Thursday, April 29, 2010

Adieu to Allods

Following is a criticism of the PvP in Allods Online. If you like the PvP there, this post is not for you.

The PvP beast began to rear its ugly head around level 17-18 in Allods, because that's when I encountered the first questing zone that forces the player's PvP flag to be on all the time -- The Frozen Frontier. It wasn't a problem most of the time, but then it started getting raided by groups of Empire players whose levels show only as ?? to me, which means they're at least 10 levels higher. Possibly even max level (40). So they kill the portal keeper so you can't leave the zone, and all the quest NPCs in town, and of course all the poor lower-level players who stand no chance against them, and who didn't even want to fight, but were marked as targets anyway because it's a PvP zone. That is not a challenge, nor is it fun -- it's just bullying.

The next zone, Darkwater, was back to normal, with no forced PvP, which was a welcome reprieve, and it was a very nice zone to quest in, with lots of interesting stories and characters, including the famous Baba Yaga! But after I'd exhausted all the quests in Darkwater, it was on to Tenebra, where it was back to forced PvP all the time. Perhaps to prepare you for the ganking to come, Tenebra (derived from "tenebrae", meaning "shadow") has an additional gameplay mechanic that spawns vampires to attack you randomly whenever you acquire a debuff from venturing away from the areas lit with lamps. Finally, it was on to the very appropriately-named Holy Land, which is full of players killing other players nonstop.

I'd like to think this sort of behaviour would be frowned upon, but in fact the game encourages it, with quests and "combat glory" awarded to players for killing other players, and there's a special item that you can acquire in the game called a "war banner", which allows you to attack and kill players outside of PvP zones, who don't even have their PvP flag up!

Allods does not have a PvE-only server -- what some people disparagingly call a "care bear" server. If they had one, I would be on it, because I play games like this for the quests, the story, and combat with level-appropriate mobs. I like MMOs because of the social aspect, i.e. grouping up and doing quests together, helping people out, and chatting with friends and guild members.

At my level, these random player attacks are a serious interference with my playing of the game, causing me long wait times in Purgatory and longer wait times for the "fear of death" resurrection sickness to go away, plus the time it takes to get back to the place I was questing in, possibly also including time spent waiting for the player-killers to stop camping the area where I resurrect. Prepare to be staring at the giant guardian of the gates of Purgatory for quite a while.

Here, of course, we start to see possible reasons for the company to encourage this sort of thing -- there are items for purchase in the cash shop or for large amounts of in-game money which reduce the wait time in purgatory and remove the resurrection sickness.

So, there are several large zones for me to explore and quest in, but I can't take my time and enjoy the scenery anymore, and can't enjoy reading the quest text or consider which quest reward I want to pick because someone is likely to kill the questgiver and/or me while I'm reading. I find myself playing much less often, and mostly playing on lower-level alts. I've picked up other games in the meantime. Once you get to the Holy Land, it becomes a completely different game from the one I'd been playing for the last couple of months. It's a great, fun game until then. There's plenty of PvE content to explore and enjoy, the chat and guilds are lively, and the in-game economy is easy to play with (all my experience with making money in WoW translated perfectly to Allods). But as far as I'm concerned, once you're sent to the Holy Land, the game is over.

I'll be writing about a different game soon. There are several very interesting and fun ones that I've been getting into.


  1. "Care bear" servers FTW. I hate forced PvP... but I do love killing rogues with my disc priest on BGs *ops!* I just discovered I could do that last week, so it still feels awesome.

    I like the seasonal events in WoW, and hate how in order to complete one they force us into PvP. It was suggested that then they should have a way to force people to RP too, to make sides even (I play on Kirin Tor, RP Nomal, but no, I don't RP, I just wrote a couple funny fanfics).

    Unfortunetelly, many people use the internet to unleash their inner bully and drop everyday masks. I'm just glad I am not like that, must be a stressful kind of life.

    Did you check "Wizard 101"? It looks cute like "Free Realms", maybe less polished, but cute anyway. I would test it, but I have a huge "gaming queue" atm, since I got my "The Sims 3" *yay* and I need to check the new Issue in "City of Heroes"... and "Guild Wars" just because I found out my husband has an old acc and it won't cost a thing to just go and check. Sooo my Witchhunter in Oblivion will take a long vacation!

