Allods Online review
Costs: Free to Play
Page: Allods Online game
On 25 Feb, 2011
Pros: Smart, pretty, polished, and deep
Cons: A rocky start left population low
Our Rating: (5/5)
Many games try to push the king of the MMORPG hill, World of Warcraft, off its lofty perch. While it’s unlikely that any game will outdo Blizzard’s juggernaut anytime soon considering there are more people living in Azeroth than in Greece, Russian-made fantasy space opera MMORPG Allods Online could take a surprisingly large bite out of WoW’s market.
Not Just Another WoW Clone
There’s no getting around the fact that every aspect of Allods Online’s UI follows the familiar World of Warcraft format. Designers at Astrum Nival owe Blizzard a debt of thanks for making their work so much easier. However, Allods Online gets the mixture of familiarity with current RPG standards and genuine innovation exactly right. Playing Allods feels pleasantly like driving a new car: the steering wheel and pedals are in the same place, but the plush novelty of it makes driving fun.
You start as a member of one of two warring factions, the Empire or the League. There are six races and eight classes; not every race can play every class. This all sounds terribly familiar, doesn’t it? But here’s where the fun begins. Your race/class combination determines your character’s attributes, making these choices more meaningful than just a few racial talents.
And what choices these are; Allods’ developers outdid themselves with character concept and art. The Empire comprises the human Xadaganians, the Arisen who are affectionately known as robot zombies, and Orcs who come in many colors that aren’t green. The League gets winged Elves, human Kanians who are sworn enemies of their Empire counterparts, and Gibberlings, short furry critters who are actually three separate figures under the player’s control. Customization options are outstanding, but a few are surprising; toothbrush moustaches and side-parted hair went out of fashion around 1945, so seeing them as options for Orcs was eyebrow-raising.
Can a Multi-Million-Dollar Game Remain Free to Play?
Astrum Nival reportedly sunk over twelve million dollars into creating Allods Online and it shows in every detail. This polished game has beautiful graphics, fully realized sound with plenty of voice-acting, good character balance, an involving story, and a rich end-game that allows players to build their own ships in which to sail the Astral. Why isn’t it packed to the rafters, then? The short answer is greed.
In early 2010, Allods Online’s North American publisher Gala-Net installed a micro-transaction item shop with prices that outraged players. As one of the items removed the “fear of death” penalty that left characters weakened for hours, players charged that the game wasn’t truly free to play unless “play” was defined as standing idle while waiting for a debuff to disappear.
The player base is still rebounding from that early misstep and developers removed the much-maligned fear of death mechanic from the game. An even more hopeful sign that Allods devs listen to players is the addition of daily quests to obtain necessary consumables as well as offering them in the cash shop. Instead of trying to annoy players into paying, Allods seems to have learned from its early mistake and is now one of the most player-friendly free-to-play MMORPGs available. With luck, time, and good word of mouth, Allods Online will amass more players than it lost.
Professional Quality, Free-to-Play Price
What more could anyone ask of a game that delivers thousands of intriguing quests, beautiful graphics, a comfortably familiar interface, zombie-robot mages, furry triplet gnomes, a player-friendly cash shop, and your very own spaceship complete with crew? Allods Online deserves its five stars for rendering the quality distinction between pay-to-play and free-to-play almost invisible.