Allods Online – A Russian MMO? Yes, you heard right… and it’s not that bad!

I had heard about this new MMO that was coming out, that was classified as one of those “WoW clones”. Intrigued, I popped over to their website and applied for their closed beta. A day later I got my beta key and I threw myself into a world where sci-fi merges with fantasy to form a rather surreal setting…

Released originally as a single-player RPG back in 1997, Allods was originally called Rage of Mages. Developed by Nival Entertainment (responsible for some of the Heroes of Might and Magic series), Rage of Mages was a game where RPG was blended with real-time strategy, akin to Warcraft 3, where both micro-management of troops as well as macro-management of resources was essential for success.

Fast forward to 2009, and with a single-player RPG sequel under their belt, Nival Entertainment stepped up to the MMO scene by beginning the closed beta stages of Allods Online, an MMO based around the world begun by Rage of Mages.

There usually doesn’t have to be a solid background for any MMO, and Allods Online is no exception – it had me really confused when I first started to delve into the pages and pages of information, and all I managed to deduce was that the world was split into islands, with astral ships flying back and forth, and there was some big event that caused this.
It reminds me strangely of the Final Fantasy games – in particular FF XII, where civilization was technologically advanced but the military was not. The characters still use swords and spells, and I’ve yet to see a gun drop.

The graphics are actually very good for a F2P, probably the best I’ve seen so far. Again, I find myself thinking back to the FF graphics, where there is a good dose of realism subtly infused with that comic factor that just does enough to let you know that it’s a game. Spells aren’t uber-flashy, for once, and attacks are straightforward. Enemies are pretty animated, but the environment is not – something that isn’t a big factor but it’s certainly noticeable now and then.
Character selection is diverse (apart from the blindingly clichéd League vs Empire) for a F2P game, with something like 8 different classes. Each class is pretty unique – but Allods definitely draws some of its content from World of Warcraft in the use of talent points for allocating skills and abilities.

The gameplay itself is slightly buggy – still, better than most MMOs in their closed beta stages – but on the whole it is a refreshing change from the monotony that was autoattack in World of Warcraft. The cast bar is incredibly sensitive – you’ll see it rocket back and forth when you spam abilities like I tend to do – and a lot of the time it isn’t as consistent as you’d hope it to be.

I’m enjoying my time playing this at the moment, playing a Kanian Ranger class. My keyboard has suffered with constant spamming of the 1 button (which is what my Steady Shot is bound to) and I don’t really see myself dropping this until the closed beta closes on 24 November.
All in all, Allods looks like a solid game that could do with a spot of refining here and there. WoW comparisons will inevitably be drawn, helped by the presence of a number of ideas clearly poached from WoW (item rarity colours, soulbound feature, talents, a number of abilities) but Allods looks like a game which could stand up for itself by the time the full game is released.

Paul Park

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