There are a lot of MMOs out there. A lot. Sometimes I rattle off a list of MMOs during a conversation with fellow fans and they look at me as if I have butter pouring from my fingertips. They don't believe it, but they know it's happening. There are that many MMOs out there? Yes, there are. There are literally thousands in the world, hundreds in the United States. Out of all of those many different titles that I have played and come across, I like to say that most aren't really bad or horrible, but just... the same. Bland, boring, vanilla, dull. I like to throw the figure "80 percent" around to represent how many of them are just ugh.
The Aurora World is an MMO. It has systems. It has skills to learn, and pets and monsters and quests and all of those trademarks that have, unfortunately, given MMO developers blanks to fill in on a checklist that is titled "MMORPG." There are a few tricks up the game's sleeves, but only a few. Actually, The Aurora World reminds me of one of my favorites, Zentia, but it lacks the soul that made me love Zentia.
What does that mean? You'd have to have played Zentia a bit in order to understand. The Aurora World has some of Zentia's foreign charm, but it sort of chokes the charm out of the game with standard graphics and grindy, typical questing. I feel bad for the little game because it seems to be trying hard. You can own a pet, for example, and that pet can be a random monster or even an item that has a mind of its own. That pet will fight with you and aid you in the dangerous world, but it lacks the fun catch-phrases and clever animations that Zentia's pets had. My sword pet stayed on my back until I jumped into combat. It would come to life and form into a trio of smaller swords, stabbing and poking at the enemy until the job was done. The first time my sword animated itself I had an "oh, cool" moment, but after seeing it happen for the fourth or fifth time, I stopped noticing.
The pet gains levels and skills, but again I didn't find myself caring enough about it to try and use understand how it worked. A lot of the game is hard to understand because of to botched localization, in fact. I literally found quests that told me to go and kill one type of monster, then I'd auto-walk to the area where the monster would be, and then there would be a monster with an entirely different name. It's not really frustrating when I come across poor translations anymore; it's just tiring. I've seen it so many times that it acts as just another sign that the developer or publisher was more eager to get the game out to make money than anything. I have no problem trying to figure out a quest because it is a puzzle or series of clues, but I do have a problem when I literally cannot figure out a quest because of a botched or incomplete localization job.
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There are some interesting mini-cutscenes that break up the game's monotony, like those moments when I was transferring from one zone to another... on the back of a cloud. After the beginning tutorial, I rode a flying machine of some kind into the "real" world, another moment that reminded me of the scripted parts of Zentia. I could pick from one of four classes (Warrior, Alchemist, Mage, and Witch) and decided to roll with a Mage. I leaned heavily on my ability to throw fireballs, but my pet sword, called a Majinn, seemed to pull just as much weight. At level 20, the Majinn was supposed to turn into a mount, but by the time I tracked down exactly how to do it, I had to stop and write this article. Leveling seems fast, but I suspect that it does hit a wall as in many other games I have come across.
There are some interesting interactions in the game, like carrying items that are dropped by monsters or using parts of the environment during a quest, but most of these interesting little bits are repeated often enough to lose their freshness. Even with the interactions the standard target-and-repeat combat dulls everything around it. I never felt as though I was in any danger even when surrounded by mobs with red names. The red color must have meant that the monsters were romantic because they never attacked me.
I did participate in an interesting side quest: a race between 20 or so random players who were seemingly all invited at the same time. We were thrust into the role of random, cute animals and raced each other around a track. Magical boxes would give us random items or buffs that would often cause mayhem during the race, and I found myself coming in 10th place. It was over before I could figure out what it was, but it stuck out from the rest of The Aurora World so much that it only made me realize how bland the rest of the game really was. Zentia had many side-quests and minigames like the race in The Aurora World, but they blended into the rest of the game seamlessly. The Aurora World just confused me with its sometimes cutesy parts next to massive monsters and blazing fireballs.
If you want a new game and do not care how generic it is, then try out The Aurora World. If you need something unique, something to really sink yourself into, or a world to become a part of, look elsewhere. I would recommend Zentia, but that closed down last year.
Next week I am looking at War Thunder, a World War II fighter MMO. It looks fantastic from everything I've seen so far, but we'll see for sure on Monday, the 22nd of April, at 5:00 p.m. EDT when I livestream it on our page!
Each week on Rise and Shiny, Beau chooses a different free-to-play, indie, or browser-based game and jumps in head-first. It might be amazing or it might be a dud, but either way, he'll deliver his new-player impressions to you. Drop him an email, comment, or tweet!