Want to pummel down some colossal sized monsters? Come along with me as I explore the recently opened up closed beta for RaiderZ Online.
From the outset, the game has a lot of very good qualities: it’s got great graphics, good music, an interesting action-oriented combat system, and—as promised—giant monsters to fell with the swing of your sword. Set in a semi-fantasy setting, there’s also pirates, lizard men, evil swine, and magical artifacts. It’s just a closed beta so we can’t exactly give you an in-depth examination of everything…
…but so far it’s looking very good.
A few caveats spring to mind, and they’re listed below, but most of them can be overlooked and who knows PWE might just lend their ear and fix them before the open beta.
So let’s see what we’ve got here.
Graphics and Sound: Well rendered, good textures, and excellent graceful rendering reduction encoded
The first thing I noticed about RaiderZ is that the rendering engine fails gracefully. What I mean by this is that if it detects that your computer is incapable of rendering the game, it quietly and carefully reduces all its settings into something that looks a great deal like RuneScape but keeps playing anyway. It runs with very low polygons, low textures, and a world that has a strange flat-and-triangular cartoony look to it. Even if you don’t have a wonderful video card with gobs of RAM, this game still runs well.
On the other side of the GPU, however, when running at extremely high quality, good textures, water effects, bloom, shadows at maximum, and particle effects RaiderZ is breathtakingly awesome. It has a bit of a cartoony edge to everything, but there’s also a lot of modern thought put into the rendering engine, the animations, and a great deal of what you’ll encounter.
Character animations, grass, trees, and everything else look fairly nice. There’s even ruins, a pirate ship, billowing cloth and sails, overall this game looks really good. I enjoyed exploring the various areas, looking at the mobs (as I crushed them under my massive hammer) and thoroughly enjoyed how well it ran for how it looked.
The music in this game is present but subtle enough not to be overbearing—and there’s sliders to change all the sound levels—it’s also a set of sweeping orchestral venues that both rise and fall with activity. It’s a set of solid, swelling scores that did a good job of presenting a movie-like atmosphere and compelled me to keep moving as I raced around the starting area and beyond.
All the attacks, monsters have sounds, there’s even warning sounds fitting the creature you’re fighting that they’re about to unleash an unblockable attack. Bears roar, treants creak and shudder, the lizard men grumble. Attacks all have grunts and shouts, swishing as swords fly, booms as magic fires, they’ve done a fairly good job of syncing it all up with combat. A good fight will have three parts thunderous attacks, one part swords slicing through air, and the exhilaration of the music swelling in the background.
Gameplay: Dodge, block, and numbered-action slots alongside mouse-aim and WASD
RaiderZ sells itself as a game where people will go head-to-head in action combat against giant monsters—even at the very beginning, the game does not disappoint.
Shortly into the opening zone, there’s a giant stone statue carrying a Roman column who must be put down and though the fight is over quickly, it feels no less epic upon success. Of course, as a player I had been trained to duck, weave, block with my shield, and even how to dodge out of the way before I encountered this behemoth. In many cases, taking on the giant alabaster guardian I found myself joined by a few other players, a cleric here, a berserker there, and me the guardian keeping its attention—blocking when I could, and rolling out of the way when I needed.
Movement is done with the standard WASD with combat-dodges (or rolls) being done by pressing [SHIFT] and a direction key. I would strongly prefer double-tapping a direction key to dodge, but [SHIFT] became second-nature after a while. Talents are bound to the number keys like many other MMOs and many of them also combed off each other (or required the trigger of a previous skill first.)
There are four current character classes: berserker, guardian, cleric, and sorcerer. All of them can use the four basic weapon types, but have a specific one that their class skills function with: giant swords/hammers for berserkers, sword/hammer & shield for guardians, and staves for clerics and sorcerers. Of course, this didn’t stop me from playing a sword & shield sorcerer—but many of the staves came along with a powerful +magic component that made them superior for magic wielders. To fit this, hitting the [TAB] key allows players to switch between two weapon sets.
Berserkers are the heavy melee class, they generally wield a giant weapon, hit extremely hard, and have huge sweeping swings—they deal a lot of damage in a short time, either to one opponent or sometimes in a point-blank-AOE sweep. Guardians appear to be the tanks of the game and go sword-and-board, keeping the attention of the enemy and absorbing damage their shields. Clerics have restorative magics as well as some offensive and look like they’re more-or-less the support archetype with some healing and buffs in their repertoire. Finally, the sorcerers have a lot of ranged attack and DPS powers alongside some odd ones that work best up close and personal with PBAoE, slows, and freezes (ice and fire are predominant magic types.)
I expect strongly that we’ll see character classes expanding after RaiderZ goes public to include a bow-based ranged DPS and perhaps a stealth-based melee DPS. This game is almost built for both of these to fit well in the gameplay, and I’d love to see a dodge-based melee character alongside the berserker and guardian play styles.
Freemium: (In beta, may have a cash shop.)
The game is currently in beta but it appears it will use a cash shop. We will revisit this once it’s launched and we can make a better view of how it will function.
Conclusion: RaiderZ looks very, very good and best of all it’s free-to-play
We’ve seen a few games coming onto the market that use a block-and-dodge mechanic in their action-combat and the best example right now is TERA Online—the difference is that RaiderZ will be free-to-play. As a result, chances are people who want the action combat, dodging around, and fighting giant monsters while rolling in the dirt will probably gravitate here.
As a game, it’s got its own thematic culture—after all, who doesn’t like pirates at the beginning—and a certain amount of weird and wacky going on as well. It’s very theatrical in nature and made me feel like I was right there playing along. The action-oriented combat didn’t help either.
I couldn’t spend enough time to get the gist of the PvP but no doubt it’s present and right now the only problem I’m seeing that might crop up is that it seems to have an extremely limited crafting system. In fact, all armor/weapons are crafted at armor/weapons vendors who use materials collected from nearby monsters to make them. As a result, the game greatly deemphasizes the concept of personal crafting for this system.
I am looking forward to this coming out of closed beta; Perfect World Entertainment has made an excellent game for themselves. We’ll have to see how they grow it.