What lies hidde... should be tried!
First I want to say that I unashamedly love this game. I am a fanboy. That, in this case, dosent make me unobjective or uncritical. I don't feel threatened by other people not liking it, and I don't feel the need to convert those that have played it and don't 'get it'.
This is being written for those that are 'should I, shouldnt I?'.
To be clear, I didnt start off loving SB. In fact, prelaunch I was jaded and somewhat upset by how Acclaim handled things and I thought the game would be a solo ez mode shell of a game. I was wrong. There. I'm a big boy, I can say it... I was wrong.
This game is the single best mmorpg experience that I have had since classic Everquest (99-02).
What Spellborn is; A co-op soclal play themepark mmo that is suprisingly 'hardcore' in it's features for the modern genre, but one that can be played casually. Note that I personally do not agree with the common view that 'casual' has to mean 'easy'. .
Spellborn graphics are going to be a problem for some people.
I mean, the game runs very well on lower end PCs, without losing the immersion or awe of the gameworld, but the art style is new to most and will jarr their sense of 'WTF am I lookin at?'
The game looks 'Fablesque', as has been said before by me and others, and is somewhat cartoony, but in a good way. Fable II being so popular will have prepared lot of people for the art direction in this game, and thats great, but there will be a lot of manga and WoW fans that expect a ame to look like something else. All I ask of these guys is to open your minds a little and look around.
Anything stylised and with it's own character will divide opinion. Not everyone will like it, and thats fine, but personally I love it.
To me, the game world is stunning, the mobs are scary, characters look cool, and the hoppys are cute.
There are so many things in this world graphically that make me stop and say 'brilliant'.
To me, so far, this is the weakest part of SB.
It's not that they are 'hard' or I want a quest objective pointer, I don't, but they are somewhat generic for the most part. A few to many 'Kill 10 X' and 'FedX' quests for my taste tbh. The only thing that keeps me going through these is the game lore and the well written NPCs who somehowm manage to make you care enough to go out and kill their 10 bears. Again.
Saying that, there are also a lot of fun, humorous and engaging questing out there, but more would always be good. Quest content is king in a 'themepark' mmo like this one. The rides have to be as good as the funpark is pretty.
The music is beautiful. atmospheric, understated, but epic. Ambient scoring at it's best.
CHARACTER CREATION/ DEVELOPMENT
Yes, you can look 'cool' from the very start. The variety of characters I have created using the set of tools provided is amazing.
The fact that you choose how your character looks at all times is great, and the character generation screens would be comparable to the rightly famous CoH if it had more options. It even beats that game for character design for me though because the look you set isnt static (as was CoH originally) and can be changed via gameplay.
I guess they want to leave some stuff in game for you to find
Oh, and too many ninja hoods!
Simply, once you are out of the 'freemium' zones, the best community so far in any game that I have played.
Friendly, helpful, funny. There are a lot of old school gamers around it seems, and the P2P membership seems pretty mature and together.
I guess it's because SB isnt even on a lot of the ubr guilds radar that it isnt getting the bad attittudes of most new mmo that they come into to abuse and dominate, and isnt the hip shiny new thing to attract the IP led kiddies, that SB has attracted the type of playerbase you would usually see in a game like Saga of Ryzom or similar.
This may change as the masses wake up to the game but lets hope the culture has now been set.
BUGS, STABILITY AND PERFORMANCE
These are a real, but fixable, set of problems right now.
A few of the quests are buggy and a few seem to be broken, and people are crashing a lot. Nothing gamebreaking, but it all needs fixing
I am hoping that they address the majority of issues in the patch coming today. It looks big enough to
I have faith in SiL to be aware and working to make things better, but for now it's all somewhat frustrating.
Original, engaging, well written.
It is obvious that SiL are all about the story and every quest NPC takes it into consideration.
I would happily read books and play a PnP RPG set in thsi world, and thats something I have never said about an original IP MMORPG before.
This is a strong group game, somewhat similar in feel to launch CoH in terms of combat. The system design choices seem to make sense and come very naturally once you have learned to let go what you thought you knew and retrained yourself to a better way.
No, you don't need a set roster of classes, so you can pick your friends based on who you like and not if they have Rezz , but every class brings unique and interesting abilities to a group. No 'holy trinity' can make grouping somehwhat chaotic and messy at times, but it also does mean that 'tanks' can swop roles constantly to keep the action flowing. Overall, the combat is interesting, fun, and challenging.
Crafting is a system of collecting recipies and ingredients and combining at a forge to create. There arnt any craft skills, anyone can have anything made by the smith if they have the components.
I personally love it. No x3656578 hours collecting mats, no grinding x1000 arrows to level, no byzantine rules set.
For full time crafters though, this prolly isnt the game for you, but for everyone else it's great.
They DO need to give us banks and shared guild banks though. The new Market Place will also be a massive help and allow us to all start trading mats to get what we need. I normally hate AHs tbh, but SB is definitly, with it's 100s of resources and waste items, a game that requires it.
The game also needs item linking.
DIFFICULTY (somewhat of a repost due to the fact I will be exporting this review to a few sites)
Spellborn is a wolf in sheep's clothing. It really isnt what it pretends to be on first glance.
For a game that is all dressed up on the surface as casual ez mode solo lite, it really has some what most of the current gen of WoWified mmorpg gamers would consider 'hardcore' elements, and I love it for that!
Death penalty? Check! Losing PeP hurts as a death penalty way more then any system in any game I have played since EQ (99-02). It is the best reason to not die I have seen in a long long time, especially considering how slowly it builds. It brings perfect levels of fear and tension to the game. Brilliant.
Slow-medium levelling? Check! The levelling rate is perfect and spits in the face of the current trends of instant gratification. It dosent throw me up through the zones at a retarded speed before my quests have been done and it allows me to see the environment and 'bond' with a zone and it's NPCs before I move on.
Skill based combat? Check! Sure, you can spam, but the holy grail of 'easy to learn, hard to master' has been found here. Learning to play is just gonna get more and more imprtant as you level. No letting the character do the fighting for you here.
PvP zones that have unique rewards, if you can survive to get 'em? Check! If you want the best, you have to fight for the best. Shard conquest? Can't wait.
Grouping and co-op play required? Check! Though it looks like a solo quest grinder, SB isnt. It requires co-operation and social interaction to get the best out of. Thank God.
No arrows pointing to quest objectives? Check! Though the concession has been made to mark quests and updates on the map, which I woudlnt have done myself, there are no arrows or glowing trails here. You have to actually look around, reads the quest text, and look at npc names. In short, learn the zone. It's a perfect mix of GPS map support and player driven exploration. You think that quest text is vague? Ask the community if they know! This is how communities are built, by cooperation, communication, and mutual aid. Well done.
High aggro range tough mobs? Check! This game makes you consider the environment all the time before you start to fight that mob. It demands thought, add control, and awareness of roamers. You thought you could fight in the middle of that spawn ground? Death. Single mobs are properly difficult, multiples are deadly. See 'grouping' above.
Trains? Check!! Think you just have to handle your own situation? Think again. make sure you are also aware of who is fighting around you and how they are doing. Situational awareness is essential. A train can ruin your day. EQ would be proud of some of the trains I have seen.
Underneath it's friendly exterior, this is a skillful and challanging game, yet remains accessible to those willing to learn to play.
One day, I will give you my views on why SB is more hardcore then Darkfall
Spellborn is a triumph and the love put into making it seeps out of every pore.
It is a game made by gamers for gamers.
If you get this far, well done btw, and decide to pay to play, give me a shout in game and ask any questions. I play as Iceberg, Opium, and Vesavius with the guild Radiance on the PvE server.