Wizardry Online Impressions: No Magic, Just Disappointment
You play an adventurer new to the town of Illfalo. Surrounding the town are various dangerous dungeons that the townsfolk aren’t too happy about. Your goal, as in all these sorts of games, is to clear them out. There’s a bunch of lore concerning souls and the adventurer guild, but it’s so tedious and boring and standard that it completely left my thoughts as soon as I passed it. I can tell you the ongoing story of Vindictus, or wax nostalgic about Warcraft lore from Warcraft 1 through Cataclysm, but I can’t remember any of the details in Wizardry Online. It’s that cookie-cutter.
The art style, much like the lore, is forgettable at best and excruciating at worst. Colors are dull and lifeless, and textures are grimy and unintelligible. Everything runs together, which completely wrecks the player’s ability to quickly distinguish and identify enemies and allies. While I did not get too far into the list of dungeons, the ones I did play had such boring environs that I doubt the high-level dungeons will be any different. Most bewildering of all, all the character designs are very anime-inspired. There’s nothing quite as strange as seeing a cutesy gnome traipsing through a dungeon that looks like the middle of a gross, unclean alley. More “dark fantasy” designs would have been appropriate, but instead we have wide-eyed anime elves.
The UI is just as bad. There are too many windows with too much information that matters little to the starting player. Wizardry Online breaks the two most basic rules of UI design: Hide information that doesn’t matter to the average user, accentuate information that matters. Some more glaring issues include windows that can’t be resized and text that is cut off by default. If the first thing you see when playing at 1920×1080 is “Abil…” and “Attr…” then you’ve built your UI wrong. There’s absolutely no excuse.
With awful art and boring lore, you might hope the combat is good. And you’d be wrong. It’s functional, sure. But it’s not fun in any real capacity. To fight, you lock on to an enemy and swing your sword/staff at them, occasionally popping off a skill or blocking. Imagine Diablo 3 and its click-fest, except make all the monsters ten times harder to kill and the art terrible to look at. Thankfully, enemies have an incredibly small aggro radius (except in boss fights), so getting grouped up on and murdered isn’t something that happens too often.