By Jason Gallienne (Jrgsubzero), OnRPG Journalist
With Ashen Empires going Free-to-play on May 27 you may be wondering if it’s worth a try. Will this old game still attract new players? This is a MMORPG maintained by Iron Will Games and has since had three expansions. I chose to review this game as it’s an old-school game with many features.
Killing Monsters and Growing Wheat
Let’s begin with how you’ll get around in this world. Ashen Empires is a point-and-click game meaning there is no WASD-based movement. You have three races to choose from: humans, orcs, or night elves. They all look the same except for skin color and walking animations. They also have slight bonuses to different stats. Humans are more oriented towards magic, Orcs are more proficient in melee combat, and Night Elves apply ranged weapons. These advantages only have a slight change on your character and shouldn’t be used for deciding your first choice of character.
Now, unlike most games, you don’t choose a set class. Instead, this game goes by the ‘you are what you do’ method. If you’ve played RuneScape or Oblivion you should have an idea of how this works. If not, here’s a brief rundown: let’s say you go out and slash at something with your sword, then you will receive Large Blades experience. There is an enormous amount of skills for you to level and play around with and I’ll add a link with a list of them at the end of this section.
Next up I’ll talk about leveling. Again, unlike most games, this game has a large focus on trade skills. Along with this, performing trade skills also gains experience for your level! This means you can be a high-level player without even having lifted a weapon. The game also gives you different options of leveling outside of the normal killing of monsters. The game pulls this off very well and I found it a welcome change to the normal grinding. However, crafting in this game is a huge chore. Most trade-skills have many different steps to take and you can craft just one item at a time (or 5 at a time, but the experience you gain is counted as doing it once). Since there is no queue system, this makes crafting a long and boring process. Combined with the fact that you will fail and lose the materials very frequently at a low level, this makes for a very frustrating time for people who would like to craft. Quests in this game can be rewarding as well but be warned that there is no quest log. So be prepared to either have to remember objectives or to write them down.
For PVP there are two servers. Legends is the PVE server and only offers PVP in the arena. Heroes is the PVP server and PVP can happen anywhere outside of a town. On both servers you lose your items on death (from both monsters and players killing you) and you have a set time to get them back from your body until they are fair game to all players (this does not apply to the starting island).
There isn’t any special end-game content. You can kill bosses, hunt dragons, and try to max all your skills. Along with this, paying members have access to all of the game and you have to buy all the expansions as well to experience it all. On top of an optional subscription and expansions, there’s a cash shop that offers some services such as potions and alignment boosts.
Here is that list of skills I promised.
Are You Sure I’m Wearing A Helmet?
With the game being old it obviously won’t live up to modern games. It has a dark feel to it and there’s a day and night system in place. While the ground seems to look nice I found it hard to get a feel for the character due to it being hard to see what you have on and what you look like. The animations are clunky, the ones that actually exist, anyway.
Here is a screenshot so you may form your own opinion on the graphics.
(Click on the image for full view)
Can You Be Too Friendly?
One of the best points about this game would be the community. They are very helpful, friendly, and sometimes generous. There is a help channel that you can access at anytime and is usually active. There is this small close-knit feeling you feel when you become a part of the community. I personally like this more as it is a better feeling than being a face-less person among a large crowd.
Wrapping It Up
While this game offers different features from most of the newer look-a-likes it would be hard to recommend to any modern day gamer. Between a cash shop, expansions, and a VIP subscription, you may feel like they’re trying to rob you. But don’t fret, you can enjoy the game well enough without spending a dime. This is a good way for new players to get into the game and offers more than P2P games do when they give players a trial. In the recent months, games seem to be looking toward the F2P payment system. Even a named brand such as Dungeons and Dragons is changing their online MMORPG to the F2P model. Is this a sign of a failing product or is there more money to be had with this model? Well, while this game may only secure a niche player base with modern gamers, this game is definitely not a failure. The game can be tedious, especially with the crafting, for most people to bear.
– Crafting plays a large role
– Great community
– Large amount of skills.
– Tedious crafting
– Graphics make it hard to interpret your character.