Atlantica Online - Preview

Arep | 2 August 2008 | Comments off

* Originally authored by DreamWyrm *

I recently got into the Atlantica closed beta and wanted to share some of the details about the game here for the TOG community.

In the old console RPG days turn based combat was the norm but it still left plenty of strategy for us to romance over. I can remember my epic battles and the sweet taste of victory when my units pulled off one well placed spell or ability after another. Nowadays we have active battle systems everywhere. What if I told you, in the rush of all these Free MMO’s these days, there was a somebody who decided that turn based combat is not dead? Well Atlantica is turning out to be just that game. Currently sitting in a closed beta, its a gem that has been hiding in the ocean of Free MMO’s being tested. So put your feet up and relax as I take you through some of the things I’ve seen in this new world called Atlantica.

Starting out
At this point the biggest agony will be choosing a classYou start by picking the class of your hero along with your looks and name. Its my hope that after the beta there are more options for the look of your character given there is really a small number of faces and hair colors to take advantage of. At this point the biggest agony will be choosing a class. Do you want to test your mettle on the front lines? Do you want to mock your foes from the back line as you pick off their support? Do you desire control of magic and the ability to spur your minions, err mercenaries, into a blood soaked rage as they decimate your opponents. Okay I decided on a Mage who enjoys giving his mercenaries a little shove, throwing hexes, and occasionally healing my mercenaries when they fail to impress me with an ability to dodge attacks. Your tastes may differ but there is a little for everyone from Swordsmen, Spear men, Gunners, Cannoneers, and Archers. Mercenaries are the other units in your party that grow, can upgrade their abilities, wear various equipment, and eventually upgrade to better grades of their given class. Each unit has its own strengths and weaknesses. For example a Spearman can attack a unit and the unit behind it. An Archer can attack units in any row regardless if there are units in front of them. Grab a Gunner and shoot through 3 enemies at once! A big trade off to these classes would be that their defense isn’t very high but the balance to the units is thought out very well and adds for some interesting depth in larger combat situations. The Viking combines the ability of being able to hit up to 3 enemies standing next to each other all at once with a a nice health dose of hp. There are many more types beyond these but sadly I’ve not had the pleasure of using them to smash my foes yet.

Then her friends proceeded to wail on my weakest armored characters in the back rowAs you roll into combat the similarities to some of the old RPG console come to light. There are Player and Enemy phases, each of which only units that have enough AP saved up can act. Various actions such as basic attacks, using magic, moving to a different formation position etc all cost you varying amounts of AP. During the player phase you have a timer at the top of the screen to issues commands and actions to the point that either the timer runs out or you run out of mercenaries that can act. To make things even more interesting some phases there are monsters that will be marked as with a bonus if they are killed that phase, giving the slayer a bonus in exp for the kill as well as possibly some extra loot. Combat can get very interesting when monsters use their own special abilities or spells on you, so keeping tabs on your mercenaries and reacting goes a long way to staying alive. In one encounter an evil Archer decided my Shaman healer needed to be silenced right at the start of battle. Then her friends proceeded to wail on my weakest armored characters in the back row. I had to have two of my warriors use spell scrolls while my hero mage struggled to keep the victims alive long enough for the scrolls to go off. Sadly my gunner fell under the relentless barrage and just when the archers turned their bows on me, the scrolls finally went off and I watched the charred remains of my foes drop to the ground while my hero sat stunned from being shot at too much.

Quests are handed out like many online games and the basic variety of fetch me items, kill certain number of creatures, and find items drops off your kills, can all appear. Some will even ask you questions to see if you have been paying attention to what has been going on. This caught me off guard at first but there are resources in game to look some of these things for those times when you get click happy to get back to your killing. There is PLENTY of information at a players fingertips within the game itself. So much so that I’ve gotten lost in my menus reading said information while resting for my next battle when I was short on potions.

