Here is a review from Cody Hargreaves of MMOHut for the game Allods Online.
By Cody Hargreaves
‘In the beginning, there was World of Warcraft. In the end, there was Allods Online.’ I wouldn’t be at all surprised if ten years from now, the above mantra was as familiar to the MMO community as ‘NEED MOAR HEALZ’ is today; having just spent a day adventuring in Allods Online myself and bearing witness to what very well could be the future kingpin of MMOs. I don’t want to add another layer of hype to a game with a fan following that could rival WoW itself already, but it’s difficult not to be excited. Allods Online looks like WoW, feels like WoW, plays like WoW – and it’s completely free to play. Sure, there have been WoW clones before, Gates of Andaron and Runes of Magic come to mind, but they were missing that key aspect that makes WoW the game it has grown to become today. They were missing that one little thing that until now, all free-to-play developers have overlooked. They were missing ‘polish’, and Allods Online has polish in spades.
A Little Dash of Warcraft
I don’t want to spend a lot of time dwelling on the many ways in which Allods Online has imitated World of Warcraft – we’ve all heard that before, and we’re all tired of listening to it – but in many ways, if I left this part out, there’s be no game left to review. This is because Allods hasn’t simply ‘borrowed’ a couple of UI preferences from WoW, it has literally copied them all to perfection, and it’s mostly due to that reason alone that Allods is so much fun to play.
Character creation, for example, is remarkably similar to WoW. You begin by selecting a faction from either The League or The Empire (Alliance and Horde respectively); then by selecting a race from one of six races; Elves, Gibberlings and a human variation called Kanians for The League, and Orcs, Arisen and another human variation called Xadaganians for The Empire (again, all very similar to WoW); and then by selecting one of the eight available classes. These are also very similar to WoW, but have their own special flavor, too. You can choose from a Warrior, Paladin, Scout, Healer, Warden, Mage, Summoner or Psionicist; however, only select races can choose select classes, and depending on the race you select, your archetype changes completely. For example, if you were to choose to be an Elf Paladin, your class would be Templar, whereas if you were to choose an Orc Paladin, you would be a Reaver. Each of these archetypes have their own flavor and style in the form of aesthetics and a passive ability that enhances their most common attribute, and quite frankly, it’s a magnificent addition to Allods that shouldn’t be overlooked.
With your character created, you’ll begin playing with one of the very few ‘unique’ elements of Allods, that is, an instanced starting area/tutorial with an active story and interactive gameplay. The actual area you begin playing in is decided by your faction – with The League beginning in their home city as it is destroyed, and your tutorial following the escape; and The Empire beginning on a flying airship in the midst of battle – and then, the rest is history. The interface, gameplay mechanics, spells, professions, hotkeys, quest markers and style, even the equipment screen – have all been ripped straight from WoW, and as such, it’s all familiar, and it’s all good.
A Whole New World
Judging by my choice of section titles in this review, I’d have to say that I’m in something of a Disney mood today, and I’d wager that has a lot to do with the visuals in Allods. It looks almost identical to WoW, but with a new colorful lick of paint, and some higher quality textures and designs that carry a heavy Disney undertone. The overall design and architecture are similarly fantastic, with tall, expertly crafted buildings littering The Empire starting zone (a large city-like area), and lush, green forests and magic-infused skies for The League area. The sound however, isn’t so impressive. In some areas, the music is as expected – adventurous and epic on all counts – though other areas, like The Empire’s starting zone, are in an entirely different vein. Whimsical, I guess you could describe it as, and entirely unpleasant to the ears. Of course, that’s nothing iTunes can’t take care of, and the sound and battle effects are mostly top notch.
Moving forward, Allods does bring some innovation to the table, and it comes in quite a few forms. The first, fatigue, is an innovative spin-off from the WoW coined ‘rest’ system, whereby the longer a person spends playing and completing quests, the more fatigue they can accumulate. Fatigue appears in your character’s experience bar in blue and gains at a 1:1 ratio with regular experience. If an enemy is worth 50 EXP they’re also worth 50 Fatigue. Fatigue accumulated can be exchanged at an Innkeeper for additional experience up to a certain amount each day, which essentially creates a soft ‘cap’ on experience each day. Players are free to continue playing and leveling even after they reached their daily cap on fatigue, but they’ll basically be gaining EXP at 50% of the normal rate because they won’t be able to exchange fatigue for EXP. The system adds a nice layer of depth and decision to the mix, and while much of the mechanics behind its implementation are still in the ‘grey area’, I’m sure it won’t be too long before all is made clear.
Not So Similar After All
Death in Allods is also innovative, however far less impressive. When you die you’ll automatically be taken to Purgatory, and required to wait there to be resurrected. There are penalties applied in later levels in the same WoW vein, but you won’t have to run around trying to find your body, you’ll simply return at the nearest ‘resurrection point’ instead. The talent system (while visually identical to WoW) also boasts some ingenuity. You receive one talent point each time you level, which can then be used to ‘purchase’ a new skill, or upgrade another one in the talent tree. Also like WoW, you’ll need to assign points in the first row before you can descend to the second, and so on. And while we’re on the topic of leveling, that’s a little different in Allods, too. For a start, it’s much slower than the norm, taking more than five hours of play to attain a level 7 character, and too, there are literally hundreds and hundreds of quests to complete (that show up on your map to make finding them easier), so you’ll never need to grind.
And then there’s my favorite innovation, the ability to add stat points to individual statistics upon reaching a new level, much like in say, Diablo, allowing for some fantastic PvP and character customization at later levels, as every player will essentially be different to the next depending on their choice in stats.
For The HOR… EMPIRE!
Speaking of PvP, Allods has both some very familiar WoW themed elements, and some innovative ones, too. For example, there are certain sections of the world where PvP is always available, and some where it is only available if you have ‘flagged’ yourself (much like WoW), effectively saying that you’d like to PvP. However, in the sections where you are required to flag to PvP, players who are flagged earn 110% experience from enemies, whereas those players who do not, only earn 90%. Also, Allods has an extremely innovative Airship PvP system, which allows you to take control of an Airship, battle in the air, and board an enemy players ship to fight them, and should you succeed, loot their ship’s hold. Sadly, this feature wasn’t implemented in the Closed Beta, and is for higher level players, so I’ve yet to experience it myself. Though I hear it’s going to be fantastic. The game also has arena based PvP for those interested in that.
Final Verdict — Excellent
All in all, Allods Online is an amazingly impressive free-to-play MMO. While at the time of writing it has its flaws – some lag issues now and then and the occasional interface glitch – it’s an incredibly enjoyable MMO that makes up for what it lacks in innovation with smooth, gorgeous visuals, engaging (if familiar)gameplay, and bucket loads of polish. I’d feel confident in calling this one the biggest MMO of the year, and if another MMO can top it, well, then it’s going to be a good year.
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