By Darren Henderson (DizzyPW), General Manager
Does your MMORPG lack epic Anime storylines filled with clichés, over exaggerated emotes, and explosions that leave you dazed? Do you have an uncontrollable urge to catch ‘em all but lack friends with expensive 3D Gameboys? Perhaps you’re a pervert that needs ample pantie shots after a hard day’s work?
Well if you’re suffering from any of these problems, 2014 is looking bright as Aura Kingdom is positioned to reveal its western debut with Aeria Games in just a few weeks from now! And to celebrate, not only am here to bring you a more in-depth discussion of what the press was shown in Thursday’s 4 hour demo, but I’ll even be giving out two Aura Kingdom playing card decks to two winners that follow the giveaway instructions at the end of each article!
X-Legend Goes Full Circle
Many eons ago, I came before you guys to write about the previous X-Legend game published by Aeria, Eden Eternal. That was roughly two and a half years ago and the MMO industry has changed, gamers have been jaded from one too many false promises, and as someone who spent three years reading reviews from forty-six odd (figuratively and literally) free-lance writers, I can say I know this better than most.
So when Aeria told me a few months back that X-Legend was launching a game combining elements of their past successes such as Eden Eternal’s multi-classing, Kistu Saga’s over the top focus on cuteness, and Grand Fantasia’s elaborate (for its time) MMO pet system and social functions, I was skeptical. At least until I realized I had already played this game at last year’s G-Star and found it quite enjoyable as a prototype. The game has come a long way since then so let’s break down where it shines and where it still needs some work. But first we need to lay the foundation by introducing the core customization features.
Classes, Creation, and Customization
Aura Kingdom nails the all-important elements that make the Anime MMO fan-base get all warm and fuzzy for. If you want classes, it has more than a few while carefully avoiding stepping on each other’s toes with the five-man party limitation.
Guardian- First on the battlefield and last to leave, Guardians work tirelessly to ensure victory through superior tactics. Their sword and shield combo gives them a balanced offense and defense, enabling them to outlast enemies while waiting for the perfect opening – or create one with a well-timed block and counterattack.
Ravager- Each swing of a Ravager’s massive axe delivers a payload of pain, and often collateral damage to any unfortunate enough to be standing too close. With a frenzy in their eyes, they shrug off their own injuries in a race to kill their enemy first, destroying anything that stands in their way.
Duelist- Speeding like a meteor across the sky, Duelists rush enemies with their razor-sharp dual blades before they have a chance to react. Consummate close-range specialists, these fleet-footed fighters combine acrobatics and a touch of magic to disorient and wear down even the strongest foes.
Gunslinger- The quickest draw in the land, Gunslingers pack a punch by peppering foes with magic-laced bullets from their twin pistols. To these hotshots, there’s no such thing as an underhanded move if it wins the fight, and to that end, they employ devious traps and even special bullets that debilitate enemies.
Grenadier- Grenadiers are known far and wide for the massive cannons they heft into battle. These miraculous feats of engineering are capable of firing missiles, discharging powerful plasma bursts, or launching elementally-charged grenades. With such an arsenal, Grenadiers have a blast demolishing foes from afar.
Bard- Consummate masters of support, Bards know just the tune to invigorate their allies. Always a hit in parties, they’ve got the sonic skills to take down foes alone as well. With harp in hand, they can unleash songs to harm, heal, or help, always sure to return for an encore performance. (Holy alliteration Batman!)
Wizard- The ways of magic are mysterious to many, but Wizards see order amidst the chaos, looking to the forces of nature for their inspiration. Using staves to focus raw mana, they conjure elemental spells that can turn the tides of battle, making them respected and indispensable allies in combat.
Sorcerer- Few dare to plumb the darker side of magic, but Sorcerers brave its depths with gusto. In the pages of old tomes and grimoires they find runes and sigils that, although forgotten by the world at large, have lost none of their potency. With a host of debilitating spells at their fingertips, none can deny a Sorcerer’s way with words.
