Wizardry Online SOE Live Early Access Part 1
By Darren Henderson (DizzyPW), OnRPG Editor-in-Chief
Full loot Perma Death PvP. Ask any seasoned (read disillusioned) Mmorpg veteran and they'll tell you games like this are a relic of the past. Yet SOE stands as a publisher that has stood the test of time since that bygone era. So who else would have the machismo to pull off a modern AAA MMO? Next month the beta begins for what may be the last chance for this genre to survive in the western world in true form. I'm of course talking about Wizardry Online, and the time to stop wasting time on forums complaining and start sinking your time into the PvP title of your dreams is at hand!
Let’s begin with the basics. The warrior, thief, priest and mage are your four classes to choose from the start. This may seem like an unoriginal and small pool to select from but it gets better.. if you can live long enough that is.
As you advance your character you will gain the ability to go down one or multiple class trees. The warrior had two classes on display while the thief held three. But in a system akin to the original Guild Wars you are able to pull up to five abilities from any of the other classes to add unexpected trump cards to your character.
Past this you can also select from multiple races, each with unique benefits that allow them to be strong in their respective fields. The races you will recognize are humans, elves, and dwarves (male only). The two that are distinctly Japanese and need a bit of further explanation are the Gnome (female only) and Porkul. Gnomes are mid-sized creatures that look similar to the elves (fair skin, austere) except they have distinct large ram horns. The Porkul are similar to the halflings and are best summed up as an unholy hybrid of Elins and Asura. While on the concept of races I’ll go ahead and mention that graphics and combat look very similar to Vindictus. Though granted this title looks slightly better. A natural benefit of progressing technology. The musical score on the other hand has a distinct Japanese flair and nicely ramps up for big boss fights to get your adrenaline pumping.
Once you have your character made you will fast be introduced to your new overlord, the RNG. Just about everything in this game relies on RNG, including your beginning stats that feel like a more advanced version of creating a Maplestory character. As you progress through the game and gain experience, RNG will strike again in the leveling up process. Once you hit the threshold you can choose to stay at a hotel to gain your stat bonuses. But just like with real life hotels, you get what you pay for and better hotels not only restore more HP and MP, but also improve your chances with the RNG level up system. And trust me you’ll want to get the best possible results as this game has a steep leveling curve, and it’s possible to have your stats decrease on level up. I’ll touch on more of this later in the article as it ties closely to the outlaw system, but not in the obvious way you might expect.
Now that the basics of character progression are out of the way, let’s address the elephant in the room: Permadeath. Wizardry Online takes a unique approach to this system by offering Permadeath with strategic and luck based ways of avoiding your inevitable demise in an MMORPG. Upon death you will become a ghost that can run to a system the devs addressed as scales. These scales will seek the great RNG god to decide who lives and who dies, but like any good gamble you can adjust your odds with proper bribery. By offering your items, equips, and other rares you will increase the odds that you can return to your body. However the more advanced your character, the harsher the RNG roll will be on you, and the more likely you will never return to your body again. Tactics and statistics come into play as you are offered a grand total of 2 chances before you’re gone for good. So don’t be a cheapskate as your gear won’t matter if you’re dead and looted. Pay up fool! And do it quickly because once you go down, even your so called best buddy is free to take the same loot you need to revive yourself. Let the survival paranoia begin!
Oh Lady Luck didn’t smile upon you? Time to rage quit and start a new game right? I’m sure there are plenty of online titles out there happy to take your money for the next two years, only to shut down prematurely forever erasing your character with a small recompense. Now if you’re tired of this slow pathetic death and want to live for the moment I suggest you get back on the horse and use the transfer system provided by Wizardry Online. For every level you gain and every quest you complete you will gain potential power for your next character. Also anything you’ve stored in your bank (storage space limited by your Soul Rank) can be used by any of your characters. So as long as you weren’t holding all of your items when you died, your newbie will be able to pick up their goods and not be a broke noob.
Soul Rank is the wonderful system designed to cater to the ever present need of MMORPG progression. As you level any of your characters you gain Soul Rank that unlocks multiple effects such as the increased storage space. Each level offers new and more powerful benefits, though they shut me down before I could get a good grasp of them. “We can’t show you everything before launch,” they claimed. Sadness…
Be sure to check out part 2 of our Early Access coverage HERE!