Saturday, April 24, 2010

Allods Online

I'm still playing Dragon Age when I get the chance, but in the meantime I've also been playing another MMO -- one that satisfies the craving for World of Warcraft that I sometimes get. It's been more than a year since I've played WoW, and I've missed it sometimes, but it's just too much of an investment of time and/or money, with that recurring monthly fee. Other than that, it's almost exactly what I want out of an MMO.

And that's why Allods Online scratches that itch. As far as the WoW-receptors in my brain are concerned, it is WoW. The gameplay, art design, and class types are virtually identical. It basically feels like a whole new expansion to WoW, with new lands, factions, and races with a Russian feel to them (since it's made by a Russian company). And, unlike WoW, there's no monthly fee to play. It also doesn't have WoW's huge addon/mod collection, but I see a few mods here on Curse Forge.

But first, a little about other games, for the sake of comparison. I've played a couple of other free-to-play games, which make their money through selling items in-game for real-world cash, like Free Realms (which I reviewed before) and Soul of the Ultimate Nation, and both seemed like perfectly good games in their own rights, but neither held my interest long enough to want to consider a real-world monetary investment in them. Both were visually attractive, but SUN suffered in its interface and insufficient in-game tutorial, and Free Realms was perhaps a little too watered down and kiddified, both in content and atmosphere. I had already complained about the ridiculous chat filter, but I never mentioned the root beer. There's a town where the half of the chug population that are lazy instead of militaristic have a perpetual Oktoberfest, where they brew and serve root beer. That's not the problem in itself, but that they apparently were so afraid that people might think it was actual alcoholic beer if it had any colour at all, they instead made it look like water. A frothy mug of water. And this isn't even some special other-world root beer, it's actual root beer made with sarsaparilla root, just like classic root beer, which is most assuredly not clear.

All this background about other games is to lead into my impression of Allods.

The game is well-made, colourful, full of quests and interesting landscapes and architecture, nice special effects, and a logical, easy-to-learn interface and combat/skill system (of course, if you're familiar with WoW, then there's not much you need to learn). Your character begins in a beginner's special instance, which acts as a tutorial before you're sent to the starter's area with other live players. You can turn off the tutorial messages, which is nice.

There are two warring factions, like WoW, with faction-only zones and some PvP contested zones, and the races are pretty distinctly different, though there seem to be only three races for each faction. Interestingly, though the Empire seems to be the evil faction, with their orcs and their Soviet/Nazi theme, the League isn't all sweetness and light either, because they have the elves, which resemble the WoW blood elves in appearance and sinister, opulent elegance. If you want to play as a warlock/necromancer on the League side, you play as an elf.

Minor downsides to free play

So far, it being a free-to-play game where you pay for special items or services hasn't yet intruded on my gameplay in the way that it did in Free Realms, where many quests, resource nodes, professions, and items were marked as "member-only", and free players can only advance so far in certain professions or questlines before hitting a members-only brick wall. They made a change a short time ago that made things even worse in my opinion, by allowing users to play all professions, but limiting them all to level 5 unless you become a member.

As far as I can tell, none of that occurs in Allods. All quests have been available for all to play, as of my highest level, (about 75% to max). From what I can tell, the pay items are a matter of convenience or special privilege, rather than things that are necessary to play the game, at least for a rather casual player like me, who doesn't plan to get into any hardcore raiding.

For instance, bag space is limited, and vendors don't sell bags, and tailors can't craft them. The only way to get a bigger bag without visiting the cash shop is through a grind-fest, collecting creature parts with very low random drop rates, from creatures in several zones. While doing this quest, the items will be stuck in your bag until you finish it, because you're not allowed to store them in the bank. This long, boring quest is meant to encourage you to spend a little money in the cash shop to simply buy a bag with real money. But people do complete the bag quest anyway, gaining a lot of XP and salable junk while doing so.

I have not seen any gear items in the cash shop. No weapons, no armour, nothing like that. Mainly just convenience items and consumables.

Level of mature content

The content in the English version has been very mild. The English forum run by the English-version licensed company states that forum content must be "PG-13", and it seems that the game content is about the same level. There is mild swearing, alcohol use, and Victoria's Secret style underwear. What irks me is that I think the content is being somewhat kiddified for the English-speaking audience, because there appears to be more adult-oriented content on the Russian version.

For instance, there is official artwork on the Russian site depicting a seated, rather disinterested-looking male elf with two naked female elves "servicing" him as he gazes off, lost in thought with a glass of wine in his hand. See also here for what looks like an alternate, earlier draft of the same image. Both of these images are used in part on the official web sites.

