Age of Wushu: First Impressions

ZAM takes a look at the recently launched Wuxia MMO from Snail Games

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There is something about Age of Wushu that refuses to be cowed, even by its own idiosyncrasies. The MMO by Snail Games is such a departure from the hand-holding “everyone’s best friend” approach that most games in the genre adhere to, I find it in turns both confusing and thoroughly endearing.

It is very easy to completely misunderstand what Age of Wushu is for a variety of reasons. At first glance, it may appear to be a very simple, straightforward MMO.

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Character creation is quite rudimentary; the fine adjustments you can make to the given archetypes do not make a massive amount of difference in making your character look individual. Your avatar will look pretty, regardless of gender. That is virtually guaranteed.

There are a series of back stories to choose from (including a handy indicator of which one hasn’t been taken up by most players) which will decide your character’s narrative direction. These will have consequences, even if on a minor level to begin with. My student of all things Wuxia has no memory (got to love the amnesia trope) after being left for dead by a pair of black garbed assailants. I sporadically received a debuff that slowed my movement due to a lingering injury to my leg from the incident.

Upon entering the game world itself, the environment is distinctly charming. I would advise you to check your graphics settings and choose Ultra if you are able as it makes a big difference in adding a glossy sheen to the world. The architecture and undulating lands around it smack of authenticity and are quite immersive, even if some of the textures are a little basic in patches.

The main barrier to immersion that must be overcome is the sub-par writing for quest text. At times a lot seems to be lost in translation when characters speak and the thematic threads between stages of quests can evaporate confusingly. There are times when you are not entirely clear on what the next step is in a quest, but I soon learned that returning to the quest NPC would solve most issues; it was simply a case of the text not explaining that there was another stage to complete, or the greeting text from the NPC didn’t follow logically.

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The initial quests lead you through the tutorial, the protected phase. As you are reminded upon entering the game, Jianghu is an open world PvP area so beware attack at any time once you have passed the initial introduction.

To make navigating the many quest NPCs easier, clicking on the green highlighted text in the quest tracker will auto-pilot your character to your required destination. A handy function, particularly with so many characters milling around, be they players, or the many NPCs. What is very encouraging is the number of players who have jumped into Age of Wushu. This is not a game where you will rarely bump into other folks. In fact a new server, Red Phoenix, was launched in the last few days, to meet demand.

The starter quests teach you about the basic forms of progression by giving you guidance from mentors who deposit books in your bag for you to use to study martial art abilities. Once learned and put into your hotbar, you will be asked to practice the move by defeating an NPC of one kind or another.

Quest, learn, practice and repeat. It’s a logical way to introduce the combat abilities at your disposal and you will soon discover there are indeed many of them. This barrage of questing is what is misleading about the game. At first it seems to be a simplistic, somewhat confusing version of most MMOs, but give it some time and you will quickly realize there is a lot more scope to what is on offer.

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At first, the way to progress your skills and abilities is through Inner Cultivation. Think of grabbing a book and then spending the time to learn it in EVE Online and you will have the crux of the system of cultivation in Age of Wushu.

The next method of being more proficient is by using Practice Mode Cultivation. In this way you spend currency (up to 50 Liang each day) and use medicine to soothe the mind and speed up learning of the skill you choose. The more efficient the ratio of experience to cultivation offered by the medicine, the more it will cost in Wen/Liang.

What this also does is add the sight of players moving through some really quite balletic forms in the middle of town squares (which is apparently a good way to get guild invites from my experience).

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Speaking of interesting sights, there are few more enjoyable than the synchronized dance of Team Practice. You can instigate or join in a group practice with 10 or more people as you all follow through a set kata by pressing buttons in a series of increasing complexity to pull off each move (it isn’t difficult). Head to a sacred area as they are the best spots to find people practicing in large numbers (sacred areas increase the effectiveness and speed of your learning).

The combat itself is a mixed bag. The animations are mostly smooth and some of them are a lot of fun. For example, the series of grandiose kicks known as Step Backwards Over Seven Stars unleashes a combo within an impromptu cut scene with dazzling attacks. There are a huge number of moves and you can learn them even if not from your school through stealing books form rival schools, a specific mission type.

