As I found out during the interview and later as I played the title myself, the familiarity was nice, but I found the many unfamiliar systems to be much nicer. I don't like to write about a game until I have had a chance to at least play through it for a while, so now that I have spent some time killing monsters, burning through quests, and enjoying the sights, I'll tell you what I found.
Despite the (ugly) pretty settings, there are many tools that help players level fast. This game provides the player with many familiar tools to level quickly, but it also helps with features like auto-walking and click-to-move. It even allowing players to turn in quests remotely by "praying." The praying feature itself is nice because it's sort of an all-in-one experience. Not only do you turn in quests by praying, but you can get a new quest, snag a bit of lore, and take part in a miniature cutscene. It does get a little repetitive, but it's almost always a nice touch. Players can also receive a mount early on, by level 12. There will be mounts sold in the cash shop, but they will not be much better than the ones found in-game. The cash shop is reserved mostly for customization items, potions, and other standards. Within the first 30 minutes of play, gamers will get a free costume as well. Mine looked something like a sailor's outfit that was much too small for my avatar.
Now that I've covered some of the exact details of the game, I have to sit back and ask myself: How much fun did I have? Well, the game immediately felt familiar as promised. The controls are smooth and responsive, and the auto-walk feature helped a lot, especially when I consider how injured my wrists can get after a night of gaming. I know a lot of "core" gamers snicker at options like auto-walk, features that make the game "easier," but I can tell you that for many gamers, those features can make the difference between a game they can physically play and a game they simply can't. I was quickly sent on kill-10-rats missions, something that should not surprise anyone. As I've said before, though, I've grown to enjoy a "soft grind," one that is made up of killing not hundreds of monsters but a few at a time. Maestia does a good job of keeping the content flowing quickly as promised, but it throws in enough variety to keep things mostly fresh.
Sure, there were a lot of promises made during the interview, promises that I tend to wait to see to believe. That just comes from covering a lot of games. Fortunately everything was as the developers said. Maestia was "easy" with hardcore options, looked great, ran wonderfully even on my older machine, and had nice lore that was delivered much of the time through quest text. The remote turn-ins helped so much and kept me in the field and destroying monsters. It sort of shocked me when I noticed how much I enjoyed avoiding running back to town to turn quests in over and over. It made me think that many MMOs could benefit from simply keeping the content flowing. Grindy? Yes, that's one way to put it, but "flowing" is a better description.
I'd like to thank the developers for sitting down with me on an interview. Good luck to them during this early open beta! You can sign up for a free account, but treat it like you would a Battle.net or Origin account. You have an overall sign in, but you'll need to make individual accounts for each game. Don't worry; the process flows almost as well as Maestia does.
Each week, Free for All brings you ideas, news, and reviews from the world of free-to-play, indie, and import games -- a world that is often overlooked by gamers. Leave it to Beau Hindman to talk about the games you didn't know you wanted! Have an idea for a subject or a killer new game that no one has heard of? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org!