Wizardry Online Review

Wizardry Online is jagged around the edges, but manages to pull off a few interesting tricks.

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Developer Gamepot's latest online venture doesn't sport the refinement of World of Warcraft, the large community of Guild Wars, or the political intrigue of EVE Online. In fact, to look at Wizardry Online, you may be fooled into thinking you've somehow tumbled backward in time to the late '90s, where the low-quality artwork and textures might have been more appropriate. The game has no trouble rehashing tired tropes for its own gain. But for all that it does wrong, it boasts a particular brand of scrappiness that keeps you plugging away, even when the danger of permadeath looms large.

You too can be an adorable tiny thief.

Wizardry Online is an austere fairy tale that falls somewhere between the healthy rigors of Final Fantasy XI and the masochism of Dark Souls. This dark fantasy doesn't stray far from the trappings associated with standard MMO design, but some interesting decisions keep it afloat, and there's no admission price to hinder you from fulfilling your curiosity. Unfortunately, none of this is evident in the initial hours. Perhaps that's why it seems that the aim of Wizardry Online, in keeping with the dungeon-crawling lore of the original Wizardry series, is to give you as challenging an experience as possible while still baiting you to continue.

After installation and several updates, the client greets you with some cinematic, Final Fantasy-esque fanfare. You're deposited into a seemingly never-ending online abyss after clicking "start." Once an arbitrary amount of time has passed, sometimes up to 15 minutes or more, you may be allowed onto the server. Using Alt + Tab to multitask while waiting to join a server isn't an option; you simply wait for the privilege of connecting. It's a rotten setup, especially when trying to join during what you would assume are the peak hours for play. It's also extremely frustrating to weather unpredictable wait times only to be booted from the server multiple times in one session, or to endure its lengthy load times, which Wizardry Online struggles with far too often.

A series of shoddy menus and options are waiting once you've made it server-side, and they're riddled with uninteresting color palettes and character models that do little to entice you. In fact, the game as a whole is devoid of any appealing graphics. After you're subjected to meandering lore and walls of text, it's time to assign a class. You choose from five different races: humans, dwarves, elves, gnomes, and the Tarutaru-like Porkul. The character creation screen shows off unusual character designs, such as the most feminine gnomes you'll ever see in your life and strangely unappealing elves; it's almost as if these races' established qualities swapped places.

After choosing an avatar and settling on a race, you need to select a class and alignment, although there isn't much choice to be had here. Alignments are nothing more than one additional stat to track and mean little in the grand scheme of things, so your class ultimately decides your fate. Gnomes fit the priest role, dwarves lead the charge as warriors, elves are powerful mages, and the Porkul are sneaky pickpockets. Humans are as vanilla as can be. A roll of the dice completes the package for your character's stats and can grant bonuses to races that happen to be awful at adapting to particular classes--say, a Porkul as a warrior. If you're just starting out, you can take chances when it comes to rerolling new characters, but seasoned veterans will want to carefully pick and choose, picking the best class for the race suited for the job. Still, it's unfortunate that races represent little more than aesthetic value; each character looks and plays practically the same.

Grinding quickly becomes your lifeblood in-game.

Once you're free to roam the world, you will want to find companions: this is a game you don't flourish in when flying solo. The in-game group finder goes a long way to ensure that you can always find a few fellow adventurers to complete the traditional tank-DPS-healer trifecta, which becomes invaluable when scouring the various dungeons. Quests and other tasks are assigned via hub worlds, and most of the action takes place deep in the heart of sewers and labyrinthine tunnels rife with puzzles. Considering you're spending time within smaller cramped spaces populated with high-level players, you're going to want someone watching your back at all times, and traveling alone is a great way to meet your permanent end much faster.

Combat is where you end up ferreting out the fun, which is often overshadowed by the messy UI and more brown graphics than a desert-themed first-person shooter. Active attack and defense moves are natural and much more kinetic than those of traditional MMO hotkey combat. Though each character class feels the same whether you're using magic or brute strength to conquer your enemies, having to exercise a bit of skill to land a hit on a rare enemy provides an extra level of immersion. You feel as though you have control to exert over this persistent world, and that's what ends up elevating this oft-confusing endeavor to a status beyond meager. As long as you can successfully sustain your health and mana (which do not regenerate), you're on your way to looting other players' corpses instead of littering each pathway with your hours of earned items and gold.

