Besides bringing us the joy of Torchlight, Perfect World has been making a strong presence for themselves with their F2P MMOs, including their latest, War of the Immortals. What looks to be a spiritual successor to Battle of the Immortals, which is still very active, War expands on the former game with new classes and content. Having never played the former game, only knowing it through some research, I was not sure what to expect out of War.
The first step in anyone’s MMO journey is character creation. At first I admit I was a bit disappointed with the options. The most notable change I could find was in hair, with the facial options being somewhat minor and limited. These fears were quickly removed when I finally got into the game and found that for the majority of the game you're looking at your character from afar.
As far as class options, the mixture is good. You have melee focused combatants who focus on damage or defense, hybrids who focus on damage and/or utility, the healer, the archer, and the magic wielders. Your class choice designates what specific weapons you will wield, such as the berserker and his two-handed weapons and the dual wielding of the slayer. In many respects you could say that these classes fulfill the rock, paper, and scissor concept in determining who is better than who, but looking further brings some twists to this concept through one’s ability to control elemental resistances, which are also strictly tied to your class selection. So, if I was having a problem with a specific class in combat, I could find gear that would protect me better from their elemental type of damage.
I went with the duelist. Aside from being a cool class name that sends the message that you love to fight people as it is, so much so to make a profession out of it, it also spoke to me since duelists work to debuff their opponents and spend the rest of their time dealing damage. If there’s anything I like, it’s forgoing the need to walk around in clunky armor and instead rely on offensive tactics that makes the other guy question why they spent so much time finding the best armor they could.
My first steps into the world were a bit startling. It seems some Valkyries decided to bring me back from death. That’s right, I was peacefully resting in the afterlife, smoking cigars and having some mimosas, and now I get brought back to save the butt of someone else. Okay, perhaps Odin is worth help. But, still, I was dead, and dying the first time hurt enough as it was.
Okay, I’m now living, now what? Well, things get even cheerier for me, it seems, as not only am I being brought back to life but I’m also being shot back in time. But, I’m getting ahead of myself, because we don’t get to go back in time until I finish the introductory quests set before me.
Luckily, I am given some new items to help me along, and the chance to earn more, but it seems with coming back to life comes me forgetting all of my past abilities. So, I’m told to find another NPC to get the ball rolling on leveling myself up all over again. This seems like a good time to talk about the camera and movement in the game. If you’ve played Torchlight or similar top-down action games, you’ll be very familiar with the movement controls of War. movement is standard WASD control or point and click, though the camera is a fixed position on your character and doesn't follow you as you move. You can move the camera in a 360 degree around your character, but the ability to set it to follow you would have been nice. Now, one cool feature is that moving between quest elements can be done automatically by clicking on a quest highlighted link in your quest bar, such as an NPC name. Click it and your character follows a path to your target, no need for you to do anything. Though, sometimes you might want to be careful with running through a big group of angry monsters.
My first quests and, as I would soon find out, the majority of my time in the game sent me to kill something or to someone else who would tell me to kill something. I’m no stranger to this, but the combat was a little different than what I experienced in other MMOs. I found the combat to be more in line with your typical top-down action game. I had my auto-attack and one other attack to start with. And, for a while, this is all I had. Clicking on an enemy would activate my auto attack and I could fire off my one attack using the hotkey panel, but so far this had been completely unnecessary. It wasn’t until about 10th level that I got new abilities, two new abilities (well, three, but one was passive). Where in most other MMOs I would have enough abilities to fill a 12-slot hotkey panel, War instead focuses on fewer skills. For some gamers, this is a big bonus and for others, they may look for the overflow of abilities.
What War doesn’t skimp on, though, is the equipment one can get. The game is very much focused on equipping your character with the right equipment, including the usual weapons and armor. In addition, there’s a fashion slot, which becomes very noticeable early on as you will get a ‘timed’ gift for this slot that will aid tremendously in getting you through the first few chapters of the game. But, in general, this slot is for providing you with a different look overall rather than relying on the collection of specific equipment.
As I progressed through these starter quests, I eventually got to a point where they deemed me ready, ready to get myself transported to the past. Now that I was back in time, I was able to continue to grow, and the next element of the game was presented to me, pets. Pets in War are vitally important to your success. You can have multiple pets in your repertoire, but only one can be out at a time. And, the pets vary from type based on their primary attribute. But, having a primary attribute wasn’t really to say that this is all pets are in War.
My first pet, was a hedgehog. The little guy was kind of cute, wielding his shield and spiked mace for me. When I initiated combat, he went in swinging with me. As we killed, we both gained experience and leveled up. He was a bit faster than me to begin with since he started out low in level. And, each time he leveled up, I got to assign skill points for him (Note: you end up being able to do this on your own character as well). Each pet has its own rating, which I was told is randomly generated when you first capture a pet, ranging from common to perfect. This affects the rate of increase of your pet’s stats as it levels.
Now, this is still only scratching the surface of the importantce of pets in War. Pets come in a very wide variety of types and can even be bred (melded) with other pets. There are skills that can be learned, skills to be unlearned, rebirths, and more. While those I talked to said it was simple, the pet system actually looked somewhat complex from the outside. Luckily, there were ways to restart your pet if you made any mistakes or want to change skills.
Now, it seems like a weird segue, but the management of pets is heavily supported by the options one has in the game’s store. Utilizing Perfect World’s Zen points, bought with real cash or obtained from other players using in-game currency, you can buy a variety of items that allow you a chance to improve your pet’s quality through rebirth, the chance to unlock a skill slot (again, random), change a pet’s skill type (random), and similar stones. Most of these are used at the higher levels to help you tailor your pet and improve upon it. The items are also not only available through the store, but it does seem that investing a bit would greatly increase one’s chances let alone reduce the time it would take to build a ‘perfect’ pet. And, much like how it works more to accelerate your pet growth, other items in the store also help to accelerate your growth in the game. Though, there are some cosmetic elements in the store as well as “Noble” packs which seem to allow one the chance to gain a ‘premium’ set of services for a specific amount of time. This seems similar to other MMOs who offer these premium services to subscribers, but instead it puts more control on the length and services gained in the hands of the player.
While I was unable to get to the higher levels and test out the content, what I played was very reminiscent of my time with Torchlight. As a F2P platform, I never felt the need to use any of my own money. And, based on the in-game economy, it’s likely I would never have to since I could also trade in-game money for Zen points with other players. But, there was a heavy focus on finding the best items, getting better pets, and combat that seemed more focused on the proper use of skills and power management over time rather than the overuse of a wide array of skills.
The game features a feeling of growth mixed with the opportunity to advance faster through some F2P purchases The gameplay at its core was solid, though some may look for more depth when it comes to the story and content. Players later on find themselves vying, both in PvE and PvP, for access to certain content. The User Interface was well implemented, offering even the ability to record gameplay straight from within the game as well as a multitude of tools for helping you to manage your character and pets. Overall, the experience was familiar rather than foreign and requiring more time to integrate myself into the world.
If you are looking for a top-down action game that you can play with others, War may be for you. If you enjoy a game that doesn’t force you to rely on a huge array of skills, War may be for you. If you like having a kangaroo pet with sunglasses fight alongside you, War is definitely for you. As a spiritual successor to Battle of the Immortals, War of the Immortals has a lot to offer with the potential for growth in many areas over time.