch them. Even so, the demon spawn turned on me the moment the felled one of the League foes.

When the deck was cleared of all but the commander, I braced myself for what would surely be a big battle. He had a smaller, personal version of the bubble around himself, which the demon was blasting with an energy bolt. Try as I might, I could not attack the commander or get past the energy shield. Then I remembered the disruptor! One shot blasted his defenses and the energy bolt from the demon decimated him instantly.

I had recovered the teleporter prototype, but I was fearful of what the demon might--and then I was somewhere else. The teleporter had taken me out!

Heading to the City
I had teleported to the sewers beneath a major Imperial city. I was the 69th person to attempt to use a teleporter, but I was the first to arrive fully intact both physically and mentally. I was a war hero and a walking scientific breakthrough. Project Salvation was now 100% operational. The scientists just needed to be able to recreate all of the factors that led to my successful teleportation.

Enough Teasing
I'll stop there. I did quite a bit more in my first 3 hours, but I think you get the idea.

Graphics
Allods has solid graphics. It is a bit reminiscent of WoW in its bright palette and UI. But the technology aspect I think goes beyond WoW. I mean, I leaned that Arisen have some sort of cybernetics built into their limbs from one NPC.

Here are some pics I took and a link to a larger size. I am running the game in 1280 x 1024, but I resized to 800 x 640 for Photobucket and half that for these forums.

Fight with elemental in one sector of town:



Bigger version

Me fighting with a City Crow, a menial task tied into lore in a handy way:



Bigger version

What happens when an Arisen uses the /sleep command? This!



Bigger version

Combat
As I am only level 5, I cannot be expected to...well, okay.

By level 5, my Sorcerer had 4 spells, the first three of which came automatically.

Flame Arrow - Cast 1.5 seconds, range 40. Basic DD fire spell. Animation is my character using conjuring motions to gather fire into his palms and then clapping his hands to "squirt" out an arrow of fire.

Icy Stream
(not exact) - Cast 3 seconds, range 40. A high mana cost, low damage spell that completely encases the mob in ice and reduces movement speed to a crawl. Effect lasts 5 seconds, and shard of ice crack off of the mob with each tick. Using a fire spell on a mob under this effect has a chance to cancel it entirely. Animation is a constant stream of snow coming out of my palm and sticking to the mob to turn to ice.

Shocking Grasp (not exact) - Cast instant, range 2. This is a basic thunder spell that does about half the damage of Flame Arrow. I think it has a chance to stun or interrupt the mob. Animation is my character slamming his palm down on an enemy with energy crackling all around.

Icy Grave (not exact) - Cast 3 seconds (?), range 25 (40?). This spell takes a while to get off but was worth the talent points I spent on it. This is the basic root spell, and it lasts up to 20 seconds. Breaks instantly on damage. Animation is conjuring gestures for almost all of the cast time and then a snow drift falling from the sky to bury the mob. Very clear visual for group situations.

I saw pet classes with skeletons to fight for them. I saw some casters using poison bolts. One caster showed me a spell where he summoned a bat that flew over to attack his opponent. I have brutish Orcs slamming the ground to set off a cascade of sparks and lithe humans using some technique that slices with multiple blades. Spell animations look terrific.

Depth of Combat
Besides being pretty, combat in Allods is deep. It took me a while to catch on, but casting spells builds up entropy for my Sorcerer. Each time I cast a fire spell, I get one Fire Force point built up for 12 seconds. If I cast a second fire spell before the timer winds down, my counter goes up to two and the timer resets at 12. now, if I cast an ice spell, it removes one counter from the Fire Force but adds one counter of Ice Force. Lightning removes Ice. Fire removes Lightning.

What happens if I build up too much entropy? Well, I can get a counter to 5 with no effect. After a counter reaches 5, casting a spell of the same element produces a random effect. I might be healed or damaged. I might get mana back or get mana drained. I might get faster recast on spells from that element, or all spells of that element could be unavailable for 12 seconds.

the mechanic adds quite a bit of strategy to battles. "I am at 5 Fire. Do I reduce the counter with Ice or do I throw Fire again and try to get a free heal?"

Meanwhile, XP builds very slowly from kills. A level 4 mob gave me 26 of ~8000 XP needed to reach level 6. Quests seem to be the source for XP even early on. Still, there is a weird XP mechanic tied to battles. You build XP and Fatigue. Visit a Goblin Innkeeper to rest, and you can convert your Fatigue to XP. I converted 3 dots of Fatigue into 900 XP at the beginning of level 5.

So you CAN grind for XP if you visit a Goblin Inkeeper. But beware; if you build up too much Fatigue, you cannot cash in for that level. You have to level up first and reset the counter. Or so the NPC tells me.

Character Advancement
Finally, level ups are rewarded with attribute points and talent points.

The attributes are plentiful (12-14 different ones), but the key ones for your class have a star by them. My Sorcerer benefits from Intelligence to deal more damage, Luck to get critical hits, and Wisdom (?) to get mana. Mana has not been an issue yet for me, so I have been pumping a stat that reduces the chance a mob will resist my spells. Two other attributes reduce my chance of taking a crit or raise hit points. Lots of stat choices. 1 point per level to spend so far, but I may be getting class bonuses at level up, too.

I used one talent point early on to upgrade Flame Arrow. I used my next 3 at level 5 to buy Icy Death. As you can see, it can take more than one point to unlock or advance a skill.

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