I decided to check out the newly launched Age of Wushu. A few days ago, I made an account and downloaded/installed the game, and patiently awaited the launch day. So with a free evening to spend however I wanted, I put a few hours into it.
I had no problems launching the game, or logging in and getting oriented, so I think that’s a pretty big accomplishment for the developers. The typical launch day is a disaster, but as far as I could tell this one had no issues at all.
After logging in, I faced four choices concerning my character background. They were:
Nameless Sword – an assassin destroys your family
Phoenix Pledge – you and your sister are orphaned, she was then kidnapped
Scholar’s Legend – you got between criminals and the law and had to flee
Tianshan Swords – you were ambushed but survived
Since the Scholar’s Legend background didn’t involve a tragedy, I went with that one.
The character creation screen didn’t take long – there weren’t really many appearance options. I went through various looks and settled on one quickly:
After that came a basic skills tutorial – talk to the NPC, receive a skill book to read, gain the skill, then use that skill against another NPC. It’s a straightforward system with no surprises. Naturally, this being a martial arts MMO, the skills have fancy names: Embrace the Moon, White Cloud Covers the Top, Step Backwards Over Seven Stars, Sit and Breathe.
The “Step Backwards” skill required a certain amount of “rage” to enable, so I blocked, defended, used my other skills until I accumulated enough rage and noticed the icon glowing differently, then unleashed the skill. What happened then was a slow-mo (sort of bullet-time-esque) super combo that honestly looked pretty cool.
My instructor then sent me to buy some wine at the store. I headed off, figuring this was the part of the tutorial where you get introduced to the cash shop, but when I got near to the store, a cutscene took over. Three thugs were threatening a young girl, so I thought “Aha – a fight!”… but in the cutscene I was knocked unconscious and dropped down a well!
That wasn’t expected. But as it happens, at the bottom of the well was a skill book – Skyward Feint Step, essentially a double jump – and that skill let me jump up some rocks to grab a rope and climb to my escape. This entire episode was the “Flying Skill Introduction” tutorial.
The next quest taught a simple weapon skill, using iron darts to kill wolves. At first I had to get close to the wolf, then afterwards I was taught a thrown dart skill. Completion merely required killing two wolves, so soon I finished and returned to the martial arts scholar for a brief introduction to cultivation.
Skill cultivation appears to be some sort of offline/background training. The tutorial had me select the “Self Recollection” skill to cultivate, and after doing that I had a progress bar that filled over 5 minutes. When that time elapsed, I received notification that Self Recollection was cultivated to level 2, and I had the option of continuing, which I did. Level 3 would be reached in 10 more minutes, and undoubtedly, each higher level grants a higher stat bonuses and takes longer to reach.
I received my final school story (tutorial) quest, which was to visit another NPC and select between the eight major schools. Shaolin was out, because they only take male students (balanced by the Emei which only take female students), and I also discarded the Royal Guards and Wanderer’s Valley as both are evil (maybe I’d consider that for another character, but not right now). The NPC mentioned that the Tangmen and the Scholar’s are neutral, while the good schools are Shaolin, Emei, Wudang, and Beggar’s Sect. Since I didn’t want to be a beggar, I joined the Wudang, and was instantly transported to Wudang School.
Once there I spoke to the Wudang leader, Immortal Ziyang, and officially joined the Wudang. I decided this was also a good time for a break and dinner.
Later I was able to play a tad more. I took another quest to learn some sword fighting skills: Turbulent Rapids, Pure Awakening, Blow Away in the Clear Wind, Clear Sound and Gentle Rhythm. As an aside, it’ll be funny to see players looking to form groups later on, spewing out cryptic abbreviations. Can you imagine? “Looking for DPS, needs TR, PA, CSaGR” and so on. There are so many skills people will need a codebook to figure out what is going on. Haha!
When you get a scroll to learn a new skill, there are two buttons: Replay, Study. When you open the scroll, a shadow figure animates the skill, complete with jumps and whirls. Replay causes that animation to repeat, while Study is what you do to learn the skill. After learning the skill, when you check your skillbook, each skill displays a mini avatar of your character, and when you click the skill on the left half of the book, the figure animates. It’s cool, maybe just eye-candy, but then I think this game is all about cool looking martial arts moves, and this is how you can check them out without actually fighting an enemy. I kinda like it actually.
I also notice a “cultivate” button on each skill… so this is one way to bump up each ability, by training (in the background) constantly. I see that VIP members can also train while offline. All the skills I’ve received have been for free from quest givers (except the jump skill) and I’m getting the impression the skill training system, cultivation, will rely on being able to do it offline for the best results, which means payment. Well, it is F2P so you gotta figure there will be various advantages to subscribing, or in this case, topping off your account each month.
AoW also has an integrated way to record videos – no doubt to show off awesome looking fights – but hilariously, the videos don’t play on my Windows box (then again, I have a very barebones Windows 8 install, with just about nothing at all besides the base OS). To see the video, I had to go to my MacMini.
Before I take more screenshots next time, I need to figure out how to disable/hide the UI. I know it makes all the pics I took very busy but I looked over the settings menus and didn’t see a way to do it. EDIT: ARGH I see it now, Alt-Z. Dang it, I can’t believe I missed that when I looked before.
Here’s a screenshot in a Wudang courtyard with the UI hidden.
Well, that about wraps my first day in Age of Wushu. It looks interesting and I would like to play more, but also try to see how viable it is as a free player for a while. The graphics look good as do the skill animations. I’ve budgeted for one subscription game, and since I dropped my EVE subscription, I’m willing to spend that equivalent somewhere…