Forsaken World Preview
Perfect World Entertainment knows how to make MMORPGs. It has a number of successful games spanning the typical online game genre (Perfect World and Jade Dynasty for example), and is part of the team behind the smash hit Torchlight and is bringing its upcoming sequels to market.
Forsaken World is a bit of a different move for the developer/publisher, the game is not an Asian impost. Over 3000 developers are spending multiple years building a large world with rich back story and lots of ready locations for a worldwide launch.
It’s also changing up the pre-release formula from the short, hectic Beta test the company usually employs when re-launching a game for Europe and America. Instead, opting for a more traditional multi-phased closed beta approach. Forsaken World’s planned testing period will span a few months; behavior usually associated with a major subscription MMO launch.
I’ve had several hours to play during Forsaken World’s first closed beta phase and came away wondering why I bother paying for MMORPGs any more. Since the recent conversion of Turbine’s two big MMO’s – Dungeons & Dragons Online and The Lord of the Rings Online to a hybrid free-to-play model, it’s clear that subscription-based games are not the only choice for good MMO gameplay.
Forsaken World looks like your traditional fantasy RPG. It features the normal fantastic races – Dwarves, Humans and Elves alongside some interesting additions like Kindred and Stonemen.
There are some typical classes featured in the game but a few of the races sport unique options. For instance only Dwarves are gun-wielding Marksmen, the Stonemen are the game’s Protectors, the fae Elves have a Bardic option and only Kindred can become Vampires.
The game takes place in the world of Eyrda, a planet once ruled by passionate gods who got into a great conflict and eventually abandoned the mortal races of the world. Players begin with characters who know the gods of Eyrda are dead. You work to uncover your destiny and seek the essence of the fallen gods and gain their powers to stand against the game’s greatest evil: a great dragon named Strom Lord. (No seriously that is not a typo, nor is it a handy nickname for an undead South Carolina politician)
I dabbled a bit with each of the core races, attempting to play the exclusive classes to see what best appealed to my interests. The game covers the usual templates of Controller/Striker/Tank/Healer with Warriors, Mages, Assassins and Priests. The race exclusive classes though are an interesting mix of two of these core roles. Stonemen Protectors are stalwart Tanks, making them hard to defeat directly. Kindred Vampires blend priest-like buff powers with the magical assault of a Mage, and so on. The gameplay styles of MMORPG fans are well covered here.
Visually, Forsaken World is an attractive game. Its graphics are not bleeding edge, but they do appear comparable to games like Lord of the Rings and Aion. The character designs feature a fairly Asian-influenced design with “anime” or “manga” styled pseudo-real figures. The game also offers equipment with ornate flair like unearthly armor and weapon designs that are visually interesting.
I tend to play most MMORPGs as a PvE player since I find cooperative questing and environment more challenging than personal combat against another human player. Forsaken World includes both forms of gameplay and doesn’t force players down any one path.
You can change up your game style to match either sort of conflict. Since the core design of Forsaken World is meant to appeal to both East and West styles of play, the game does support a robust Player vs. Player mechanic.
Adventuring solo or in groups felt easy and organic during my first forays in Eyrda. Enemies in the various zones respawned very quickly and I never felt I was spending a lot of dead time waiting or competing with other players for quest kills.
Quest design follows predictable formulas. There are questlines and a pretty useful quest log, but a lot of the quests follow the “Seek out Bob and do what he asks,” or “Kill 19 Flibbermaggots and bring me their hides!” approach. Players interested in pursuing the metagame plot will gather experience with factions and gang up to face boss encounters and dive into instanced dungeons along the way.
I did not get a chance to try the included raid content and I’ve not had the opportunity to experience any fixed world events, but one of Perfect World’s selling points for Forsaken World is that each server will offer a different play experience over the life of the game. Depending on the behaviors and choices of the server population, some events or features may differ. If the company can make this system work, I’ll be interested to revisit this game in six months or a year to see if anything really is different.
Phase 1 of the Closed Beta wraps up on November 23rd and the 2nd phase will go live the following day with a raised level cap for early participants. Those interested in finding out more about Forsaken World should check out the game’s website. Beta signups are still open and the company promises those who apply have a good chance of making it into one of the Beta rounds or in the Open Beta before the final game goes live in a few months.