Wakfu, the tactical MMO by Square-Enix, recently flipped on its open beta switch and I spent the last couple of days putting all of my free time into trying it out. The story of Wakfu takes place 1,000 years after it’s predecessor, Dofus. Since it’s still in beta, we can’t give it a full review as there’s many things that could be subject to change until its release. However, since this does feel like a well polished final product already, I’m going to give you a pre-review of the game instead – kind of like a review, but technically a preview.
- Turn based tactical combat. If you are familiar games like Tactics Ogre and Disgaea, you’ll be right at home with the combat system of Wakfu. As with most tactical RPGs, you are on a space with in a combat field grid, and you perform turn-based actions in succession with the enemies. Positioning and space is important to form a sound strategy based on your class and build. Since this is an MMO, you can even join up with other players to combat with. On the flip side, there’s also PVP in the game, which becomes pretty integral later. However, if you like your MMORPGs played in real time, this may not be your cup of tea.
- Political System. Since Wakfu lacks NPCs, the entire economy of the game is wholly dependent on Players. Players will have the chance to be governors, economic advisors and many other political positions that effect the current capital city in the game. A player can chose from different laws, economic exchange rates and development to a certain degree. Currently, this doesn’t influence city structure (sorry Sim City fans), but it would appear that it could be a possible addition down the road with updates. Furthermore, all players vote on who they would like to see in each political position as long as they are a resident of that city.
- Very good and simple graphic design. The game’s environments are well done. While the game uses an isometric view with 2D sprites and backdrops, Wakfu did an impressive job with it. Very smooth animations, good art direction and a variety of themes keep Wakfu interesting and fresh.
- Good class selection. There’s a great selection of classes and I give bonus points for the fact that each class has many sub-builds. Much like with every other MMO, you can really customize your character through the use of skill points while you level up. Elements happen to play a key role in this. Want to be good with fire skills? Up your intelligence for fire damage and keep practicing fire moves. Up your strength and practice earth moves if earth is your thing. Every class will have 3 of 4 possible elements. They are the usual Fire, Water, Wind and Earth. It’s ok to practice abilities from other elements, but your stats play a role in the elements that you specialize in.
- Music. The music in Wakfu is more relaxing and upbeat than other RPG games. I’m not a fan of music that makes things feel urgent or rushed. As a turnbased tactical game, Wakfu doesn’t want to rush it’s players at making decisions.
- Good crafting system. As in most MMORPGs, Wakfu has a crafting system. Gathering skills are things like mining, animal seed harvesting (which you can replant the seeds to spawn new monsters, but only in an area where they would normally spawn), farming, fishing, ect. Gathering and Crafting skills level up as you use them, opening the way to gather or craft better or more valuable resources. I didn’t list all the skills here – it would be a long list.
- Intuitive Interface. When I first played Wakfu I didn’t feel confused or overwhelmed at all. It’s a standard MMO interface with hotkeys and skill buttons easily accessible. The mapping system is great too – you can add posts or notes about specific areas which helps you refer to them later. Even though it’s hard to get lost in the game, the mapping system is still great.
- Abstract class concepts. If you played Dofus, the classes may seem familiar. But if you’re completely new, then you may not have any idea about which class does what. The class names are very abstract and lack description aside from their photos. The developers named the classes from anagrams of their abilities or what they are supposed to do which can lead to confusion. Iops are the front-line tanks with great close-combat skills. Enutrofs (an anagram of fortune) are passable melee fighters but have good treasure finding skills much like rogues. Pandawas are melee fighting pandas that don’t hit very hard, but have support buffs. Xelors (like the watch, Rolex) are characters with time bending skills. Osamodas (a play on Sado-Masochism) love to crack their whips. I get it, they’re trying to be creative, but some classes are not what they appear to be at all. For example, the monk looking Pandawas actually fight with a hammer, not their fists. It would have been nice if each class had a description about their builds. As it stands, you don’t know what a class does until you’re in the game.
- Too easy to mess up your character builds. While I don’t really gripe at “character gimping” in MMORPGs, it is particularly easy to cripple your character in Wakfu. If you put one wrong point in an ability that you thought would be good (but isn’t) then your character turns out to be less effective in combat than the others. You can make some classes similar to others, but the other classes will be a more effective version as they are disposed to the abilities that you tried to mold into. A simple guide can help with build ideas or problems. Classes have a lot of builds available but you have to focus on only one, once you choose it. Even if you want to make your own unique build, understand that you can’t spread yourself too thin, which is the case for many MMORPGs.
- Elemental builds are still linked to classes. In theory, an Iop can be a good wind, fire or earth fighter, and you can put points into the corressponding stats to augment the damage. The problem, however, is that Iops have natural intelligence affinities so a fire based Iop will spend less points developing a stronger fire ability. However, there are some truly effective alternate elemental builds that come into play. While the fire Iop might invest in intelligence to do better fire damage, they can still work and develop their earth skills but they just won’t have the augmenting stat damage added.
- Limited character creation options. I admit, I didn’t expect much with character creation so this isn’t a terrible let down. There’s lots of colour options for each portion of a character’s appearence, but the portions themselves are limited. The most you will get is hairstyle (and then hair color), clothing style (but really it’s just different colors of the same outfit) and sometimes eye color. Some classes only have outfit color and since some other classes don’t have pupils, there is no eye color to chose from. Later on, armor and gear you acquire through playing covers up most of your face and body, so these limited creation options don’t really matter too much.
Wakfu is certainly a fun tactical MMORPG. It introduces new concepts such as a society lacking NPCs and quest givers. You will find a variety to do in Wakfu and ways to keep yourself busy either fighting, crafting or questing. The community is quite social and I’ve found very friendly and helpful.
Currently, the game is open beta with a planned release date of next month. The game will be free to play and download, with a ton of free content. However, certain areas of the game can only be unlocked with a paid premium subscription for $6.00 a month. In addition, there will be a micro-transaction store, but only items purely for cosmetic purposes will be available there.
Come back next month where I’ll give my final verdict on the game.
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