I’ve been given the opportunity to take part in the Swords of Legends Online (SOLO) Alpha over the past couple of weeks and I must say, I’m impressed.
When CGM had the chance to cover a few stories about the game I was immediately excited. As a huge player of World of Warcraft and Elder Scrolls Online, I was thrilled to hear about another major MMO releasing — something brand-new to those of us in the west.
Swords of Legends Online is chock-full of lore for players looking for a more in-depth experience. CGM summed up the story, “With the gods now silent, a new generation of warriors must rise and join the fight to finally put the evil powers of dark qi to rest.” The general gist of your role in the universe is to join forces with NPC’s and other players, completing quests that aid in the battle against the dark qi.
Once players load into the MMO, they’ll find themselves in a beautiful cinematic, although unfortunately the subtitles move a little too quickly to follow. Though I know the game will eventually be voice translated to English, it is not clear if this portion will be, so slowing down the story a little will help players follow along better. The translation is a little iffy at this point, but this is the alpha, so I assume there will be huge improvements here in the future and I’m looking forward to the English voice acting to come.
The subtitles also lead into an issue that I have when engaging in dialogue with NPCs. Again, it is unclear if they will remain once the game has English acting, but right now they have descriptions of what is going on in the scene as well as dialogue (“Messenger bird lands on Haocang’s hand”), but these things aren’t actually happening on the screen. I find it odd when I’m watching the scene that I also have to read things they didn’t bother to animate into the game. I found that NPCs would emote and react to other NPCs well, but when a scene cuts to the player, they usually remain static and any change in expression is unnoticeable. It’s a small complaint, but it took me out of the game for small moments because it felt so bizarre.
That being said, the visuals SOLO brings to the PC are absolutely stunning. There is no other way to describe them. I’ve played countless MMOs and console based RPGs and I have never found myself this obsessed with the environment of a game. Whether it is a cutscene or game play everything you see is beautiful in its own way. Watching my character mount up into her gorgeous set of wings is mesmerizing, I found myself just flying around to watch the animations and take in the scenery, something I usually ignore in most MMOs.
Not only are the graphics to die for, but the customization in the SOLO is incredible. You begin by choosing your class, Spearmaster, Berserker, Spellsword (my choice), Bard, Summoner and Reaper. There is little information about each class available in-game which was inconvenient. They offer a description that is more story oriented than class explanatory, and reveal two of that class’s spells. I found it was a bit of a guessing game if each class was more tank, DPS or healer oriented, and also whether they focused more on melee or ranged combat.
Character customization also seems in depth, but when compared to other MMOs, it leaves something to be desired. I’m used to being able to play a troll, or elf or orc and I thrive on fun hair or eye colours and skin tones, so being limited to humans with a small window of colour customization left me a little underwhelmed. Outside that, you can customize almost everything about your characters body and face, even if the changes are noticeably small.
This brings me to the Shopping Centre. Here you can customize wardrobes and purchase new outfits, mounts and weapon appearances. This is where the customization really shines. Here you can sort through your wardrobe, Crimson Coin Shop, Point Shop or Crystal Dust Shop and change your character to your heart’s content. Not only are the available items beautiful, but you are able to hide or add pieces to make each outfit utterly unique. They have everything from battle attire to traditional robes and something called the Engineer in Blue which is just a little dude that hangs out on your shoulder. It took me a while to realize the shop was there, but once I found it, I couldn’t stop experimenting and trying things on — I finally landed on the Singing Together Robe in black and purple with the hat hidden.
Now that we are fully customized and immersed in the stunning environment, let’s play the game! It is the classic MMO style “run here, kill three of these, run back” gameplay. It’s tedious and doesn’t break any barrier in the questing aspect. You have access to quests and dungeons and everything else that your standard MMO has, all that really stands out to me is how much more detail goes into the environment than other games. It’s just your run-of-the-mill game as far as levelling goes, something that once you reach max level, you’ll dread running back through to create new characters. I don’t hold that against it, it seems like a must for this style of game. I’m excited to see what happens once max level is reached, and I can’t wait to experience more end-game content.
Battling is also fairly generic. As you level, you receive new talents that you can use in combat, my character also had access to Meditation that allowed me to heal when out of combat. I found the automatic key binds for the game very awkward and quickly adjusted and rebound each one as it came in to my Razer Nostromo and Naga. Players can use a mouse and keyboard or a gamepad, and luckily the game comes filled with custom options for key binds and the user interface. I find in World of Warcraft I heavily rely on add-ons to make my UI more user-friendly, but it seems that Swords of Legends Online comes ready to play with a million different windows you can move around.
Battling, again, is very pretty. Lots of lights, animations and action to keep you entertained and take away from the monotony of your repetitive rotation. I did find that with my Radeon RX 480 Graphics card I needed to drop my settings to high down from ultra if there was too much happening on screen, whether that be a large battle, or too many NPCs or players at a time. Now I have an excuse to get a new GPU if one ever becomes available again. And again, the theme of the day for SOLO is customization. I tend to stay away from changing to many settings as I rarely know what they mean, but for players that do, Swords of Legends Online leaves nothing off the table.
Swords of Legends Online has done something visually that I’ve never experienced in an MMO and can’t say with certainty I’ve seen done as well in console games either. Though they didn’t improve on the classic MMO style gameplay, they certainly outdid themselves with gorgeous scenery and endless customization. If you are a fan of MMOs I’d highly suggest you give SOLO a try, it does everything your current MMO can do, but prettier.
With a game this visually exciting, we had to include a look at the images and video from our gameplay sessions. Experience how the game looks and performs, along with what customization is like when you finally dive on in.