Sunday, December 20

Postcard from Atlantica

Out of all the F2P games I've tried this one has definitely provided me with the most fun, while containing the staples of a classic MMO it has some significant differences, the most obvious and the one that will be the deciding factor of your enjoyment of this game is the combat.

Combat is turn based, instanced and requires some strategy, especially in PvP. The persistent world contains mobs, unlike classic MMO's these mobs won't go out of their way to attack you, combat is initiated by either running into the mob or by clicking on it. On initiating an encounter you are immediately drawn into an instance to fight, either solo with your mercenaries (more about those later) or as a team with other players. If you initiated the fight then the round starts with your turn, if however the mob snagged you by wondering in to you then they get the first turn. Your group members who can participate in a turn have a green circle, you can select any of these to attack or to perform other tasks such as buff/debuff or heal your group members. The strategy comes in to play when deciding which team member to use and what to do with it, formation of the team is also important, you don't want your squishies on the front line. The combat is highly reminiscent of the combat in Final Fantasy 7 and 8 (if you played and enjoyed those games you'll love it). Your attack turn has a time limit, 15 seconds at the beginning, in which to take all your attacks before the enemy gets it's turn. Each player or mercenary has the option of either a regular attack or magic attack, left click on the mob for regular or right click for magic, if the player has more than one magic attack, left click the skill then the mob or player if its a buff or heal. The default game settings has attack animations and cut scenes switched on, they add a nice visual dynamic to battles but these soon get in the way as they eat up your time limit and get in the way of your view, they can be switched off from the settings tab. If you don't like this style of combat, you won't like the game.

You can choose your class from a range of weapon types which include, Sword, Spear, Axe, Staff, Bow and Gun, the range widens if you already have a high level character to include Cannon and Maniac.

Character creation is extremely limited, you have the choice of gender, 3 or 4 faces, 5 or 6 hairstyles and hair colour, the lack of individuality is also born out through the armour system. If your really bothered about having a unique looking character then your going to be very disappointed. I'm currently visually offended by my characters look, luckily the other aspects of the game are keeping me happy enough to forgive it.

Mercenaries: Your first quests will require you to choose some mercenaries to fight at your side, you need to think about your choice, as you level you get more mercenaries and a wider choice, at around lvl 20 you will also receive quests to obtain different kinds of mercenaries, Viking and Monk, your quota won't be big enough to accept both unless you store another in the mercenary room, the room is obtained through a license and is time limited, the license can be bought at the market or through the cash shop. You are given one free to start with, I have no idea what will happen to my stored gunner when that time runs out, perhaps she goes to gunner heaven? Mercenaries can also be upgraded to increase their stats which requires dropped items of a certain level.

Shadow Dungeon Interior

The armour and weapon system is simple and fun, there are obviously different weapons for the different classes and different armour types for magic, melee and ranged. They are obtained through drops of an 'equipment box' from mobs, these stack in your inventory (space is extremely limited) until you decide to open them, on opening a box you get a random piece of equipment, a small screen pops up and cycles through the possible content until it stops at one. You can't be guaranteed you'll get what you want and may end up with multiples of something you don't want cluttering up your inventory, luckily there is the enchant system to help sort that problem out.

Weapons and Armour can be enchanted to increase their stats, again it's a simple process and relies on the drops of enchantment stones from mobs, the stones are dropped in an enchant box which stacks in your inventory, opening one gives you the choice of an enchant stone for either weapons or armour, you will receive either one or two of the selected stone. Enchanting an item requires multiples of the same item, to get a +1 staff you need two staves and one weapon enchant stone, to get a +2 staff you need two +1 staves and 2 weapon enchant stones, a +3 staff then requires two +2 staves and 3 weapon enchant stones, so to get a +4 staff you will have got through 16 staves and 26 weapon enchant stones. If you don't get enough drops of stones then there's always the Market.

Crafting is a weird one, instead of having armour crafting you learn to craft each armour piece as a seperate craft skill, same goes for weapons. The initial lesson to start crafting is gained from an NPC, most of these NPC's wander around the world so your never sure were they are going to be, it's a pain when you need to level up, however there is an NPC called Livingstone just outside Bucharest who is in the know regarding their current location. Players can also pass on their crafting skills to other players. Mats are dropped from mobs and can also be bought from the Market. Crafting also includes medicine for replenishing health, mana and life potions for reviving dead party members (alchemy in any other game) and foods (cookery), among many others. The crafting process takes place while your fighting, select what you want to craft then enter a battle to get it done, strange way of doing things and hardly immersive but later at lvl 30 you gain the ability to auto craft which can be done while afk. I'm currently crafting the chest armour piece, I can craft lvl 25 items while the drops I get are only lvl 20, it's worth the expence.
Windmills just outside Amsterdam
Getting around is by foot, there are mounts but I believe these are cash shop items, you can travel from outpost to outpost via the Travel Agent, at a cost, in any town as long as you have previously visited the outpost you wish to travel to. Towns are guild owned and have a variety of resources including a Bank (just for money but needed if your selling on the market), Hospitals (replenish mana/health or revive a dead party member, also buy medicines) and Market for selling and buying. The worlds geography is based on ours, today I decided to go find Livingstone near Bucharest and go to Helsinki to get access to the Christmas event dungeon, on the way I passed through Calcutta, London (via the Channel Tunnel), Amsterdam and St Petersburg amongst many other well known locations, it was a nice journey as the graphics changed to reflect the locales quite nicely. The lore hasn't sunk in, I've no idea why the world has changed to have all these fantastical creatures in it.

Somewhere in Southern Europe
The graphics are OK, just below the original GW standard I would say. There are some surprisingly nice details in some places while in other places it looks like they forgot to replace the heavily pixelated test textures, it's easily pleasing enough on the eyes to be playable.

The game is linear, while your always free to go off and explore you are required to complete some quest chains in order to progress, movement is sometimes restricted, there is no jumping, falling off a cliff or diving into water. The game does a great job of teaching you as you progress.

The quest system is great, you have a quest marker to point you in the right direction or you can use auto run to go straight there while you do other stuff, the quest log contains all quests so if you think your stuck for quests or just fancy a change of scenery you can see straight away where to go for more quests.

Music and sound effects are generally horrible and annoying, turn them off! They are exactly like those early Playstation games even the battle music sounds like the one used in FF8.

It may not be a triple A title but for a F2P title there is something unique and a lot to enjoy in this game, it costs you nothing but the download time and 2gb of HD space, if you want something a little different and like the idea of turned based combat, give it a go, I've had hours of fun with this one and it gives PvP a whole new twist. At lvl 28 I feel like I've hardly scratched the surface, there's a lot left still to learn.

If anyone fancies giving it a go you can join me on the Delphi Server playing a staff called MsAnthropy.


  1. All downloaded. But it needed a lot of patching. I'll have to do that tonight.

  2. Chennie, a girl with a huge hairdo and an even bigger gun, has entered the world. Not sure it is my game though. Actually pretty sure it isn't. But starting tonight I have 11 days off, so plenty of time to give it an honest try. At least MsAnthropy should have received a referral reward.