You can’t really argue that Perfect World Entertainment has quite a share of the free-to-play MMO-market in the West. The company’s stable of titles includes the likes of the ever popular Perfect World, Jade Dynasty, Battle of the Immortals and even the upcoming online version of Torchlight. Pretty much all titles are quite rich in the content offered, but over time, players have noticed that most of the games tend to look and play very similar, despite some major differences.
Forsaken World is PWE’s biggest title to date, with the project being the most costly undertaking in terms of finance and time. The game certainly has some genre staples, but also teases us with some of its more unique features. Does Forsaken World do justice to the company’s effort or is it yet another all too familiar endeavor? You’ve seen all our coverage to date — now read on for the bottom line.
When starting your character, we are offered a choice of five races – Humans, Elves, Kindred, Stonemen and Dwarves. The choice to restrict class choices for different races seems like an odd one. Currently, players who like Dwarves can only be Marksmen, and Stonemen can only be Protectors. Maybe it’s just me, but I like freedom and having the option to play the game my way, rather than developers telling me how to do it.
Visually, Forsaken World is a bit of a mixed bag. At times, the game looks truly impressive with some cool spell effects and imaginative environments, and the new engine can display some nice landscapes and scenes. This, however, makes some of the graphical weaknesses stand out even more. Characters look like they were a product of an inferior engine, and the game could use some variation in the animations of starter skills. At least character customization is decent (for a free-to-play title), and pretty soon I found the look my new Elven Bard would go for. You should note that you can wear two types of equipment in Forsaken World – one for stats and one for fashion. The best thing about this system is that you get the choice what set will appear on your character and what will be counted towards your stats.
The game’s actual story seems pretty straight-forward, provided that you can make sense of the convoluted description on the game’s main web-site. It is much more interesting to gather the bits of lore through quests and numerous journal entries that you receive during your journey. Quests themselves are pretty standard fare, and you won’t find anything revolutionary in their approach. However, the questing process itself is very smooth, and the game does a great job of encouraging you to progress further. Quests are separated into different types, such as quests that develop the game’s story, quests that introduce you to key NPCs and locations, jobs that help you improve in your chosen profession and, finally, quests that activate during events. Some of them occasionally stand out, such as one of the social quests that requires two players of opposite sex to complete it. It involves perfume, actually, and not the stuff your dirty mind has just come up with.
There are numerous systems put in-place in order to make sure you always know where you are going and you will never feel a lack of direction or things to do. There are path guided systems everywhere, as well as a handy pop-up box that explains the available options and content for your current level. When it all comes down together, it makes for a pretty nice ‘flow’ of content that manages to keep you hooked and willing to see more. The game also makes use of a special journal that neatly organizes all the collectibles and achievements unlocked throughout your journey into one place. Not to mention the reward systems that do a fine job of encouraging you to keep logging in to the game.
For players who don’t like grinding, you’ll be happy to find out that your main path of leveling will be quests and instances. Mobs on their own just don’t generate the experience and loot that you can gain through doing various tasks given out by NPCs. A good example would be the daily quests from Henry (town NPC) that start at level 17 and are by far the easiest way to quickly get to 20. The initial instances are also a fun way to level, but they seem a bit uninspired in terms of game mechanics and the combat dynamic. This however, does not hold true for dungeons that become available later on.
The game makes use of more than 10 professions that serve as a secondary occupation next to your main class. Standard professions like an alchemist and a cook are, of course, included, but you get some interesting ones like an adventurer, a tamer (currently unavailable), and a socialite. One would expect them to be just variations on the form of grind, where you get to harvest/craft/ things, but they actually have quite a chunk of quests and content associated with them. This really adds some depth to the typically shallow experience seen in other games.
Combat is a pretty standard affair, although with some interesting twists. While exploring the world with the Bard class, I discovered that using skills in a certain order will have a side effect, such as a twenty second buff or slower enemy movement. This was definitely a nice touch to the old formula. It’s a shame it has been intentionally kept pretty simple, and even if the played sequence is not perfect (i.e. CDC, instead of CCD), the effect still kicks in. Hopefully, this aspect of combat gets more complex during the higher levels of the game.
At level 30, the gods deem you ready for some open world PvP action. The experience itself is quite fun, and maybe it was due to beta, but there seemed to be enough people running around willing to kick some ass and get served in turn. However, carebears out there shouldn’t worry, as three of the game’s six servers will be flagged for PvE. Forsaken World also makes use of the Talent System, which helps you specialize in certain areas of your class. Each class gets the option to choose skills and abilities that cost a certain amount of points. It seems like a fairly standard mechanic for players who want to customize their play-style.
Considering everything said above, my initial impression of the title still holds true.
If you go in expecting to get a standard mmo-dish, made from staple design-features and updated graphics, you will be right. To a certain degree. What you forget to consider is the fact that this dish has been created with your tastes in mind, quality ingredients were used to prepare it and the cook has added some spices you’ve never tried before. Whether this mixture is good enough to satisfy the tastes of gamers worldwide ultimately depends on the chef’s skill.
Only this time, I’d like to add that the chef has managed to create a good dish that will definitely fit right on the menu with the existing offers. If you’ve been a fan of PWE’s other games, you’ll really dig Forsaken World. If you are looking for your next free-to-play MMOG and are curious about the game, give it a go, it might suit your tastes. If you feel tired of the same old genre staples seen in other games and are looking for genuine innovation, you are probably better off staying away and waiting for another game. If, however, you like themepark MMORPGs in general, but bigger titles like RIFT failed to grab your attention, Forsaken World might be the one to keep you interested until the next big project comes along. And while you play, the game will do it’s best to get you hooked and coming back for more.