There was once a beta for an MMO, I’m taking you back momentarily to early 2010. This beta seemed to be very popular at the time, I logged on with two friends and played through the starter area and the game was buzzing. It was a new free-to-play MMO with extremely polished graphics and an ever so appealing “Imperial Russia remake of Spelljammer” take on the fantasy standard. The setting, a series of islands floating in the Astral (called Allods) was really interesting. It had guild Astral spaceship construction as an alternative to raiding – we were so excited by this setting and the gameplay and we weren’t alone.
I am of course talking about Allods Online, a game which is still going as a niche title even today. Many would point at the laughably overpriced cash shop or extreme death penalty as the reasons for its fall from grace. But the game also had another deeper issue hidden in the leveling curve. At about level 20 you would move into the zone of Asee-Teph wherein a good proportion of the quests involved attacking NPCs of the other faction, i.e. forced PVP flagging. There was and remains no ‘proper’ PVE server for Allods (by my definition), there is even an item in-game (the war banner) which allows you to force flag another player so they can be attacked in PVP. Once you’re out of the starter zones you’re fair game.
I recently read about a new update to the game and that got me thinking about “what if” scenarios, what if Allods had not been so hardline on PVP for instance? I suspect my friends and I could have really settled into this game despite the cash shop issues. I suppose at the time this was one way to differentiate the game from market leaders, but in Allods case was this such a good move? I think the idea of building a ship and sailing through the Astral as a team activity (with random monster fights) as a prelude to a dungeon / heroic was a nice variation on the usual ‘teleport to dungeon’. I remember today the Empire starter instance which starts you on an Astral ship in combat against the League – the graphics really were standout for their time. Sadly however the risk of that Astral + dungeon expedition being ganked and plundered by an über-geared PVP warship during your return journey was all we needed to dissuade us from playing past the tutorial.
Do you have an MMO that “got away” and if so, for what reason?