PAX East – RaiderZ Preview

Will and I had a chance to sit down with Perfect World for an inside look at their line-up for what’s to come in the next few months. Both RaiderZ and Neverwinter, the new Forgotten Realms-based MMO, are almost prepped and ready for the beta stage.

Fortunately, we had a chance to get a hands-on of the pre-beta build of RaiderZ, which the developers described as a “free-to-play, hunting, real-time action-based combat MMO.” Rather than focusing on questing, as most MMOs do, RaiderZ is all about the monster hunting. No, I don’t mean an emphasis on the bouncing slime ball monsters you have to kill twenty of. I’m talking about the epic bosses that are almost four times your character’s size whose very name causes your pulse to race just a little bit faster.

The demo build we were playing on was just a little bit dumbed down to allow us to see the core mechanics of the gameplay without getting bogged down by excessive combat. Apparently, whenever the game finally rolls around, players should expect to get their ass kicked around a bit by the big bosses. And no kidding—even in our character’s digitally roided up state, the boss we encountered, a lumbering amphibious, four-legged monster still took close to an eighth of our character’s health bar when it took our character underfoot. I can only imagine what would happen to a newbie’s character if they decided to take on the boss alone. According to the developers, every boss within RaiderZ will have an unique attack pattern, so that players will actually have to think through new approaches to every boss, as opposed to having canned attacks where bosses are essentially the same thing over and over again with a different paint job. For the frog monster we’re dealing with, the frog had a tendency to stomp around and sometimes disappear by jumping up high in to the air. Nothing mindblowing, but it’s a nice change from the usual hack ‘n slash, roll away, rinse and repeat grind.

The latest trend of MMOs has been to become friendly to the general public. In the past, MMOs were usually set up so that characters must stick to a specific class and players had to research a build to follow, since re-specing was not possible and investing precious skill points into the wrong things meant a more difficult, if not impossible, end game. RaiderZ has joined the “simplicity” bandwagon by allowing extreme versatility in character classes and re-specing. The game offers the standard fantasy MMO base classes of sorceress, cleric, defender, and berserker. However, no matter what class you choose, you’re free to buy, create, and wield weapons that are “specialized” to all the other classes. In the first ten levels of your character’s life you are sequestered to the character’s specific class skills when spending skill points, but after level ten, point allocation is opened up to all skills as well.

Keep in mind that this does not mean that picking your character classes was only for show. Although not restricted by their weapon choices, characters are restricted to wear armor for their class only. Beyond that, each character class has a unique base advantage so that if two different players were playing as two different classes, but chose to invest their skill points in the same traits, they’d end up with similar, but still different characters.

What’s also unique about RaiderZ is the characters’ ability to be able to pick up enemies’ weapons and use them for a short duration of time. The example shown to us was with club-wielding reptilian beasts. Although our character was of the cleric class, he was still able to pick up a club that the reptile fiends left behind post-mortem and beat the ever-loving shit out of all surrounding enemies using the club. Depending on what weapon your character is carrying, skill bars will show off each skill that the character can use will change. You can have up to three different skill bars at a time and carry various weapons within your inventory.

Obviously, we weren’t able to see a lot of the work that’s been done on the multiplayer aspects. We were assured that party sizes would be capped at eight people. The game will strongly encourage players to band together in order to take down the bigger beasts. If you wish to be antisocial and play alone, you’ll definitely be able to do so for the first few monster fights. Beyond that, you’ll be spending a lot more time prepping than for the folks who decide to band together.

At this point, you’re probably wondering how loot drops will work. Any rare loot will be left up to a roll so it’ll randomly go to one of your companions. Everything else is on a first come, first serve basis, so you have to be fast if you want to get the good stuff.

In terms of PvP, there will not be any PvP servers, realms, or areas. Instead, players will be able to click and challenge any player they choose. There’ll be an animation in which your character will stick a sword into the ground in front of the player they want to fight. If the other player decides to reciprocate, then you’ll both be able to fight right on scene. If the player walks away, no single PvP happens and you can harass him as a pussy for as long as you please. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to demo any group PvP as it hasn’t yet been implemented into the alpha build. However, it’ll definitely be something that’ll be featured in the beta. Factions have also been another planned, but still unimplemented feature.

For craft nerds, a crafting system is implemented, although there aren’t any specific professions. Monsters will drop special materials besides their weapons. When you decide to highlight these special materials, it’ll show you right in the item description the recipes of items you can make with the special material. The developer decided to show off weapons crafting to us. As with the ability to wield any weapons, you’ll be able to craft any type of weapon and arm it as you please.

I think RaiderZ is an interesting addition to Perfect World’s array of MMOs. It’s definitely unique in making such a heavy emphasis on hunting big bosses that will all have different attack patterns. It definitely feels of a higher production quality than you would see in free-to-play MMOs, especially an Asian one. For MMO enthusiasts, this is definitely something you should add to your watch list. For those who aren’t quite into MMOs, this could very well be the one that draws you into MMOs. With flexibility in skill trees and almost classless characters, there’s no penalty for just playing the game without looking up character build guides.

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