Secondly, there is a bath house quest, which I've read about, which seems like it would be entertaining and funny, but which appears to be completely excised from the English version. (This is not to be confused with the public sauna which is near the windmill outside Novograd.) The bath house is still in the game, but you can't go in, and the attendant standing in front gives you a blank dialogue box if you talk to him (usually, a message saying "interaction not available" will appear instead of a dialogue box, if they have nothing to say.) This was not even adult material, in my opinion, since even in the baths the characters would not be nude (unless you have the nude patch installed). Nevertheless, considering the average ages of the people I've seen chatting in-game and on the forum (30s, on average), and the age of the average gamer (35, I seem to recall), I see no reason why any adult content should be excised. Keep the kids out, I say, and let us grown-ups have our fun. The world should not be limited to what is suitable for children.


One problem is spammers. I encountered spammers hawking their gold-farming web sites as soon as I was out of the tutorial instance, and it was so bad I couldn't see any legitimate chat until I figured out how to add them to my ignore list, so fast were they spamming their messages. WoW definitely has better chat handling features in this regard, where you can just right-click on anyone's name and either block them or report them for spamming. Here, you have to manually enter their names into your ignore list (easiest way at the moment is to click their names once, which starts a whisper message, then click it again, which copies the name into the chat box, where you can highlight it and copy/paste it into the ignore list.)

The nonsensical thing about these spammers, is that this is a game with a cash shop. If we wanted to spend real-world money on in-game items, why buy in-game gold from some irritating spammer when we can just buy items from the cash shop, and sell them in-game on the auction house? Many people do that to make quick gold in the game, in fact, so for those who don't want to visit the cash shop at all, you most likely will never have to.

We could also use some basic filter options, to let us players block any particular words or sequences we want.


I've tried three classes in this game: Healer, Summoner, and Psionicist. The healer is basically a cleric/priest, the summoner is a warlock, and the psionicist...well, I don't really know what to compare it with.

These classes, from my experience, differ somewhat from their WoW counterparts, but are very comfortable to play. Although there are paladins in the game, the mêlée-specced healer functions more like WoW's ret pally. Healers also get to wear leather at level 10, and plate at level 30. Plate! I've never seen a priest in plate before.

Summoners have the different demon pets, such as the tank and the support-type ones warlocks get in WoW, and they have the DoTs and curses you'd expect, and have a mechanic similar to the soul shard from WoW, which in this case are drops of blood harvested from enemies, which are used in various spells. The biggest difference with Allods' summoner is that it has healing spells. Some, like Plague of Mending, are very powerful group heals. I've heard some say that at the current patch, healing-specced summoners heal better than healers at high levels! I wouldn't know. I go for damage.

As in other games, certain classes are restricted to certain races. Since only gibberlings can be psionicists on the League side (the good guys), I ended up making a human psionicist on the Empire side. The most I can tell about this class is that they're intended mainly for crowd control. But for survivability, I find that the "mental twin" talent is the most useful. This allows you to project an illusion of yourself around your selected target, and the enemy will attack that illusion instead of you, allowing you to unleash damage on your target with impunity unless it destroys the illusion (the game treats the illusion as a "pet", with its own health bar, and it gets hurt more easily than you would).

Starting experience

There is a single, unified starting experience for each faction, which may be a disappointment if you were hoping for a unique starting area for each race, like in WoW. All League players begin in a tower where you won't encounter any other players, and then after the tutorial adventures, you progress to the first small starting island with other players, where you can get acquainted with quest hubs and group quests. Empire players start on board an astral ship, as a newbie recruit in the Empire's compulsory military service (note the short-skirted sailor suits that are Empire military standard uniform for girls). This is the only opportunity anyone gets to see the ship to ship combat and giant astral raid bosses that are a major part of the end-game content, until your guild manages to build a ship to sail the astral. After this, you make your way through petty internal politics and governmental red tape until you reach the first sewer areas where you meet other players, and do the sort of thing the League players do, just in different surroundings.

Both factions, at the end of this, end up in their respective capital cities, where you get access to the mail system, the bank, and the auction house, and get to pick up a profession to make money. It seems to me that the League starting area was much longer and more interesting, and the Empire boots you out into the capital much sooner. You also stay within the Empire capital much longer than you stay in the League capital zone, because the Empire city is a huge megalopolis, whereas the League capital is a modest kingdom, and most of the quests are out in the surrounding forest.