  2. Heh, I played in battlegrounds or arenas fewer than 5 times, and already was tired of it. I like the joke about forcing people to RP! :D

    I've heard of Wizard 101, but the things I heard didn't pique my interest enough to look into it. I'll look for a gameplay video.

    So you got The Sims 3, and based on your information I downloaded the demo for Torchlight and played the full 2 hours. It was fun enough that I think I'll get it before the sale is over!

  3. Yay for trying Torchlight! I can't get that nice sale right now, but maybe in the future I just grab it anyway. I've heard of intentions to make that game an MMO, let's see (last year news though).

    I really like hack n' slash RPGish games, because there is much more action and less for me to decide. I'm really picky in Oblivion, as example, it's harder to relax and just get going, every cave I find I get afraid I'll break a quest (like I did in Morrowind). That is just not possible in Diablo/Diablo 2 (and Torchlight, I believe). Btw, those two games destroyed MANY computer mouses I had. Too many clicky clicky.

    If you really enjoy the style of Torchlight gameplay, and you find a Diablo/Diablo 2 sale somewhere, I'd say you to try it. You'll find it funny how many spells and skills from that game made it into WoW (talents, jewel socketing...). And the story is a very cool dark fantasy. I always debate at the book store about getting one of the novels, because although the story as something chronological is good, I'm afraid they ruin it or something. I tried to find a nice gameplay video, but couldn't. The bad point about Diablo/Diablo 2 is that you'll have to play in window mode, they don't support the modern resolutions (with the little -w trick). I was a kid when Diablo was around, and I'd play the demo with my sister. It was scary! Mainly Mr. 1st boss, yelling "fresh meat!!" and killing our toon once we open a certain door...

    "Warrior Epic" and "Mytheon" are on that same kind of style, mainly WE, if you want to give it a try, but they are F2P MMOs.

  4. Oh and The Sims 3 is so damn cute on this new computer! Really worth the purchase so far. Adios Facebook games for now!

  5. I had heard many people recommend Diablo 2, and I played an Oblivion mod that added a lot of Diablo elements to it, called Horadric Cube. It adds the cube, transmutations, town portals, and a bunch of other stuff, so in playing Torchlight I recognise a lot of this already. ^_^

    It's not bad about window mode. I always play in a window anyway, so I can easily tab out, and see my taskbar flash if I get a message. I'll bet I can find a resolution mod for it, though. I did for Baldur's Gate and Arcanum.

  6. Allods is my first experience with forced PvP. I hit Holy Lands a couple days ago and indeed, the game changed completely. However, it's been more interesting than negative, and I might try to stick it out.
    There is a curious feature that seems to me to be a crippling flaw, but might be what the designers intended, which is that there is a tremendous disparity in defense and DPS between players of the same level in PvP. Experienced PvP players can hit 10 times harder than PvE bosses, and they know it. To some, it's probably an irresistible noob gankfest, but most seem to be well aware of the absurdly unbalanced play and take it pretty easy on newcomers. I'm a level 25 tank, able to last quite awhile against PvE red bosses with my two barriers, 12K HP, and on-the-ball damage mitigation, but the first twinked level 27 PvP players I encountered could 1-hit me without any challenge to them whatsoever. I don't know what's up with Allods PvP, but the disparity is so obvious and so non-challenging that most PvP players just let me go about my business as soon as they realized that I was in the "other" category of player. It doesn't work at all like I'd expect, but it may be that the way-overpowered PvP players have finally gotten tired of adding roasted ants to the pile and spend most of their time attacking each other now. In any event, I haven't had any trouble wandering around Holy Lands doing quests. I occasionally get vaporized by a barely-seen player, but most just run past chasing someone else while flashing a big red emote heart overhead. I usually just grin back.

    1. Every now and then I load it up again, because Allods really is a fantastic game, and in fact is the best free-to-play MMO that I've tried. I even managed to make a dent in some Holy Lands quests, but one thing that keeps me from getting back into it is that every time I've come back, they've changed things around so that all my talents are reset, and I have to figure out what a good build is under the new system.

      I just long for the PvE experience of the early zones, where exploration is the big draw for me, and I can do well-balanced quests against appropriately-leveled mobs, and run dungeons in groups. If there are any PvE-only zones in later areas, I'd love to know about them. There have been a few patches since I last played.