RaiderZ Beta Impressions: The First Few Hours
One faction of pirates is fighting another, I guess. I don’t really care what they’re on about, even though I technically work for one group over the other. What I want to do is go kill that giant frog monster I can see hopping around in the background.
Luckily, RaiderZ is all about hunting down and killing giant frog monsters. And other giant monsters.
Perfect World’s upcoming free-to-play MMO is a lot like the Monster Hunter franchise in that respect. It’s an MMO in a lot of the traditional ways, sure — collect quests from NPCs, wander out into the world and complete them, repeat. Gather three of this, nine of that, 15 kills of a certain kind of mob. There’s plenty we’ve seen before, all over the place. The story and the drive of those missions is not particularly compelling, especially in the face of games such as The Secret World and Star Wars: The Old Republic, in which one could argue that the tiny stories of the quests are often their own reward.
RaiderZ is just the opposite. Unlike the latter two examples, quests and NPCs aren’t voiced in RaiderZ, and quests are divvied out in text format as in World of Warcraft. The structure of dealing with those many tasks and assignments feels a great deal like World of Warcraft as well. It’s not until you get out into the world that RaiderZ starts to differentiate itself.
At the outset of the game, you begin by choosing your specialization. Seeing as I usually choose ranged, rogue-type characters, I went with a spellcaster for a bit of a change. Early missions had me figuring out my character junk, as one might expect, and teaching me the ropes. I’m endowed with a big staff (you know, for spellcasting) pretty soon, as well as a sword and shield.
This represents the thing I like best about RaiderZ right away — combat is extremely dynamic. As I start to unlock new abilities, I find I have lots to choose from. I get access to both fire and ice spells within the first 10 levels, and when I pull out my staff (ahem), my magics are more powerful. They’re also castable fairly quickly, limited by cooldowns that affect them all individually and a recharging Mana resource. That means I can chuck out fire and ice spells in fairly rapid succession; the weaker ones almost constantly, the stronger ones every few seconds.
But I also have a sword, and I can trade my staff for a blade literally anytime I want to by hitting the tab button. Doing so changes the dynamic of my battle capabilities — my spells are somewhat less effective, but I have that shield, which means I can reduce the damage I take from physical attacks. I can also dish out way more punishment up close.
This combat-switching ability is pronounced even early in RaiderZ, and I really love the idea. Fighting itself is all done in real time — you approach a monster, you see it readying a big attack, you dive out of the way (spacebar) or block (right mouse button) before slashing away (left mouse button). Enemies can be evaded or fled from altogether.