The Empire city aesthetic makes me think of 1940s or 1950s eastern European, with its apartments, cafeterias with refrigerators, wood-paneled auction house, and heavy industrial power plants with smokestacks. The League areas, on the other hand, have very much a fantasy aesthetic. I prefer the League by a long shot, but Empire is nice for a change of pace now and then, as long as I don't mind feeling like an oppressed citizen of a totalitarian state.

All in all, I highly recommend this game if you like WoW, and want to try a free alternative. You'll get a bonus if you like PvP, as there are no PvE servers, and the higher-level zones start turning on your PvP flag against your will. For me, that signals the time to play another game. Your mileage may vary, and you'll certainly enjoy the first 25 levels out of 40, if nothing else.

A repeatable quest where you turn into a werewolf to hunt down sparkling "Twilight Vampires"... Hmm...

Some more random screenies


  1. Oh my, I came here to check your Oblivion links and found you talking about another game.

    I just got a new PC, so I am testing Oblivion with pretty graphics! Never went too far on it, let's see how it goes this time. I will try and play only the side quests so I don't deal with ugly Oblivion portals though :)

    When I read there that pvp flag is forced after a certain level, I said "oh hell no". PvP is only fun to me when I option to do it (a.k.a. BGs in WoW). Still playing WoW here, maybe you should get a month of it just to mess around and see the news! (and get that fix...). I am turning tired of it again though, and hopefully getting The Sims 3 and stop killing monsters for a while.

    I've been reading MMO news here, in case you don't know the place:

    From there, I checked 3 points of interest to play at the beta tests: TERA, LEGO Online and the new FF online.

  2. Hello, my friend! Yes, I knew I wouldn't be talking about the same game(s) forever, which is why I chose a name for my blog that wasn't tied to a single game or game series. :) I've listened to many game-specific podcasts, and it's always sad when they start putting out episodes where they're embarrassed to say "Well, I haven't actually been playing that game lately," and eventually they stop making the podcast.

    I don't blame you for skipping the Oblivion gates. They're not really worth it, and if you want to experience the unique content of the main quest, you can always use mods or the console to get to any special locked areas, like Mankar Camoran's Paradise realm, or maybe the moth priest areas if those are locked (don't remember if they are).

    Yes, the forced PvP is getting very annoying very fast, and I've been writing a new post about that frustration. I don't think I'll be playing it much longer (it was fun while it lasted, though!) But I have plenty of other fun games to write about! I still want to add some screenshots to this post. I saved a lot!

    I was aware of Massively, but I've really only been paying attention to At any rate, I'm aware of all the news and changes that have happened since I last played, because of that. :) I haven't really been tempted enough to start paying for it again, though, since these other single-player games are "buy once, play forever". (Especially the ones from

    Keep coming back! Maybe I'll be talking about another game you like.

  3. You see, I also get this bad feeling sometimes about the fact that all my progress in WoW is simply not mine to keep: I have to pay monthly to use it. So I guess I understand what you mean.

    Something that really keeps me in WoW is the guild and the friends I have there. For instance, a month ago, I got married. Where I met Mr Fancy? In that guild! So it's a strong connection with the folks there, and hell, sometimes I log in just to chat (Oh and the story is far more complicated, took us eternety to be together since I am not american).

    Ok, so TMI moment is over.

    My point is that WoW subscription gets in my way when I want to try the offline ones, both because of the payment and because I like to be in contact with the folks there. I am there stealing vegetables in Oblivion and then my husband asks "oh can you help us in Onyxia?" and I fly away *laugh*. But sometimes I just don't want to kill things (even though my main toon is a healer). I love building games. I made this pretty region in Sim City 4 (and then my lappy died), I loved playing "Zeus", "Pharaoh", "Theme Hospital" and now I am craving to get The Sims 3.

    So then you show me and my eyes go sparkly! They didn't have any of those that I wanted, but do you happen to know somewhere they sell those oldies? Or maybe new games that are like that? I mainly prefer the construction ones, without the battle part... because I tended to lose my pretty "Age of Empires" and "Warcraft 3" cities due to the time I spent making the cities pretty.

    For now my cravings for construction games are beign fullfilled by Facebook games. I feel your pain to try and find some other game! I will probably give up soon and get The Sims 3... and cry about the fact I could have had grilled salmon at Red Lobster with that money instead!

