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Innovative MMORPG Gameplay
MMORPG gamers have been calling for some time now for game makers to wake up and start designing MMOG's with fresh gameplay. With WoW clones coming out of the woodwork and nothing new coming down the pike, many MMORPG'ers have grown jaded by the total lack of innovation in the genre.
The good news is that finally someone listened. nDoors has stepped up to the plate and delivered us a MMORPG with truly fresh gameplay. It feels nothing like the standard MMORPG, with it's unique version of Japanese-RPG style combat taking the in-game experience to new levels of strategic depth.
The game was originally created for a Korean audience, but nDoors recently released an english language version of Atlantica Online. The nDoors English servers are regularly patched and are still in open beta, but the game plays like a full release MMORPG.
The PvP and PvE aspects of the game are both executed brilliantly. I'm 50 levels in on the game, and the gameplay has only grown on me and drawn me further into the experience. The dungeons and areas of the game are conceptually quite interesting, and the Eastern theme is a very refreshing change from the usual orcs & goblins fare.
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More on the Japanese-RPG Style Combat
Combat in Atlantica Online is quite similar to the combat in a Japanese RPG. You have command of a maximum of 9 units, called mercenaries, in the game. There are 17 unique mercenaries in the game, some of which are not available until you reach a certain level. Much of the strategy in Atlantica Online consists of trying to decide which mercenaries to have in your party. Once you've chosen your mercenaries, you must decide where you want to put them in your formation, based on the different strengths, weaknesses, and abilities of the different mercenaries.
Once you've chosen a party, the strategic depth extends into the actual in-game combat, as well. Winning or losing a battle hinges largely on how well you marshal your forces in AO, especially in serious boss battles, or PvP battles. One mistake in your party formation or in choosing which mercenaries to use in a single round can determine your ultimate victory or defeat.
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Much More than a Free MMORPG
People oftentimes associate free MMORPGs, especially free Korean MMORPGs, with poor quality game design. Atlantica Online totally blows the top off of this old boxed-in way of thinking, as it is better than the majority of pay-to-play MMORPGs, even games like Lord of the Rings Online, Everquest 2, or World of Warcraft.
This really is the first MMORPG with truly strategic battles, and the deep strategy involved in party customization adds a second layer of tactical depth to the game. nDoors could clean house with this game if they made it pay-to-play, but we can only hope that they won't, and that AO will be free for a good time to come.
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The combat really is much better than in most MMORPG's, with deep strategic and tactical choices to made throughout the game, both in individual battles and in assembling the best party for PvE and PvP play.
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This is essentially a free-to-play MMORPG that plays like one with a monthly fee. More than this, the game is better than most monthly fee games. While it does have an item shop, the items that can be purchased do not effect game balance, and for the most part they are non-essential items for most players.
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I'm constantly surprised at the quality of the community, considering that this is a free-to-play game. I think that perhaps the somewhat cerebral nature of the game scares away the type of folks who usually ruin a MMORPG's atmosphere. The community is top-notch and enjoyable to play with.
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I've experienced absolutely no lag in Atlantica Online. The servers are always responsive, and the graphics don't require too much computer horsepower, while still looking decent enough to be enjoyable on the eyes. Another 5/5 rating.
Atlantica Online is really a great game to get into for MMORPG gamers, RPG Gamers, Strategy Gamers, and anyone else who enjoys a challenging but fun game to kick around with for awhile. Atlantica Online bucks the stale MMORPG conventions which tend to cause a fair number of players to steer clear of the genre. It really is a great game, especially considering that it is free.