I have to admit, I felt a combination of excitement and fear when I was tasked with covering the newest RaiderZ expansion, Broken Silence, because I knew that I would be challenged in a few ways. First, I had to get used to the game again. I've played it off and on and have enjoyed it until around level 10, but I am no expert. I had already experienced the fantastic non-instanced combat that the game is known for, but I still had a long way to go. Second, I knew that the game would physically punish me. After years of playing games, painting, and drawing, I can easily be forced to soak my forearms in icy water after a session of action-based gaming. Lastly, I knew I would be given a higher-level character and needed to get used to how that particular character performed. The brilliant thing about action-based games is that the person behind the keyboard matters as much as amazing armor or incredible spells. I'd have to sharpen up.
I logged into my character and discovered just how fun this game still is.
Broken Silence's new content is made up mostly of Cowen Marsh, a deadly swamp filled with repeatable quests, dangerous monsters that seem invincible, and a fantastic instanced dungeon in the middle called The Temple of Renas. Perfect World parked my media test character right outside of the temple, but I thought it would be fun to explore some of the Marsh before I jumped into the toughest content. I took off on my Hell Horse, a new cash-shop offering, and grabbed a few daily quests from froglike villagers. I had to perform some pretty simple tasks like grabbing bits of Wisp parts and killing several humanoid monsters, but then I found myself facing open-world monsters like Ronin.
Ronin is not an easy foe at all. In fact, I would not be surprised if Perfect World nerfed him soon. I attempted to defeat him in a full group of highly skilled players, and he just would not die. As with many of the giant monsters in RaiderZ, there is a secret to unlock when it comes to Ronin. Sometimes you have to watch for signs that the mob is about to fire off some massive attack and can often defend yourself against it, but this mob was more challenging than anything I had faced before.
Watch live video from massivelytv on TwitchTV
I ditched Ronin and ran to find the giant spider-queen, Shock Trap, joining up with a quick group to take her down. The true fun in RaiderZ comes from these huge battles with giants and villains alongside people you've never met. Sure, there is plenty of instanced combat in linear dungeons, but having some of the most challenging content walking around the world for anybody to scrap with makes the game seem not just more alive but more dangerous and adventurous. It's also important to note that despite the fact that I was given a buffed character with incredible equipment and an inventory filled with treats, I had as much fun playing on a brand-new unbuffed account when revisiting my original character. A challenging, action-based fight at level 10 is the same as one at max level. Both are chaotic and fast-paced, and both result in white-knuckle fun that you can find only in an action-based title. Alas, for me, both result in a session with the ice-filled sink I mentioned earlier.
RaiderZ also allows players to build characters by using different skills from each of the four classes. While many would argue how smart anything but pure builds would be, I had fun putting some points into two-handed combat (so I could continue to use the massive hammer and sword that I was used to) and some points into my healing abilities too. I found myself using only three or four main skills, anyway, so the healing was a nice touch. Players simply earn points as they level and can put them into the different trees as they see fit. I was able to use some free respec books that came with my buffed account, but typically the books cost between $12 and $20, depending on the character's level. A respec isn't cheap, but considering that the game itself is free... I think that's a good deal.
The Temple of Renas is truly a gorgeous, epic experience that isn't for the faint of heart or weak of wrist. I went into the temple three different times and each time experienced something different. The first group -- the one in the livestream that is embedded above -- was new to the experience, and so we stumbled occasionally. The other two groups I visited the temple with knew a lot more about how the fights worked, but all groups stumbled on some part. The last time I went in, we ended the session by attempting to destroy a column-wielding giant, but we finally had to give up. It wasn't frustrating, however, because I know when to take a break. It takes a very skilled group of players to take down some of these bosses, but it's nice to see that even a newbie like me is able to have an incredible time.
I do have a few complaints about the game on the whole that are reflected in its expansion. It feels like a linear, area-based game that encourages players to jump into an region, conquer all of the monsters and quests, and move on to the next area. Sure, that's a fine formula if you fancy yourself a fan of linear content, but because the game allows you build a character in an almost freeform manner and offers open world combat rather than forces you to instance yourself away from the rest of the world, the linearity seems out of place. I wish the game were more loose with its content arrangement.
Also, the gold spam in this game is absolutely incredible. The only way to block someone is to type in the name of the character, but the spam moves so fast that you have to take a screenshot, reference that screenshot, and hopefully block some of it. It's embarrassing to see such a great game so plagued with spam. A simple right-click "report" feature -- or I don't know, an employee logging into the game once in a while -- would solve the issue. The spam is insane. I finally had to make a channel that allowed only local chat in order to block it all.
Still, RaiderZ's new content is a perfect example of how fun the game can be. Even in the high-level area, there is something for players of almost any skill level. Repeatable quests are not my favorite, but they offer a way for players to grind up some experience and loot. Alongside those basic quests are incredibly challenging encounters literally walking around. You might find yourself faced with the most dangerous enemy of your RaiderZ existence if you're not careful. This open-world design, combined with the instanced and linear dungeon content, offers something for almost anyone. I also want to emphasize that a new player does not have to wait until max level to see some incredible battles. The newly tweaked tutorial area leads players through some basic information and explains the different class features and then abruptly pushes the newbie into a fight with a boss. It's creative and thrilling, and it all happens within the first few minutes of the game.
I've had a blast in RaiderZ's expansion. I cannot comment on how long it might take to get to the max-level that my character was automatically set at, but I had quite a bit of fun in lower levels as well, so I don't think leveling up would feel like a grind. Action-based combat works at almost any level, but encounters in RaiderZ become more challenging and dynamic as your character matures. The great thing is that if you find yourself against a grind or need to take a break, there is no subscription to worry about.
That's a heck of a deal.
Massively's not big on scored reviews -- what use are those to ever-changing MMOs? That's why we bring you first impressions, previews, hands-on experiences, and even follow-up impressions for nearly every game we stumble across. First impressions count for a lot, but games evolve, so why shouldn't our opinions?