Rise and Shiny recap: War of Angels

To continue my investigation into "imported grinders," I have moved on to check out War of Angels, a new game being published by gamigo. I have to say, I found plenty of good stuff and plenty of bad stuff in the game, as well as some of those obvious tiny fixes that will hopefully be undertaken after this open beta. Let's be honest -- an open beta is considered a release these days, and I don't think that's fair. Yes, many games use it (and I have heard developers admit to this) as a way to make money while continuing to roll out basic development, but I say we allow them to just drop the "beta" part and get on with it.

As far as the background story: I do not log into a game to memorize the lore. I do not go to the website to write down notes on the lore in the hopes that I will get it right in my first impressions article. Just like any stranger in a strange land, I am not going to know everything right away. It should be no different for me in a game, and one of my litmus tests is to see whether the game will provide me with an understanding of who and where I am. It's not impossible; other games do it. I didn't find much lore in the quests at all, so I cannot comment on it much.

But let's talk about how War of Angels plays.

To start off, I want to give a nod to the fact that the developers have included several control schemes in this game. That means that I can click-to-move, use true WASD controls, or press my arrow keys. By "true" WASD I mean that W moves you forward, S moves you backward, and A and D turn you -- with the camera glued to the back of your head. Thanks to my wrist issues, I simply must have a game that can give me as many choices as possible when it comes to movement. Disabled players, of whom there are literally millions, might also need as many options as possible.

What's so hard to understand about it, anyway? I have recently played some amazing games that obviously cost a lot of money to make, yet they could not get WASD down. While I understand that WASD might have no effect when you're busily grinding mobs all day (target the mob, shoot the mob), I still do not understand why a developer would give no options whatsoever to stick the camera to the back of your character's head. It allows us to move the camera without having to hold down right-click. Holding down right-click to constantly move the camera has got to be one of the most painful things I can do, if I have to do it constantly. So you can see why it's such a big deal that War of Angels actually got WASD right.

Also, the game features combat in the air and water. Flying is achieved by simply buying a pair of wings (I think you can gain permanent ones later) and hitting the space bar. While up in the air, I can tab-target the nearest mob, and I will be automatically flown to the proper range and height to attack. The same applies to swimming underwater. I also loved the fact that, by default, you can hold your breath for several minutes before needing to surface. After all, you are an angel -- why would you only be able to hold your breath for 30 seconds?

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Actual combat is not surprising. You target the mob and start wailing on it. You have a string of abilities and a bonus ability that is activated after saving up enough energy. During higher levels, combat might become a lot more varied, but I would have no idea. Grouping was fun, especially with people from different classes, and grouping and fighting in the air was a blast. Again, though, this was achieved through the group dynamic rather than because of the fantastic combat.

Mobs are varied and fun, but not overly cartoony. A good percentage of the more "realistic" freebies I have played will also feature very cartoony mobs alongside incredibly realistic effects, etc., so it's nice to see a game that features mobs that don't stick out like a sore thumb. Watch the embedded stream, however, and you will see a mount that looks exactly like a Tauntaun. And by exactly, I mean exactly -- I joked that all we needed was the ability to sleep inside the darned thing.

Overall, I would have to say that War of Angels is one of the better-looking games I have played. Granted, this is during a time when some free-to-play games are some of the best looking games on the planet, but there's a nice flow to War of Angels. Flying and swimming feel natural and are fun, and customization happens early. You can dye your clothes and armor pretty easily it seems, and as you level you definitely gain better-looking pieces of armor and weapons. The game's visual strength might create some performance issues on older machines, but it ran well on mine, even with anti-aliasing and all the effects cranked up.

In the end, though, War of Angels might be asking one too many grindy quests of you, all in broken English. I have no problems with some localization issues -- some -- but some of the quests were broken enough that I could not figure out what they were asking for. When a quest asks you to kill 10 of mob X, yet the mob is named something slightly different, you know that the devs might need to make another sweep over the in-game text.

I would like to see the higher levels, the epic fights with a boss mob or two. I wasn't able to see that in my time, but I definitely found a game worth checking out. The wonderful thing about these "grinders" is that they can take very little of your time, or all of your time -- the choice is yours. Most of them do not ask for such a time commitment (that's why I refer to them as having a "soft-grind"), but in order to see the highest-level content at a rapid pace, you would definitely be spending a great deal of time killing monsters. Of course, that's the case with almost any MMORPG in the market today.

I'll be checking back on War of Angels, especially after each major patch. With some tweaks, the game could be a really nice way to have some adventure. It would also stick out of the pack with its ease-of-use and different ways to fight. Once the cash shop is completely filled out, there will probably be some variety in activities, as well. I look forward to it.

To keep up with the theme, we are going to be looking at Priston Tale 2, The Second Enigma. All I can tell you right now is that it is one of the best-looking games I have played in a while. The company needs to reward the art designer of this title with a long vacation. My name is Beau on the Galantia server, so come find me and let's grind on some mobs together! Now, go log in!
Each week, Rise and Shiny asks you to download and try a different free-to-play, indie or unusual game, chosen by me, Beau Hindman. We meet each Tuesday night at 9 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. PDT); the column will run on the following Sunday. I welcome any suggestions for games -- drop me a note in the comments or email, or follow me on Twitter or Raptr!
This article was originally published on Massively.