Age of Wushu Review... shu

Monday, December 24, 2012 | 29


Age of Wushu is exactly what it says it is.

If the "Crouching Tiger" vibe doesn't throw you off, it's actually one of the most unique and interesting MMORPGs I've ever experienced. With no levels, and an organic martial-arts development system, it seems that China really is better at everything except making people look different from each other. Does that sound racist? Meet "Stereotype", my scholarly warrior of the orient.

First Impressions:

Immediately after the Jet Li splash screen, you're met with the character creation screen. Everyone I played with said that they changed their sex right off the bat assuming that the default male was in fact a female. He isn't. He's just Chinese. Once you've fiddled with an alarmingly complex and satisfying facial morphing tool and give yourself a name, you're all set to play. The graphics accomplish exactly what they're trying to, and the game plays very smoothly.

Once you actually start playing the game, you'll find that it's extremely difficult to get a handle on what exactly it is that you're supposed to "do", or why. This is partially due to strange translations, and partially because it's -NOT- a World of Warcraft clone. Grinding mobs doesn't really help you, and you have to allot which skills you improve over time. I've heard it equated to EvE Online in feudal China, and I don't disagree with this analogy. The big difference between Age of Wushu and EvE Online is that you spend much less time doing absolutely nothing in Age of Wushu.

Once you get your bearings, you'll choose one of the 8 available martial schools, and that will determine much of your initial combat effectiveness. Certain schools, such as beggar or Scholar, require prerequisite "life skills" or trade-skills to join, but for the most part it is a soft class system. The reason I say soft is because you can steal abilities by spying on other schools. Sound cool? It fucking is.

Become a Crouching Hero Drunken Hidden Dragon Master

I think that possibly the best aspect of this game is that they stay true to the fantasy China setting and build from there instead of the typical "start from WoW" method. This results in abilities to run up walls, fly, sprint across water, and lots of other crazy shit that you've seen Chow Yun Fat do. Your ability to fight is based on how you synergize the abilities you have, and the game doesn't hold your hand in this respect -AT ALL-. You will make bad decisions, and I think that's awesome.

Real Gangsta Ass ****** Don't Sleep

When you log out of AoW, your character performs tasks based, I believe, on your life skills and location. When you haven't played for a while, you'll log in to what your character has been doing while you were away, and typically you'll get some cash, experience, or a recovery bonus. I'll update this review when I figure out exactly how that works, but this game is fucking confusing.

Open PvP

Prepare to get your ass kicked because Age of Wushu isn't for the faint of heart. You will be attacked in towns, in the wilderness, and even when you're logged out you remain in the world open to being kidnapped by players. There aren't really any tangible consequences to losing fights in the open, but if you player kill and get captured by a player bounyt-hunter, you'll get thrown in jail until you've cooled off.

Don't worry, you can break out.

Controlled PvP (UPDATE)

One of the most interesting PvP features in Age of Wushu is actually instanced. When players are running high level dungeons, the game randomly polls players to join the instance as enemies. That means that you have the opportunity to wreck someone's dungeon crawl, and they must conversely be able to fight players to PvE. Something about this concept tickles me to no end.

Trade Skills (Life Skills)

There are really a metric fuck-ton of Life Skills available, from Music to Painting, and from Begging to Mining you'll have your hands full if you enjoy craft. Some of the skills, like Music, provide group buffs if you're good at the guitar-hero type mini-game that's required to play ballads on your Qin.

Most of the best items in the game are crafted, but rest assured that most people don't have the heart to devote the time required to become a master of their craft. It's got what can only be described as a "China-Level" grind.

The Mini-Games

There are tons of copyright-infringing mini-games in AoW, spanning from a Bejewled knock off mining game to Guitar Hero and beyond. Even group training sessions reek of other things you've done before. Some of these are a welcome change of pace while you're meditating on skills or just killing time, but they're not really my cup of tea.

Breakdown:

  • (7) Successfully Chinese Looking
  • (6) Quirky and Unique
  • (9) Charmingly Confusing
  • (10) Nope
  • (8) Open or Voluntary Faction
  • (3) Risk on Attack-Side
  • (-1,000,000) Still Laughing About This One

Final Score: PROTIP: China Isn't Japan

BONUS VIDEO!

I found one thing that was probably funnier to me than it will be to you, but I recorded it and put it on my new YouTube channel. Enjoy.

You can sign up for Age of Wushu while it's in Beta at http://www.ageofwushu.com

29 comments :

  1. They should just make a Foxconn - Apple assembly line employee MMORPG in which the player grinds through a 20 hours per day real time leveling system. And then "raids" for more basic human rights and salaries against the epic "bosses".

    The Old Jade Empire Bioware? No thanks.

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  2. That sounds like an awful game. I'm sure EA will pick it up.

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  3. Ultima Online scores: -970
    Age of Wushu: -957

    Age of Wushu now the highest scored sandbox on the site!!!!! Still not sure this is a sandbox but fuck it....let's call it one until we figure the shit out.

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  4. Not sure what kind of staying power it has, but I got 10 hours out of it.

