By Jordan Hall (ApocaRUFF), OnRPG Journalist
Panzar: Forged By Chaos is a new third-person action game with a large emphasis on team competitive play. You will choose from four different races, with two classes each, and do battle in beautifully designed arenas. The classes range from spell-casters, to tinkerer's, to tanks, and more. It features a level progression system with skills trees, crafting, and tournaments to take part in. All-in-all, this should make for a very exciting gaming experience.
There is a decent amount of customization for the type of game Panzar: Forged By Chaos is. A lot more than one would expect. Unfortunately, a lot of the customization will require you to purchase crystals, which is the game’s cash shop money. If you are willing to pay the price, you can buy hair styles, taunts, and even color your armor. You can make yourself fairly unique.
Other than cosmetic customization, you will also get to customize your character’s skills by using the talent tree. Unfortunately, I did not see many options in this tree. There's enough to keep you occupied for a bit, but more talents to choose from wouldn't hurt. These talents range from new skills, to upgrades for old ones. Like I said, it's enough to keep you interested for a while, but for how long is the issue.
Usually I don't mention the cash shop in my reviews. This time, however, I feel that I need to. While almost everything in the game can be accomplished via in-game methods, using money will allow you to get everything done a lot easier. Depending on your perspective of things, this could be a bad thing or a good thing. For me, I'm OK with it and do not have an issue with it.
Crystals can be used for almost anything, including crafting.
You can do a lot with Crystals. Stuff like buy equipment or recipes. The good news is that you can buy recipes for a lot of stuff using the in-game gained Gold. I already mentioned that you will need to use Crystals to make your character look unique. Just about everything will have an option for using Crystals, you can even convert Crystals into gold. The good news, at least in my opinion, is that Crystals seem to be fairly cheap so you can probably buy five dollars’ worth and be set for a while.
What really appealed to me when I was first reading up on Panzar: Forged By Chaos was how good the game looked in screenshots. I wasn't disappointed when I actually got into the game, either. It looks great and I'm surprised by how well it ran on maximum settings. There was a constant frame-rate, even in the heat of battle. Because of these great graphics, you will feel immersed in the fight and your adrenaline will begin to pump immediately.
Intense fire-fights like this make the Gunner class so much fun
It's not just the graphics themselves, either. The physics are a blast, too. Watching the body of your enemy go flying right after you slam your club into the side of their face is so satisfying. And when your teammate accidentally pushes you into a pit of molten lava, you are sure to have a laugh. The only issue I've had is that sometimes I will have trouble getting on top of rocks or other raised surfaces, but a bit of ingenuity will often get me where I want to go.
Behold my gravity defying beard!
Map sizes are generally pretty small. For some maps, this means you will feel very claustrophobic. Other maps, they are big enough for it to not be an issue. Either way, the maps are wonderfully crafted and are filled with neat surprises, such as the lava pit mentioned above. The only thing I could wish for in terms of maps is one or two that have a much larger size than what is currently available. But that's just personal preference.
If you've played any other online multiplayer game in the past 2-4 years, you will probably be able to pick-up the controls in Panzar: Forged By Chaos very fast. It's your typical, “WASD to move, left click to attack” type deal. There are some unique things you will need to get used to, but there is a nicely done tutorial mission that you can do that will teach you the basics and reward you handsomely. I had no issue with the default controls, and found them to be very smooth. There's really nothing to complain about here, which is great because I love a game that puts effort into having smooth and easy to use controls.
Right now, the community is kind of on the low side. However, I've noticed that new people have been flooding in each day. When you first start playing, you will not have an issue finding a match and it will only be a matter of seconds. When you get into the higher levels, you may have trouble finding a game and will sometimes have to wait over 5 minutes for a match. This will get better as more people get higher in level, but for now it is kind of annoying. Other than that, the community is pretty good and there is a healthy forum that you can participate in.
If you haven't noticed yet, I really have enjoyed this game a lot. I like it so much because it's beautiful and just plain fun to play. A lot of games of this type fail in some key areas which just ruins the experience completely. Panzar: Forged By Chaos is able to keep things simple to a point where things don't become a tedious mess, yet is complex enough to keep things interesting. With team work and strategy you can turn a lost game into a win, even when it seems the odds are against you. It is because of those moments, where your heart it pumping in overdrive and the game hinges on your ability to work with your teammates, that make this game as great as it is.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this is the greatest game of all time. It's far from that. There are definitely a lot of places where the game could use some polish, and a bit more content and variety wouldn't hurt either. But what it has done so far, it has done very well. What the developers have accomplished so far is an inspiration for the future of games.
