Archlord Beta: Orcs
I'm playing in the Archlord Beta, and the NDA has now been lifted. So I can actually publish my thoughts on it. In summary: it's very pretty, but still very rough around the edges.
Archlord is a well-established game in South-east Asia, being originally Korean. It's pseudo-medieval, with the three main races being humans, orcs, and moon elves. As yet, I've only seen the orcs in any detail.
The game is astoundingly pretty. The rising moon actually made me stop, look for a few minutes, and call someone else to look at it as well. The orcs have a great variety of shape and looks, albeit they're all green. Class dictates build and the choice of looks. I haven't come across that mechanic before, but I like it; my skinny orc sorceror looks much more realistic than the bulky muscular orc warlocks in World of Warcraft.
Gameplay, thus far, is nothing special, but nothing dreadful either. Get quests, kill things, collect things, turn them in, get experience, go up levels. Combat is smooth, if rather flashy in proper Sega videogame style, and strikes a good balance between dead easy and too hard.
I haven't got as far as any crafting or trading yet, although I understand there's an auction house. I'll post on that as soon as I get there.
The interface, however, is where the game falls down. The icons are too big in scale on the minimap, so that when you're in the starting village, the graphics that represent the quest givers only indicate the general area they're in. "Too big", actually, is something that can be levelled at the interface in general, certainly at the default settings. This seems to be a common complaint of mine, though, and I'm starting to winder if it's more an element of personal taste than anything else - except that the interface size in EVE and WoW suit me very well, and I haven't heard anyone else criticise them. Specific to this game, however: the text sizes are way too big, and often don't fit on their buttons, or within the area of screen they're supposed to.
Movement is point and click, and it's not good. You click on a distant point, run into something in between, and stop dead, and there's no reverse, so you have to swing the point of view around, click on something back along your path, and then try again. There's WASD movement, but it's very sluggish and imprecise - basically not really usable, along with the slightly disconcerting effect of "S", instead of being reverse, turning the character around and moving them "forward". So getting around is actually difficult, especially in crowded areas.
The translations are another poor area. At least, I assume they're poor; they're not Engrish, and they're technically correct, but read as though translated by someone who doesn't speak idiomatic English. There's no form of beginning tutorial.
I know this is still in Beta, but the game is on pre-order in the shops, and there's a lot of cleaning up left to do on it. It's not, at present, anything I'd buy.
Posted by Drew Shiel at September 9, 2006 5:38 PM