Sony Online Entertainment and Gamepot’s Wizardry Online is a newly released MMORPG (currently in closed-beta) based on the classic Wizardry PC game – first published in 1981 – which enjoyed phenomenal popularity in both North-America and Japan. The original Wizardry can be seen as having provided the foundation for countless RPG conventions, including the numerical reduction of hit-points during combat and the application of status-effects.
Wizardry online attempts to break new ground, by presenting players with a unique, beautiful, albeit often dangerous world, in which they are free to pursue their own desires and to develop their characters as they see fit. At the same time, the game also seeks to recreate the original dungeon-crawling atmosphere that made its predecessor so successful and thus holds true to traditional RPG conventions including immersive environments and character progression. At current, the game features several races: Human (balanced); Elf (high intelligence); Dwarf (high strength) and; Porkul (mixed). The four main classes, which include fighter, priest, mage and thief are not race specific, but your character must meet the minimum attribute requirements. Later, however, it is possible to change your class, whilst keeping certain skills, thus allowing players greater control in terms of character development.
Breaking free of traditional MMORPG models, Wizardry online features an impressive action-based combat system. The game uses the WASD control system for movement, with the LMB functioning as the primary attack and the RMB to orientate the camera. Skills, consumables and emotions are designated to hot-keys, 1-9, which can be fully customized to suit player’s preference. Further, the game can also be played using a controller, reinforcing its action-based combat system. Skills and the ability to uses them effectively are paramount in this game and the key to success.
Those familiar with my articles will know that I’m a big fan of action based gaming and if you ask me, is something clearly missing from the MMORPG market. That said, games attempting to implement such systems often disappoint, having failed, in one way or another, to capture the atmosphere of action-based combat. Wizardry, on the other hand, doesn’t disappoint; it’s fast, fun and actually requires some level of skill. Whilst it’s not perfect – not yet, anyway – Wizardry online is the only MMORPG I’ve played that even comes close to successfully implementing an action-based atmosphere and combat system in an open-world environment. In other words, it’s good, really good. Of course, I wouldn’t be praising this game so highly if all it had to offer was a shiny combat-system.