Getting a good screenshot of myself blocking is surprisingly hard...
Enough praise, though. Let’s talk about exactly why I think Panzar is a good game. At its core it’s a great arena-based game that you can have a great load of fun. The combat is smooth and there are a lot of neat tricks and techniques you can learn for each class to give yourself an edge. When you get deeper into the game, there is a lot of planning and strategy involved in not only developing your character’s talents, but with individual battles as well.
Speaking of characters, rather than what a lot of games of this type do, you will be leveling up and developing individual characters that are stuck as whatever class you made them at creation. In other arena-action games, you can switch your character type on the fly if you find you're not doing well with it. In Panzar, you can have multiple characters, but to be any good you will need to put a lot of effort into one class before you go off and start as another. I like this because it makes it feel like your pre-match decisions are actually impactful. MOBA players might find this restricting, but those more familiar with an MMORPG will find each match to be a lot more meaningful.
There are four races – human, dwarves, orcs, and elves. Each of those races has two classes. For example, dwarves can either be a Sapper or a Gunner (my personal favorite class). Generally, these classes provide two different sides of the same role. Both the Sapper and the Gunner can be considered a Tinkerer or Engineer, but the Gunner focuses more on DPS, while the Sapper is much more focused as a support character. The same for the orcs – You can either be the Tank and protect your team or you can be the Berserker and do your best to smash your foes. Both are melee-based classes, but they are about as different as they can get without becoming an entirely different archetype.
Current class archetypes can be summed up as: Priest, Assassin, Tinkerer, Support Tinkerer, Fire Mage, Ice Mage, Warrior, and Tank. The in-game name of each archetype are: Paladin, Inquisitor, Gunner, Sapper, Sister of Fire, Ice Witch, Berserker, and Tank. Perhaps in the future more will be added, but this is currently all that is available to you. All your corner-stones are covered, from killers to supports. And, from what I've tried, most classes seem to be pretty solid and fun to play.
Matches are your typical match types that you are probably used to from every other arena-based game. There's capture the point, death match, advance the point, stuff like that. The game does have its own unique twist on things. For example, in the “advance the point” game mode I played, the enemy team had to build stuff like ramps or cannons to get past our gate. They also had catapults that they could use to launch themselves. So, even though you may be familiar with the concept of the match, you need to keep an open mind as there are a lot of new and interesting things thrown in to give it a twist.
They said a Dwarf could never fly! I showed them!
Crafting is done as nicely as you can do it in a game like this. I'm honestly not the biggest fan of crafting when it's really just a time waster and/or filler. In a game like Wurm Online – which is a hardcore sandbox MMO – you see immediately why crafting is important to the gameplay. In Panzar, I was left scratching my head wondering why it was even there. But then again, I know a lot of people love this type of crafting in a game.
Basically, at the end of each match you are rewarded with gold and resources. You can use the gold to buy recipes for items such as health and mana potions or some of the advanced armor. The resources are, obviously, used to craft these recipes. The system is actually quite fair, I think, as a lot of the stuff you can craft you can also just buy (often using Crystals, but also sometimes using gold). It's a method for people to accomplish stuff in the game, a system for the devs to make a bit of extra money on crystal sales, and a system for completely free-to-play characters to get their hands on some of the good stuff without having to pay real money – all wrapped into one.
The only issue I had with the game, as I've already mentioned, is the physics. While they are great for fighting, and can be a great source of laughs, they can also be a headache. It is very easy to slide off a hill with their current iteration. Usually with a bit of effort you can get past it and even get into some pretty interesting places. But, overall, I hope they refine and polish it a lot more as I really hate not being able to walk up a two-foot high hill because it's incredibly slippery for no apparent reason.
Panzar: Forged By Chaos is a breath of fresh air this year. While it certainly isn't the only good game to come out, it is one of the few that have made an appearance so far in 2013. I know it still needs work, but I see a massive amount of promise for it in the future – it's rapidly growing popularity is evidence of this. I've thoroughly enjoyed my time in the game so far and will continue to play it whenever I have a bit of spare time. If you want a fantastic arena experience, be sure to check out this free-to-play title.
Features: 4/5 – There are a lot of neat features, more than you would expect from this genre.
Customization: 3/5 – Nothing to spectacular, but what was available was done well. Hoping that this is expanded upon in the future.
Graphics: 4/5 – Simply beautiful.
Controls: 3.5/5 – Would be a four, but with the current state of the physics, they can be difficult to work with.
Community: 3.5/5 – Growing rapidly, and is filled with some good people. There are some bad apples, though.
Overall: 4/5 – An all-around great experience.