Leveling up is done in an unusual manner. There's no sudden "ding" while traveling; to level up, you must visit a fountain or an inn. Paying off an innkeeper determines your stat increases and decreases (yes, you can lose points when leveling up), and it's here that you ultimately decide your future as a hero. Weapons need repair, skill points are distributed here, and casual players are sorted from the hardcore.

No one told the little girls to stay away from monster-filled dungeons.

Then there's the constant threat of losing your life. Sound extreme? It's the driving force behind Wizardry Online and what keeps it interesting--or terrifying, depending on your viewpoint. Once you create a character, you're in danger of losing him or her forever. The possibility of losing a hero you've spent dozens of hours with is chilling, especially for players whose characters are composed of hard work and dedication.

Fortunately, there are several mechanisms in place to ensure that your first death is never your last. If you're venturing through the world as a newbie and you've fallen in battle, after death, you're immediately transported to the spirit realm, in which enemies are still free to roam and ravage you. You must wander around, defenseless, until you can reach the nearest shrine, where you can attempt to revive yourself. When you happen upon a special dark angel statue, there's a percentage that indicates your chances of being resurrected. If you die additional times, this percentage shrinks, until your only hope is to shell out Sony Station Cash (read: real money) or items from your inventory to tip the odds in your favor.

Sometimes, you can afford neither the real-world money nor the expendable items to be used as "life material." Unless your revival percentage is 100 percent, there's never a guarantee you'll see your character again. You can throw away cash and items for a simple chance at bringing your character back to life, but there is still no absolute guarantee of resurrection. While the cash shop is unobtrusive for the most part, asking players to pay for a revival that isn't even guaranteed is rather slimy. While you're never required to spend money to do so, if you develop any kind of attachment to your character, you will scramble to do anything necessary to recover so much lost work. Should you fail to resurrect your character, all experience, cash, and gear are sent off to float in the ether. And that's it. You're left to start from scratch.

Luckily, there are ways to ensure you're not forced to trudge through corpse runs and begrudgingly level from the beginning over and over again. In fact, your progress through the story and actual account progression are stored in your "soul," which is like a unique player ID that also unlocks a shared storage system to ensure that no matter how many times you die, eventually character creation and leveling become simpler.

There are no engrossing cut scenes here beyond the beginning of the game.

If permadeath isn't enough to scare you away, free-for-all PVP runs rampant here. It's not unusual to find a bounty on a particular player's head or find yourself the target of a jilted newbie's bloodlust. While there's the potential to fall victim to a frustrating gankfest (which you will, more than once), the offending players also run the risk of losing their characters.

The aspect of luck ties many of Wizardry Online's many random threads together: being lucky enough to find a group willing to work together, keeping your character alive, and staying afloat long enough to see the moments where it truly shines. Unfortunately, most of the time it's a lumbering beast of a game with interesting ideas cloaked behind layers of frustration that only dedicated players will surpass. It's the throwback to old-school role-playing that so many players clamor for, but Wizardry Online has more work to do if it hopes to swoop in and "save" players from games that have the gall to suffer from simplicity and user-friendliness.

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The Good
Combat is varied and interesting
Permadeath ups the ante
Group finder makes traveling with others much simpler
The Bad
Horrible graphics and textures
Lore is explained by one cutscene and walls of text
Clumsy user interface
Connection issues
5.5
Mediocre
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Discussion

48 comments
KainsY
KainsY

Some players should stop blaming SOE for everything. They have some active community managers who do their jobs and listen to the players. The root of the problem is the game mechanic and coding handled by the Japanese developer "Gamepot". Granted, SOE could do better when it comes to advertising this game, however they could not modify the game that much as just a mere publisher.

This game is just pretty poor in every aspect. SOE are getting their reputation tarnished by publishing it. The population currently is still dangerously low and I feel silly to have invested hundreds of dollars in it; lesson learned.

digitalbeachbum
digitalbeachbum

I started playing Wizardry in 1982. A group of friends from high school were friends with an older graduate who programmed the original first three games. I was given a character called Mega who was a child in age but had maxed out stats, could cast every spell and wear any armor or use any weapons. It was fun because we would just cast TILTOWAIT at every encounter.

