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PAX East 2012: Hands-on with Perfect World's RaiderZ

Jef Reahard

TERA isn't the only upcoming MMO to feature big-ass monsters and action combat. Perfect World Entertainment showed us a demo of RaiderZ at last weekend's PAX East, and producer Mark Hill was pretty enthusiastic about the game's level of polish. He also made a point of highlighting the amount of free gameplay the company will be making available to fans later this year.

"We really want to blow people away with how much free content they're getting out of a really top-notch game," he said. Join us after the cut to see what RaiderZ has to offer.

"The once prosperous and powerful kingdom of Rendel has finally crumbled," PWE's website says. "Vicious beasts, awakened by the contamination of the Prime Stone, roam the lands with an insatiable thirst for blood and a desire to claim Rendel as their own."

This, of course, is where you come in. RaiderZ' core gameplay revolves around killing these big bads, taking their stuff, and using it against them. There's also the usual MMO progression path, so you'll be skilling up through dozens of levels and mastering various skill sets on your way to monster-hunting glory.

It's a class-based game that features four basic archetypes: the Berserker, the Defender, the Cleric, and the Sorcerer. You've all played plenty of MMOs, so these guys need no introduction at this point.

Raiderz - big-ass monster
What's interesting to note about RaiderZ, though, is that while you have to choose one of these base classes, you can also start putting your skill points into any other class as you level. If you want a Berserker with heals, for example, have at it. RaiderZ' gameplay is all about customization (if our demo session was any indication).

RaiderZ also boasts an unusual approach to traditional MMO weapons in that your skills are influenced by the type of weapon you're carrying. Ergo, your skill loadout will be changing constantly (or not, depending on how you prefer to play). Your toon has three different skill trays, and you can bind each of these skill trays to a different weapon.

Said binding is accomplished sans cumbersome menus because, as Hill said, they're "really trying to keep players engrossed in the action and the gameplay."

Hill explained that RaiderZ is ultimately about adapting to your situation. Certain enemies take different types of damage, and each have unique attack patterns and tendencies. The bosses don't mess around, either. Some of them will eat you, chew you up, and spit you out, or swoop down and pick you up, flying you around and dealing damage in all manner of unsavory ways.

RaiderZ bosses are meant to be difficult, and Hill confessed, "The game is one of the more difficult MMOs I've ever experienced, and we're encouraging party-based gameplay. We're not forcing anybody, but we do want people to go out in these hunting parties because the main form of gameplay in RaiderZ is big monster hunting."

Raiderz - big-ass yeti monster
The vast majority of the game takes place in an open-world setting. There are instances, but most of the time you'll have to track your prey and engage it in RaiderZ' highly dangerous overworld. Once you've decided on a target, the combat consists of all the usual action-MMO tropes. Left-click is your normal attack, right-click is your block, and you can roll or dodge out of the way as well.

RaiderZ definitely isn't a tab-target-and-spam-attack-until-they're-dead type of game. It's all about real-time battles and fast-action gameplay. There is a ranged magic missile spell that will track down mobs, Hill told us, but for the most part, your success depends on your aim.

Another interesting wrinkle happens after combat, as you're able to relieve vanquished foes of their weapons and (contrary to most MMOs) you can actually equip (and fight effectively) with your newly plundered gear straight away. After one demo boss kill, we actually picked up his weapon and noted that our skill tray had inherited the weapon's abilities. Hill then explained that a player's skill set will always be changing depending on whether he is wielding an enemy weapon, is wielding a different class weapon, or is on a mount.

If all that sounds pretty interesting, you're in luck. RaiderZ just recently finished up its alpha-testing phase, which Hill said generated a ton of positive feedback. Perfect World is eyeing a closed beta in the near future, even though the company doesn't have specifics for us yet. Hill did say that an open beta period will be happening "later in 2012."

Massively's on the ground in Boston during the weekend of April 6-8, bringing you all the best news from PAX East 2012. Whether you're dying to know more about TERA or PlanetSide 2 or any MMO in between, we aim to have it covered!

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