Another game, another first impressions post. When I checked my email this morning, lo and behold, there was a message from SOE announcing the release of Wizardry Online.
I had been keeping half an eye on WO since it does promise some interesting features including the dreaded permadeath, high difficulty, and always on everywhere PvP. I wasn’t sure I’d have the time, but today I did, so I downloaded the game and gave it a shot.
First thing, it’s not a huge download at about 2GB, so it didn’t take that much time to patch up. It’s kind of amazing since every game lately seems to be in the tens of gigabytes taking hours to download and patch. The last couple of games, TSW and SWTOR, both required me to start the download/patch early in the evening and leave running overnight. This does have a single major consequence though. Wizardry doesn’t have the same graphical level of those games.
Second thing. Launch day blues means big queues. Except you don’t know you are in a queue. I had multiple waits when logging in, the only indicator a static “Connecting” message on the screen. No queue countdown. No regular update. I even had one instance of a completely blank/black screen for around ten minutes. If I didn’t have a dual monitor setup to allow reading the WO forums, I would have thought the game had crashed. According to the forums, several players thought they had.
Third thing. Character creation was kind of minimal. Only five faces, hair colors, and hair styles for character design. And I was not able to make a bald male warrior…
There were some odd things too.
When creating a character you roll for a number of bonus points to assign to your characters main attributes. This roll can return anything from 1 to 80 I think, but the algorithm is weighted so the number is usually between 6 and 9. It took me around 15 rolls to get 12. There is one chap on the forums who had been rolling for hours to get the highest possible roll. He’s noting the results so expect some data on that soon.
I don’t think I like the soul system they’ve developed. Here’s how it works (as far as I can tell.) You have one soul per account. You can have up to five characters, 3 initially free and 2 paid. Your soul has a surname. Everything you do on any of your characters reflects on your soul, so if you become a criminal all your characters are flagged as criminal.
This also reflects on your story quests. So far it looks like every character is at the same point in the story quest regardless when the character was created. I created a fighter first and did the initial quests, and then in a bout of altitis created a priest. The first quests were not available to my priest denying her the experience gain that my fighter had. This made the first dungeon somewhat difficult to start. So if you want to start fresh with a new character class you’ll have to simply do missions to level up and lose the big cash and experience gains of the story quests.
Having said that, Wizardry is a free game. If you want to try the dark side of criminality without it affecting your main characters, simply create a new free account. I haven’t seen anywhere that this is against the rules, so go wild with accounts.
The upside of this system is that you can pass gear and gold to your other characters through your bank, and I think (but I’m not sure) anything in the bank is protected in case of permadeath.
That’s the other thing. The permadeath system isn’t quite as dramatic as it sounds. When you die in a fight, there are several ways to be revived (which I won’t go into here) each of which have a certain chance of success, and you get two tries in the bargain. So far I’ve died a few times and each time had a 100% chance of revival. That’s probably a noob feature. Still, it takes away the fear of death due to circumstances out of your control such as the dreaded lag monster.
I haven’t encountered PvP yet as I’m not high level enough to be forced into it. This is another feature I’m not sure of, being something of a carebear I prefer my PvP consensual. I figure if I get ganked and corpse camped enough it will reduce my enjoyment of the game and I’ll simply stop playing. But the criminal flagging feature, and the fact it applies to all the PKers characters may make the system a little less random. Perhaps that is a benefit of the soul system. We’ll have to wait and see I guess.
The game promises a hardcore level of difficulty, and yep it is hard. Nearly every modern MMORPG tries to insulate its new and low level players from death. You’d have to be playing pretty badly to die to a mob under level 20 in WoW, even a mob 2 levels above player level. In WO, I died a few times early on.
- Health and mana is not regenerated. Use the fountains in dungeons to restore health and mana. Some mobs drop health potions, but not a lot. Conserve as much as possible.
- Fighter and Priest are the easiest classes. Priests can heal themselves but are weaker in melee. Fighter cannot heal but kills faster. These are probably the best classes for a new player.
- Keep any good items even if they are not for your current class since you can bank them and use them on another class.
- Be careful with chests. ALWAYS be at full health when opening them as they are generally trapped and do a fair bit of AOE damage. If there are other players in the room you can royally piss them off.
- When creating a character, keep re-rolling until you get at least 12 bonus points, more if you have the patience. It’s not essential but those extra points can make the early levels a lot easier.
- There are certain types of coins, Kraken Coins I think they are, but I’m not sure what they are for. It will be a temptation to sell them, but from what I’ve heard this may be a mistake.
- Make sure you interact with the statues/shrines as you pass them. If you die you need to use these to rez, but you need to touch them first.
So that’s it for my first impression of Wizardry Online. For the minimal investment in download time it’s worth having a look at. Have you been playing?
Let me know what you think.