by: William Usher
; edited by: Michael Hartman
; updated: 4/17/2012
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The highly awaited triple-A MMORPG gets put to the test as gPotato launched the closed beta for Allods Online. Here are some hands-on impressions collected from the latest closed beta session.
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Taking A Short Stroll Through The Astral Fields
A lot of gamers are getting stoked for the upcoming Allods Online, which is being published by Gala Networks’ gPotato. Russian developer Astrum Nival has been hard at work fixing bugs, ironing out the gameplay balance and ensuring that the game meets the standard of being a triple-A MMORPG. And based on what was available to play during the final closed-beta test for the game, it appears that Allods is well on its way to living up to the standard of being a top-notch, free-to-play, online RPG.
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The Look Of The Empire
Astrum Nival has an impeccable eye for aesthetics. The team designed a world that’s extremely diverse and unique in Allods Online, offering two opposing visual styles in one game. On the side of the Empire, Allods has a World War II Victorian theme for the city layout and Tesla-esque powered chemical plants and industrialized buildings. The characters are vastly opposite of those on the side of the League, as most of the characters on the Empire side feature military clothing and a darker overtone to their apparel. The Arisen race, a part cybernetic-skeletal looking group, is especially unique and was a fan-favorite that many players chose to play during the closed-beta test on the Empire side.
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Running With The League
The League takes on a more traditional role-playing aesthetic, with the starting area resembling something similar to World of Warcraftor Final Fantasy. The later city environments are a fantastical place that’s a real sight to behold. The character designs and apparel has a classic MMORPG feel to them, yet the game manages to retain its originality. A truly unique character class on the League’s side are the adorable little Gibberlings who come in packs of three. On a side note, the developers did an amazing job making the Gibberlings look like a convincing race that would help fight against the Empire and it adds to the game’s original lore.
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One of the real highlights of the game is that it carries a somewhat movie-esque feel to the atmosphere. This is all thanks to the omnipresence of the astral. The game’s lore and purpose revolves around astral travel and – while it’s not entirely present in the beginning parts of the Empire’s side – it plays a vital role in the story elements when starting off with the League. It’s a real spectacle to witness, especially during the first astral ship ferry sequence on the League’s side, which has the game’s theme song swelling during a picturesque ride toward an Allod that works as the hometown for the League.
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Empire: Starting Gameplay
I’m not sure if it was just me, but the starting gameplay for the Empire wasn’t all that great. I’m not going to knock the starting tutorial sequence featuring an amazing ship battle between the League, the Empire and a mammoth astral demon, but I noticed that the quests and pace for the Empire is somewhat slower and more sluggish than the starting quests for the League.
Nevertheless, gamers will find that the Empire’s starting missions are more dark and brooding and give off, to players, the impression that the Empire is more like a magically inclined representation of the Third Reich.
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League: Starting Gameplay
On the side of the League it’s instantly made apparent during the brief, interactive cinematic that they were rebelling against the Empire’s invasion but at the expense of technological advancements and sheer military force. Suffice it to say, players are thrust into an intense scenario at the very beginning of the game with the League and the momentum carries through rather effortlessly leading up to the second beginner’s area for new players.
With the League, gamers will get a bit more of an expansive look at the game’s atmosphere and gorgeous graphical prowess, especially involving the Astral. This is not to say that the visuals are not apparent or impressive on the side of the Empire, but the developers made sure that the opposing aesthetics for both factions within the game are made abundantly clear.
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Skills And Classes
The skills, classes and pets in the game are quite varied, to say the least. All the classes were available to play during the third-closed beta and each had their pros and cons. Players who enjoy knights, paladins and fighting-classes will probably find the starting elements of the game a little slow but the brute force of the skills and abilities rewarding at higher levels.
The Warden class is a particularly interesting class, as it is a mix of a mage, a hunter, a warrior and a nomad. Difficult to picture, eh? Well that’s because it’s a very unique class on the side of the Empire and League that comes with its own pet and skills. It’s also a rare class for an MMORPG, insofar that it combines so many different elements from other classes into one.
The Orcs, Gibberlings and Arisens (i.e., a particularly popular race on the side of the Empire due to their magnificently frightening design) each offer gamers something unique in playing style and visual themes. Most gamers will probably find a class and a race that best suits their playing style, and it shouldn’t be too hard given the availability of the 28 classes on the game.
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I wish I could have had more time to experience the astral traveling in the game, but getting to level 35+ and acquiring the necessary items to build an astral ship is no short walk in the park and is a lot like the grindfests on games like Rohan: Blood Feud or Fly for Fun. I can, however, explain how the astral ships are setup and what gamers can expect from them.
The ships vary in size but each one has about four levels. Primarily, even a small ship is still fairly large. Depending on the kind of ship that it is will also depend on how many weapons are on-board, how much power it consumes, etc. Each of the ships that were explorable during the beta were designed with remarkable detail.
For those of you wondering how you board and dock, it’s all based on land teleporters. The astral ship pulls up close to a teleporter and pressing the action button will bounce a player from the land teleporter to the ship, or from the ship to land.
As for the ship-to-ship battles…they are quite intense. Players must use long-range attacks or the on-board astral turrets to damage the other ship. Other players can also embark on using the turrets as well, if they’re traveling with you on the ship. Under certain circumstances it’s also possible to teleport to an enemy’s ship and battle on-deck.
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This preview is coming to an end but one thing that’s definitely worth talking about is the astral demons in Allods Online. I can’t explain how large, devastating and imposing the boss astral demons are in this game. In many of the screenshots they looked like man-sized beasts that flew around terrorizing players. In the actual game the astral demon is so large that only his upper body could be seen from the top deck of ship.
Battling the demon is no easy feat, either. Players will have to use strategic measures to overcome the boss. There’s also the option (if the player is the navigator of the ship) to re-position the ship around to battle opponents and get into a more tactical position. A grand-scale battle is almost selling short just what the astral battles are like in this game.
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Next Stop…Open Beta?
I’m sure a lot of gamers can’t wait to get their hands on Allods Online. While the closed beta was pretty much complete there were still some tweaking and fixes that needed to be done before the game runs in tip-top shape. But, so far, Allods Online definitely lives up to the standard of being a triple-A MMORPG. There aren’t any other MMOs out there quite like it, and the orchestral soundtrack, diverse visual themes and gorgeous environments are sure to keep a lot of gamers enthralled with the overall experience.
The party system, while not entirely encouraged, is easily accessible due to the abundance of players. The only thing that would have been nice (and is likely to appear in open beta) are chat bubbles. Otherwise, gamers will definitely want to check out Allods Online as soon as it becomes widely available to the public when it goes open beta.