Mystery Class- What could it be? All that is present is a mysterious locked sign. Perhaps we’ll know when open beta arrives? But based on the melee to ranged ratio, I’m thinking it’s going to be something that gets up close and personal with the enemy.
Creation: Once you have your playstyle in mind, the next step is hammering out your looks. Not only did the version I played beat out most Anime MMOs in number of classes, it also offered the most customization options at creation I’ve seen out of any default slider model. Sure it’s not modded Skyrim facial cheek slider level of detail, but for the F2P Anime genre it’s pretty outstanding.
No class is gender locked. There’s nine face options per gender with ten hairstyles. Every hairstyle has twelve colors you can dye consisting of all the typical natural colors along with the full spectrum of the rainbow. Beyond that you have a whopping twenty eye colors. Skin tone offered four shades starting at peachy white to more Asian tones, though many of our preset characters were various darker shades leading me to believe that a decent number of options are in the process of being implemented here in preparation for the westernized launch. After twirling through all these options it becomes pretty clear how this game ended up being called Aura Kingdom.
Once all the presets and colors are set, players can zoom in, rotate, and have their character do one of six emotes to confirm you’re looking sharp before slapping on a name and jumping into the land of Azuria.
Well… there is the little detail of selecting from one of four starter Eidolons but I’ll save that discussion for part 2 of our coverage.
Once your adventure starts, you will find a plethora of options to set yourself apart from the crowd statistically, visually, and sometimes through options consisting of a combination of both.
Statistically you have the D&D old school freedom to choose your own leveling stats. Except it’s done smarter than the original Maplestory-esque take on the concept by offering you separate points for boosting your offensive and defensive capabilities. Will you spend your precious offensive points on boosting your base damage, upping crit chance, or upping attack speed/reducing cooldowns? Will you spend your defense points on bolstering hp/out of combat regen, offsetting damage you take by a percent, or increasing your gamble factor by raising evade to try to dodge attacks altogether?
While certain class skills will make the weight of these decisions lean more towards one of the three options than the others, I feel in the end it comes down to personal philosophy and playstyle. Gamblers might lean heavier towards evade for the thrill of uncertain damage absorption while more reserved players might lean raw base damage over crit chance. And while that might be well and good for number pushes and min-maxers to debate over, most of you out there will be spending most of your time focused on the Envoy’s Path decisions.
Envoy’s Path: The Envoy’s Path is a branching and complicated series of seemingly arbitrary boxes laying out your skill and passive options. No box is worth more than the others but since you start in the middle and are limited by points gained from leveling, you will have to plan things out ahead of time to connect boxes from the middle to the eventual boosts you’re trying to acquire. Aura Kingdom adds an additional layer of complexity to this by making some of the far border boxes have the requirement of a specific secondary weapon choice you’ll need to unlock, meaning they are only available for characters at or past level 40 (sorry 40 is going to be the cap in beta testing for a bit).
From my brief testing with the Envoy’s Path, I feel like it’s there and can have an impact of playstyle, but not to the point that a player could cripple their character from competing with others. Most every path seems to offer enough unique advantages to be viable while offering an additional layer of customization to set yourself apart.
Dyeing: The final customization point I’m going to touch on is the purely cosmetic but ever important feature, armor and fashion dying. Aura Kingdom stays true to its psychedelic rainbow theme but featuring enough dye colors to make a Guild Wars 1 fan nostalgic. Beyond that various gear pieces have multiple color slots, allowing for deviant delights and horrific fashion statements through mixing and matching so many colors throughout your set. The only drawback is dye is rare and trying to acquire a specific color on top of it will be even more so. This is definitely going to be a cash shop draw to the game but thankfully is not a cash shop required feature to enjoy.
Well it’s 1am and I don’t want to slip up and share wrong information so I’m going to take a pause before continuing our coverage of Aura Kingdom later today. Remember to visit our forum thread to take part in guessing my favorite Eidolon to be entered into a drawing to win the first pack of Aura Kingdom playing cards!