I've been playing MMOs since the 90's, and have been looking for a new MMO that has a challenging world and lets the player explore on their own. I went and discovered this title based on a recommendation. It was shown as a new retro-style MMO, similar most to Asheron's Call and original Everquest.
After downloading the game, I was instantly turned off by the graphics and the 'opening', but I turned the graphics up to max, and pushed through my initial impression and started exploring. The graphics actually look quite charming on max settings, especially in the older zones. I was blown away by the level of customization and immersion in terms of doing what you want. I was really impressed by the level of detail in area/dungeon design especially. The world is also extremely unforgiving and challenging, and has that old style of mixed enemies right outside the gate, so you have to be careful and use all your resources right from the beginning, and you'll probably still die a lot anyway.
The game has a 'one character can do everything' style like FFXIV/FFXI and lets you set 2 different combat abilities (fire magic, sword skills, bard, mentalist, speech skills, priest, etc), though certain abilities need a specific item type equipped to use it, and can use 5 abilities from each set. So, you can make a full-debuff character by setting Bard/Psychologist with stuns/debuffs/support abilities, support with Mentalist/Priest for mana/armor regen and heals, a main healer with Priest/Druid, a pure mage with Ice/Fire magic, tank with Shield/Hammer, or any mix you can think of, and you can switch on the fly anytime outside of combat.
Literally everything you can think of is a skill, from endurance, to poetry, psychology, and dying. Yes, dying gives you 'dying exp', and gives bonuses to necromancy, nature appreciation and other skills, and unlocks additional special abilities in addition to the two combat schools, so even when you get killed and have to walk back, you still get something out of it. You get dying XP bonuses by seeking out new creative ways of getting killed.
Playing the game and ranking up skills lets you unlock new abilities, and leveling skills can give synergistic bonuses to other abilities, so playing music in town with others gives everyone in earshot long-lasting buffs, ranks up your Performance skill, which gives bonuses to Bard skills, and you can play music for your plants to help them grow better.
It has a really tight community feel and makes it easy to play and participate with others even without a duty finder. It's really neat to see the same people in dungeons, towns, and exploring the world with you. Everything is open-world, so you're always running into the same people, even in remote dungeons, which is something I find missing from modern MMOs. It's a very different feel from modern MMOs because you're not following a "!" quest marker from hub to hub and ignoring people outside duty finder – you're exploring dungeons to find notes that give quests, ranking up cartography by exploring zones in their entirety, and actually feeling like part of the community.
I don't really see the game brought up very often, and it is definitely niche, but I think it's a very good alternative for people tired of the WOW/FFXIV themepark formula.
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