Enchanting & Crafting
apparently it takes dead monster bodies to make potions these days...Crafting actually took me by surprise. With a little bit of patience you can actually turn that gear you have been using for a few levels into something that might rival what you’ll pick up when the next equipment tier is available. Crafting actually involves fighting battles to make your goods. Sorry to say crafters can’t live a life devoid a violence in town, apparently it takes dead monster bodies to make potions these days… Maybe this explains why potions taste so good going down when you need them most. The process is simple and thankfully after you’ve got the materials and decided how much to make, you get a small progress bar in the top corner letting you know how much longer you have left.

PvP is actually handled with an arena system. The server announces when the arenas will be opening and players have the opportunity to start fights inside the arena. The interesting thing is the players outside the arena are given the opportunity to bet on the combatants in the arena. I was pretty pitifully beat my first trip in by a guy with gear that looked much fancier and glowed different colors I didn’t know existed. We won’t even go down the road his units looked far cooler and he had mercenaries I knew I couldn’t add to my party yet. Of course I should have taken the clue when my Mentor messaged me and said he had bet on me losing and if I did win by some miracle I owed him 10,000 gold.

Mine decided to bribe me with a nice staff and answering a slew of questions each eveningGiven the depth to the characters, crafting, items, etc, it can be quite a bit for a new player to take in. Well consider the thought of a mentor. The mentor system gives a chance for you to attach yourself to someone who would like to see you progress into the game past your early adventuring career. Long as they support you to your liking through information and aid its a nice payoff. Mine decided to bribe me with a nice staff and answering a slew of questions each evening. The mentor on the other hand gets payback for this in the way of bonus points they can use to buy things as well as a cash bonus if you managed to survive to a high enough level. Obviously picking a mentor who is much higher level than you is a wise move because who else is going to be able to craft you a glowing doom staff to make your lower level friends envious? It reminds me a bit of the Asheron’s Call system where your experience would partially go to the person who was your patron adding incentive for them to keep you happy so you fed their exp bar.

Considering everything you can do its nice to see that the interface was thought out. Actions such as selecting characters are set to the number keys and you can even rearrange what members will be selected by what number if you so choose. One thing I like was in addition to how left click an enemy will use a basic attack for you character, but the fact that your magic and be set off with the right click on the target was great. Hot keys are also set to all the basic actions so in a crunch you can easily hit a key to force your character to move and already have your mouse ready over the area you want to send them. The only areas of the interface that have bothered me are the chat controls and the small character limit for sending messages. For now I’m assuming they are placing limits on the characters for testing purposes. There are also sections you can advertise your guild or, if you spend a little gold, you can post into a special field at the top of the screen that advertises to the other players. Most commonly I see people looking for trainers or offering training in certain crafts themselves.

for a closed beta the game I'm quite impressed with the general lack of major bugsThe overall graphics are pretty well done considering the fact that we are at the closed beta stage. Its done in a more normal style and not the more cartoony style World of Warcraft is known for right now. Particle effects in battle are flashy and distinctive for the abilities they are linked to. I haven’t noticed any major slowdowns yet and have been pleasantly surprised at the number of animations going on from all the units on the field in large battle situations with multiple groups at once. There are options for you to turn off other players being displayed in over crowded areas to spare your system wasting the resources if you so desire or need. In some dungeons I can certainly see a use because you are looking for creatures that aren’t in a battle with a player so its nice not to see the other 80 people around as you look. On top of all this I’d have to say the bugs I’ve run into are fairly minor so far and for a closed beta the game I’m quite impressed with the general lack of major bugs. I’ve alpha/beta tested a lot of games over the years and this has been a closed beta where I’ve been very impressed with the overall polish of the product before the open beta.

Overall Summary
If you have ever played the old RPG’s that had turn based combat and enjoyed the system, Atlantica has become the jewel you never thought you would see in the MMO world. While I’ve only offered you a brief taste of what awaits you, there really is only one way to satisfy the hunger that may be burning in you. Consider seeking a closed beta key yourself and plunge into this world, that or wait till the open beta comes. The link near here will take you to possible locations with their own rules for how you get keys in the closed beta so I wish you the best of luck and hope to see you trying this game out too.

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