First Impressions: Atlantica Online

Welcome to our First Impressions of NDOORS' Atlantica Online. Although it's in its third round of its closed beta, it's functional enough to talk about, and deservedly so. It's not the only MMOTBS -- massively multiplayer online turn-based strategy -- currently on the market, but it's got a high level of polish and a lot of potential. Let's dig in.


As you read this post, remember that you can click on each picture for the full-res version in glorious 1024x! Atlantica Online, as stated above, is currently in the third phase of its closed beta. The eventual release date hasn't been disclosed as yet, but you'd hardly know that this was an unfinished title by playing it.

Here is one of the loading screens you'll see between playable areas. One of the hallmarks of Atlantica's aesthetic is its graphical style. It's got a noticeable Final Fantasy vibe, and in a turn-based game, that's both expected and welcome.

Another load screen. You'll see these between the opening area and the woods, and between the woods and the first town. While this, too, is canonical for TBS games, it's one mark against the title. The areas you'll run around in are fairly small and not terribly complex, 3D model-wise, so it's unclear why there is any need for the loads.

At first log-in, you'll face this screen. The ghostly outlines here represent empty character slots. We only created one character, but presumably you'll be able to keep a stable of characters.

Initially, however, the character customizations are limited to only a few options: gender, hair style and color, face, and starting outfit. Each of these options only have a few choices themselves. Interestingly, it's here you choose your class by choosing your weapon. Here, our character has a gun, making her a Gunner. Other weapons include a spear, a bow, and a cannon, to name a few.

This woman speaks to you through text, telling you that it's your destiny to gain her power and that of her two sisters -- or something like that. Being impatient types, we clicked through the text to get right into the game.

This is the opening area, which has a floor texture resembling the one from Perfect World. A quick tour of the user interface shows us a relatively uncluttered space, which is blessedly relaxing. The element in the lower right corner is where you'll keep track of your mercenaries.

Mercenaries are an important part of the game. Your created character is merely the leader of your group of mercs. Other than the fact that all NPCs talk directly to you, there is little else that distinguishes you from your mercenaries, gameplay-wise. Any of them can use potions, equip weapons and armor, level up their abilities, use special attacks, etc.

Above we see a detail page concerning a Spearman. This unit can attack two enemies standing in a line. Each mercenary uses a particular weapon, and can take on different specializations once they've leveled up enough. Also shown in the picture are the various special attacks available to that character, which must be learned through the use of spellbooks.

Combat in Atlantica will be familiar to fans of turn-based games; the transition from wandering around the world to actual fighting resembles those found in the Final Fantasy series -- sometimes the screen blurs and wipes to show the initial face-off configuration shown above, sometimes the screen splits as though made of glass, etc. Above, you can see our Gunner to the right-most position, the Spearman on the opposite side, and a Swordsman in the middle. Across from our troops are the enemies at hand, the front row of which are highlighted, indicating their availability to be attacked.

When you initiate your first combat by clicking on an enemy wandering the area, a tutorial appears that teaches you how to fight. In this tutorial, the turn timer isn't acknowledged as a factor; later battles will make attack management crucial. This particular tutorial talks about selecting a character to initiate an attack. Characters with green rings around them are selectable; typically not all characters are selectable on the first round. Simply click on a character to select it, after which you can choose its action.

This is the acknowledgment that you've successfully completed the tutorial. Note: during the tutorials, the enemies do not attack.

This tutorial concerns the time limit, which can be stressful. Unlike many turn-based games, there is no option to have the action pause while you choose your attack. On the plus side, there are keyboard commands for the various actions available, and you can send commands to your troops fairly rapidly.

An option concerns the movement of the camera. It can be static, showing combat from the default overhead view, or it can be dynamic, showing events from dramatic angles as they occur. As the dynamic option sometimes obscures other characters, making it impossible to select them while another character is completing its action, you will likely want to stick to the static camera option.

Here is another dynamic angle, featuring a downed enemy who is ready to be harvested for items.

Read the rest of our First Impressions of Atlantica Online!