Allods Online is an example of a free to play MMORPG that does a lot of things right. It’s an extremely polished looking game, and had one of the biggest development budgets for a free to play game ever. There are a lot of options for your character(s), and the world is huge and always getting bigger. The developers are constantly updating the game, and have weekly promotional events to keep players engaged and interested.
When you first log into the game after downloading the client, you will find yourself looking at a mural of sorts depicting two battling factions. If you mouse over each character in the picture it will give you the name of the class being represented. This isn’t the actual character selection screen, but it’s a visually stimulating way to get you interested in the classes.
Once you make a selection (and don’t worry, you can change it on the next screen) the screen changes to a more traditional character selection page. You can look over all the different races and classes, and see what your character will look like both geared and in their underwear. Not all classes are open to all races, and each race has a different version of the shared classes, so there’s a lot of variation here.
I want to point out while I’m talking about character selection that there are some pretty unique options you can play with. The most notable of these being that if you choose the Gibberling race, you don’t just get to name and design one character, you get three. You can personalize the name, look, body type, color, etc. on each individual Gibberling in your little group. When the Gibberlings are in combat, each little dude has a role to play. For instance, if you are a warrior Gibberling, one holds the shield, one swings the sword, and one fires off arrows. Crazy. In addition to the Gibberlings, the support classes that have pets can customize the look and names of their starting pets. Pretty awesome.
So you make your character and name him or her and do all that stuff. The next step is playing through the tutorial. This is optional, but if you play through it you will learn the basic controls pretty quickly and you’ll be rewarded with better starting gear.
One of the first things you’ll notice when you get into the game is that everything seems to be Russian. The game was developed by a Russian gaming company and ported over to America, but they didn’t completely translate everything. The dialogue and all the options and controls are all translated well, but you’ll notice a lot of Russian names and signs and (I believe) architecture. I guess what I’m saying is that the Russian influence on the game is very tangible. But you know what? That doesn’t detract from the experience in any way. If anything it gives the game a lot more character and a richer atmosphere. Plus when an NPC says some jibberish in Russian it always makes me chuckle.
The second thing you will notice once you get going is that there’s no auto attack. Also awesome. I know a lot of people are going to think “Hey, I have to push more buttons!” Exactly. There’s a lot more timing and skill involved in combat with this game than in other similar titles. You have to pay attention to all of your cooldowns, basic attack included, to maximize your damage output, or healing, or whatever functions your character is playing. You can’t sleep through this game.
Another great aspect to this game, which some people will probably disagree with me on, is that the game world is almost entirely a PVP environment. Once you get into the level 25+ zones, nowhere is safe. You have to constantly look over your shoulder for the opposing faction. And believe me, you will die. A lot.
Speaking of death, when you die, you don’t get to run back to your body and pick up where you left off. When you die, you go to purgatory, and this gigantic angel dude holds you hostage while a timer runs out. If you don’t want to wait, you can bribe a goblin and he’ll let you out the proverbial back door. But wait, that’s not all! Every time you die, you run the risk of a piece of your equipment becoming cursed. If you have a cursed item, you can still wear it and use it, but instead of increasing your stats, it negates them. Severely. If you have a cursed item you’re better off going empty handed than using it.
There is a cash shop in Allods, and it’s not a game breaker. You can spend money on cosmetics, which makes it look like you have awesome gear even if you suck, or on special items to boost your experience gain, or mounts. I’d say that’s probably the one big item that makes the cash shop a little unfair, is that all the best mounts have to be acquired with real money. But there are always promotions and holidays that give you opportunities to get free mounts, so the game is really not dependent on you spending your hard earned cash.
There are raids and dungeons, and those are all fun. But I’m not here to talk about the conventional. You want to know what makes this game stand out. So I’ve saved the best for last; Space boats. What? Yeah. F$#%ING SPACE BOATS.
Yeah, I guess I didn’t mention this. In Allods, you and all the other players are running around on these things called Allods. The game world isn’t a world, or a planet. Allods are islands floating around in what can only be described as outer space (sort of), called the Astral. When you hit level 35 you can start building your own giant ass space boat. And don’t think that you can just go tearing around space with it, you need a crew. To pilot one of these Astral Ships, you need a pilot, a navigator, and preferably deck hands to work the cannons and fight off space demons (think sea monsters, except they’re demons and they want to wear your skin for a hat). You and your crew can hunt monsters, explore new allods, or attack other ships and steal their booty.
There is so much more to this game than I have even experienced. There’s goblin ball, a sport involving kicking goblins or something, huge land wars, foot races, etc. Okay, so let’s get to it; the good, the bad, and why should you bother.
The good: Extremely polished, socially active, in depth game that is always being updated and has tons and tons of content for you to explore.
The bad: Can tend to be a little grindy in the beginning, with lots of fetch quests and kill this many critters quests.
Why should you bother: If you are looking for a MMORPG that you can play casually, has a friendly community, and is downright fun to play, this is it. The graphics are amazing but don’t require a lot to run, it’s challenging without being impossible, and you can play socially or all by your emo lonesome self. There are a lot of options in this game, a lot of end game content, and I can’t say enough good things about it.