In practice, the Rock, Paper, Scissors system expressed through the Parry, Feint, Overt categories of attack and defense styles is a little clunky. The button press to execution delay makes the action too soft at the moment and can too frequently devolve into button spamming. I’d advise new players to turn on the Auto Parry function in particular as timing blocks (with the right mouse button) can be very unintuitive. Making the function automated leaves you to focus on attack, which is less frustrating.

Still, combat can be fun, particularly when you combine attacks with flying abilities. Short term flight, double jumps and wall running can give combat an enticing freedom. Leaping through the air to meet a flying opponent before crunching into a nicely timed move is very satisfying and not something you would find in the combat of many MMOs. Those Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon moments are there for you to find.

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Tags: Age, News, of, Wushu

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lame
# May 01 2013 at 10:00 AM Rating: Decent
1 post
overall the game is good well i should say the design is good as for the actual system not so much !
the game is way too much based on "pay me" i will give you some examples so many items that are needed in game play expire in hours or days so you need to keep re buying them it costs to repair eq and its not cheap ! you can not drop items for other players you can only sell or destroy them ! the selling system is very poorly set up . the actual pvp issue is kinda a pain in the butt since as you are just getting started and questing to get your skills up you keep getting attacked by very high lvl players that seem to somehow be able to max out in way too short a time !! the game is flooded with gold sellers chat is so annoying because of that you can not really read chat !
another issue is many many things you need to do or buy can only be purchased using silver !!! not the in game money you get durring game play but silver that you must pay REAL CASH for !!
for example you need to buy gold from snail then trade the gold in to silver but 10 gold only = 100 silver and to give you a idea many things you definitly need to advance the right way cost over 3000 silver in the game because economy is already messed up gold sellers sell gold for about 5$ per 1000 silver SNAIL gets about 5$ for 100 silver wonder why the econo is trashed and gold sellers are rampent ??? also a issue many of us have is red pheonix just opened and we started at day one using vip account playing over 12 hrs a day we are at lets say half way to max lvl on the inner skills but there are several that are maxed out on those skills already it would take almost everyone playing 12 hrs a day with vip way over a month more to max out only 1 of those skills so how is it that there are so many that at day 3 of the server were maxed out ??? and suprise yup many are PK'ers that seem to only target newer players while they are questing !! one last thing the classes are uneven a royal guard has a long range whip like weapon that the PK'ers love to use as you are walking around they reach out from long distance and kill you before you are even aware one last issue the game info sux there is so much that no one knows its just left for players to try and figure out you would think if you buy this game there might be things like a game guide thats accurate and explaines all the features but i guess if they could sell it then maybe lol
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Raaziel
Fun but hard on F2Pers
# Apr 19 2013 at 1:27 PM Rating: Decent
4 posts
I've had fun with the game so far, but feel like the benefits for having a subscription are too good to pass up. The highly structured level up system they have in place makes it impossible for those who don't pay to keep up with those who do. I'm never against subscribers having benefits over those who want to play for free, but I still feel a little discouraged to know I will never compete with subscribers on a leveling basis regardless on how well I can play the game.
Great review.
# Apr 19 2013 at 12:40 PM Rating: Decent
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I will start off by saying, this is the best review of Age of Wushu I have read so far. You did such a great job and it feels unbiased. I wish more people would post reviews and first impressions like this.

Age of Wushu has surprised me. I thought it was going to be some poor quality mmo and a grindfest, I was wrong. It is a well thought out sandbox mmo with a lot of features and intricate detail. For example, depending on where you are at in the world you can "Cultivate" a skill faster. Some skills are Cultivated faster in a quite and peaceful area, you can tell by looking at the bottom left of the skill icon.

Yes the game has its issues and you have pointed some of them out. But overall, for me, this is a very fun game. I plan to stick with Age of Wushu for a long time. They are already preparing a brand new patch featuring new content and in the future they are adding weather and true day & night cycles. Depending on the weather, it could effect your skills. And the day/night cycle will determine which mobs you will run into, random events and which NPC's will close their stores.

I really hope this game does well, I am really loving it so far.
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"Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule." Gandalf the White [J.R.R. Tolkien]
Great review.
# Apr 19 2013 at 12:47 PM Rating: Good
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75 posts
Thanks for the kind words and your outlook on the game Wyatt.
See you in Jianghu.
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Scott Hawkes

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