  4. I fully understand about the social aspects keeping you in WoW. It did that for me, too, for months after I would have quit otherwise. That's why it's not likely to just join up again for 1 month. (In your marriage, which of you moved?)

    Construction games...well, I haven't played much in the genre (though I liked that aspect of making mods in Oblivion), but are these the kind you mean? [Constructor] [Restaurant Empire]

    I don't really know where else to look, but if I find any of those you mentioned, I'll try to let you know. Maybe they'll show up on GoG one day.

  5. I end up believing that I couldn't stick to any of the free 2 play ones I tested because there was nobody else I knew there. I tried "Shaiya", "Warrior Epic" and "Mytheon". All of them are very pretty, and I had fun while I played, but when I reach the "grinding" point, I feel I am wasting my time. Mainly in "Mytheon", since it's betta and I'd lose my toons anyway. Let me know if you want me to say any details of those games. If you enjoy Diablo 2 (but without demons), I totally recommend you to test "Warrior Epic". "Mytheon" has a very different gameplay to it (think beign a Mage in the Magic card game series), but remembers that hack and slash style a little, and both games are not fully 3D.

    I did play "Constructor"! But it involves more then building, as you have to sabotage the other player, which is not really my game. I bookmarked and will look at it every now and then. Did you see the Direct2Drive spring sale? I got tempted to get "Torchlight", the trial was pretty fun (but again, I like hack and slash RPGish games).

    As for my "WoW husband"! In our crazy journey to get married, we decided I'd move to US. Mainly because I am fluent in english, and my husband can't speak a word of my native language (brazilian portuguese). So now I am here trying to get adapted! It's not too difficult, and generally just funny. The process is slow, so I will probably only be allowed to work after June or so... which leaves me with housework, which is very little with just us and a cat. And that is why I need to game so much :)

    ...oh and we met in Shadowmoon Valley while I was farming Nightmare Vines. He saved my gnome from the Arakkoas. Nobody in the family understands that.

  6. I've never yet tried a Diablo game, but the demo movies of Diablo 3 look really nice, and I'd like to try that eventually. By the time I'm finished with all these other games, I'm sure it'll be out, and I won't need to start with Diablo 2. :) Of course, there's Torchlight, and it looked good from those screenshots you showed me before. I was not aware it was on sale! I looked at Direct2Drive, and it looks like a good site and good price. I hope it's DRM-free like GoG...

    Too bad about the sabotage in Constructor... There are other games I've played where I could have really enjoyed them more if there were a sandbox mode where I could remove hostile forces, so I could explore or build without people shooting at me all the time.

    Brazilian, eh? He's a lucky guy. ;)

  7. Thank you for updating with the pictures! The game is very pretty!

    Although it will look like... well, LEGO, I am really curious about what the'll do on "LEGO Universe". I played with those pieces sooo much when I was a kid, can't help put smile and watching the cute trailer.

    Wish there was a Sandbox mode in Oblivion! Where I wouldn't need to kill thousands of wolves just to meet the whole map. I wonder if I make some kind of "social" character that would help? Playing a WitchHunter for now! I love the imp (scamp), and I will try and just make the side quests, not on mood to get into Oblivion gates and ruin the landscape.

  8. Social for wolves? I know if you go through the whole Knights of the Nine DLC, you'll get some kind of talent that makes all normal wildlife friendly toward you, but there's also a mod that'll do it instead, which is what I used. Can't think of what it was called, though...

  9. I am sick of hearing how this game and all games are world of warcraft clones, if thats the case world of warcraft is a clone of everquest online it came out in 1999 wow came out in 2004. so that makes world of warcraft a clone first, so thy are all mmo's and looks like cartoon's, that dont make them clones,besides you dont own wow when u pay the $30 for it your only paying for the cd and case it comes in, cause you cant play it till you pay them $14.99 a mouth, its a rip off,it's not like you can play it any time you want to only if you pay them some money you can play there game that you aready paid them $30 for. ok i just paid them 30bucks for a game but im only aloud to play it if i pay them, so what the point in it,its like buying a car and not haven money to buy gas for it.your not going any where with it are you

  10. Your comments about owning WoW don't seem to be connected to anything I said, so I'll just address the first thing. Have you not seen the art style of Allods? Look at the character selection screen for the Elves. I don't have any in my post here, but you can find a video or a screenshot elsewhere. The art style and the poses they stand in are identical to the blood elves in WoW. The whole style of the game looks like it's either an expansion pack for WoW or a game made by the same designers. This game does not resemble Everquest in the slightest -- it resembles WoW.