It has been a fair while since I last spent time playing Allods Online, the free to play MMO from Gala Networks Europe. It should be noted that my lack of return was in no way to do with the quality of the game, but a simple time issue. There are just too many games to play.
Anyway, I have been hearing for a while about the numerous updates that had been made to the game and all of the extra content that has been added. So I decided to take another look and see for myself all of the improvements that had been made. Upon loading the game I was treated to an extended wait whilst the game downloaded and applied all of the patches. My tired old Internet connection creaked under the wait of all the data. Eventually, it was done and I entered the game.
As I stared at the character screen, proudly admiring my Orc Warrior from my previous outing, my hand started moving by itself and before I knew it I had created a new character. What was I thinking? I had a great fondness for my lumbering brute of a character. Generally speaking, Allods uses a control setup that is very similar to a lot of other popular MMOs out there, so picking up the controls again after an extended break was not really a problem. Maybe, somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of my mind, I just had a desire to fight rats again?
As I worked through the tutorial and early stages of the game again, it was difficult to see that anything had changed. There are two factions in the game – The League and The Empire. As before, I went with an Empire character. On retrospect I should maybe have tried out the League, but they just didn’t appeal. Given the number of updates that the game has had, I am sure that there have been some changes to the early game, but I couldn’t really spot them and they were most likely little tweaks or additions that would only be noticeable to the eagle eyed regular players.
One thing that I have noticed since leaping back in is that the game seems far more chaotic now, in large due to the increased number of players. This can be quite daunting for new, and returning, players as it is not always easy to find your objectives. What would be really handy is a nice little mini map on the screen, but more on that later.
There have been tweaks and adjustments to so much in Allods Online, making the game easier, fairer and even more fun. But there are a few that stand out from the rest, adding major new content. Here is what we have -
Gipat: A new zone for high level players that can be accessed using a mystical stone that arrives through the post at level 40.
The Dream Factory: This zone allows level 22 Imperial players to indulge in some cinematography.
The Melting Isle: Another one for high level players that offers a massive battleground filled with ice and wind elementals and chests filled with valuable treasures.
The guild system has been improved and guilds can now gain levels by participating in events and completing daily quests.
Amongst all of this update goodness, there is a shadow that falls across the Allods Online game. As a free-to-play MMO, the game offers everyone the same opportunity to advance and enjoy the game, pretty much at the same rate, for the sum total of zero. Or at least that is how it should be. The game is funded by players buying “gpotatoes”, the currency of the gPotato portal, which are then spent on numerous items from within the store. The problem seems to be the pricing of items that are deemed essential for players to get the most from the game. To be honest, this was a much larger problem when the game first went live, with outlandish prices being charged for things.
I will admit to not paying much attention to the item store last time that I was playing Allods Online, so I didn’t realise there was so much of a problem. That being said, prices have been reduced in the item shop and things are more “reasonable” now. I use the term “reasonable” loosely though, as many players still find that the prices are too high. This issue creates a certain amount of inequality within the game, which is present to some degree in all free-to-play MMOs, where players that can afford to spend the money will find themselves far more powerful and advancing quicker than those who cannot/don’t want to spend the cash.
As for the future, there is a lot to look forward to for Allods fans. Volume 4, or patch version 2+, will see many more improvements, including the level cap being raised to 47, new PvE areas and new levels of the Astral that will need to be unlocked via quests, a new system allowing players to upgrade their items by merging them and, as if they could read my mind, a mini map.
Allods Online has certainly evolved since my last visit, although the majority of the big and impressive changes are not apparent until later levels. The taint caused by the item shop has been, and still is to a degree, damaging the game. But the reality is that there is plenty to do in Allods Online without having to shell out loads of money, and the game is still growing. If you have yet to try Allods, the game still manages to offer a reasonable alternative to premium MMOs. Check it out.