Here is a review for Alganon from Erhan Altay of MMOHut.
After four years of development and a round of closed beta testing, Alganon was finally released in early December of 2009. A free trial server was opened about a week later which allows prospective players to experience the game free of charge for as long as they please. Since August 13, 2010 though, Alganon announced that they would drop their subscription and become a free to play game with a cash shop.
It’s no secret that MMORPGs have been copying concepts from one another since the beginnings of the genre. A host of free-to-play games, including Runes of Magic and Gates of Algangon, have even earned special notoriety as ‘WoW clones’ for their striking resemblance to Blizzard’s smash hit. Well, it’s no surprise that another MMORPG came along to ride on World of Warcraft’s wake. Despite passionate denials on the part of the developers Alganon is most certainly a WoW clone. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing – it may even be one of the game’s greatest strengths. With a graphic and interface style that players are accustomed to, Alganon can get on with it without having the push players over a steep learning curve. So, with that said, potential players should understand that the game was deliberately based on World of Warcraft to provide a smoother transition.
Pick a Side!
The world of Alganon is divided by two major factions, each representing a different race – the Humans of Asharr and the Talrok of Jujix. The races are similar in appearance though the Talrok seem to have tattoos covering g their bodies and wilder hair styles. Each race has the same four classes available: Soldier, Ranger, Magus, and Healer. Additional classes are in development but no release date has been announced. Appearance customization is limited to a few hair styles, body types, skin colors, and hair colors. The only interesting feature during the character creation process is the ability to chose from five ‘families’ which group like-minded individuals. The five families are: Achiever, Competitor, Crafter, Explorer, and Socialize. The names are self explanatory and players should chose the one that most closely matches their play style. Families work in parallel with more traditional social groups such as guilds which players can form or join later on. It is possible to switch families and to get deeply involved in them but I don’t see this feature serving as anything but starter guilds like those used in Dark Age of Camelot.
This Looks Familiar…
While borrowing WoW’s interface and style is no sin, the starting zones of Alganon cast doubt upon whether Quest Online, the developers, are innovators or simply imitators. Anyone familiar with WoW will get an immediate sense of deja vu as they either battle wolves in the forested human area or imps in a more barren environment. The games are generally paced similarly, players will accept beginner kill and delivery quests as they level up gradually. The experience rate is low, but the level cap is only 50 – so it makes sense. Combat seems a bit slower paced, its takes several seconds longer to kill a wolf than it does in WoW but the looting system is the same. Some quests will order players to kill a certain number of monster while others will ask them to retrieve a certain item from those monsters, an item which will stubbornly refuse to drop on occasion. The question I kept asking my self while playing was ‘why?’ Why was the newbie experience so deliberately kept similar? The developers could have easily used the same foundation and built an entirely different world, yet I kept imagining myself back in Azeroth.
Out With the Old, In With the New
Fortunately, Quest Online didn’t keep everything so similar. Alganon has a host of unique features with the most important being the study system. This allows players to learn skills passively as they play or even while they’re logged off. This progression method is similar to the one used in the space based EVE Online but has some important distinctions. Active players will still be able to increase their skills by playing but the study system will prevent them from out pacing their more casual brethren. How effective this feature is in maintaining balance has yet to be proven, but the main rationale behind it seems to be the older gaming audience Alganon has attracted. These players have, on average, less time at their disposal and so a method of passive progression which doesn’t require constant attention to stay competitive is a huge boon. Another feature worth mentioning is the in-game Library, which serves the dual role of a kind of encyclopedia and an achievement tracker. As players explore the world and encounter new monsters, spells, areas, and so on their Library will be updated. This tomb highlights high scores in such fields as most damage dealt, richest player, and bestows titles according to these server-wide accomplishments.
Less is More?
While the Study and Library feature are interesting, neither are as ground breaking as touted. New players will barely notice either, though a flashing red icon towards the bottom of the screen will always inform players when they don’t currently have a skill being trained. What’s more apparent, at least from the beginning, is what Alganon seems to be missing. During its first month of release Alganon feels like a largely unfinished product. The simple fact that the two warring sides were literally labeled ‘sides’ rather than Factions, Realms, or Nations struck me as odd. Fortunately, they addressed this issue before the game re-launched as a free to play title. The limited option of four classes didn’t disturb me much at first since I assumed they were base classes, each branching off into several others later on but this is not the case. Each class does have three talent trees, not unlike WoW, but there’s no good explanation for the paltry number of classes. Additional classes are promised but promises are easy to make.
The Cycles of Life
When Alganon first launched – it launched as a pay to play game much like World of Warcraft and Eve Online. After is failed to attract an audience, the game re-launched as a buy to play game – much like Guild Wars, where you buy the game for a one time fee without a monthly subscription. A few months later on August 13, 2010 the game re-launched as a free to play game with no monthly fees but several restrictions (to free players). The major restriction being a lower maximum level (30). Other restrictions include chat restrictions, inability to create guilds, and a host of other little restrictions. Players can make a one time purchase to lift these restrictions.
Final Verdict: Fair
Alganon is a fantasy MMORPG that looks and plays very much like World of Warcraft. The automated progression system may make it more appealing to older gamers but fewer class and race choices drag it down. The game is free to play now, but there are still several annoying restrictions to free players which is keeping Alganon’s score down.
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