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  5. OMFG!! You have a youtube channel!? Yeah, I subbed it :(

    As for AoW I guess i'll have to let this one pass, I am still being a dick in DayZ. How is that for punishing one's self?

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  6. Oh and belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year Mig!

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  7. Thanks Pen. Lets hope 2013 isnt the year that devs start having good ideas. That would make my job much harder.

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  8. I think you are safe Mig. If they ever do have a good idea the suits will shit on it for mass appeal.

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  9. It definitely isn't the single-player / cooperative onlince whack-a-mole, chuck e-cheese's game that SW:TOR, WoW, Rift or GW2 is....better.

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  10. How come this sandbox forces you though incredibly boring and overdramatic linear quests, with terribly done cut scenes to boot?

    Isnt that...you know...not a sanbox?

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  11. You're absolutely right. The first 2 hours of the game are quite possibly the most horrible thing ever. Wushu isn't really a sandbox, but beyond those two hours you have a LOT of freedom on how you choose to level.

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  12. Yep, I did try this game after reading your review but I was horrendously bored in the first hour or two of playing and uninstalled.

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  13. I started playing this game just to try it out since I've been looking for something more that WoW after 6 years playing couldn t give me, Rift couldnt either, DCUO neither, Guild wars 2 and SWTOR neither. I was VERY skeptical about Age of Wushu because I saw some videos on gamespot and thought it was crap. The first impressions weren t the best either because I was suffering from high latency which afected combat and nothing else, fortunely I managed to fix that with WTFast. I m from europe, playing in a US server doesn t help the latency.

    Boy was I wrong. Even my eyes fooled me into thinking this was a bad looking game, it's not,looks great and i m graphics whore. But graphics don t mean a thing in a game this massive.

    First of all no amount of wall of text in a comment can tell you about all the features of the game. THIS GAME HAS DEPTH,lots of it. The sandbox type, where you lose yourself in the world and random stuff happens all the time. If you enter the game without having a clue you'll just lose yourself wondering "What now? I got nothing to do", that's because the game is very complex and although there are tutorials everywhere in-game, you really need a guide for this one. Guides! Lots of them! It's a LOT to wrap your head around but it's worth it, believe me. Anyway the game is free so if you want to be a whiner and uninstall it after 1 or 2 hours go ahead, your loss. I actually thought the same myself but then said what the hell, gave them 20 bucks to have full beta access and gave it a real shot AFTER reading A LOT about the game and asking a lot of questions to everyone i could meet.

    The more I played the more I wanted to play and 4 days later I m totally sucked into it. I actually notice my Kung Fu become stronger lol. The last time a game sucked me in like this was when I started playing vanilla WoW and later on formed a guild in it. Why? Because it's a NEW experience, in a HUUUUGE world that on the contrary of most current MMO's, it feels ALIVE and this time the gamers community in the game makes ALL the difference, they affect everything in the game. They are not puppets that go where the game wants them to. They make the game.

    I have had some pretty epic moments in WoW specially in high end raiding content, also in SWTOR(pvp) and guild wars 2 but this game... is just crazy epic. Mainly because it's centered around world pvp, something I love. Even PVE has pvp lol it's insane! Gameplay seems awkward at the start but then it really grows on you as you evolve, become stronger, learn when to block attacks and when not to. When to keep your distance and when to close the gap. When and how to use your environment to your advantage. You have lots of mobility that you will be unlocking, USE IT!

    Dont like combat? Become a master crasftman, gain prestige with your craft, become the best , players actually depend on crafters in this game. Your character HAS to eat so even Cooks (Chefs) are important, they also improve weapons by sharpening them so, extra important. All crafts are connected so you really need each other, all the best items come from crafting too so, get to work. Player interaction in this game is more needed than in any other I've played so far.

    I wrote a bunch of stuff, didn t fit so i ll stop here. Play the game, learn its features, if you don't like this you don t like neither MMO's or sandbox games. This game is pure quality

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  14. wait,2nd comment,doh, i ll put it here.
    Schools (player classes) are organizations that need a leader and officers, you can become it. Win your school Martial Arts tournament and become your school master. They organize attacks,and defend against invaders (lots of them, all the time but hordes during events), have a private chat just for your school. Spy on other schools, steal their scrolls and learn their secrets. Learn their abilities later on and switch fighting styles during combat,weapons and abilities to adapt to your opponent. There are no player levels, not officially but there are school technique levels and from them, ability levels, all can be leveled up at your choice. Even jumping around "flying,crouching tiger style" gives XP so you can level however you want.

    Get a Guild as fast as possible, you ll need their help and they ll need yours. Guilds forge alliances and create enemy guilds, this time it really means something. The game server has many kinds of events happening, even for your guild to declare war and invade other guild's Castles or defend your own. Escort your caravans or raid theirs. Burn their buildings etc.

