Aerrevan – Great Ideas Hampered by Poor Execution
By Neil Kewn (Murxidon) – OnRPG Journalist
I first said I would take on the task of reviewing Aerrevan a few months ago. MMORPGs don’t usually take that long to review, despite being huge games with often gigabytes of content, I just found Aerrevan an impossible game to give an opinion on. Not because of its complexity or depth, but because it just wasn’t finished. Technical issues plagued the game, with random crashes and strange texture issues coupled with some of the strangest animations I have ever seen in an MMO. Instead of dropping off Aerrevan at the nearest Recycle Bin, I did a little more research and discovered that this game actually has a few interesting ideas going for it. This is the kind of MMO I would actually like to play. With news that updates and improvements were hitting soon, I put the game on the virtual shelf for a while, adamant that I would give it another chance.
“There has never been a better time to try Aerrevan than now” proclaims an e-mail sent by the developer team just a couple weeks ago. Skimming through the patch notes, a raft of new updates and fixes had in fact hit the game in my absence. Aerrevan is beginning to take shape, with many of the features that we take for granted in most MMOs finally making their debut. It’s an ambitious game from unknown developers CubeForce Media, and one that doesn’t follow a mould. This isn’t a my-first-MMO. It’s a difficult game that requires patience and a willingness to think for yourself. You won’t receive help or guidance on your travels, and new players dropped into the world aren’t led by the hand.
MMOs that can be described as “unwelcoming” isolate new players; fortunately Aerrevan doesn’t fall into this trap. Your first order of business is getting to know townsfolk in the starting area. Conversing with NPCs is both drastically more important, and different, in Aerrevan than its peers. Citizens aren’t just placeholders, offering valuable knowledge about the game world, activities and quests. More interesting than that, you can actually speak to NPCs in plain English. Try asking a town guard how they are, or if they have any work for you. You can still click through conversation topics if this isn’t to your liking, but some pieces of information can only be unlocked by speaking to inhabitants.
And speaking you will do, as quest givers aren’t labelled in Aerrevan. Gone are the days of skipping quest logs and filling your journal with twenty random tasks, you are encouraged to take part in the world and its lore. This isn’t at all surprising given the game’s target audience of role-players, tired of the more simplistic MMOs on the market. Naturally the lore and narrative of Lurris is one of the major attractions to role-players, and intelligent NPCs add depth to the story in a way you may not have experienced before.
If you’re not a huge role-player, you may find Aerrevan’s methods and mechanics an unnecessary extra step in achieving what is fundamentally the essence of any MMO – Experience. Like the quest system and NPCs, this concept game shakes things up by doing away with class selection. All of the skills are available to you and what you specialize in is your decision. This lack of structure has its advantages and disadvantages (most notably balancing), but it offers a lot of freedom with character progression.
Both traditional weapons and magic can be used in combat, combat which is hindered by poor hit detection and unresponsive controls. This isn’t aided by awkward and stifled animations, making battles against the admittedly well-detailed and varied enemies a chore. The inclusion of Aer, a mystical essence that plays a large part in the game’s narrative, is an interesting mechanic that can also have an effect on your character’s attributes. Aer can provide bonuses in combat but may also prove to be a serious ailment if exposed too heavily to the areas and enemies that are infected, resulting in mutations.
Player versus player combat isn’t primarily between the three races of Lurris (Humans, Orcs and Elves), but between which of the Great Mages players choose to align themselves with. Guilds fight to control contested points in the world, with rival factions battling to take leadership of them.
Aerrevan is developed using an entirely new engine known as AERCore, developed in-house by CubeForce Media themselves. It is very much a work in progress and this is reflected in-game. Stability has improved dramatically since launch, but technical issues are still a common occurrence and at times it can make Aerrevan a very frustrating game to play. This is never more apparent when walking up stairs. The good news is that patches are still being pushed out at startling regularity.
It’s easy to forget that Aerrevan is, all things considered, a released game. It went live in April of this year and is supported by premium accounts and an item store. A premium account unlocks more character slots (currently free players can only create one character) and a higher level cap, whilst the store offers in-game potions, equipment and some skills for a price.
Aerrevan is a game filled with good ideas but lacks a decent enough execution to realize them. It’s an awkward, unfinished game that puts a lot of its potential to waste. It’s easy to underappreciate exactly what has been achieved here though, given that the developers are a small independent company, and I’m glad they are determined to shape and mould this game into a title worthy of the great ideas they have.
CubeForce Media are working hard to improve things, and improvements are what Aerrevan needs to survive. It may be nowhere near as unplayable as it was at launch, but there is still a long way to go before this game can be considered anything other than a test release. It’s changing rapidly, but can it grow into that “quaint MMO that fills a niche in an increasingly overpopulated market” that it should be?
Graphics – 2
Controls – 3
Features – 4
Customization – 2
Community – 3