Needless to say, I logged in this morning for the first time on this "Wizardry Online" and ran around for about 30 seconds then uninstalled the game. I wasn't about to let my found memories of the original game be tarnished.

msolo0323
msolo0323

its too bad the company lies to its players.. stating that there is a 1% chance to roll a 70 for the bonus points, however.. if you take the time to roll, you may get a high number about every 3 days or so.. which is not 1%! dont tell them that though, as they will tell you nothing is wrong and go about their business. tis a sad day for SOE players when they stop listening to you, the ones who pay their paychecks

diaskeaus
diaskeaus

I saw an ad for this yesterday and got really excited about the permadeath feature.  But then after some research, I realized:

1) You can have a paying membership (which costs the same as a typical WoW membership) but that membership really just gives you a couple of things that you don't have to buy, like an extra bag, protection from thieves, and some in-game discounts on items you sell and buy from vendors.  But just because you have a "Royal Membership" doesn't mean you are not going to need to spend money at the store.  You will, most likely.

2) The Royal Membership allows you to give stat upgrades to people you group up with.  The more Royal Members who are part of the same party, the more upgrades everyone gets (stackable upgrades).  Which means if you aren't a Royal Member, it would make logical sense you would have trouble finding a group to party with.

3) You can prevent people from stealing your items by purchasing an item in the store.  Which means if I take the time to carefully plan out an attack to get someone's gear, then find out they have purchased an item preventing me anyway.  Lol.

4) There are a number of questions the main site FAQ doesn't answer - like are potions the only way to recover your HP while you are fighting?  (You have to purchase potions with cash.)  And there is some kind of sacrifice system you have to participate in if you don't want permadeath.  (Does this require buying items at the Shop?)

Hopefully with updates, they will get with the program.

txnomad
txnomad

Not worthy of the "Wizardry" name.  Doubtful I'll try any new RPG games until Richard Garriott's new game ships.

stevo367
stevo367

It's hard for me to get into a "Wizardry" game that is nothing like its classic predecessors and really resembles a bad to average, first person dungeon crawler.  Classic Wizardry was the bees knees when graphics were irrelevant anyway. 

This is just a travesty with a name from the past slapped on it.  I would love to see the series redone in a way that honors the past and doesn't make a mockery of what was once a great game.

theblackfrog
theblackfrog

had a nice sunday with this game and a new buddy...we played 6-8 hours, its a very interesting hardcore game....graphic is okish for a free game have seen worse. for a new start it worked well. of course its oldskool so u dont have fancy things in it

hellangel_boy
hellangel_boy

This game had the idea, but the execution wasn't that good. When you read about it you think "WOW, this is a great idea" but when you play, it you don't feel the immersion of the words you read about it. The launching also was bad and had many problems that they had to give the players free item-shop items.

Sixmoons
Sixmoons

It's a horrible and clunky game and not pretty to look at either. I played it on Steam. I tried it out as I'm a big fan of the old skool Wizardry series and also MMORPGs in general. The game starts with some tedious fetch type quests as a tutorial, then the first real mission is a  non-descript dungeon. The dungeon is reasonably difficult and it doesn't take long before you are prompted to start handing over real money to buy potions and save your soul etc.  Compared to other games available in this genre, this game is a joke. Uninstalled and deleted forever after a generous 10 hours or so of play.

Vuud
Vuud

So sad and sickening to see what the Japenese have done to the once venerable Wizardry series.

Fursnake
Fursnake

I can't decide which look more disgustingly cute: Porkul or Popori.

DarkRikuShadow
DarkRikuShadow

Ive tried the game its ok I cant really get into it

edinko
edinko

This as a generic MMO with the wizardy name but doesnt look and doesnt feel like wizardry at all. Another famous name exploitation. Of course with a F2P money rip off scheme on top of it

kelborn3
kelborn3

The only thing to actually worth a damn in this game is if u ever manage to stay alive after the first few months you will get real pleasure killing all the noobies!!!! I can only imagine the countless hordes of old survivors ganging up on newcomers. Haha epic rage threads will unfold  and endless tears will be shed xd

Ledah
Ledah

I agree completely, the art design was very poor and it's just not appealing at all.

kachal
kachal

I bet Brittany Vincent is reading comments here , so I just wanted to say hello Brittany ! I hope you'll someday review better Role-Playing games like Dark Souls . 


hippiesanta
hippiesanta

PC games getting bad review recently

CWZaft
CWZaft

On the bright side, at least it isn't another WoW clone. That's a step in the right direction, right?

Mr_BillGates
Mr_BillGates

All MMO should get the same score. Generic to the bone.

rasputin177
rasputin177

So, can you be killed by another player at any time?

