By Darren Henderson (DizzyPW), OnRPG Editor-in-Chief
There’s no question that fans of Lost Saga were in a sore spot when OGPlanet closed the doors earlier this year. I personally felt out of sorts as I’m a big fan of Elsword and the Smash Bros series and long had considered jumping into Lost Saga as the ideal combination of the two and, outside of playing private Mugen servers, was the only type of F2P online fighting game offering gameplay in this fashion. Thankfully WeMade has arrived to save the day with a relaunch, offering a start from scratch opportunity for those who have never played to jump in on the same level as the veterans of OGPlanet’s version. Or so it seems on the surface.
The Learning Curve
As a new player to the game, I found myself entirely lost when I was thrown into a few matches against the devs and PR crew to fight it out. If you go in with standard MMORPG control schematics in mind, you’ll probably find yourself staring at the game’s stylized movie mode (right mouse click) while the enemy smashes you apart with dramatic flair. Lost Saga is probably 1 of a handful of titles I’ve seen in the F2P online market in which I was glad to have a USB controller because it was far superior to my keyboard. Thankfully when the servers went live to the public and I started my own account, I was greeted by an extensive tutorial to ease me into the game.
While most tutorials are optional and only require your attention to grab a few freebie rewards, I can’t imagine comprehending Lost Saga without theirs. Not only do they explain every tiny bit from comboing to modes to match finding, they even offer individual (and perfectly localized) hero tutorials to explain to a novice the proper timing and order to set up combos with your character. After playing around with the fire mage, storm trooper, and shadow assassin (Beginner preset builds that I’ll explain more about soon), I jumped into the game’s Crusade mode to test my skill with the bots.
I knew I was in over my head when even the boss bot on the 10th floor tore me up. Lost Saga seems simple to jump into with limited controls, yet there is just so much to master here that it rivals and even surpasses some arcade fighting title. I soon found myself getting smashed repeatedly in PvP battles while in awe at how bad I was at this game. I had to be missing something…
Character Purchasing and the RPG Element
As I sunk a few more hours into the game I began to understand that my account’s ranking system was more than just a sign of prestige and warning to lesser players, but actually a requirement for unlocking more advanced heroes in the hero shop. The hero shop lets you purchase these presets for Lost Saga’s currency or the cash shop currency (WP). The unfortunate difference is that the two tiers of in-game currency offer 2 hour and 10 hour unlocks, while WP offers 30 hours and permanent unlocks. The prices are not cheap either but new players will receive quests to try out various heroes as they are unlocked that essentially results in you making an extra 3,000 GP for purchasing 2 hour trials of these starter heroes.
Whether permanent or temporary, you’ll gain experience for taking these characters into any mode at all. This experience can be spent to up individual stats that vary in impact depending on the character in a system that instantly made me think empire builder tech/building upgrades. That’ll be 20 minutes to up your strength and 2 exp points…. Or instant gratification if you’re willing to spend some GP! And while I was glad this at least wasn’t a cash shop item, the writing was on the wall that probably only someone who was cash shopping elsewhere would have the spare GP to ever spend on an instant skill upgrade. This cash shop was starting to become a nuisance, though not yet a deal breaker.
Paying for Sex in Lost Saga
Now that I have your attention, let’s focus on the actual shop beyond just character purchasing. The organization of the shop hasn’t changed much from OGPlanet’s model in 2009, which makes sense as it feels like a hybrid point in history between the rise of the F2P Asian MMORPGs charging cash for power, and the post-League of Legends model where cosmetics make up 70-90% of all cash shop purchases.
In the case of Lost Saga, nearly everything is available if you’re willing to grind it out and spend excess in-game currency on it, but I question the choice of what they made WP only. For instance if you want to play a female character, sorry ladies but you’re going to have to pony up some cash. Want one of the licensed heroes from King of Fighters or any other upcoming partnerships WeMade signs?
If Iori is any sign of things to come, that’ll cost you as well. But before I call them out on this, I have to say that they pushed the intrusiveness to the point where a few players might be turned off initially, but those that get hooked on the game are likely going to eventually want one of these cash shop only items (or permanent characters, or that new hair style that just came out but you’re all out of in-game currency etc) and spend enough to make up for the initial players turned away by it. It isn’t as bad as it sounds and believe me I’ve dealt with far more greedy business models than this before.