This week, based on the results of last week's Choose My Adventure polls, we slowed things down. The community elected to stop and smell the roses and to pick up a crafting profession along the way. Taking a moment to observe details in Allods Online's character and environment design helps emphasize the title's unique and attractive aesthetic, which isn't much of a surprise. But our baby steps into the title's leatherworking profession unveiled an engaging and nuanced crafting system that's sure to deliver big payoffs down the line.
In last week's post, I took a couple of paragraphs to complain about Allods Online's ridiculous subscription model. In case you didn't catch it, here's the gist: You can't buy time directly but instead must purchase "gPotatoes" and then convert them into game time. Naturally the exchange rate and the cost of a month of game time works out so that at least some of your money is wasted (you can purchase gPotatoes only in $10 increments, but a subscription costs $13). It is an enormous pain.
Still, the annoying exchange rate was secondary to the fact that days after purchasing my gPotatoes, I was unable to access the subscription server. While the Massively community was hoping to see Allods Online's pay server in action, I was stuck with a "pending" transaction that refused to clear. And incredibly, it still hasn't cleared. Over a week after paying $20 to access the subscription server, I have a gPotato balance of zero and am completely unable to use the money I already spent to either acquire game time or invest in cash shop items. At this point it's inexcusable.
Since Choose My Adventure operates on a limited time span, I'm officially abandoning the subscription server idea. It's unfortunate that the community will be unable to see its vote put into action on this particular matter, but restarting a character three weeks into the column because gPotato couldn't get its act together is simply not something I'm willing to do. And honestly, that should be answer enough for anyone trying to decide between Allods's free-to-play and subscription offerings -- the sub server can't possibly offer benefits worth this amount of complication.
A beautiful universe
With that bit of necessary negativity out of the way, we're free to move on to more pleasing subjects. Last week's voters asked me to play Allods in a more careful and attentive manner, skipping a "grind it out" approach and instead focusing on absorbing the details in the world around me. This isn't something I'm accustomed to doing in games (I've written previously of my obsession with moving forward as quickly as possible), but it was a rewarding challenge.
Allods Online started life as an extremely blatant World of Warcraft clone. In many ways, it still feels like one. But over the last few years, the game's developers have made strides toward giving Allods its own identity. Everything I've seen in the game so far is colored with personality. The items, character models, and environments are familiar yet unique. Allods Online isn't a beautiful game in the way of TERA or Guild Wars 2, but makes the most out of its simple graphics and bright color palette.
Most importantly (to me, anyway), Allods Online has excellent spell effects and animations. It's clear from my short time with the game that a great deal of effort went into making everything look and feel "right." It's hard to sell a fantasy hotbar MMO when there are so many on the market, but Allods' attractive design and slick animations help to give it an edge over the pack.
Crafting is a central component of almost every MMO, one that can make or break the experience for thousands of users. Though I'm not the type to be turned off by a game's crafting system, I am more than aware that there are gamers out there who live and die by the way in which an MMO allows them to create. My first adventures into leatherworking, the community-chosen profession for my Allods character, led me to believe that crafting enthusiasts might find a lot to love in the Allods creation system.
Crafting in Allods works like this: First, you gather the materials you need to create a specific item. You can do this by trading with other players, finding components out in the world, or participating in one of the game's gathering professions. Our character's gathering profession is disassembling, which is tied into leatherworking and tailoring the way herbalism is tied to alchemy or mining to smithing. Most of this is par for the course when it comes to fantasy MMO crafting systems.
Where things get interesting, however, is in the rarity. When you craft a new item, you're presented with item components that are rare, normal, or epic. This is random, from what I can tell. A quick click of the mouse locks in the component rarity you want; if you're trying to make an epic item, for example, you'd lock any purple components. You can then reset the components, causing all of the non-locked ones to randomly regenerate, and then lock additional components that match the rarity you're after. Right now I'm able to do this two times per craft. If all of the components come up as the same rarity, the item I craft will be of that rarity as well. Through this system, it's possible to create rare and epic items, assuming your luck holds. I'm curious to see how this system deepens as my leatherworking skill increases, but for now it seems like a fun spin on a familiar mechanic.
The path from here
We're now four weeks into our Choose My Adventure with Allods Online. That means, sadly, that we have only two weeks remaining to sift through its mysteries and learn more about what makes it tick. Since time is of the essence, this week's poll is designed to give you the best possible opportunity to see the content that you want to see. Your options are relatively straightforward: We can keep following the regular beginner questing content, leap into group content, or dump the entire idea of progression and start wandering around in the open world.
The first option lets us see how the Allods experience deepens with new levels. The second gives us an idea of what it's like to run dungeons within the game's framework. And the third provides us with an opportunity to see some environments that aren't necessarily designed with level 10 players in mind.
Remember, voting ends on Sunday, January 5th, 2014, at 12:01 a.m. EST. Once your votes are all tallied, I'll put them into action in the game. For now, however, I'll be focusing on my leatherworking, questing around the newbie city, and getting close-up looks at as much of the game as I possibly can.
I'll let you know if those gPotatoes ever show up.
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.