If you die what are the chances you will lose your character?

How easy is it to all of a sudden die? Can you stay alive if your careful?

Thats what I need to know before I think about getting into it. I do like permadeath and the attachment it creates with your character.

faithxvoid666
faithxvoid666

Gamespot was generous giving this piece of shovelware a 5.5.  It seriously looks like something that should have been released(and failed) 10 years ago.  When i play an MMO, I want to be challenged by the game- not the clunky, unintuitive UI that makes FFXI's look good.  Horrible community, horrible gameplay, horrible graphics, and the worst UI ever.  If people wanted to play a terrible MMO with an even worse community then Darkfall wouldn't have bombed.

Wrathesoul
Wrathesoul

The graphics are meant to be that way 90% of the time you are in sewers what does this reviewer want all flowers and candy.? I agree the connection can be a paid rarely but not that much as are most mmo. Lowering a review score just because a game chooses to use cutscenes and text ..really?? kinda grasping at straws it seems. I been playing this from closed beta its great fun and hard.

brunorr
brunorr

The good news is the industry is looking at niche markets instead of releasing another WoW clone every year.

Colo118
Colo118

After hearing it was as crushing as Dark Souls, i was severely disapointed by it. The combat system is very dull and  the graphic are very subpar. Plus the dungeons design is beyond awful. Not to mention the horrible text dialogue.

naetas
naetas

@diaskeaus Let me answer your inquiries as I am addicted to this game!

1) Your membership description is correct! And yes, as a matter of fact, becoming a member will not save you from buying items with Real Cash, like those "mandatory" forge guards if you're into improving your gear, or the really useful Dimento Medals. (While membership doesn't give you free access to the shop, it does give you discounts on Very Good Items, such as Dimento Medals)

2) Correct! Membership will give you stats and XP bonuses the more members are in the party. Though it might sounds like people will not party with you if you're  not a member, the reality is different! There are many unions (i.e. Guilds) in the game, and most union will not require players to be a member. In 300 hours of gameplay, i have never encountered people LFG with membership only (i know because i became a member 2 weeks ago).

3) Yes and no! Membership will prevent your EQUIPPED gear from being stolen! Your Alt weapons will not be protected and accessories, equipped or not, will never be protected. 

4) Potions, with the exception of the lower-tier ones, cost real cash! But really, they are not worth your precious savings, trust me! They're not even that good and if you ask me, it's a simple waste of money to purchase those because there is much better stuff with game currency that has the same purpose, but differently (i.e. camps). Camps will heal your HP&MP and one can be used for the whole party. As for sacrificing stuff against permadeath, I never had to spend a dime for it! Some medals with the only purpose to raise your revival percentage can be obtained with repeatable quests or in-game currency. I do know though that you can always spend Real Money to raise your chances, but i know no one who actually did so!


Hopes these answer your questions!


hitomo
hitomo

@Vuud its their revange for the fukked up DMC reboot ^^

Zloth2
Zloth2

@edinko Actually, it might very well fit the CURRENT Wizardry series.  There have been quite a few new games since 8.  Unfortunately, they aren't even remotely true to the original series.

I was hoping they might release the early Wizardry series on GoG or something to try and generate some hype for the MMO but no such luck.

Cophros
Cophros

@kelborn3 Haha! Ill bet your step-daddy beats ur red headed asz daily doesnt he? or maybe ur sister slaps the sh*t out of you? lolol YOU and dips*ts like you, are who I HUNT FOR when i go into this game .. come see how it feels to be duped into thinking im a newbie .. then go cry RL tears knowing 1st, i suckered you in and 2nd ... you were beaten badly by a girl ... cmon tuffguy ... i URGE your demise. 

dutchgamer83
dutchgamer83

@hippiesanta And your point is? A bad game is a bad game, be it on the console or pc. It's not the device its fault that there are terrible game designers out there. Console gets a shitload of crappy games too. So what is your point?

DigitalDame
DigitalDame moderator moderatorstaff

@CWZaft Indeed, I felt that this game was different than most other online experiences. Especially since there is not instant satisfaction like in most MMO's currently. 

dutchgamer83
dutchgamer83

@Mr_BillGates Just like all shooters, normal rpg's, sport games and just about any game that came out for last 5 years? Really, its not just the MMORPG genre, all genre's are generic. All the same millitairy shooters with the same story, sport games that come out every damn year again and again with minor to no improvements or new stuff added, race games that get milked dry on what ever is hot at that moment be it police chases or illigal street races, etc. etc.