    You ll get your ass kicked so much in this game at early level like i am... But you ll learn how to survive. Antecipation is key and eventually you start beating guys stronger than you. You might need to hit them 10 times more while they can down you with 2 hits but the key is...not to get hit. Very hard but very possible. A player kills you for no reason? He can officialy become your in-game enemy, you ll know his whereabouts more or less. Kill innocents players too often? You ll have a bounty on your head, other "cop" players will hunt you down. Short on cash? Kidnap an offline players, or prevent a kidnap. Players when they go offline their character remains in-game, when you go offline you ll have a window saying what that area offers as offline activites. Guard, patrol, work in restaurants,fortune telling(if u have learned the skill), same goes for begging money on the streets, open a stall and leave your goods for sale while you are offline. You can open a stall online but it forces to be at the stall as a merchant. Unless you buy yourself a shop(resets every week), and hire someone to sell your stuff.
    The market places are crazy full, its really immersive. Specially if you have a martial arts arena next to the market with people kicking ass while eating noodles!

    There are tons of quests everywhere, school quests, random quests, story quests, dailies, weeklies. I m not a fan of questing, but these aren t bad. They're like WoW quests, some have cinematics but not the fancy SWTOR type cinematics with lipsync and voice over. Truth be said, MMO's don t need that kind of attention to quests, these do perfectly fine and have an interesting story if you spend time reading. The lore in this game is fantastic and a true fresh air to the MMO genre, at least quality MMO's.

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  15. Ok now for the bad part:

    _Some items are "rentals", they expire after a certain amount of time. Although there are no shortage of these items and most can be obtained through random loot or crafting, they expire nonetheless. I saw expiration from 4 days to 14 days. They only consume time if you are either using them for the 1st time or are currently using them at the moment,depends on the item. My horses expire 14 days after 1st use. My extra slot inventory bags expire after 100 hours of use. From what I've read, vanity items will also expire after a month or so. I don't agree with that. Although eventually you ll have a steady cashflow and can afford all of those things, if you really need the extra help,or just feel like it, pay real money.

    _Combat at first, seems crap and not fluid. It actually is fluid and complex, but we are used to another type of combat from the west. Trust these chinese dudes,trust me, the combat gets a lot better as YOU get better and as your character evolves. Unless you have a crappy latency. I was playing with 500-600ms and didn t notice any lag exploring and questing, until I started fighting. Using my abilities and blocking had a small delay and I HAATED it. WTFast solved the problem but i m still an ocean apart from the LA servers so I get 150-300 ms now, more than what I m used to. One missed block or hit here can completely turn the tables on any fight, so good ping is important. I m a duel addict, I duel everyone, everywhere, so combat is important to be fluid to me.

    _The game has some translation problems, you ll notice some typos or some text not fitting the whole button. This is because the game was made for chinese text. I personally don t mind this at all since it doesn t affect any gameplay and we get all the information we need but it's an issue nonetheless.

    _If you are from europe like me or some place with different schedule, you ll probably miss most server events as they happen at 19:00, 19:30, 21:00, 22:30 US time. Some are available all day long, but those HUGE events where you have ninjas invading from other schools invade your School flying from the mountains, from the trees and rooftops trying to steal scrolls while you have to chase them down and get those scrolls back damnit! There is a fix for this though. You have to wait for the european Age of Wushu europe version called, Age of Wulin. Same game, different non-chinese publisher, different translation, different Free 2 play options, all unknown including release date. Probably during this summer.

    There are a lot more things probably wrong with the game , same goes with a lot more things great about the game I didn t mention. This is my opinion and it got way too big. I think the game deserves the attention and good promotion so i ll probably just copy paste this to where i stumble upon.

    If you've read this far you should be downloading the game by now. It's that good.

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  16. DL'ed. Installed. Played for 3 hours - not yet through the tutorial - feels like a typical korean grind. Click. Autopath to quest. Fight a duel. Autopath to quest completion. Talk to QGiver 3 or 4 times - skimming through because quest dialogs are garbage ("I see you strong! You fight! You obey school rules... It's dangerous to go alone - take this - QReward.") Quest complete. Get new skill. Repeat.

    Waiting for gameplay to become less linear; very few quests. AFAIK "Sandbox" seems to mean minimal game content. There's the slim possibility that perhaps the game improves or expands after the tutorial, but it's hard to see that distant horizon through the 3 hours of boredom you'll first have to grind through.

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  17. Looks super interesting, but I think it will be total shit.

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  18. Thats exactly the same as EVE. Tutorial is long. The game is soo far from "typical" or "grindfest" or even "korean". Grinding stuff is the least effective way to level. There's a fuckton of content, it's just not about spamming keys on dumbfuck NPCs. Press N. Look at all the events. Spying, patrolling, stealing scripts, caravan escorts, bounty hunting, tons of other stuff I havn't even seen. This is not the kind of game where you can play two hours and pretend you know anything about the game. Its about PvP and actual interactions with players. The content is player-driven.

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  19. Good. You don't have the patience for any sort of sandbox game. Go back to WoW.

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  20. It's called... You know... A tutorial? EVE has exactly the same thing. Better pay attention too or you're going to be lost as shit when the quests end.

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  21. I actually agree with this. While Wushu couldn't hold my interest for very long (like every other MMO), the tutorial is NOT a good example of the game itself.

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  22. I wouldn't wish WoW on my worst enemy... Cold blooded.

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  23. How do you feel now that castration will be in the game soon?

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  24. Castration is in now! Check out Game of Thrones if you don't believe me! :D

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