Unless you keep your ear to the ground in the free-to-play scene you probably haven’t heard of Perfect World Entertainment. The company started off by making a game based upon its own name, Perfect World International, before expanding via publishing agreements. PWI was followed up by two other F2P 3D MMORPGs, Ether Saga Online and Jade Dynasty. Both titles are well regarded and continue to thrive. You may have heard of them thanks to one of last year’s most surprising titles, Torchlight. Perfect World Entertainment has signed an agreement to publish the MMORPG version of Torchlight in the near future.
Enough about Perfect World’s past though, what about the present. I was fortunate enough to sit down with Perfect World’s Sam Houston to go over the company’s upcoming line-up during my stint at PAX East 2010. The first thing that was made clear to me is that Perfect World is striving to make solid games. Not good-for-a-F2P-game solid, but solid, period. It was refreshing for me to hear someone from inside the F2P industry admit to that sector’s major stigma. Hopefully Perfect World can meet its goal.
Before we dive into the details let us talk finances. Perfect World will make its dime on players willing to pay for convenience items (healing potions, XP boosters, etc) in all three games.
Battle of the Immortals (Beta – April 13):
Battle of the Immortals is breaking away from PW’s track record of 3D MMORPGs. BoI is presented in an isometric view (aka 2.5D), like Diablo or Torchlight and it sticks to the loot-grinding nature of those games as well. Mythology and folklore buffs should definitely give the game a hard look. The title promises to blend Eastern and Western mythological cultures, incorporating tales of Norse mythology to those of the Qin Dynasty. There’s oodles of stuff to investigate in those settings. Oodles, I tell ya.
BoI sports the usual list of features for a game of its type and age. You have dedicated gear for the five “unique” classes, mounts, quest navigation, pets, and a socketing mechanic. Houston said that correctly socketing in BoI is as important as the gear itself. For example, gems alone could bring a character from a few thousand health into 10,000 HP, 20,000 HP and beyond. That’s a huge difference.
The MMOG aspect comes in to play via harcore PvE and PvP mechanics. In PvE, players will compete against each other for the right to fight a boss, such as a Time Trial. PvP will be tracked through “an in-depth ranking system.” When I pressed for more specific details, I was told to wait and see.
Battle of the Immortals sounds a lot like the awfully under-appreciated Titan Quest ($9!), a title I absolutely loved. Pack in some solid mythical tales alongside crisp gameplay and a sprinkle of MMO mechanics and I am there.
Heroes of Three Kingdoms (Beta – Mid-April):
Perfect World Entertainment was not as forthcoming with information for Heroes of Three Kingdoms. All I really found out is that the title is PvP-centric, with three separate factions – Three Kingdoms, get it? – assaulting each other for control. Past that, I was hit with a laundry list of features that the game is to include:
- 18 classic weapons from the Three Kingdoms era to chose from
- Weapon crafting
- Kingdom Wars – Pick one: Wei, Shu or Wu
- Historic Instances – Culling of Stratholme, but set in ancient China instead of Azeroth
- Legion System – HoTK’s version of Realm vs Realm.
- PvP Battlegrounds – RvR not your thing? Then get more personal with bite-sized battlegrounds.
- Title, Achievement & Reputation System.
I should note that there are quests, but was stonewalled when I asked about open-world questing.
Forsaken World (Unknown):
Forsaken World is the game that will interest World of Warcraft players the most. It is set in your traditional fantasy world, and possess five races that cover eight unique classes. The races (Stonemen, Elves, Dwarfs, Humans and Kindred) are strictly bound to specific classes, such as druids in WoW. There is only one class that I’d call unique to the game: the Vampire. The other seven are run-of-the-mill archetypes such as tank, healer, melee/spell/ranged DPS. There are an astounding eleven professions to progress through, ranging from Botanist to Socialite.
The high-level details we know currently tag Forsaken World as a WoW-a-like, a game that is going after the same market, using the same basic principals of WoW. Most players shun F2P games with such a tag due to their relative lack of polish. I queried Mr. Houston on the obvious comparison and he reassured me that Forsaken World is “Perfect World’s biggest title to date,” both financially and in scope.
The titles are interesting and diverse, and luckily we won’t have to wait much longer to play at least two of them. In the next few weeks, Battle of the Immortals and Heroes of Three Kingdoms will head to beta, and we’ll have keys for you. Beta or not, it will give us an opportunity to see if Perfect World stays true to its word.
Here’s to hoping the company raises the F2P bar.