E3 2011 – Wakfu Hands-On Preview
Wakfu is a tactical MMORPG from French design team name that’s currently undergoing closed beta testing and due out for full release later this year.
The first thing you notice with Wakfu is its unique anime influenced art style, evidenced in each of its 14 unique classes. From the time manipulating name that can affect the rate of turns to the gambling name that often risk healing their opponents for the chance to cause excessive damage. Each looks and feels unique in a fully realized fantasy world.
Combat is a relatively standard affair with players and enemies taking turns moving and attacking. Each class has 25 unique skills that can be utilized and they’re unlocked from a relatively early point so that the player can get a feel for what skills interest them the most. Each skill is then improved individually through repeated use.
Besides combat, Wakfu has two incredibly deep systems running both above and below the surface. The first of these, discussed at last year’s GDC is the ecosystem. Essentially plants and animals grow, live, and die based on underlying factors and are affected by weather. Players can harvest these natural resources for crafting (a process that can supposedly create almost any item in the game). Maintaining a proper balance of plant and animal life can appease NPC’s or the governor of the region resulting in bonuses for all of those involved. The big risk is that any species can be harvested to extinction. Though it would be difficult to make any creature or plant permanently extinct across the entire world, bringing back any species from extinction within a region is a difficult task that requires a great deal of effort by the entire community. This is one way the political system comes into play.
Newly featured at E3, Wakfu will feature an extensive political system reminiscent of TERA’s. The differences are in the details. Players who participate in furthering the goals of their nation’s current governor, such as maintaining ecosystem populations, will result in the accumulation of citizenship points. Once the player has earned enough (currently 100) points he or she can vote in the next election. Having voted, the player is then allowed to rate the next governor’s performance. A low enough rating and the governor will be removed before the regular end of their 14 day term.
After another (undisclosed) amount of citizenship points have been achieved the player can then run for office. Campaigning means getting out the word anyway you can. Like TERA, there is no in-game system for acquiring vote, it’s up to players to run their campaign. Once in office the governor appoints members of his cabinet who oversee various positions such as taxes or ecology. The governor then can use political points to purchase laws from the 50 available, each costing a different amount based on their difficulty to follow.
Politics then carry over between the three starting nations. Nations that are at peace can visit each other’s land but may not interact with resources (without being penalized). Allied nations can alter resources of both lands to assist in mutual goals. Finally, warring nations are not allowed to enter the other nation without being marked and immediately engaged in PvP combat.
I’m highly intrigued by Wakfu’s political and ecological systems, but my time with the minute-to-minute action hasn’t quite won me over. There is very little direct story in Wakfu and so there are few quest-giving NPC’s. Instead, a list of possible achievements is given at the entrance of a new region and players are free to attempt any they wish, in any order. While soloing is possible, the whole game is really focused on the party play experience. My concern is in motivation. While I enjoy choice in my experience, there are great benefits to receiving leads from the game. The lack of a real driving story also sways my interest away. I understand the appeal of having community oriented content but I feel that this only works for truly dedicated players that are willing to play regularly and often.
I just want to know, what’s with the names? Dofus and Wakfu? I’m not feeling it.