Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Preview: Wakfu MMORPG

Believe it or not SquareEnix actually does publish RPGs other than just Final Fantasy games. Their latest casual RPG happens to be an MMO called Wakfu, which is a colorful game set within the Dofus universe. The events of Wakfu take place about 1000 years after the original events in the first Dofus game. What's more is that this new IP isn't just a standalone game; Wakfu: Online compliments a trifecta of franchising, as it has an Xbox Live Arcade counterpart called Islands of Wakfu and a television cartoon of the same name. The game itself is designed in Java, requires minimal requirements to play and is aimed to appeal to casual gamers.

Wakfu is a turn-based MMORPG that sets itself apart from other casual games by enforcing players to engage in an ecological economy of sorts, which basically means that a lot of the game world’s progress and activities are fueled by player interaction. A lot of crafting and supplying mechanics revolve around scavenging and partying, giving gamers a slightly more casual, non-combative approach to leveling and progressing in the game.

Nonetheless, just because you can farm mobs for crafting, cooking or supplies without having to kill them doesn’t mean you can’t spend the entirety of the game fighting countless mobs. In fact, there’s a mob seeding profession where players can farm mobs in an area for seeds and then replant the seeds to replenish an areas’ mob. That’s kind of cool, eh? It works exceptionally well when a group of players want to mob-farm an area for quick experience.

Another unique aspect of the game is that leveling skills is done by actually using the skills instead of just adding points into something you feel needs to be leveled. So technically, your favorite skills will always get stronger as you use them, making them more effective per every level gained.

The actual combat in the game consists of turn-based mechanics almost identical to Final Fantasy Tactics, only faster. Players will select a mob to attack and then initiate the combat skill to engage in battle. With multiple players fighting multiple mobs the game can be somewhat exciting and fun given that the turns go by rather quickly, however, the tactical elements of the game are somewhat thin given that the game is geared more-so toward casual gamers. Still, it’s easy to see how a game like Wakfu is designed to appeal to both male and female gamers with its easy pick-up-and-play mechanics and simplistic combat technicalities.

For players who want a little more PvP incentives, there are three different political factions that players can join and influence the sway of how the game world evolves by fighting for and defending a selected nation. This feature is very similar to games like Pirates of the Burning Sea or Uncharted Waters Online.

With 14 classes to choose from,three main archetypes and a colorful and cartoon-inspired art-style, I’m sure Wakfu will appeal to a young anime-enthralled audience with its casual approach to the MMO paradigm. And while it doesn’t necessarily do anything terribly original it appears to be on track to achieve slightly more immersion and playability than its rival from IGG, Altis Gates.

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