War of the Immortals, which went live over the weekend, is the latest from free-to-play specialist Perfect World Entertainment. PWE should sound familiar. The growing Chinese company is responsible for publishing multiple titles on this side of the pond, including Perfect World, Forsaken World and Rusty Hearts, backed by numerous content patches for each.
Character Selection: The character selection screen looks quite nice and polished. Nothing unexpected from a PWE title. It has a nice temple in the background and the hellbears are certainly not misplaced. Right of the bat, the player can choose from a relatively high eight different classes, each of course specializing in its own unique gameplay. All characters definitely do look flashy when the player is choosing one, showing how their aesthetic design can look at the end of the leveling curve.
Tutorial & Story: The story and tutorial at the beginning are not a distinct drag of rudimentary quests and basic commands. The starting aspects are superbly woven into each other. When the player first starts a character, he will learn immediately why he is there and the first couple of quests he receives sneakily reveal themselves as a tutorial. Yes, secret learning. Showing some of the things the selected class is capable of. After the start, the tutorial will begin popping up now and again as the player hits a certain level and it will detail new-found gameplay enhancements and abilities for that just-reached level. What PWE overlooked is that at the start, the player doesn’t know a thing about leveling his skills. A new player is in there blind, flailing around and potentially wasting leveling time. The tutorial eventually details the crucial bit of information, at level 30. It may be to avoid information overload, but it might be a better idea to tell the player how to level up his skills, much, much earlier.
User Interface: The interface has nice look to it, clean and simple. Everything you need is quite easy to find and doesn’t get in the way of playing the game, which can be all too common in today’s complex MMOGs. The only part of the interface that will irk many is the chat screen. It doesn’t take up much space and is easy to manage, but when someone uses a warcry (a Warcry, like a Yell, can be seen by everyone) it pops up on your screen right in front of the player and might get in the way. The same system is used when the game wants to inform the player something, which happens often. Mind you, this isn’t just the regular announcements the player will see, this also includes hearing when someone did something ‘great’ in the game, a server-wide acclaim, and with the player base it has already and everything being so new, it does pop up regularly.
Combat: There isn’t much to say about the combat in this game besides that it looks really flashy but gets repetitive after a little while. Sadly, this is a common trait of PWE’s products. The core gameplay, combat, is often repetitive and shallow, with little complex strategy involved. The player only gets a set amount of skills to use in combat and the player will just be using one or two a lot. There is not much of a rotation to worry about.
Quests, Leveling and Dungeons: The quests in War of the Immortals are the generic kill X amount of this, gather set amount of that, perform this FedEx delivery because I’m lazy. Sometimes there’s a twist. Still generic quests – i.e. go kill that man – but before the player goes out and commits the despicable act, he will need to gather a set amount of a certain item, go to another person to get some sort of blessing and than go the the guy he needs to kill and throw the items in his face so he gets angry. These kind of quests are a nice twist, even if they remain relatively generic and a bit time consuming. It gives players more of a direction, a reason to the mayhem and an avenue to a plot.
The leveling I have seen in the game is fast. At the start it will only take a brief 15 minutes to become level 20 or so. Eventually. the pace begins to crawl. When I neared level 40, it began to take hours instead of minutes to level 5 times. As for the dungeons I have only seen one, but I presume they work the same way. The player talks to the dungeon portal, chooses what kind of level (easy, normal or hard) he wants and the task begins. The player does need to be in a party. How to circumvent that if the player can’t find a party…? Create your own party but be the only one in it. The dungeon doesn’t mind that and the player can walk right in. I did the first dungeon, both easy and normal, on my own and did so with ease. The first dungeon is far too easy and the glitch doesn’t promote working together at all.
Polish: The game does look quite nice. Barring the minor issues mentioned above, the only major polish needed is some polish for the camera system. When the player wants to rotate his camera just a small bit, it just doesn’t go as flawless as it does go when the player wants rotate for 180 degrees or 360 just to look at his character. Minor tweaks are commonplace, and having them be a hassle is disappointing.
Cash shop: The cash shop is far more complete than Rusty Hearts was. Even more important to an end-user, the shop is easy to navigate and organized with nice tabs. One monetary concern, there is so much stuff available that the hardcore player needs that it is almost mandatory to have ZEN to progress efficiently and perform at a high level in War of the Immortals (some of those items do drop in dungeons).
The different tabs include “Functional” which contains utility, specialty and remedy items. Remedy items are the generic (better) potions, special has the wedding pack and utility has resurrection items, bag expansions and warcry trumpets (so the player can actually use the warcry command). Yes, you have to pay for the privilege of being annoying. After functional items, we have the “Forge” tab. In this tab, the player finds the gems to socket into their weapons and armor, but also the items to remove those gems from their equipment. This allows players to socket items with any old gem they have for starters, and conveniently remove them as better perks become available.
Going over into the “Pets” tab, this area has new attack skills for player pets, as well as new pets to buy (which include pigs and bears!). Also available are items to fortify pets and obtain even more pet slots. The “Mount” tab hosts a couple of neat mounts and the items necessary to upgrade the players mount. These will be all but required upgrades for most players. Last but not least, the “Fashion” tab. Oh what frivolous yet attractive items are possessed here. Different costumes for characters, items necessary to redo your head, hair and portrait and not to forget, different wings that the player can buy. The joys of vanity. For me the mounts are definitely worth it – especially the Phoenix mount – and the gems become an integral part of any min-maxing player. The pet items are far more important than your average non-combat pet, as any min-maxer will point out, making the section worth the ZEN.
Overall: “Does the game have redeeming qualities?” I hear the players ask. Sure it has them. The pet system in this game is done well. An expected feature from PWE products. Most players would love that type of camaraderie in other, even AAA, products. Surprisingly, the story is done well too.
Personally, War of the Immortals might not be a game I will be playing a lot off, but it is nice to dip into once in a while. Would I recommend it to players, well I will if they are waiting for other games to come out and need something to pass the time, then definitely. Do I expect it to gobble up F2Pers left and right? Not in its current incarnation.