By Cord DeBlois, Guest Writer
The MMO version of the classic Wizardry series by Sir-Tech, Wizardry Online. The game that was barely given a chance. The game that was ripped away before it’s time on July 31st, 2014 from the North American and European servers provided by Sony Online Entertainment, while flourishing in Japan. While it may have had its flaws during its brief, but infamous time it was available, it is certainly not a game to be swept under the rug. The community contradicted and answered common questions found on various MMO forums and reviews. Below are a few examples are such complaints coincided with veteran players’ responses.
“Unfortunately, most of the time it’s a lumbering beast of a game with interesting ideas cloaked behind layers of frustration that only dedicated players will surpass.”
Wizardry the franchise, even during its days as a solo RPG experience, has always been a grindy game with much depth, so it stands to reason that the developers would carry this legacy into the online edition.
While this game may be tedious and grindy at times, the payoff is very rewarding and encourages a strong sense of community. Your first experience in Wizardry Online might seem daunting, but once you get further into the experience, you begin to understand the developer’s innovation, making you work hard for achievements and rewarding you along the way, creating a thirst for what lies around the next corner.
Unfortunately said online edition came with the typical pitfalls most devs new to the territory suffer, namely a rough buggy launch. However, such issues did not define those games and should not have defined Wizardry Online either. Though its short lived lifespan in the west blocked us from ever seeing the shining polished version it could have become.
The game lived on in Gamepot’s Japanese version, teasing us with what could have been, including some major features designed to address some of the primary frustrations players had. Two key examples were a “Story Mode” to make progression more engaging, as well as a PvE oriented server known as the “Liberal” server.
“First, the interface is somewhat unintuitive, combining odd movement, tiny and indistinct inventory icons, and controls that do different things depending on if your weapon is drawn or not.”
Coments like this were in the forefront of player and press criticism coinciding Wizardry Online’s launch. ‘Outdated’ in graphics and game controls, players uninstalled without second though. Those that stuck around recognized the developers’ goal of capturing a classic feel of gameplay, rather than cinematic styles commonly seen today. It is part of the Wizardry series, and is a wonderful representative of the classic RPG players get nostalgic over today. Legacy Wizardry employed turn-based combat with linear actions. Many of today’s players are used to controls that sometimes require extremely dexterous movements and combinations that defy logic. Wizardry Online developers stayed away from this trend and modernized the turn-based play that Wizardry was known for, resulting in gameplay that forced you to remain mentally sharp while emphasizing perfectly timed one button blocks and dodges rather than rapid MOBA level button mashing.
“Wizardry Online is not an open world game, which also sets it apart from its rivals in the PVP niche.”
The fact that it is not an open world game, but a dungeon crawler, makes no negative changes to the player vs player aspect. The close quarters make exciting and intense PvP experiences, with a one of a kind combat style that is different than what is seen in open world MMO’s today. It is understood that dungeon crawlers are not for everyone, and that’s alright! Each has their own style and preference in their personal gaming experience.
“It’s nothing like the old Wizardry series.”
It goes without saying, Wizardry Online had to make several changes going from a single player RPG to a multiplayer MMO. However, it did keep a lot of the original aspects. There were a total of five races and eight classes available in Wizardry Online (Lord, Ninja, Samurai and Bishop were released in late 2013), the same exact set of races and skills as Sir-Tech’s Wizardry 1-5. In Japan they also are planning to release the Bard and Alchemist classes. They also kept many similar story lines, such as from Wizardry Labyrinth Of Lost Souls, adding new, entertaining twists to keep you on the edge of your seat, while making it fit to a multiplayer/MMO style of gameplay.
“The lack of polish also stands out right at the start of the game.”
This could mean a variety of things, seeing how everyone has a different opinion on what they like in a game. However, once you put some time into the game, you really feel like you’re delving into an ancient world of lore and magic. The simple, yet intricate graphics and detail add to the effect, making it feel like you are truly in a medieval, dark world where adventure and horrors are waiting to meet you around every corner. Sometimes even in town!
“Third, it is seriously overrun with gold spammers and other repugnant creatures.”
Yes, we will not deny that in the very beginning, there were several gold spammers, along with the majority of MMO’s that have been released in the last decade. Luckily, with the PvP player looting system in Wizardry Online, gold spammers ceased to exist due to players killing them, and looting their things. Without the ability to make money, the gold bots quickly dissipated. Wizardry Online has all the capabilities of the community governing itself, and that is what it did.
“It’s an okay MMO, but the hardcore PvP and perma death isn’t there. “
Ah yes, the old perma-death paranoia. We will admit it has been talked up, and was made into something it really wasn’t. At death, a player will resurrect at a goddess shrine, and be presented with a scale. As a young player your scale is normally 100% resurrection rate, as you progress into the game, your scales lower. There was only the potential of losing your character. Wizardry’s former publisher had over-exaggerated the aspect which leads potential players astray as a marketing gimmick gone wrong.
“With the ‘Free to Play’ title, it’s most likely to be Pay to Win.”
In this age of the MMO market, the majority of games available fell into the “Pay to Play” category, or the relentless “Free to Play” but is “Pay to Win”. The argument is the publisher has to raise money for server costs by adding an in-game cash shop filled with buffs, armor, avatar costumes, and more. Though there are few select things in the Wizardry Online cash shop that would give extremely minimal boost, such as health potions and forge guards, it was mostly avatar costumes and other personalization items. The creators of the game made it obvious you are on your own in your gameplay.
In essence, we all strongly believe if given the chance, Wizardry Online will make a strong and reliable gaming experience for the lost gamers, who are craving adventure, friendships, and a healthy challenge.
Best regards and hope to see you soon,
The Wizardry Online Community