Beta Impressions - Wakfu

Sunday, February 26, 2012 | 9

Innovative, but at what cost?

Okay, so I get that the primary focus of almost everything I've written up to this point paints genre innovation as a primary component of the success tapestry. That makes what I have to say next so very painful.

Sometimes innovative games should just never have been attempted.

There is nothing inherently wrong with trying to add a new spin on a tired cookie-cutter genre like theme-park MMORPGs, but I can't think of anyone who feels like MMORPGs should effectively play ten times slower than they already do.

When you take all of the goofy anime nerd-stroking from Ragnarok Online, and then replace the combat with a two-piece chess game, you come out with Dofus. When you decide to further exploit your niche audience of pocket-tacticians and make Dofus again for no reason, Wakfu is born.

Good plan! Just look at all the MMORPG sequels that outperformed the original... oh...

This is exactly the type of business savvy you'd expect to emerge from the Euro-Zone crisis. Wakfu was developed by a French studio that wishes it was Korean pretending to be Japanese. Before you start spinning up your French jokes, yes, there is surrender in Wakfu. That's it for the introduction. On to...

General Combat and Gameplay

If you've played any Dofus, the game plays very similarly, but it has been scaled up modestly with that Square-Enix budget. If you haven't played Dofus, the gameplay is click-to-move isometric when you're not in combat, and the combat mechanics resemble a strategy RPG like Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea.
WakfuDofus

Tactical turn-based RPG? How refreshing, right? Wrong.

I liked Tactics Ogre as much as the next guy, but a primary requirement to that type of game is the premise that you're controlling multiple units. A game of chess where you only have a knight would be pretty daunting. Because the game is turn based, the pacing suffers greatly. In the first 5 levels, fights can take up to a minute or more.

Get used to long fights because the max level is 100 and it only gets slower. The developers did mention, however, that they will expand the cap to 200 once they create more late-game content. GREAT!

Look and Feel

The general feel of Wakfu is very light and fluffy. I'd rate this a general improvement over the status quo in the MMORPG industry of either making a game in 30 shades of brown, or making colorful claymation cartoons.
The art design is cohesive and pleasant to experience, but the isometric perspective may put people off who don't remember the good old days when the Infinity Engine was king. Then again, if you don't like fake French anime, you probably will vomit out of your eye sockets upon visiting the website.

Tactical PVP with Tactics

The only time a player will ever have the opportunity to participate in anything that resembles tactical gameplay is when they're in a group, although you still negotiably have no control over tactical decisions because you're still one individual unit.

But you can kill players... If you want to... But you won't...

PVP is largely (if not completely) voluntary. If you attack people in your nation and break laws, you'll become an outlaw. Upon getting killed, you will be sent to prison where you can either work off your sentence or break out. Both options are equally a useless time sink.

You really attain no tangible benefit to offset the risk of PvP aside from some "outlaw" equipment which is comparable to any other equipment. This seems to be a consistent trend in MMORPGs where they add the means for you to compete against other players, but don't really offer any lucritive incentives for participating. We in the biz refer to that as "some carebear bullshit".

Time Wasters

Wakfu has time-wasters in spades. You can harvest items from various nodes and monsters, then turn them into equipment. This isn't exactly a new concept, and compared to the modern norm of trade-skills, it's really not half bad.
Carebears can dump hours of time into whacking stone with a pick, and if there is anything Carebears love more than whacking, I've never heard of it. Between all the farming, coin minting, and fishing, you'll hardly have any time to think about what a total loser you are. +1!

Final Thoughts

All in all, Wakfu is about what you'd expect when you hear, "Turn-Based Tactical French Anime MMORPG". It's not as bad as the Rifts of the world, and you can try it out for free... So try it.

It couldn't be as bad as The Old Republic.

9 comments :

  1. Going to try Wakfu. If you're wrong, I will melt you!

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  2. That whole french trying to be asian thing is funny.

    I tried checking out the anime it's based on. The first clip I came across was some gender-transformed pseudo-gay scene. It involved a potion of some sorts. Didn't pay much attention to the game after that.

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  3. Yeah, they're French... They pronounce PvP "Peh veh Peh".

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  4. I love fake French anime! So I'm grateful to the unknown players who soldier on to generate the cash for Ankama, who used that cash to make an anime that I could watch for free as they streamed every episode on their site. So awesome.

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  5. Ever since marvel translated and published SkyDoll i love fake french anime/manga style.

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  6. Dofus (play 1.5yr) was a fun game and I see similar good and awful in Wakfu (not played). What made me quit Dofus was how life sucking it was combined with terrible PVP imbalances. The grinds were staggering. Materials harvesting, lvling, killing same mobs for rare loot. Then I got a 2nd account to play 2nd char at the same time, then a 3rd for loot drops. I realised casual players with only 1 account were in the minority and I'd even known players with maxed 8 accounts (8 players max in a battle btw.) What was even worse was the PvP imbalances. With the best gear (which never breaks or drops) and no life you can become godly which is lame since skill should trump gear. Wakfu looks like it will be exactly as soul sucking as it's big brother.

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  7. I'm not sure why they made a Tactical RPG that you can't actually play tactically without 8 accounts.

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