Perfect World’s RaiderZ Adds Great Ideas to Action-MMO Formula
The moment action-MMO RaiderZ really started to intrigue me was when I killed a zombie, grabbed its skull from where it fell on the ground, and flung it at a nearby group of skeleton archers, where it exploded like a grenade.
Wheeling, I grabbed one of the archer’s bows and put a few arrows in the 15-foot-tall boss accosting my teammate not far away. As the timer on the bow’s use ran out, I switched back to my spellcaster gear, whipped some ice bolts at the undead hulk, then switched that gear out for my sword and went to work on the creature.
All this occurred in the space of just a few seconds, and what’s most fun about RaiderZ is that this sort of thing is happening all the time. The context of the fight you’re in, the enemies you’re battling, the weapons they use — all of it affects how you fight. The options for every battle are many, varied, and most of all, fun.
The free-to-play MMO RaiderZ is primarily about hunting bosses, and has a bit of a Monster Hunter bent to it. But its focus is on fast-paced fighting and on making its gameplay highly group-oriented. Gary Catalano, Perfect World VP of Services, walked me through RaiderZ at E3 2012, explaining that the developer has worked to gear the difficulty of the game to encourage players to group up if they want to survive.
But there’s more to RaiderZ group gameplay than just the necessity to stay alive. The game offers a lot of freedom with how you can work together with your teammates to emerge victorious from the battles you encounter. One game system, food cooking, means that you can whip out food items from your inventory, cook them, and make them available for your whole team — complete with a big table on which all the food is laid out, which appears wherever you are in the game. Your teammates can then eat the food and get the buffs from it, then carry those buffs into battle. You can even pull out musical instruments and have a “jam session,” for whatever reason that might be enticing. But the point is, hanging out with other players is the point, and RaiderZ gives you lots of little reasons to do so.
Another big reason, however, is the different ways you can compliment each other in battle. Remarkable for an MMO is the range to which you’re able to customize your character in RaiderZ. When you choose your character’s initial class, you get a weapons loadout to match — but you can also choose an additional class, creating a hybrid character with a mix of skills and abilities. Some classes play better together than others — it’s recommended that spellcasters choose comparable lightweight fighter classes, for example — but the point is, you’re able to build the character you want. And that gives you the capability to change your role in a battle on the fly, as needed. Catalano told me players will also be able to respec later in the game using a point system or various in-game items.
All the combat is real-time, so how you choose to deal with enemies is controlled by a few buttons that give you access to several moves. The interface is kept rather small, to its credit, and switching between classes (which also instantly switches your loadout) allows you to pull up different abilities without crowding the screen or requiring a lot of button mapping.
The thing that will be driving players through the game, Catalano said — other than the desire to hunt and kill bigger and stronger monsters — is the crafting system. Crafting new armors and weapons will be a big part of RaiderZ and your primary driving force for killing the things you kill. However, you won’t just be picking up full pieces of armor when you slaughter an undead monster or a dragon or what have you. Instead, what you’ll get a is a recipe for gear and maybe a component for it. You’ll need to hunt down the rest of it, piece by piece.
For my part, even in my short hands-on demo with the game, RaiderZ combat permutations were the most interesting part about it. Being able to switch up tactics on the fly based on enemy drops that could be used instantly created a lot of potentially cool situations, as did the ability to spec a character to be good in a variety of situations. These are the ideas that make RaiderZ seem like a step away from the standard MMO or even action-MMO — it looks to be a game that refreshes a lot of the standards with solid new ideas to mix up gameplay.
RaiderZ will go into a closed beta sometime in Q3 2012, Catalano said, with an open beta to follow shortly after. He said the free-to-play title will “definitely” launch in 2012.