F2P of the Day: AdventureQuest Worlds
AdventureQuest Worlds belongs to the burgeoning genre of F2P MMO’s that seem to marry the visual tropes of anime to the gameplay conventions of Western roleplaying games. The game is rendered in cartoonish, bright colors, depicting most things in a simple, stylized manner. Eyeballs? They’re large. Hair? Artfully spiky.
The artists got one thing right: the design of the gear is frequently spectacular. Seeing high-level players strutting around the social hub awakened the ten-year-old inside me, along with his gear lust. “Look at that sword,” I thought to myself. “I want one. How do I get it?”
Taking my first step along the road to attaining epic suits of armor and gigantic purple halberds, I started the game’s story, which soon had me going toe-to-toe with a couple of amusingly animated slimes. Combat in AdventureQuest Worlds is a pretty bog standard affair. Mobs don’t actively aggro; instead, you choose them out and stride on up. You then proceed to trade attacks until somebody falls down, as numbers float up from the tops of your heads. Given the server response time, the agonizing slow speed of the auto-attack, and the utter silliness of the spell animations, the prospect of doing this for any significant length of time was not pleasant.
Still, I soldiered on, checking out the game’s low-level questing area, where I picked up a number of boring kill and collect quests. There was one interesting twist: in most RPG’s, you’re asked to kill rats at the beginning, to get from Level 1 to Level 2. In AdventureQuest Worlds, you’re spend your earliest gameplay session actually helping the rats, protecting them from an evil race called “Kittarians.”
If there’s one thing that saves AdventureQuest from being completely forgettable, it’s the sense of humor. Much of its content is clearly intended to sort of take the piss out of other MMO’s, and the inclusion of Kittarians is but one example. The opening cutscene features your character standing heroically at the edge of a cliff — until you’re suddenly struck by lightning and fall, slapstick style, down the entire mountainside. The area in which I was busy rescuing baby rats was called “Noobshire.”
Despite these amusing details, it’s hard to really recommend the game. 16 million subscribers can’t be wrong, although they can obviously be misinformed about the availability of other, better F2P games. AdventureQuest Worlds isn’t short on features, nor content, though the overloaded interface made accessing the various PvP and PvE areas a little confusing. It’s got player housing, to show off your prowess, along with the aforementioned Epic Lewts to floss in the Lobby. A byzantine and no doubt lucrative microtransaction system was woven in throughout (you are even shown ads for it when you die in PvP — I see what you did there, AQ) and the availability of pay-dependent “Upgrade” accounts all but ensured a gulf between the haves and have-nots. What it is short on is gameplay, and that’s a flaw too big to overlook.