I do take issue with the fact that the developers refer to it as a hack-and-slash title, though. Heroes of the Obelisk is not what you think of when you think of action combat. Games like Vindictus, Neverwinter, and Dungeons and Dragons Online are action-based gaming. Heroes of the Obelisk is standard, class-based, hotbar-mashing combat.
But let's not get too hung up on a few poorly picked words. As an MMO, Heroes of the Obeslisk is standard enough to forgive. You have some pretty basic customization at first, and you can always purchase or earn more customization later on. That's fine with me. There are a few basic classes as well. There's an Adventurer, a ranged character who can specialize in a weapon type later on. Next there's a Swordsman, a melee tank. Then there's the Scholar, your typical magic dealer or healer.
I don'[t care much when a game repeats the same class or system designs that we have seen so many times before. To me, it's a similar process to creating a chess board out of nice wood and decorative stone. The game is the same while the presentation is unique. There are worse game design blunders than repeating a formula that has been shown to work to varying degrees over and over.
The combat is really basic. Since it is not truly action-based, you'll load into a dungeon, tab-target the nearest monster, and AoE the crap out of him and his buddies by pressing a series of buttons. You'll move on to the next one and the next after that. It's simple stuff. There is some dodging going on, such as when a boss monster gives you a sign that it will be firing off a massive combo or attack, but it's mild stuff for the most part. Around level 10 you'll gain access to skill points for passive skills like attack, defense, and support, but there are no real changes going on until you get into more specific class roles later.
Inside dungeons, you can get overwhelmed relatively easy if you grab one too many mobs at once, but usually the pace is set to allow for a nice rest between fights. Although grouping is encouraged, I rarely got the chance. I asked a few players and explored the option to form a group as I went into dungeons, but I was joined by others only a few times. I got tired of waiting and would mostly solo everything. There are more open maps later on that support PvP and a different kind of adventuring, but it's all pretty basic.
The game has several nice features, like dance animations, automove to quest turn-ins while in town, a player matching system for dungeon grouping, a standard friends list, and an auction house to sell rare goods. Of course, the game has a lot of the standard flaws like gold spam that can be denied only by adding the spammer's name to a blacklist. It's easy enough to do, but once the game gets going and gold spam is more common than standard chat speech, it will be nearly impossible to keep up. I have no idea how a developer can publish a game that does not feature a simple right-click-block-and-report feature.
The game's controls are often infuriating. It features an A and D key that do not turn the character but that make the character run to the right or left instead, a camera that is controlled by a right click, and a cursor that does not stay put after right-clicking. I understand why some players prefer this set-up, but to me it makes no sense at all. I finally got comfortable with the UI when I remapped the turning keys so I could move forward with W. Even then, the character and camera would not move in sync unless I was moving forward. The lack of basic options for remapping the controls is mindboggling in this day and age.
Heroes of the Obelisk should be a lot of fun while in a group. If you get together with three or four other people, the light grind of each dungeon will probably be pretty enjoyable. But almost any MMO is more fun with a group because being with friends makes almost anything more fun. The problem is that newer MMOs like Heroes of the Obelisk seem so soloable that a group rarely comes into play.
You can sign up and try the game for free right now. It's supported by a harmless cash shop with costumes, potions, inventory expansions, and other staples.
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