ASDA 2: Cute, Cute... oh and Hardcore
By Nic van ‘t Schip (Nilax), OnRPG Journalist
Asda 2 is the next iteration of Asda Story, the highly successful MMO run in the US by the lovely people at GamesCampus. Last October they released chapter 3 for this game and back then Vincent conducted an interview with them about it. The expansion was mostly aimed at the well established high level community Asda Story has as it introduced new high level content and raised the repeatable quests to level 70.
Back then this begged the question what was in store for new players, wouldn't they be left too far behind? Well not anymore because now GamesCampus is ready to launch the "Evolution" of Asda, aptly named Asda 2: Evolution.
The character creation in Asda 2 is a tad confusing at the start as the options for customization are quite limited. You are only given the choice between a male or a female character after which you can pick what Constellation your character was born under. The customization possibilities are downright scarce with only 5 different hairstyles, 3 different hair colors and 19 different faces. But don't worry about that because the game will still offer plenty of opportunity for your character to look unique later on in the gameplay! You can see the various options in our video review here!
Another thing that is obvious right away is that there is no class selection in the character creation screen. Asda 2 let's you pick that a bit later in the game and I think that is pretty cool! When you do get the choice of what class to become you can pick between eight very varied choices! On top of that the game boasts hundreds of skills and dozens of job classes. Plenty to progress through!
Your character starts out in the cute town of Alpen. A cute and peppy track plays in the background and the cute mapsystem will help you find some cute NPC's that will send you on various tasks to help the villagers out.
Yes I realize that paragraph contains the word cute a lot. But only because it's true! The first impression of this game is that it's, well.. cute, and that doesn't need to be a problem at all. GamesCampus very obviously targets a certain demographic with this game and in a world where companies are often trying to stick to the safe middle ground it's refreshing to see that Asda is taking the risk and introducing an outlier.
An interesting feature to go along with the casual feel of Asda 2 is the autopilot function. I was taken aback by it at first but I now realize it's a great little tool to stave off boredom. Who wants to simply navigate their character through a village themselves? Only scrubs control their own character while the real men (and women) just point their destination on the map and sit back! This is ideal for multi-tasking homework and gaming.
It may come off as sarcasm but I'm actually quite serious and the quest system takes it a step further. In the quest window there is a convenient button that, when clicked, runs you straight to the waypoint of the quest. And when you've completed the step the button changes to take you straight back to the NPC where you need to turn the quest in to claim your reward.
I bet lots of people will jump to the conclusion that this is a step too casual for them but think about it. What is the part of a quest that is fun? Is it "finding the right monsters" or is it "Where was that NPC again that I have to claim my reward from?" I say it's neither of them, I say it's bashing the skulls in of the monsters and then getting phat lewt for it and the game doesn't automate either of those! It just makes it easier for you to focus on the fun stuff while the boring walking to and from tasks gets conveniently handled for you!
Another easy way to navigate the game is by simply clicking in the game world but full WASD and mouselook controls are possible too. So if you really dislike the autopathing feature you can just... not use it! All very cute so far but now it's time to stab some monsters.
Combat starts out simple; my low level character has a sword and a bow to choose from and has one ability for each of them. Even with such a limited array of starting abilities combat still feels and looks dynamic. The monsters die easily at this level, and when they die they drop cute little stacks of gold.
At first I hated this kind of looting. The little stacks of gold are sometimes hard to click and it quickly gets tedious to try and pick them up especially where there are many other players or monsters around. But don't fret, Asda 2 already has the solution to this. By default the F key on your keyboard will pick items off the floor for us. Rejoice!
Gear Customization and Soulmating
So all the basics are there, and they're solid if a bit overly cute. Where Asda 2 really shines though is the customization of your character. The first thing I love is how the inventory system has a double layer. Don't you hate it when you have a really good looking piece of gear but it has crap stats? And then you get a really good replacement item but it looks hideous? This game has totally solved that problem by allowing you to keep cool looking bits in the "Avatar" side of your inventory screen. The "Normal Custom" side can then still hold the better stat item while you can still look cool by wearing the better looking item!
The customization goes a lot deeper than that still. There is a remarkably comprehensive crafting and item buffing system in the game that I don't have time to fully cover. The cool thing is how items you don't want can be disassembled to gain materials to boost your current gear or create brand new gear! This system certainly beats npcing all your old stuff to buy new shinier preset stuff.
And don't forget to brag about your zodiac sign in your quest to hook up with a soulmate! Asda 2 is very proud of this system and they are right to be. By connecting yourself to someone else through the Soulmate and Marriage system you give yourself and this other person a strong xp bonus as well as access to unique soul mate abilities and even bonus items!
All in all Asda 2 is a tad too cute for me but I can totally see how this game is excellent for those within the target demographic. But make no mistake, Asda 2 isn't quite as cutesy as I may make it out to be! I only had time to check the first couple of levels of the game during the closed beta but there is a very hardcore Faction-based PvP system that will roar its head a little later in the game. OnRPG will definitely have a look at that more hardcore side of Asda 2 in the near future! For now I suggest you go give it a go yourself if this review peaked your interest.