As luck would have it, Perfect World Entertainment was selling RaiderZ founders' packs for the low low price of 30 bucks, and since I have all the impulse control of a gnat I decided to go ahead and pick one up so I could jump into the game's head start. Since then, I've logged something to the tune of 15 to 20-ish hours bashing in the skulls of a variety of nasty creatures, and I've got a few things to say. If you've got nothing better to do, how about jumping past the cut and listening to me rant?
So let's start with a little background, shall we? RaiderZ, as you may have cleverly surmised, is an action-oriented MMO that boasts more than a few similarities to the fabulous Monster Hunter series. In essence, players run about the fantastical land of Rendel dispatching fearsome creatures so they can fashion powerful weapons and armor from leftover monster bits like some bizarre cross between Tony Stark and Buffalo Bill.
Players choose from one of four classes (Defender, Berzerker [sic], Cleric, and Sorcerer), each of which specializes in a different fighting style. My class of choice was the Defender, which –- surprise! –- focuses on high defense using a one-handed sword or mace and a shield. The other available weapons are two-handed swords, two-handed maces, and staves. Word has it that additional classes and weapon types are on the way (such as the dagger-wielding Assassin rumored to be hitting the Korean version of the game soon), but for now the class/weapon choices are somewhat limited.
The most interesting aspect of RaiderZ's talent system, however, is unlocked after spending 10 points in your class's tree. It's at this point that you gain the ability to start dropping points into the talent trees of other classes, essentially allowing players to cross-class. Wanna play a paladin? No problem, just drop some points in Defender, a few in Cleric, and voila. But of course, there are a couple of catches to this system. For one, you can only use a given class's abilities when wielding a weapon type usable by that class. That is to say, even if my Defender had points in the Berserker tree, I wouldn't be able to use Berserker abilities with my sword and shield. Instead, I'd have to switch to a two-handed sword or mace.
On the upside, this means that there truly are a number of different ways to customize your characters, but as with any talent tree system, it's susceptible to the horrid plague known as cookie-cutter builds. Ultimately though, I loved the feeling of freedom when choosing how to progress.
As a Defender, I found myself boggling a bit at the game's block mechanic. Rather than draining stamina while the block is active as I've come to expect, it in fact uses up stamina every time you initiate a block. This can be incredibly frustrating in situations where repeated blocking is necessary. Personally, I'd prefer a system that drains stamina while your block is up or after each successful block like Dark Souls. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with the system RaiderZ uses; it's just a bit odd to me.
In addition, command inputs can seem a bit delayed at times, largely because some animations seem to be out-of-sync with the associated action. For instance, I can't count the number of times I brought my shield up with –- I thought -– plenty of time to intercept an incoming attack only to take full damage despite my character's animation showing my shield in the full blocking position when the attack connected.
On the whole, though, combat is fairly solid even if it's not as polished as I'd like. Fights require a healthy balance of reaction speed, resource management, and strategic positioning, and in one-on-one battles it never feels like you're just running in swinging wildly. Each strike, block, and dodge must be timed with great precision to emerge victorious without taking too much damage.
Unfortunately, I can't praise group combat quite as much as one-on-one fights. While boss battles with a full group still require some degree of skill and coordination to win, fighting normal mobs tends to turn into a game of round-'em-up-and-start-swingin'-until-they-die, which is less than ideal in my opinion. As such, any group fight against anything that isn't a boss mob quickly becomes one big ol' Charlie Foxtrot that makes said fights, quite frankly, incredibly boring and tedious.
As I mentioned earlier, new weapons and armor are gained by gathering monster parts which can then be taken to a crafter NPC to be turned into new accoutrements. This, honestly, is one of my favorite parts of the game. For some reason I'm a complete sucker for the Monster Hunter style of gear upgrades, and RaiderZ recreates it fairly faithfully. There's a new set of armor/weapons to unlock with each level gained, and the armor sets alternate in quality levels. That is, if your level 10 armor is white (common) quality, the level 11 set will be green (uncommon) and the level 12 set will be blue (rare), then level 13 will go back to white. For the first 14 levels or so, the blue armor sets are relatively easy to acquire due to the majority of the materials required dropping from easily reached world bosses. Around level 15, though, the grind becomes noticeably more tedious because instead of the required materials dropping from world bosses, they start dropping from dungeon end-bosses.
Also, if you're not a fan of themepark MMOs, RaiderZ is not for you. The questing system is the very same system of go to quest hub, complete quests, move to next hub that's prevalent in every themepark MMO ever, and the quests themselves are rather monotonous. Most of the quests are kill-x-mobs or gather-x-items and there's very little variety to be found. The game attempts to alleviate this monotony a bit by providing the occasional bit of environmental interaction that can make an otherwise grindy, boring quest rather entertaining. My best example is seen in an early introductory quest that tasks you with killing a number of pirates. Boring, right? And of course it is until you realize that you can pick up a freaking cannon and carry it around with you to bombard the hapless swashbucklers into oblivion. Of course, these types of things aren't present on every (or even most) quests, but they're a real treat to come across on occasion.
For those of you more interested in how the game looks than how it plays, I'm happy to say that RaiderZ's presentation is pretty solid. The graphics certainly aren't on par with triple-A titles such as TERA, but the game looks quite nice on higher settings, and the weapon and armor designs are interesting and varied. My only real complaint is the quality of the game's animations. While most of the character animations are smooth and interesting, some of the other animations are comically bad (I'm
The chat also lacks one of the most common (and in my opinion, most useful) features of many modern MMOs, which is the ability to click a character's name in chat in order to whisper, invite, or ignore that character. And finally, the chat filter is heinously bad, often filtering completely nonsensical character combinations, and there's no way to turn it off. It's terrible.
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