Game Rant's Jason Weissman reviews War of the Immortals
Online developer, Perfect World Entertainment, is well-known for their large offering of free-to-play massively multiplayer online games.
The company's newest entry into the genre is War of the Immortals, an isometric camera MMO that is very similar to Perfect World's Battle of the Immortals. Does War of the Immortals stand out in the crowded MMO market? Read our review to find out.
Reviewing MMO titles can be a challenging experience, so I would like to first offer this small caveat. As experienced players know, these online persistent worlds often change over time and the strength of the community makes up a large portion of the experience. Developers will often rebalance class types, add new content, and streamline some of the processes. Therefore, what exists today could be quite different a year later. That being said, the main structure of the game will largely stay the same and it is this foundation upon which the review is based.
In a nutshell, War of the Immortals is an old-school MMO that somehow manages to be simple and complex at the same time. Upon logging in, players are presented with a character selection screen from which they may select one of eight class types that combine some intriguing power sets and offer names such as the Heretic, Slayer, Magus, and Duelist. Unfortunately, not much class-specific information can be gleaned from the descriptions, so players will be forced to rely upon their gaming intuition or to look up the information online. The character models themselves are quite detailed, showing-off intricate armors and weaponry, which would not be out of place in your favorite JRPG. However, other than gender selection, customizing the look of the avatar is extremely limited.
After creating a character, players will be thrust into the fictitious world of Motenia, a game environment that is heavily influenced by Norse, Greek, and Roman mythology and other famous legends. For example, the central narrative involves helping the leader of Atlantis, Prince Roan, defend the world from the invading forces of Loki. The game is divided into chapters and a handy journal chronicles the player's story in detail as he or she progresses in level. To its credit, War of the Immortals does attempt to provide a story, with occasional in-game cut scenes, to push players forward, but the presentation can be lacking at times. Reading speech bubbles in 2012 is not exactly cutting edge, and occasionally, the text isn't even properly formatted for the bubbles. This is hardly a deal breaker, though, as MMO's rarely feature a complicated narrative or movie-style presentation, Star Wars: The Old Republic notwithstanding.
As for the gameplay, experienced gamers will immediately notice many of the familiar trappings of the MMO genre presented from an overhead camera - rather than the typical behind-the-character view. The screen is incredibly busy with information, which may be rather intimidating for those who are new to MMOs. Making matters worse, very little game-specific information is presented to the player throughout the majority of the tutorial, which takes place through the first 40 character levels. Even those with experience could initially be at a loss as to some of the game's conventions. Fortunately, players quickly reach level 40 within the first hours of gameplay -- the level cap is 115 -- and War of the Immortals does a good job at explaining different aspects of the experience, starting at level 30.
Until that time, players are tasked with simple missions, such as kill X amount of monsters or speak with a certain NPC, in an extremely linear fashion. The journal keeps track of the current active quests and clicking keywords will cause the player's character to autorun to the related location, which is convenient for lazier players. The autorun feature may cause the character to run through a mob of monsters, but in the main game world, most of these creatures are not dangerous - unless attacked first. As a result, the grind through the tutorial can become almost a mindless affair, allowing the gamer to become accustomed to the mechanics and inventory systems. Casual players may not mind this, but this could turnoff the hardcore MMO player.
Around level 45, leveling slows down significantly and players are finally able to venture into the instanced missions, which feature a dungeon-crawling experience with numerous boss battles. Here, the enemies attack in a more appropriate fashion and the boss battles can subject players to conflicts where the screen is filled with monsters, creating a chaotic scene. While impressive to look at, the problem with many of these fights is that there is very little risk of death for even moderately skilled gamers. Even when entering the instanced dungeon on a higher difficulty, the confrontations are a fairly easy affair where players can primarily rely upon two attacks and the occasional heal or buff/debuff. Healing and Mana potions can be set for automatic use when a percentage threshold has been hit, making combat even more streamlined, and thus, repetitive. On the bright side, the creature variety is imaginative and diverse, so players won't be forced to fight the same few monsters over and over.
Better loot is available to players who complete the instanced missions, and for those who wish to engage in significant PVP battles, powerful gear is critical to success. Users can purchase unique and powerful items from the ZEN Marketplace if they want to take a shortcut. For about $10, players receive 1,000 ZEN dollars through Perfect World's interface. War of the Immortals also has its own auction house for those gamers who wish to barter their in-game gold.
When it comes to building a character's power sets, the player doesn't have a lot of options as the class skills are automatically granted upon leveling and players cannot choose which attributes, such as strength or intelligence, to increase until they reach level 20. Not having any branching skill trees is a bit of a bummer as there is very little to differentiate characters in the same class, other than gear. Each skill can be powered up at a vendor using gold and XP points, but it's a slow process unless the player purchases ZEN dollars. When facing monsters, skill upgrades are not really a necessity, but they are when facing real opponents.
War of the Immortals does offer a robust pet system where any monster has a chance of being captured and turned into a pet. This includes boss characters, which presents some interesting possibilities. Each pet's attributes may be leveled up like the character's and users may have a stable of four pets at one time. The pets are great for soloists and makes the trek across Motenia a lot less lonely. Mounts are also available for quicker travel, but they cannot be brought into the dungeons and are less useful overall.
Once users hit level 50, War of the Immortals offers an advanced PVP setup, as players can form guilds and guilds can make alliances in order to take over the 30 territories in Motenia. Holding and defending territories offers bonuses to the guild and this conflict is the main source of PVP. Within a guild, players can be given titles, establish and improve housing, and create crafting materials for the good of the guild. As the guild levels, its domain will become larger. For those who like to operate on their own, Motenia does have PVP zones so that you can attack fellow players, but finding those who want to do battle is a little bit of a challenge, depending on how busy a particular server is.
In addition to the above, War of the Immortals includes a crafting system, daily trivia contests that offer XP, and daily world events that offer some decent variety. Players can also get married for some extra bonuses and help out less powerful characters through a master/apprentice relationship. While these activities present some diversity in the day-to-day play, most users will still spend the majority of the their time grinding levels.
So, should you give War of the Immortals a chance? This MMO may not necessarily appeal to the hardcore, but despite some of the aforementioned complaints, I still managed to have a fun time playing with a buddy and those who I met online. War of the Immortals will likely appeal to people who enjoy games where relatively stress-free grinding and clan PVP is the main focus. Perfect World has not walled off any of the content for those who wish to play for free and players are not required to spend a dime to play, which is a definitely a plus over some other free-to-play models.
Other than the Clan/Alliance PVP battles, dedicated players may run out of things to do as there are reports of characters reaching the level 115 threshold in a two to three week span. Nonetheless, War of the Immortals can offer a fun, but short, diversion for those who aren't looking for a complicated gaming experience and at a price that can't be beat.
War of the Immortals is currently available for Windows PC.