By Jason Parker [Ragachak]
I’m not really big on mobile MMOs… normally. I like my MMOs with a controller or at my desk with a keyboard/mouse. That’s how I do most of my gaming after all. Many of them feel like stripped down, wannabe MMOs to make some fast cash. That is not what Crusaders of Light feels like. After watching a lot of gameplay and speaking with the developers at this press preview, I have a lot of hopes for it. Not to mention, it’s also going to be on PC! I can play on my PC, and then if I have to leave home and go do something, and I want to knock out some monsters, I totally can! I’m more excited for this game than I thought I would be initially. The name didn’t grab me as a fantasy MMO at first [I was thinking isometric arpg], but it definitely nails the look and feel of a PC MMORPG. I spoke with Jim Stanhope [Production], and Eric “Ocho” Cleaver [Social Network Team], as well as Elena Johnson [Developer] as they showed off NetEase’s upcoming MMO. They have production chops for MMOs as well, as NetEase produces Blizzard titles for the Chinese Market. So it’s not like they are unfamiliar with the genre. They’re one of the largest mobile games publisher [by revenue] in the world.
So what is Crusaders of Light? It’s a PC-styled MMO built for mobile and set in the world of Malura. A conflict in the heavens occurred, the evil Lord Deprave, God of Darkness, was imprisoned by a sacrifice of the God of Light in an area known as “The Desolation.” Not a really nice place to be. But Lord Deprave is not dead. He’s constantly trying to escape through his cult, his demons, and as the heroes, you have to interfere with his plans; they’re boasting over 300 hours of gameplay as you make your way to level 45 [launch levelcap]. Everything is here: Quests, PVP, Crafting, Dungeons/Raids. 40 person raids on mobile really intrigue me. I have to see how that goes down. Guess I’m glad I just got a new phone then!
At launch, there are three character classes and at level 20, each class has three paths they can walk to change how they play: Warrior [Melee Warrior, huge axe, lots of damage] can become Executioner, Gladiator, or Fang of Titanus. They’re basically the tanks, but you can choose one of the DPS routes if that’s more your thing. Next are the Rangers, which are the ranged DPS class, which can become Scout, Forest Guide, or Animal Tamer. The class that sort of breaks the mold though is the “Healer” class, the Mystic. They’re a hybrid of magical damage as well as healing. This is the class for me, I think. They can become Verity Spirit, Magellana’s Judgement, or Shepherd. There will be more character classes in the future, but they can’t give further details … just yet.
The game is gorgeous, especially for a mobile game. We took a little tour of the main hub, and it has a very high-fantasy World of Warcraft look. Of course, they have gorgeous mounts to wander the world on, and it reminds me of Riders of Icarus in the vast variety of mounts you can ride on. Visually it’s very appealing and does remind me of a PC MMO. It’s got more of an open world to explore than most mobile MMOs I’ve played/reviewed in the past. This feels like a genuine MMO. The UI doesn’t take up too much of the screen, it has a standard mobile control [a few buttons, a button to walk around with], and has a mini map! I hate not having one honestly. This world feels alive on mobile. I might find myself playing this more on the PC version of the game, but the mobile version nonetheless is gorgeous. You do travel to other areas via the map, which makes sense, and they showed us another hub, the home of the Elves, Yearnstar. It’s lush, green, and I feel like this game is going to stretch the limits of what you can do with a mobile MMO. That’s one of the most interesting things about this to me: Why settle for doing what everyone else does? NetEase is really pushing the boundaries here and I foresee Crusaders of Light being a gigantic hit when it goes live.
They showed us some of the areas you start in, like Eastmoon Beach [where we tackle the deadly, vile Crab Menace. They’re plotting something… I just know it]. They have some fun events to take you away from the grind. When you aren’t stopping demons from gaining access to this land, you can help Garth make the most delicious, kick-ass barbeque he possibly can. The greatest beach rager of all time! So you can take a break and do something fun instead! I appreciate that kind of approach. It can’t be super serious all the time. But it has world bosses, dungeons, raids, things change and grow. Things change over time, new things to see and do in the world. I also love that if you’re in a guild and someone stumbles upon a world boss, you can summon your guildmates, set up a quick party, and get ready to do battle with said boss. Other guilds will no doubt be there too, but you’ll be able to compete against each other to see who is the most dominant/worthy of killing the boss. I do love competition…
At launch, there will be three zones [but they’ve shown us the entire main continent that we will explore over time]: Surgewind Wilds, Cloudburst Forest, and Aerial Island. That will take you to level 45, but there are plans to explore these other areas as the level cap goes up and new content happens in the game. There’s a lot of room to expand and explore the world over time. At launch, there will be four five-person dungeons [which have two difficulties, normal/heroic] in Scar Plains, Dire Galleon, Ancestral Altar, and the Goblint Camp. They’re pretty mechanic heavy and not just run around, tank and spank. There are also four team raids at launch, which is pretty impressive. They also have two difficulties. Fort Desolation [level 20] Everlush Valley , Chimeria , Burning Skyblaze Village . They want people getting into raids early to get used to how they work, so they offer a pretty early raid, which is revolutionary as far as I’m aware. The closest MMO to do something like that is the FFXIV Trials, which are 8 man instead of 4 man. But I love that you can get an early taste of raiding, and get hooked, wanting to do more of them [which are going to be there]! Some of the raids are 25 man, some of these are smaller, 7-15 person raids so you can do them if you don’t have a full group ready to go. Late game raids will be packed with up to 40 players, so it’s a good thing that there is crossplay with PC to fill those larger groups up. It’s a serious technical feat that this is even possible.
Hype Train: Has No Brakes!
I’m incredibly excited for Crusaders of Light! It doesn’t feel like it’s a cheap cash grab to make money off of MMO fans, like some other free to play MMOs I’ve seen. Yes, they have a cash shop, but it’s not for the pay-to-win crowd. If you want that, you can go play some other game that lets you buy epic gear in the shop. It has a terrific party system, an in-depth guild system, cool classes, a gorgeous visual, and in general, it just looks exciting to play. I’m glad it will have cross-platform with PC because I don’t really find myself playing for too long at a time on mobile. I could, and probably will with this game, but I do wonder how older mobile devices will handle it. I don’t really see too much in the way of issues with it. The only worry I have is that it might be too easy, too quick to hit level cap with only three zones from the outset. I don’t think it’s a major negative for the game, but I do wonder what their plan is for new content, how long between expansions/huge updates we’ll have to wait. Despite that tiny fear, it looks fun, and I can’t wait for it to land on my phone so I can get out there and try the Mystic for myself. I highly recommend grabbing this as soon as it goes live. Crusaders of Light is going to be THE MMO for mobile in 2017.