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Free for All: How I'm preparing for the release of Wakfu


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I'm not your typical fanboy. I get excited about an upcoming game, but generally I will not believe in its greatness until I play it. Usually I can get my hands on the game before it comes out so I can see what the fuss is about, but I never find myself that ramped up until release day. Then, and only then, will I really pay attention.

Wakfu is one of those games I know is going to at least be different from its rivals. I have already played a bit in all of the betas and now know that it is far from your typical MMO. The classes are different and fun; the lore and artwork is amazing. It runs on almost any PC. The game doesn't insult the player with hand-holding and non-stop popups. It really does walk that fine line between a sandbox and a more linear game.

So how am I preparing for the release of this unique game?

Wakfu screenshot
First of all, I am not going to read up on every nuance of each class. I am not going to study each one as though choosing one over the other sets my virtual life down a road that I can never leave. The trick in being excited about something is to know that anything can become less exciting with time and more exposure. We all have closets filled with formerly exciting things. Understanding this does not detract from the those exciting moments; it prolongs them. So no, I will not be preparing by doing any sort of research beyond reading up on some lore and figuring out when the client will be released. After all, all of the information that can be found through some wiki or article on a website can be found in game.

I have chosen a starting class already, I think, based on the limited time I spent in beta. I enjoyed the Xelor's Sandglass, an odd robotic creature who can literally control time and teleport around the battlefield. I loved his animations, although normally I enjoy a more subtle approach to combat, and I loved how he could get out of a tight spot by zapping himself to another point on the grid. He seems otherwordly, alien almost. Like the abilities of the other classes in Wakfu, his abilities are customizable and can be tweaked with points so that each player has a specialized character to control.

I really should read up on the political system more, but I doubt I will be participating in it. I know that becoming a mayor and vying for votes would only eat away a lot more time than I currently have. I am now experimenting with a list of games that I play everyday, a small amount of time for each each one, and Wakfu will fit perfectly into this list of "chores." It might sound as though playing that way will be boring or will turn the games into a cold list of mindless activities, but I am finding not only that it gets more "done" in my gaming when I organize it, but I simply have to do it that way in order to get more gaming done in the first place. Remember, since I have Rise and Shiny and other columns to write, gaming for "pleasure" needs to be planned out.

What really excites me in Wakfu is the ecosystem design. Players can wipe out entire areas of trees or animals, while others can replant trees or grow new animals. What can happen is a perfect balance that is beneficial to everyone or an imbalance that can affect every player as well. Wakfu places all of these major choices in the hands of the players, including their player-nominated leaders. Could these systems lead to "griefing" in some ways? Of course, but those chances exist in almost any game that offers choice to the players. The most open games often host some of the most annoying players, true, but they're only as powerful as you let them be. That's the beauty of a sandbox like Wakfu. Yes, I said sandbox: Wakfu might have pre-chosen classes, but the world itself is so open and offers so many choices, and the characters are so adaptable and can be tweaked to almost any situation, that yes, it is a sandbox.

As with most new releases, I am not reading every article that comes out about it. I am not memorizing the lore or downloading exclusive music tracks. I did something more practical: I subscribed. As of the time of this writing, players had one last chance to become a "pioneer" and subscribe to the game early enough to receive some special items and a title (that deal has passed now). I'm not normally excited by such things, but I wanted to jump in right away without bothering with subbing later. Also, early subs or pre-orders help set the team up with a good boost to success. I'm not recommending that my readers go out and spend money, but I do want to describe how I prepare for an exciting launch. Early subbing is often the way, even for this champion of free-to-play games.

So here I sit, typing away at this column while I wait for Wakfu to release tomorrow. Actually, if you are reading this right now, the game has just been released. If you want to read up on all of the lore and take hours to pick your first class, go for it. I plan on jumping in the game, taking my time, and enjoying it as it comes along. I'm not even thinking about high-level achievements or what the endgame content will be like.

I intend to enjoy myself, one adventure at a time.

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!

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