DigitalDame
DigitalDame moderator moderatorstaff

@rasputin177

First you asked: "Can you be killed by another player at any time?"

Answer: Once you hit Soul Rank 2 you can.

Then so you asked "If you die what are the chances you will lose your character? "

A: Eh the chances of losing your character are almost nonexistent you practically have to be trying to lose it. But the current content goes to about level 25 so like halfway to max level so far. It's actually fairly hard to kill someone unless you are a mage. Basically run around and they can't hit you. If they are far higher in level than you and have much better weapons than your armor they can take you out pretty fast if they get to you. But there is still a pretty good chance you can get away.

You also asked "How easy is it to all of a sudden die? Can you stay alive if your careful?"

So for example, If a mage with high magic attacks you from range you might not even see it until you are dead though. I can close to 1 shot a lot of people with my fireball spell. Or at least very nearly kill them (I'm not focused in Fire though I use a lot of elements as a control mage mostly.)

Hope that helped :) 

Cophros
Cophros

@Wrathesoul Yikes!! seems he hit a nerve with you eh? .. cmon tardface .. this "game"is a piece of sh*t .. wrapped in an uninteresting sh*t sandwich wrapper .. which, btw, seems from your response, that you took a HUGE bite out of? lololol wah wah wah ... too funny ... i do belivey ou've been playing it a long time too. ooo goodie .. and its hard too .. yay fun fun .. Ive played some mmo's that are truly hard .. this isnt hard ... its irritating .. the way a fly buzzing around that turd sandwich ur eating is annoying .. SKIP this one people .. its freaking terrible... no matter what morons like this idiot say. 

Kevin-V
Kevin-V moderator staff

@Wrathesoul Dude--this game is not attractive. Decrepit, ruinous environments can look fantastic in various games. In Wizardry Online, they don't. The art design is not good. If you want to see how bleak environments can look fantastic in games, I can point you to all sorts of examples. (Shall we start with Dark Souls?) And this game is busted online. Two months after release and there are no more excuses. 

MMOGs often deepen their lore and tell great stories within character interactions and quest designs; this one doesn't. Again, I can point you to all sorts of examples. In fact, most modern MMOs serve as examples of how lore can be effectively communicated. 

kelborn3
kelborn3

@Synthia @kelborn3 Haha either try Arcament or kelborn3. Afterwards u need to tell me yours so i can do a little soul searching myself :P

hellangel_boy
hellangel_boy

@Synthia @CWZaft Do you know a game called Pandora Saga? by Atlus Online. That game was also unique and I really liked it, it was also polished, but it was too short and a certain Pay-to-Win. It's idea was close to this game, and had some nice PVP and classes.

Cophros
Cophros

@Synthia @rasputin177 Syn, You seem so intelligent .. came here to read the reviews and already know this is a huge waste of time... but curious ... why are u still playing? ... honestly there are no games out there that could hold your interest? .. this seems quite a bit beneath you. gl and Happy Hunting.

DigitalDame
DigitalDame moderator moderatorstaff

@kelborn3 I tend not to try to think long term with MMO's these days. So much to play with so little time. I vowed after my EQ and WoW days that if I started to feel an online experience was growing stale I would simply sunset the subscription. 

kelborn3
kelborn3

@Synthia @kelborn3 This is one of those times when i feel sad knowing that i could have made a girl chasing me trying to kill me with fireballs or just happily partying with me to destroy hordes of new players. Oh well, time to kill some more peeps to make teh pain go away...

Seriously though, is it just me or do u think that after  5-6 months the game will be completely empty due to the fact of old players ganging up on newbies. How in the world the game studio will make up for the tons of quitters if it wants to produce any real income?

DigitalDame
DigitalDame moderator moderatorstaff

@kelborn3 Ah, guess your not on the US servers. Shame 

Wizardry Online More Info

  • Released
    • PC
    Wizardry Online is a free-to-play massively multiplayer game where the difficulty is insane, the dungeons are brutal, there is no auto-healing, crimes taint your soul, allies can betray you at any moment, and when you die, you die forever.
    3.8
    Average User RatingOut of 43 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Wizardry Online
    Developed by:
    Gamepot
    Published by:
    Sony Online Entertainment, Gamepot, E-Frontier
    Genres:
    MMO, Role-Playing
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood, Language, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Violence