The Massively community answered loud and clear when I asked who, what, and how I should play in Allods Online. Voters in last week'sChoose My Adventure poll sent me along the path of the Empire in the shoes of an Arisen and equipped me with a Psionicist's dagger along the way. The community also favored the subscription server over the free-to-play server, with some voters claiming Allods is too "pay-to-win" on the free-to-play server and others simply expressing curiosity about whether they'd see a difference between the paid and free versions of the game.
With those voted handled and counted, my adventure had officially begun.
It's hard to get a read on a game after just a few hours, but one element of Allods Online has already surfaced as something of a problem. Since voters elected for me to play on the game's subscription server, I had to first pay for a month or so of game time. Foolishly, I assumed this would be a simple matter of opening a form, sticking my credit card numbers in it, and calling it a day. This was far from the case.
Allods Online is published by gPotato. And gPotato doesn't actually provide a method for paying a subscription with a credit card. Instead, I must purchase "gPotatoes," gPotato's proprietary currency. Anyone who's dealt with MS Points knows how this works: thirty days of game time costs 1,300 gPotatoes ($13.00), but I can only buy gPotatoes in increments of 1,000. So instead of putting in $13.00 for my 30 days, I instead have to buy 2,000 gPotatoes ($20.00), convert 1,300 of them into game time, and let gPotato keep the remaining $7.00. If I end up buying more time or picking up some cosmetic items or boosts, the $7.00 is still there. If not, it's free money for the publisher.
There's another major problem with the gPotato currency. Purchases must sit through an approval process which I assume is in place to limit fraud. That's certainly fair, but as of my typing this (17 hours after purchasing gPotatoes), I cannot use the currency I paid for, which means I cannot access the subscription server. That's quite a few complications for a game that the publisher would theoretically very much like to have me paying to play.
Getting into the game
Since playing the game is a very important part of the Choose My Adventure series (you could probably say it's the most important part), I ended up creating our community-chosen character on the free-to-play server just so I could get the ball rolling. I'll be recreating him on the sub server as soon as my gPotatoes are done baking or whatever it is they're doing besides not allowing me to use money I've already spent.
The early moments of Allods Online are spent in a tutorial designed to get players used to the UI, character skills, and combat. I started my journey on a ship under siege and was assigned simple tasks like, "Hey, put this in your bag," "Hey, punch those guys," and "Hey, punch those other guys." The sci-fantasy world of Allods Online is compelling to be sure, but there's not much in the way of innovation when it comes to the mechanics I've experienced thus far.
Allods Online is a hotbar-based MMO, and it plays like one. The mechanics are very smooth, the spells are pretty, and the pace is fast, but at its core it's a similar experience to Aion, World of Warcraft, and RIFT. Allods is fun, however, and the interesting inter-linked abilities of the Psionicist had me on my toes. I'm looking forward to seeing how his spells evolve as we level up; I am told Psionicist is one of the more complicated classes to play.
It's worth noting here that Allods is a very pretty game. The mobs I've encountered, while obviously working as stand-ins for your typical MMO "kill ten this, gather ten that" fare, are very attractive. Allods has exceptional art design, right down to the tiniest details. It's a game that feels familiar due to its fantasy setting but looks unique enough to carve out its own little space in the niche.
From the limited view I've had so far, I'm impressed with Allods Online. Payment troubles and hotbar MMO familiarities aside, it's a much higher-quality product than I had been expecting.
Seeking a career and an adventure
Now that we've established where we are, it's time to figure out where we're going. Allods, like other level-centric MMOs, is fairly limited for low-level characters. And since the starting set of quests only takes us to about level 7, we can't exactly go leaping off into PvP town or start building high-tier weapons with which to slay space-dragons (or whatever Allods has). However, there are a couple of decisions worth making right here and now.
First, it's advisable in Allods Online to take a gathering profession. Crafting is best saved for players with more money (or so the game's wiki recommends), but gathering gives us a way to make some cash while building a valuable skill. Allods Online provides us with three basic crafting professions: herbalism, which is the gathering of plants and berries; mining, which is the collection of ore and valuable metals; and disassembling, which is the breaking down of items into other materials.
I'm relying on you, Massively readers, to recommend the gathering profession that will offer me the shortest path to wealth beyond imagining:
Next up, it's time to choose a focus for my gameplay. Some MMO players enjoy immersing themselves in lore, reading up on the universe's history, and working to understand how their character fits in. Some prefer to ignore all quest text and level as quickly as possible. And others enjoy wandering around wherever the road may take them, experiencing the game as an experiment in exploration.
Since this is our journey together, it's up to you how we go about embarking upon it:
That's that for this week. Remember, all polls close on Sunday, December 29th, at 12:01 a.m. EST. Stay tuned to the Stream Team schedule for chances to catch your votes in action and feel free to offer me whatever advice you may have via Twitter: @MikedotFoster
Mike Foster is looking for a way to beat the winter chill, preferably by losing himself in a brand-new game world. Help him find his way to warmth in Choose My Adventure, and keep an eye out for him on the Massively Stream Team as he puts your votes into action.